This should be titled “A summary of my attempts to grow mushrooms (mostly unsuccessfully)”
I love growing things and also love the idea of foraging for our own mushrooms but wouldn’t trust myself to know edible from the poisionous ones. A compromise is to buy spawn and get it going in the ideal conditions outside so I can pick some knowing they’re safe to eat. I’ll start with my most successful outside mushroom growing attempt and yes, this post is only going to be of interest to like minded hardcore mushroom growing folk, skip to the photos everyone else –
- Burgundy mushrooms (Stropharia Rugoso Annulata)
In March 2014 I prepared an area under some lavender plants we had growing. This wouldn’t have been my ideal long term place for them but at that stage while we were still building on bare land they were the only plants we had growing that would offer any kind of protection. The area to put the spawn down should be somewhere in dappled light and protected from the wind. Anyone who knows our section knows that the wind hits it from all directions so this really was my only option!
I prepared my wood chips as per instructions – soaked them for several days to make sure they had a high moisture content. Layered the ground with mulch then spawn, mulch then spawn until 40cm deep. I put old hessian sacks and some bits of cardboard over the area and bricks and wood rounds on top to hold them in place and also mark the area. (Yes you can forget where you put down spawn!).
So now the culture takes 3-12 months to spread – when this happens the sacks/cardboard should be removed. Unfortunately I didn’t take note of when I did this and the next step but I suspect it was at 12 months when (after thinking the culture wasn’t spreading as hoped) I decided to proceed.
Add casing soil – this is similar to growing field mushrooms – add a mix of peat and lime and water, and put back the sack/cardboard layer. When I re-read my growing instructions on these mushrooms I’m actually amazed I got anything growing at all because I wasn’t that exact with what I did. But somehow – two and a bit years later I got mushrooms. So very exciting.
And a week after taking the photos of these first overgrown mushrooms another one has grown and grown – outside of the initial area I put the spawn in. Note to self for April next year – look out for the mushrooms so they don’t grow to big and be inedible. In my defense – the growth of the mushrooms is so quick: no wonder I didn’t notice my first ones until they were too big. Here’s my burgundy mushroom about day three in the first photo and day four the next – amazing growth!!
- Oyster mushrooms
Over the years I’ve tried these outside a few times – in piles of coffee grounds, newspaper and straw- no mushrooms.
Recently I discarded an old growing bag I had inside (similar to left) into a new garden bed which threw up several mushrooms. Unfortunately slugs beat me to them which was disappointing even though I wasn’t expecting anything. The best production has been inside – making sure the air is moist and they don’t get destroyed by bugs!
- Shiitake and oyster dowels
Another method I’ve tried is buying wooden dowels (plugs of wood) which are inoculated with mushroom spawn. Shiitake mushrooms grow well on sawdust (I haven’t had success with this however) and also logs. Select fresh logs, let them sit, drill holes in the log to insert the dowels into then cover with wax.
The logs shouldn’t be let to dry out and I think this is why I haven’t had any grow as it’s quite hard to keep them moist. It may also be my choice of logs which was macrocarpa. However I’m going to give it one more try so will update in more detail on my process when I do. We had our macrocarpa tree come down in a storm a few years ago and I think the stump would look great with mushrooms growing out of it.
- Button (field) mushrooms
I’ve tried a couple of kits to grow button mushrooms which were very successful and I recommend giving them a go. I’ve also grown them on a larger scale. Click here to read my earlier post on growing these.