Hey everyone, my first blue oyster grow just turned out pretty disastrous and I'd like to know how I can get it right the next time. Unfortunately, I chucked it all out before taking pics, but I'm certain of what I saw.
I mixed approx 4kg of straw with calcium hydroxide and left it to pasteurise for 24 hrs, before drying it in a porous net. During the drying, I noticed the straw was full of seeds but didn't think anything of it.
I then stuffed a sterilised opaque rubble bag with the drained sub and 1kg of colonised grain, cut a load of holes in it, and let it sit in the house. Not in a sterile room, just a normal room where we hang washing so high humidity and temp around 24C.
The mycelium started spreading after a few days, but then grass-like sprouts started growing from the holes in the bag. I pulled on a bit and there was a seed attached to the end. I left it, thinking the mycelium would continue colonising. But today I cut it open and saw cobweb mould, green trich and a hell load of these sprouts running through the straw and growing out the top where there wasn't even any light. The mycelium was gone.
This has left me with a lot of questions and I'd appreciate any help you can give. Should I look for different straw that doesn't contain seeds? Should I have left the bag closed and not cut holes in the side until the substrate was colonised? Should I try a 1:1 ratio for better chances of success? Is incubating in a room where washing dries a bad idea?
I'm going to second Eric on this one, what you thought of as "cobweb mold" might have been the start of hyphae, it would have taken at least 2 weeks and probably three to know for certain.
From you description of how you set up, I would suggest that you don't open the bag or cut holes in it until you see thick mycelium next time. Oysters are very aggressive, not much can styme their growth once they get a grip on the substrate.
Wheat grass isn't a problem for oyster mycelium, the mycelium will take over, but it might need some time (the 2-3 weeks mentioned) to become established enough to crowd out the roots of the wheat, rye or what ever, remember this, most starter kits use grains for the medium.
The tradition for mycologist growing mycelium is sterile environment, Oysters don't need this for very long, which is why they are good starting out species of fungi to grow.
Give it a go again, I'm sure you will succeed, if you have questions I know Eric will help as will I.
Bryant and Eric, thanks for your responses. I will give it more time this next time round. I panicked when I saw the green blotches on the straw and assumed the whole thing was doomed.
I did actually take some pictures of what I thought was mycelium growth about 6 days in. I then determined pic 3 was spider's web because of the prevalance of other moulds/green patches in that area. They're not great pictures, but please let me know if you can determine whether it was in fact mycelium.
A thought popped into my mind. When you say you chucked the old inoculated straw, what exactly did you do with it? Did you throw it into the garbage or do you still have some laying about in some obscure corner? The reason I ask is that if you still have some lying about, it may be possible to collect the old straw, throw in some sticks and see what happens.
By now this will be anything but sterilized, and it may take time, but eventually you may get something for your efforts. I am not certain there is anything left to work with, but if there is, what do you have to lose?
hau Richard, those last three photos are mycelium growing and they are growing rather nicely in those photos.
If you have a room that you can put your grow bag in that can have the lights off so only indirect light is available you can use clear bags which allow you to really see what is going on through the whole of your growing medium.
I just got a good look at the pictures myself and I wholeheartedly agree with Redhawk. If that was my project, I would be excited by that point. If you still have them, why not give it another run? Otherwise, get a new kit going and try again—it looks like you were well on your way to having a nice batch of mushrooms.
Keep at it and good Luck!!
posted 6 days ago
Eric, funny you should say that, I still have the straw in a barrel in the garden. I'll have a look and see what I can salvage.
To be honest, I'm more inclined to start again from scratch. I've got 3 450g bags of rye seeds almost at full colonisation and plenty more straw. Since it's my first grow, I really want to make this work.
Thank you both for your responses and advice. Going on what you've said, I'm going to make the following adjustments this time around:
- use a clear bag to get a better idea of what is going on
- keep the bag sealed until the substrate is fully colonised
- wait longer for the spawn to colonise the substrate
- cut holes only when the log is ready for fruiting
Please, feel free to add anything else I can do better.
The four changes you intend to make should do the trick. I think the best part is to have a clear bag for observation.
Regarding the remnants of your first pile, actually I was thinking that you might be able to try a parallel experiment outside. Since you still have the remnants, why not make a little pile and see if you can get something going in your garden while you try your inside project at the same time? I don’t think you have anything to lose and my experience has been that the decomposing pile sitting on the ground really makes the ground fertile.
Do you have a spare corner of your garden going unused? Or maybe a place that you want to extend your garden? I used to make compost piles away from my garden, but now I intentionally place my piles directly in the garden because decaying plant matter tremendously improved soil fertility. The pile and soil sorta knit together. The reason for this is that the biology in the soil reaches into the pile for nutrients. And likewise, biology in the pile reaches into the soil. And as luck would have it, these two sets of decomposers not only play nice together, they actually work best together. Adding in some oyster mushrooms into a pile sitting on your garden can yield up good compost, but even better it can drastically improve the underlying soil. This is my long winded way of saying to just try using the existing fungi right in the garden. I think you will like how fast it can break down the straw and other debris. And you might get some mushrooms to boot.
Richard, I am converting all three of my raised beds into woodchip based mushroom compost. I am using wine caps because they are a great starter mushroom. I planted vegetables in my first shroom bed last summer and the veggies were amazingly healthy. In fact, they may have been the best, most healthy vegetables I have ever seen. Like I said, I use wine caps mostly for their ability to break down wood, but having a flush of mushrooms is nice too.
Next summer I plan on getting some oyster mushrooms in beds that had wine caps before. I have been informed that oyster mushrooms are a great mushroom to follow Wine Caps as they play nice together and the oysters break down wood even more thoroughly than the already impressive wine caps. I liked the wine caps, but only when picked while still small. I am hoping that the oysters taste even better.
I have become a fungal fanatic for the ability of the proper fungi to provide tasty mushrooms, and improve both the plants and soil in the vicinity.
Richard, I think you have a great start and even more potential. I am very curious as to how your next batch comes out, and if you choose to try the garden experiment, I would love to know how that one works too.
Please keep us updated!
posted 6 days ago
I think that's a great idea. I've also heard of the many benefits plants and fungi can offer each other when grown in the same environment. I'm glad to hear your projects have gone so well, I can definitely attest to the tastiness of oysters, and hope you enjoy the fruit(bodies) of your labour next summer.
Unfortunately, I don't have any compost piles or such spaces which would be suitable for dumping the remnants on. The remnants are currently in an open plastic tub, which is protected from the elements by a plastic overhead canopy. I briefly inspected the tub after your response today, there are still green blotches on some strands of straw but also areas of remaining mycelium. Also, the straw on the top has dried a bit and the straw in the middle has retained its moisture. The tub is old and I wouldn't mind drilling some holes in it if needs be.
Given my available resources, what would be the best way to give the mycelium a second chance? If it's of any help, I'm located in the south of England where we have very mild winters, with average temps of 6-10C (43-50F) rarely dropping below 0C (32F) at night.
I guess I would try to find any and all scraps of vegetation to throw into your tub. So do you not have a garden at all? The reason I ask is that even if you just let the pile of stuff just lay on the garden for a couple months prior to planting, that can still do some good. Even if your pile is 1 square meter that can just sit.
But if you don’t have that, then I would let the woody/straw materials sit in their tub, probably best with a cover and see what comes up.
So I have an idea of your climate, can you describe your immediate surroundings? Such as do you a home? Do you rent? Do you live in an urban or rural area? Do you have a garden. I am not trying to pry, but I am just trying to figure out where you could put your little experimental fungi project.
I am finding your project quite interesting so I am really curious as to how it will work out.
posted 6 days ago
I live in a house, we have a garden which has flowerbeds, some patches of soil where we grow tomatoes and berries, and some tubs for growing potatoes and carrots. The "oyster" tub is currently in an ex-chicken coop (the canopy I mentioned is part of it). The ground there was picked bare by the chickens, so it's just earth and a dead tree stump from an oak we felled many years ago. The earth might have been fertilized by chicken manure, but we haven't tried to grow anything in there since. My area is rural, we have a heathland nearby and lots of woods.
I am a bit weary of dumping the remnants on the ground, as I read on a few websites that barley shoots are essentially weeds and can wreak havoc if allowed to germinate. May I ask what the purpose of covering the tub is? Just so I know what result to expect and whether I need to add water or something.
Regarding the cover: basically I was thinking of something to cast shade on the pile. But from the sounds of things you have plenty of shady places to place the remnants.
Also I think I understand why you don’t want to dump the pile on the ground. If that’s just how you like it, it’s your property and completely your choice.
I am a little surprised to hear barley is like a weed. I don’t like weeds anymore than you and weeding is the bane of my otherwise very nice gardening existence. I do have a trick to avoid weeding though—I am a teacher and thus have huge loads of paper by the end of the year. I have found that a 3 page test is great. I lay the tests down after I plant my garden and I cover my tests with woodchips or straw. Weeds below are shaded out of existence. Those few weeds that make it to my paper layer can’t grow through it and too weak to even try. The garden is fairly weed free and looks nice as the paper is covered by straw/woodchips. The paper lets rain through and keeps out harsh rays during a dry spell. And by the end of the summer, the paper is well on its way to being broken down by my mushrooms.
The description of your home environs sounds beautiful.
I hope something in here helps,
posted 5 days ago
Yes, also according to the articles I read, laying paper down is the best method of preventing the barley from germinating. Perhaps as I develop as a grower I will become more adventurous with my endeavours; however, for now I think I'll stick to the tub and see what comes of it. I'm nevertheless grateful for your input and will do some reading on the possibility of growing mushrooms with our other plants. Especially wine caps as I had never heard of that species prior to you mentioning it.
Once again, many thanks for your help. I will post any updates as they come, likely on a new post.
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