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Lisa Crawford
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I'm brand new to fungi - just went to a class that focuses on non-sterile cultivation. Mostly using cardboard, coffee, woodchips, etc.
Does anyone here do this and if so , how does it work out for you? Any tips or directions to learn more?
Thanks!
Lisa
 
John Polk
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Welcome to permies Lisa.

I haven't done 'shrooms yet, but look forward to it.
There are plenty of mushroom fans here, so you should get some good input.

 
Landon Sunrich
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I've done some sterile and non-sterile cultures. Plenty of failure and lots of success. Oysters are pretty easy if you have pure culture spawns. Ive had success from just plucking shrooms and laying them out on fresh cut alders too. Cyanescens grow so easy as to be a bane (they grow wild around here but if one was to cultivate them it would you'd be at risk for prosecution.) Those two are by far the easiest in the PNW and both do well in cardboard and woodchips. Mycillium Running is a pretty good resource. What area of the world are you in? I'm sure a class must have sown plenty of spores in your mind.
 
M.K. Dorje Jr.
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King stropharia is really easy for me to grow by placing stem butts on cardboard, transferring mycelium from one bed to another or using spore emulsion on wood chips/sawdust. I've also had excellent results using stem butts on cardboard with oyster mushrooms that I got at the store. I fill the myceliated cardboard boxes with wood chips/sawdust, then the oysters fruit from the chips in the boxes. There are several long threads on the fungi forum here on how to do this. I've also had good success transferring mycelium from old almond agaricus projects in old boxes to new boxes filled with fresh leached cow manure compost- getting three generations of mushroom boxes from a single spawn purchase. I've also grown black morels from spore emulsion dumped onto cardboard mulch and burn piles- but the yields have been hit or miss- usually miss! Landscape morels (Morchella rufobrunnea) can be grown using this method, too. I'm always dumping spore emulsion of my favorite species around my place- some of them will grow, some not.
 
John Saltveit
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Hi Lisa,
I agree with the other posters. paul stamets is the king of mushroom cultivation. Denver is a very different climate than mine or MK's . Oysters in general are considered one of the easiest to cultivate and King Stropharia the easiest to grow in the garden. I am sure that you would have a local mycological society. Telluride, CO has one of the premier mushroom festivals in the US! Check with locals and find out what is easy to grow or gather there.
JohN S
PDX OR
 
Dan Tutor
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I usually have better luck with sterile or semi-sterile culture, but it's more work and tools and space.
I have observed several species of mushroom mycelium triumph over competitors in in-vitro conditions. That's pretty neat to watch.
Spore slurry or spore mass innoculations are fairly low effort, so do it often and in different ways and if you are unsuccessful, try try again.

Yesterday I found a poplar branch with a few spring oysters fruiting from it, so I broke off a big piece with mycelium clearly running through it and took it home to bury in a modified hugulculture - poplar logs and branches with mixed hardwood chips and straw, topped with woody compost. I have cautious hope, but if I don't see any results I'll just do it again or spawn with a bag of colonized sawdust spawn.

Growing fungi is different than growing plants. It's a benefit to have horticultural experience, but don't let gardening conceptions interfere with your mycological explorations. Everything is different!

Good luck!
 
John Saltveit
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Research making comparisons of the production of mycelium compared with temperature of inoculation (sterile versus pasteurized) show much more production at lower temperatures , like 140 F compared with 212F.

Not that I'm particularly good at either one, but I am trying and learning (screwing up a lot!)
John S
PDX OR
 
dan long
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So you guys are telling me that i can just sprinkle some spores or place a mushroom butt on a chunk of: soil/manure/wood chips/log/cardboard and have a chance that it will produce mushrooms? Why are people on youtube sterilizing or sanitizing everything then? It sounds like the effortutput ratio favors the "shotgun approach" or just flinging some spores all over the place unless you guys are getting like a 2% success rate.

I'm new. Could you tell?
 
M.K. Dorje Jr.
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I like to use ALL the methods of cultivation- sterile spawn, stem butts and spore emulsion. The sterile spawn method is the most reliable- I have a 100% success rate with spawn from Field And Forest Products. (However, I have a 0% success rate with spawn from another company that I won't mention!) With stem butts, your success rate will increase with experience. King Stropharia stem butts on wood chips in a cardboard box is a good project for beginners to try. Spore emulsion is the cheapest but it is also the most unreliable method. Sometimes it's really hard to tell if your projects are working, because it might take several years for a project to bear fruit- especially with some of the mycorrhizal species. Oregon White Truffle spore emulsion on Douglas-fir seedlings might take 10-30 years to begin fruiting!

Here is some more info about the Landscape Morel species that I think has a really great chance to become the easiest morel species to grow on wood chip beds by amateur cultivators:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morchella_importuna

 
Dan Tutor
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dan long wrote:So you guys are telling me that i can just sprinkle some spores or place a mushroom butt on a chunk of: soil/manure/wood chips/log/cardboard and have a chance that it will produce mushrooms? Why are people on youtube sterilizing or sanitizing everything then? It sounds like the effortutput ratio favors the "shotgun approach" or just flinging some spores all over the place unless you guys are getting like a 2% success rate.

I'm new. Could you tell?


To make a gardening simile out of this: buying sterile spawn is like buying vegetable starts- all of the most delicate work has been done for you, so you are almost guaranteed a success.
This is particularly important with less aggressive or finicky fungi, or exotic or specialized plants.

On the other hand, some vegetables, like radishes, grow great from seed hand broadcast into the right conditions. The key is the right conditions. Most people here have a general understanding of where would be a good place to chuck a handful of radishes seeds and achieve success, but fewer people understand the conditions needed by fungi, generally, and specific fungi even less. So while broadcasting spores, or spore slurry, might work great, it's very much dependent on matching a chosen fungi with its desired habitat, or at least environmental conditions.

Shaggy manes and oyster species are both ubiquitous and agressive colonizers of many substrates, so like the radish, you would be way more likely to achieve success than if you went around trying to hand broadcast celery, or the grocery store button mushrooms.
Ymmv!
(Your milage may vary)
 
Dan Tutor
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A big benefit of beginning to grow mushrooms from sterile substrates is you can isolate factors and control individual variables more.

If something goes wrong you can more easily deduce the location of the problem, learn, correct it, and improve.


rather than things being hit or miss, and one being forced to make assumptions and guesses about failures and successes.

The big point is educate yourself as much as you can about growing mushrooms, definitely read stamets growing gourmet and medicinal mushrooms or the mushroom cultivator . Both have very detailed information about growing conditions preferred by all the cultivated fungi you could find.
 
John Saltveit
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Reading "Mycelium Running", also by Paul Stamets is one that I will also recommend very highly, even moreso than THe Mushroom Cultivator.
John S
PDX OR
 
Landon Sunrich
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John Saltveit wrote:Reading "Mycelium Running", also by Paul Stamets is one that I will also recommend very highly, even moreso than THe Mushroom Cultivator.
John S
PDX OR


Totally, If I only had 25 $ left to spend I would chose 'Mycelium Running" 10 times out of ten. I also own "the Mushroom Cultivator"

both great books
 
Dan Tutor
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Good to know! I haven't read that one, just heard great things. Does it go into specific growth parameters for different species?
Not that it needs to, Paul covers that thoroughly in the other two, just curious.
 
John Saltveit
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Yes, some of the practices in the mushroom cultivator are outdated. Mycelium Running isn't just a how to cultivation book. It has a lot of that, but it also has a lot on how mycology can benefit our society in many different ways. It's the newest book, so it has the newest research and techniques.
John S
PDX OR
 
drake schutt
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Dan Tutor wrote:Good to know! I haven't read that one, just heard great things. Does it go into specific growth parameters for different species?
Not that it needs to, Paul covers that thoroughly in the other two, just curious.


been a while since I read it, but if it does it's not as many species as Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms. That's my bible. But I'm a mush farmer full time

"Yes, some of the practices in the mushroom cultivator are outdated. Mycelium Running isn't just a how to cultivation book. It has a lot of that, but it also has a lot on how mycology can benefit our society in many different ways. It's the newest book, so it has the newest research and techniques."
John S

What's outdated? You also have to keep in mind that some of the ways that 'mushrooms can save the world', Mr. Stamets holds a patent on. He has a crack team of lawyers on payroll, I know someone who has been served a cease and desist order by them. Some of the science, specificially the mycofiltration and oil spill clean up is shaky. Neither were peer reviewed. Mycelium WILL degrade oil and bacteria, but not nearly to the extent which he claims. His numbers for % degredation are quite a bit higher than anything I've seen in a peer reviewed journal. If it was actually going to save the world, the bio-remediation industry would be on board. Something that may have a larger impact is the start-up building insulation panels and packaging materials out of sawdust colonized with reishi mycelium. That is something we need more of.

/rant
 
John Saltveit
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Even his company admits that a lot of the info is outdated. Some of the protocols on sterilization are outdated, and some of his best recommendations on how to cultivate forms of mushrooms are outdated. He doesn't mention putting the gills of the mushrooms in sunlight for example, because it had not yet been invented. His section on blewits is not very carefully described.
John S
PDX OR
 
drake schutt
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John Saltveit wrote:Even his company admits that a lot of the info is outdated. Some of the protocols on sterilization are outdated, and some of his best recommendations on how to cultivate forms of mushrooms are outdated. He doesn't mention putting the gills of the mushrooms in sunlight for example, because it had not yet been invented. His section on blewits is not very carefully described.
John S
PDX OR


Oh, ok. I was thinking his more recent book I gourmet and medicinal mushrooms was reprinted less than 10 years ago. The mushrooms cultivator is from the 80's I believe. I have heard people doubt that Paul ever fruited Blewits indoors.
 
Dan Tutor
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Are there other cultivation books worth the money?
I've learned a lot from magic mushroom forums, which usually have vibrant communities of growers of gourmet mushrooms as well.

The video series on edibles by roger rabbit - let's grow mushrooms!, is pretty good.

I think we are due for someone to write a good book on home cultivation techniques and small farm set ups, demystifying spawn making and sterile technique for the amateur, market,or casual grower.

I have a lot of ideas, maybe I'll get something together over the winter ( my quiet season) and start sharing it here.
I've just been dabbling for five years, so I'm no expert!
I'm just fascinated by fungi.
 
John Saltveit
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Peter McCoy of Radical Mycology is writing a book on it, I believe. He's also really into bioremediation and the benefits of psychoactive mushrooms.

I think part of the problem is that mushroom cultivators have historically been a very secretive lot, partially due to being tied with illegal psychoactive mushrooms, and partly to guard their hard-earned source of income. It has become abundantly clear to myself and millions of others, including the vast majority of nutrition doctors, that mushrooms can heal people in ways that make it so that almost everyone should have access to mushrooms.
John S
PDX OR
 
james Apodaca
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I have had reasonable (1) success cloning mycelium at home in mason jars..

I purchased the spawn plugs from fungi.com and figured I would attempt to keep it alive as long as possible as I collect a lot of wood I find while I'm out and about. (Mostly Oak, Pine, Sycamore and Maple)
They had a buy three special so I did.. I ordered Chicken of the Woods, Pearl Oyster and Shitaki..

I saved one plug of each and put them in jars of Pasteurized (2) Coffee grounds, Oak Wood (from drilling the dowel plug holes) sawdust, and Pine Sawdust (from the wood shop, mostly reclaimed pallet wood run on the jointer).

All of my Shitaki jars are dead (mold contamination)

My Chicken of the Wood Jars are stagnant as I used Pine Shavings. fungicide used on pallet wood most likely? (Didn't have the proper logs.. should have stuck to easier mushrooms for my first attempt but I got carried away the order button was shiny).

My pearl oyster Mushrooms have taken off.. All of the logs I plugged were successfully inoculated. However, most of my jars didn't take.

I only have 3 jars, out of 13 I would consider a success and 1 where you can see it took hold but it looks funky.. I don't like funky.

(1) Reasonable success for me means it didn't cost me anything and I got at least a few positive results
(2) My Pasteurization consists of simmering jars of the medium in a pressure cooker for 3 hours.. No clue what the temperature is.. *Shrugs*




IMG_20140613_205818_392.jpg
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Mason Jars, Kept under the bed. Jar w/ Red Lid is "Jar Zero" Innoculated on 3/19
IMG_20140613_205829_049.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20140613_205829_049.jpg]
It used to be full, but I've been pinching it off to innoculate stacked logs.
 
james Apodaca
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Here are my failures..

First is a jar of Shitaki spawn contaminated with mold. I wasn't happy with any of the jars I did with Oak Wood saw dust from drilling out the holes for the plug spawn..
None of them look appealing.

Second Picture is Pearl Oyster on Oak Wood saw dust.. The mycelium looks grey and hasn't filled out the jar as well as the coffee grounds.

IMG_20140613_210116_975.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20140613_210116_975.jpg]
Jar of Shitaki Spawn contaminated with mold..
IMG_20140613_205922_467.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20140613_205922_467.jpg]
Pearl Oyster on Oak Wood..
 
John Saltveit
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I have read in many places about how difficult shiitake is in non sterile cultivation, except in logs. My own failures in these regards add to the evidence. My sense of my own jagged learning curve is that unpredictable success and failure is the rule rather than the exception. I am thinking of each failure as my tuition in the myceliium school of hard knocks. As far as I've read, that is how people typically get it.
John S'
PDX OR
 
Dan Tutor
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I've had good success transferring colonized shitake plugs and sawdust spawn to sterile sawdust (pressure cooked up to about 2 hours) and enriched sterile sawdust in a non-sterile environment ( clean closet ). I use gloves and a mask lately, because it's impossible to get the dirt out from under my fingernails.

As far as stuff pretty much anyone can do at home with a few materials, a little space, and some research and experimentation, these are things I've done with a simple thrift store pressure cooker, plastic totes, mason jars, myco bags, baby bottles, Petri dishes, basic sterile technique, and a closet I can clean up.

Extend purchased spawn- by grain to grain, sawdust to sawdust, plug to grain, plug to sawdust, plug to agar, grain to agar, etc.

Start spores- on grain, agar, cardboard,

Make spawn- liquid, grain, sawdust, from spore, mycelium, or liquid culture

Clone fruiting bodies- from store bought hypzigus Tesselatus

Isolate contaminations

Fruit off straw, grain, cased grain, wood chips and sawdust

Store and preserve cultures for later use and indefinite, infinite expansion- p. Eryngi, p. Ostreatus, p. Columbinus, h. Tesselatus, s. Rugosannulata, p. Cubensis (sub strains), p. Azurescens, p. Cyanescens, l. Edodes ( 2 sub strains )

Start shitake logs, stropharia beds, oyster stumps, sulphur shelf stumps, inoculate hugul beds!

I've sourced spawn from fungiperfecti and field and forest, as well as ebay. One ebay culture was contaminated but otherwise I've had great success.
I think home cultivation really needs demystifying!
 
John Saltveit
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Great overview, Dan. It shows people what is possible with more experience. Thanks,
John S
PDX OR
 
Angelika Maier
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You have a lot of experience Dan! I only tried stem buds on cardboard once and failed, but I will retry.
The problem is that the only book which explains the non sterile method is Stammets Mycellium Running.
It is not the amount of biology he explains in the book, but he is not very straightforward in how to do things.
With the cardboard method for example he does not explain what comes after the cardboard.
Then he thinks everyone does know the wild mushrooms I don't, in Australia there isn't even a book on them let alone a course!
As he sells cultures he does not emphasize very much on methods with shop bought mushrooms, not anyone wants to
spend $50 on some dowels and the variety here is very limited. Yes, a really good book for the home gardener is missing.
 
Mat Smith
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Angelika Maier wrote: Yes, a really good book for the home gardener is missing.


I think that is generally because mushroom cultivation is a bit too detailed or technical for most home gardeners.
 
John Saltveit
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Tradd Cotter has a new book out on cultivating mushrooms as well. I haven't read it yet, but I aim to. I've heard good things about it. He runs Mushroom Mountain store online.
John S
PDX OR
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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These days, my mushrooms are grown only outdoors in non-sterile conditions. I tried the sterile conditions route, but it's just too fussy for me: to get the water right, and the times, and the pH, and the temperatures, and especially the humidity out here in the desert. I am too busy farming to be paying attention to whether or not the spawn has run through a jar of grain. The sterile route requires all types of equipment and materials that I really don't want to pay for. I don't feel like giving a crop that much attention. Sure. my non-sterile outdoor grows might be weedy, and the yield might not be what a commercial lab could produce, but they grow themselves without much care from me.

I need a method of growing where I plant the logs and forget about them until it is time to harvest. That's my basic philosophy towards growing vegetables. That's why food forests appeal so much to me. Non-sterile mushroom growing outdoors works really well for my lifestyle and philosophy towards the world around me. I chop up oyster mushroom butts and use them to inoculate fresh logs, or I make up a spore emulsion and pour it into holes drilled in logs. Easy and straight forward is my motto for growing mushrooms. Today I'm planting hybrid mushrooms by mixing up the spores from 3 different strains, and planting them into the same log. (Gray oyster, golden oyster, and a wild strain.) The most vigorous will survive and thrive, so I'll end up selecting for mushrooms that do well in my climate.

Here's what some of my oyster mushroom logs looked like about a week ago. For fruiting I had to soak them in water and move them into a closed up damp greenhouse. There wasn't enough humidity/moisture this year for them to fruit outdoors.




 
John Saltveit
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Joseph,
when you say you chop up stem butts, do you drill holes and put them in? How do you inoculate them?
Thanks
John S
PDX OR

By the way , I have now read Tradd Cotter's book and it's great.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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My inoculation strategies are like this:

Drill holes:


Stuff the holes with chopped up mushrooms: butts and/or dirty pieces of fruits.


Drip a bit of wax from a candle into the hole.


Or fill the holes with spores suspended in water containing a hint of peroxide.


To collect spores I lay a freshly harvested mushroom in a glass dish for a day or two.


Stack the logs in a shady spot to incubate.



 
John Saltveit
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Great pictures! I've never heard of using dirty pieces of fruits. I would think that would grow mold, not higher fungi like mushrooms. How often do dirty fruits work?
Thansk,
John S
PDX OR
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I'm not growing in sterile conditions. Dirty fruits work fine... The logs I'm planting them into are dirty... My hands are dirty... My tools are dirty... The air around the workbench is dirty... They are incubated in a dusty dirty garden full of dirty animals and bugs... The irrigation water is dirty.... For millions of years, mushrooms have been doing a great job growing better-quicker-faster than micro-organisms. All I have to do is get out of their way and let them do what they were born to do: Thrive in spite of the dirt.
 
Lance Svenson
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I put some spawn in a Tupperware with used coffee grinds and cardboard and it worked better than in sterile agar in a petri dish.
 
John Saltveit
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I live in a very wet place with tons of trees, spores, and life. I think the dirty cultivation may be less successful here than where Joseph is. I appreciate the viewpoint, though. It may be very useful to someone in a similar climate.
John S
PDX OR
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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John Saltveit wrote:I live in a very wet place with tons of trees, spores, and life. I think the dirty cultivation may be less successful here than where Joseph is. I appreciate the viewpoint, though. It may be very useful to someone in a similar climate.


It's just a different way of looking at the world... I can do dirty cultivation at home, on a small scale... I don't need money to buy supplies from the global corporation: No agar, or gloves, or pressure cooker, or syringe, or canning jars, or disinfectants, or growth enhancers, or inoculants. I don't have to keep records, or monitor progress. I can let the temperature and humidity be whatever they happen to be. I don't like the centralized model of growing mushrooms, so I choose a decentralized model. I could be more successful and more predictable about growing mushrooms if I adopted sterile conditions, and put in the time and study to do sterile properly. But I'd rather plant them and forget about them until harvest time.

 
steve bossie
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last spring i bought some oyster inoculated wood dowells and mixed them with wet hardwood sawdust. made a 2ft. pile under my big spruces then covered it 3in . of straw. got 3 flushes out of it. going to mix in some more sawdust this year to get them going again. i placed the sawdust right on the ground. no sterilization.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote: But I'd rather plant them and forget about them until harvest time.


You're in a dry area, so the fact that you can grow mushrooms is very encouraging to me. I'd like to grow edible mushrooms in a natural way without fussing about sterility, etc. Which kinds have been successful for you? Do you grow them in an irrigated place or do you rely on natural moisture?
 
steve bossie
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this is from mycelium running. buy some oyster sawdust spawn. break it up into dime sized pieces. mix well into wet hardwood sawdust, chips or shredded straw. fill up 2 burlap sacks with it. tie off. stack one on top of the other under a shady tree on the ground. some where that doesn't get wind. or set up a tarp to protect it. wet 2 empty burlap and lay on top and drape over sides. water when you water your garden. when the bags turn all white w/ mycelium, water 2xs per day till they flush. they will grow right thru the sides of the bags! easiest way to get shrooms I've seen! let them rest for a week, then water heavy again. you should get 3 or 4 flushes before your bags start to fall apart. take your used mycelium and make another 2 more bags w/ more chips! you can cycle it about 4xs before your mycelium gets weak flushes. for your area in texas id use the pink and yellow warm weather strains. if you can't get hardwood chips phoenix oysters will grow on spruce , fir and pine sawdust. good luck!
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Posts: 2581
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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Outdoors, I have successfully cultivated oyster mushrooms and morels. Natural moisture is sufficient, but I can have a bit more control over fruiting if I arrange for a high humidity environment. Was unsuccessful with lion's mane and king stropharia.

Turkey tails, puffballs, and button mushrooms grow wild here. I don't harvest the button mushrooms, because there is a nasty tasting look-alike that also does well here.

 
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