• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Drop-dead Easy Mushroom Cultivation

 
William James
gardener
Posts: 1012
Location: Northern Italy
23
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've been wanting for a long time to get started in growing mushrooms, but a trapse through the internet was very discouraging.

Then I saw that there are kits for outdoor growing, which seems like it would be easier. I have straw, but sterilizing it just doesn't look like it's going to happen, unless I use bleach or something chemical.

Looking toward making this a long-term project for market cultivation, since it fetches a good price. Need to get a little experience under my belt before I do anything grand.

Does anyone know of an approach that would make getting started relatively easy for me?

William
 
John Elliott
pollinator
Posts: 2355
78
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Do you have oak trees? Get some porcini at the local street market, whiz them up in a blender, and use that to inoculate any oak trees you have. I think they also call them cepi, depending on where you are in Italy, but they are boletes that are commensal with oak trees. If you have old oak trees, they probably have a bunch of already developed mycorrhizal partners and you can tell by what sprouts after a heavy rain. What have you noticed in the fall at the start of the rainy season? If you don't have edible varieties growing already, a drenching with spores from market-bought ones might be enough to get them kick started into growing on your trees.

Once boletes colonize a tree, you can count on them to come back year after year, usually around the same time of year. I had some pecan trees when I lived in New Mexico, and they always had a nice crop of boletes in the fall months.
 
William James
gardener
Posts: 1012
Location: Northern Italy
23
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
John Elliott wrote:inoculate any oak trees you have.


Oh my my, now I know why I wanted to plant oak trees so badly!
Thanks.
William
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
Posts: 3717
Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
85
bee books chicken dog duck fungi solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
John, are we talking live Oaks? How do you inoculate? I've got the doohickeys for doing shiitakes but I don't think that's what you mean.
 
John Elliott
pollinator
Posts: 2355
78
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Cj Verde wrote:John, are we talking live Oaks? How do you inoculate? I've got the doohickeys for doing shiitakes but I don't think that's what you mean.


You're right, I'm off on a different track. Shiitake are saprobic, meaning that they grow on dead wood. When you get your plug spawn and inoculate your logs, they are quite dead and not about to mount an immune response to being infected. Boletes are different, they are mainly mycorrhizal, with the hyphae growing commensally in the roots of the oak tree. They have evolved with the oak trees, so that neither views the other as an infection (however, if a disease of oak trees was to be introduced, both the oak and the bolete would mount a response to fight the invading microbe).

Oak trees have so many uses -- hard wood for woodworking, they readily coppice if you want to use them for fuel, their acorns are edible (some requiring more leaching of tannins than others), and yet there is still one more way to use them: inoculate them with edible boletes so you can have a nice big pot of mushroom soup in the fall.

Both evergreen oaks (like California, Texas, or Georgia Live Oaks) and deciduous ones will support mycorrhizal associations; I haven't noticed much difference around here, they all seem to have flushes of boletes in the late summer and fall.

If you are going to try to inoculate an established oak tree with some new, more flavorful species of bolete, you are probably going to have to use a LOT of inoculate and also expose some living root material to get it to take. This is a borderline area between being a hunter/gatherer taking what Nature provides and going out and intentionally trying to raise one particular species. The same with truffle hunters in France and Italy. For all their attempts to create oak groves that are infected with prize truffles, the majority of production is from truffle hunters who use pigs or dogs to locate specimens in the wild.
 
M.K. Dorje Jr.
Posts: 127
Location: Orgyen, zone 8
12
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
William, my suggestion would be to look into oyster mushroom production on straw, boxes of wood chips and/or on hardwood logs. There are several different species of oysters that you could grow. In fact, Tree Oysters are by far the easiest and fastest to grow of all the marketable species of gourmet mushrooms. King Oysters are popular in Italy and fetch a better price. Golden Oysters and Pink Oysters are also good options for growers. If you lack expensive equipment to sterilize straw or chips, you can always use hydrogen peroxide solution or just boil the straw in a large food-grade metal barrel. Selling directly to chefs at fancy restaurants and avoiding the middleman is a good marketing strategy. Shiitake is another good dependable one to grow on sawdust blocks and hardwood logs. You could also forage for wild gourmet species such as white truffles, porcini and chanterelles. But growing porcini is not easy! Even truffles are actually easier to grow. For more info on how to grow oyster mushrooms, read the books by paul stamets. For info on truffle growing, check out the book entitled : "Taming the Truffle", by Ian R. Hall, Gordon Brown and Alessandra Zambonelli. Just my 2 cents... Good luck!
 
dan long
Posts: 272
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I broke down and finally bought Paul Stamens "Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms" and "Mycelium running" it answered pretty much ALL questions that I wanted to ask and a couple that I woudl have eventually asked as i went through the process and realized i had no idea what i'm really doing. Eventually you will want to read these two books because: 1) it is too much work poring through internet articles (most of which are exclusively about growing "magic mushrooms") and 2) anybody on Permies who gives you any answers is quoting one of those books.

So until then...

You are more likely to succeed if you first pasteurize substrate at 160 degrees for (I forgett how long. I think it was 1.5 hours). you can do that with a large pot on the stove or even a slow cooker. This is not always completely necessary but youa re unlikely to succeed if you don't. If this isn't practical, you can use hydrogen peroxide. Bacteria and molds die at a concentration far lower than what it takes to kill mushrooms. I don't remember the recommended concentration.

Oyster mushrooms are the easiest to grow in most cases because they colonize rapidly and they grow on materials that are less than idea for molds (giving the oyster mushroom mycelia a relative advantage).

The easiest but least reliable method is to use spore broth to inoculate straw or wood chips.

A close runner up in terms of ease is making cardboard spawn with mushroom butts. The ridges in cardboard give mushroom mycelia a relative advantage over mold. Apparently, mold and bacteria aren't fond of the glue in cardboard either. Soak the cardboard then separate the layers so that the ridges are exposed. Sandwich a couple mushroom butts in there and you have a healthy, aggressive spawn that can be used to inoculate a substrate such as: straw, saw dust, wood chips or logs.

Take two freshly cut (within 3 weeks of cutting) log rounds and stack them on top of each other with some spawn sandwiched in between. This is called "totem culture".

Inoculate a hardwood log with plugs. keep moist but off of the ground. This method is more labor intensive but almost guarantees success.

good luck. But seriously; read the book. I *think* you may be able to find an online e-book for free but don't quote me on that.

 
Dave Burton
pollinator
Posts: 1026
Location: Greater Houston, TX US Hardy:9a Annual Precipitation: 44.78" Wind:13.23mph Temperature:42.5-95F
109
bike books forest garden tiny house transportation urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here's a nice video on YouTube about mushroom cultivation by Kelly Pullen:

Here's part 2 to that video:

Here's part 3 of that video:


Now, the easiest way to grow mushrooms is not even to read a book or watch any videos but to just take the mushrooms you have and bury them in the soil or not even do that! Just throw the mushrooms around your property and let them do their work! If there are any spores in them, they will wait for the opportune conditions and colonize your soil.
 
William James
gardener
Posts: 1012
Location: Northern Italy
23
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
From what I can gather, there are two routes
1. Sterile cultivation
2. Unsterile cultivation

(1) Requires boiling or chemically 'washing' a woody substrate, like straw or wood chips. The smaller the better. The straw works best if it is chopped but I don't have a wood chipper (sold it for cash) but I saw a technique using a weed wacker and a barrel, and I have both. Boiling or chemically altering the straw in a barrel seems a little cumbersome for me. Boiling a barrel of water I imagine is not hard, but not easy either. Lifting the heavy straw also seems like a chore. People even use a winch for that. If I did it in lots of smaller batches with plastic containers, it might be doable.

Using chemicals like hydrogen peroxide or bleach might be an easier task. I've also read a study using plain old laundry detergent and it didn't really effect the fruting.

(2) Requires a lot of chance and good luck. Compost mushrooms might work, I have that. I like the blender idea. Incredibly exited about porcini on oaks.

I'm assuming that both sterile and unsterile methods can be done with either store-bought mushrooms or the spawn sold on ebay-like sites. As long as they have mycelia on them.

So, apart from doing the porcini/oaks, I think I'll also try a sterile cultivation of store-bought mushrooms in a medium sized batch (less than half a barrel) with bleach (or vinegar?).

After that, either I'll put it in sterile plastic containers with a lid or stuffed into plastic bags with holes and see what happens.

William
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1356
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If you can get used coffee grounds from a cafe esp if it is still warm 0-24 hours after it has been made. It will be mostly sterile and you can grow oyster mushroom on it.
I just started a few week ago too. I also have wild inky caps growing in my garden.
 
dan long
Posts: 272
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
S Bengi wrote:If you can get used coffee grounds from a cafe esp if it is still warm 0-24 hours after it has been made. It will be mostly sterile and you can grow oyster mushroom on it.
I just started a few week ago too. I also have wild inky caps growing in my garden.


I would really like to hear updates on your coffee ground oyster project. I've tried the same thing with enoki butts (the only mushroom sold at the supermarket with mycelium still attached) and have twice failed. I'm getting ready to try the same thing again, but with the substrate in the fridge for a "cold incubation" and see if that doesn't help keep out the green mold.

You think you could do a thread with some pictures on the fungi board?
 
William James
gardener
Posts: 1012
Location: Northern Italy
23
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Do you think you could you freeze substrate to sterilize it?
-W
 
dan long
Posts: 272
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
William James wrote:Do you think you could you freeze substrate to sterilize it?
-W


I'm going to take an educated guess and say "no".

What do i base this off of? I can take a frozen yogurt culture, defrost it and use it to inoculate a new batch of yogurt. Furthermore, one can cryogenically store a mycelium culture to preserve it indefinitely. Polio is cryogenically stored by (the CDC?) some organization out there for study. That covers: bacteria, fungus, and viruses. I'm about 99% sure one can make a general assumption that all microorganisms go dormant rather than die in extreme cold.

maybe there is someone one here who can either confirm i'm 100% correct or that i'm full of (fecal matter)?
 
dan long
Posts: 272
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Just came to mind as i was typing that last reply: stick your cultures in the fridge if your using cold season mushrooms.

I have next to zero experience growing mushrooms so far but i have read everything i can come across (including posts on permies) so keep in mind that im speaking form the armchair here. I get the impression that non-steril cultivation is 90% about selectivity. One uses straw because its a selective substrate that is mostly cellulose which bacteria cant utilize but can saprotrphytes can, it is coarse and allows air flow which encourages mycelium but not mold. We then pasteurize it at 160 degrees which selectively kills organisms we don't want (mold spores) but leaves organisms we do want (thermophilic bacteria). alternativly, some people will choose to douse the substrate in hydrogen peroxide which selectively kills bacteria and spores but not mycelium. We then inoculate with what we do want in large quantities and either put it in a bag or cover it with a non-nutritious "casing" layer that prevents foreign spores from contacting the substrate in larger quantities. Then we keep it at a moisture level that is high enough for mycelium but low enough that we don't encourage mold. After this, if we have access to a controlled environment we can keep the mycelium in an ideal temperature so that the growth is so rapid it will prevent contaminants from setting up shop.

It sounds a lot more complicated than just keeping everything sterile to that the intended mycelium culture is the only living organism in your substrate, but when you get into the details of how exactly to go about keeping everything sterile, the overlapping selective methods will seem simple in comparison. That being said, super aggressive species like oysters are great candidates for non-steril cultivation, but other less aggressive, hard to grow mushrooms might call for sterile procedures. Likewise if you ever get into trying to preserve a specific strain.
 
dan long
Posts: 272
4
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
William James wrote:

I have straw, but sterilizing it just doesn't look like it's going to happen, unless I use bleach or something chemical.


William


I want to address this concern really quick. Straw is an excellent, selective substrate for primary decomposers and it doesn't need to be sterilized, only pasteurized. You can do this pretty easily on your stovetop (i did it today, in fact). Heat a large pot of water to 160 degrees then leave it alone. It is supposed to stay between 160 and 140 for 1.5 hours. I put mine in ate 160, took a nap, and when i came back it was around 138. I think i slept longer than 1.5 hours but i'm not sure. this temperature kills mold spores but not thermophilic bacteria which will benefit mycelium. After that, I have read (remember, im speaking from the armchair here) it is pretty safe from contamination for the next two weeks so your mycelium has a HUGE head start. Inoculate at 20% spawn or butts 80% straw and you have a high chance of success.

I guess my point of this whole, long paragraph is to encourage you not to decide "its not going to happen" before you even get started. Remember that this substrate, after fully colonized can be used to inoculate more substrate. Do a gallon the first time and use it to inoculate 5 gallons and use that to inoculate 25 gallons and then 125 gallons... i think you see where i'm going with this.

Alternatively, look up "peroxide tek" on google and you will got a few recipes for preparing substrate with hydrogen peroxide. Many people report success with hydrogen peroxide.
 
William James
gardener
Posts: 1012
Location: Northern Italy
23
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks Dan,
that's really encouraging.
W
 
Something about .... going for a swim. With this tiny ad ...
Quality Hand Tools for the Garden, Homestead and Small Farm.
https://permies.com/t/58443/Quality-Hand-Tools-Garden-Homestead
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!