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Oyster mushrooms grown on shredded, sterilized cardboard (PHOTOS)  RSS feed

 
Rob Compsen
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I started growing King Oyster mushrooms in Brown Rice Flour, Vermiculite and distilled water in jars, then when jar's almost fully colonized, they're transferred to shredded sterilized cardboard. (I also added a cup of used coffee grinds for some added Nitrogen.)

The cardboard was shredded with a shredder from Staples and sterilized with a 23 quart pressure cooker (when I'm not doing large batches I use a standard boiling pot), then filled 1 gallon bags half full and inoculated them when they cooled.

They're fruiting in a standard cooler near a house vent for air circulation and when I spray it twice a day I fill a gallon jug 3/4 with hot/warm water for humidity and added heat.










 
Joe Skeletor
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Location: Blue Island, Illinois - Zone 6a - (Lake Effect) - surrounded by zone 5b
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Nice pictures. I'm curious about your continued process. At the end (or near the end) of the fruiting cycle, will you gather more culture? Or do you just start from scratch with a bought-in culture? Also, if you do carry over to a new generation, have you ever moved some out to a garden setting? Just curious.

Thanks again for the pics. Always looking for real life examples of smaller scale mushroom growing.
 
Devon Olsen
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Location: SE Wyoming -zone 4
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nice thread, cant wait for more pics into the finale of fruit formation
 
Rob Compsen
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About the continued process:

I set one well colonized bag aside for inoculating more brown rice flour and vermiculite jars. I've tried using colonized cardboard to inoculate more sterilized cardboard, but it doesn't seem to work well. I'm guessing there isn't a decent enough nutrient base for the oyster's mycelium to spread.

However, a pinch full of colonized cardboard added to the sterilized BRF cakes works just fine. Within about 3-4 weeks, the new BRF cakes are ready to be transferred to more cardboard. I have not needed to purchase more spawn. Just the first one.

Here's an update on the fruiting of the first batch:













 
Rob Compsen
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A little more information on this method with an update:


I've noticed that they don't seem too need too much oxygen while colonizing. I've been filling 1 gallon bags half full of SSC (shredded sterilized cardboard [for more surface area]) with about 1 inch of the zipper seal on the bags open to let the mycelium breathe. (My 23 quart pressure cooker mostly filled with shredded cardboard can 1/2 fill about 7-8 1 gallon bags.)

They'll usually start to fruit on their own when they're ready. (If they're too warm, drop the temp, by putting them in the fridge for the night, but I haven't needed to do this so far.)

The first batch I inoculated on 12/24/12, were beginning to fruit about a month later. I poked holes in the bag where the primordia (mushroom nodes) began to form and they sniffed out the oxygen and grew toward the holes. My fruiting chamber to begin with was a simple cooler that I sprayed each day. I then moved them to a plastic storage box from W-mart that I drilled holes in for ventilation and poured a 1" layer of perlite on the bottom to retain the water sprayed each day for moisture.

My most recent batch has been doing just fine in a plastic plant starter box with a 1/2" bottom layer of perlite. I poked several holes in the bottom of the planter box, because I figured CO2 which mushrooms "breathe" is heavier than air and would naturally flow out. The air vents on clear plastic top to the planter I leave open. I'm assuming as the CO2 vents out from the bottom and pulls fresh air in from the top. They also like indirect light when fruiting.

Also, the planter starter box is the perfect size for the gallon bags and I can fit about 6 bags in at a time. Cheap, simple and effective. Here're some photos to give an idea. Hope this helps









 
ross johnson
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Im thinking you innoculated the BRFcakes with a spore or liquid culture syringe? Looks like you have a pretty good technique and set up.


To me the attraction of growing oysters on cardboard is only that it can be done without using sterile technique and that the cardboard itself can theoreticaly be used as spawn. I Would say that the mycelium you have and the mushrooms its producing are gaining their nutrition, streangth and vigor from the BRF & coffee. If you pasteurized straw and supplemented with coffee or bran your yeilds, nutritional content, and medicinal quality of the shrooms would go up.

Cardboard supplies cellulose but there is nothing else really, but the thing is mushrooms need a little more nutrition to synthesize protiens and medicinal compounds to their full potentiel. Supplemented straw or sawdust provides that, plus it has the bonus of a biological community that will break down nutrients from the substrate for the mycelium plus synthesise benifical compounds for the mycelium directly and also indirectly by contributing antibiotic compounds to the substrate that act as an immune system for the mycelium.

The difference between sterilizing and pasteurizing is that when pasteurizing a in hospitable tempreture is held for a leangth of time in order to kill off certain organisms but it does not get hot enough to kill of certain benificial organisms.

Sterilization obviously is when all life forms are killed off.

When something is sterilized it is incredibly vulnerable to colonization from competitive organisms because the substrate is defenseless unless you ensure that they remain sterile until its innoculated and colonized by the innoculum like you did with the BRF jars. When something is pasteurized it is still colonized by the heat tolerant organisms and so will not readily contaminate in open air conditions.

Cardboard doesnt generally contaminate and is a selective substrate because its lack of nutrients dont facilitate growth in most fungi species and doesnt offer simple sugars for bacterial growth. It can contaminate though.

Oysters tear through it because they are a primary decomposer and can break complex things down that have not been previously broken down by another organism.

Portabella on the other hand needs a substrate to have been previously broken down and would not thrive on card board, and coffee unless in minute ammounts would probably be too nutritious for ports which would slow the growth.

Sorry for rambling and I hope this post doesnt come across as offensive or discouraging. Im pretty impressed seing your project and am just thinking that if youd done the same thing using straw youd be pretty happy with the results. So Id like to encourage you to use your skills to their full potential.
 
Rob Compsen
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Not offensive or discouraging at all. I probably should have posted the back story and what I'm attempting to accomplish:

A few months ago, my girlfriend and I moved back to upstate New York from northern California and stayed with my parents for a while until we found an apartment. During that time, I started reading about Oyster mushrooms colonizing cardboard and decided to do something about the cardboard that seemed to pile in the garage on a weekly basis. Most of the articles and videos I read were about shredding the corrugated cardboard by hand and then pasteurizing it with hot water. It just so happened that there was a small paper shredder at the house, so not only was I shredding corrugated cardboard, I started shredding any paper product, I could find: kleenex boxes, beer boxes, food product boxes, some paper (not too much paper as it's bleached and tends to get overly soggy when wet.), paper and toilet paper rolls, etc.

I got a 23 quart pressure cooker (thanks Mom ) for Christmas and started sterilizing the shredded cardboard, just to be on the safe side of non-contamination. When the bags I half filled had cooled, I'd add a few spoon fulls of the colonized BRF cakes. (BTW, my first inoculation of the BRF cakes was with a King Oyster sawdust spawn I bought off of Ebay.) From there on, is in my above posts.

Basically, using the SSC (shredded sterilized cardboard) started as a way to find use out of the unused cardboard, short of having some recycling company take it to who knows where for whatever purpose.Breaking it down myself and letting nature take it over makes me much happier.

My first Oyster fruiting was on straw. I sterilized half of a 5 gallon buckets worth back in November, let it colonize until late December and it has been fruiting since. I spray it about every day, but that's about it. The fruits are definitely bigger in the straw and the continuous fruiting is very nice. Here are a few photos from that:









 
ross johnson
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Nice work!

Great way to deal with all that cardboard for sure. After the cardboard/paper substrates are spent they'd probably make a pretty good feed for pigs too. Turn all that trash into gourmet food.
 
Erica Barry
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Thank you so much! This is great to see, as I am about to start a similar project since I have lots of paper products too. I currently compost them, but would love to get mushrooms for it before they head to the compost pile! I am about to start trying for the first time, and am wondering: Have you tried it without the shredder? I'm not sure I really want to invest in a cardboard shredder. Has anyone given it a try with wet mixed cardboard & paper (could include used tissues or even old clothes)?
 
sim andy
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Nice Job & great info!! Thank you so much.
 
Danny Smithers
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Location: Florissant, CO
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Hi Erica,

I've done this without a shredder in the past, I recommend wetting the cardboard down and then just separating/tearing by hand, it comes apart very easily when wet. You don't get as uniform shreds, but I don't think that is necessary to get the fungi to grow. I'm waiting on the results of this hand-tear process right now and will let you know as the progress continues.
 
klorinth McCoy
Posts: 101
Location: Southern Manitoba, Canada, Zone 3B
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Rob, I love the bags in the mini greenhouse idea. Great use of available materials and space. You have given me a few ideas for my next experiment with oysters.

Thank you.
 
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