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Oyster mushrooms growing from wood chips in 5 gallon bucket

 
Cj Sloane
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I know people like to use straw or other agricultural waste as a substrate, but I don't have easy access to those kinds of materials. What I do have access to is wood. Lots and lots of wood.

So I managed to capture a bunch of birch from cutting up firewood. I put it in a gigantic pot and covered with boiling water. I realize this doesn't really sterilize it but I'm quite sure I can tell an oyster mushroom when I see it. If it doesn't work, I'll know.


Then I drained the wood chips and put it in a 5 gallon bucket with holes drilled, and layered with some leftover spawn. Tractor Supply has cheap food grad buckets for sale.

I covered the bucket and placed in in a 2nd bucket to help prevent contamination. I forgot about it and waited a little too long to check it.

I checked it 7 weeks later and missed my first flush:
</script>

I scraped those mushrooms off and poured a quart of water in and a week later had my first harvest.
</script>
 
S Bengi
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Magnificent. I will have to try it out, I have mine in the soil and it isn't doing too much.
 
Cj Sloane
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I should add that I've innoculated tons of logs with the same mycelium but no mushrooms yet. This is a good compromised between using short lived toilet paper and long lived but slow to fruit logs.
 
J Dog
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CJ,
Try soaking those logs (pond, bucket, water trough) for about 5-6 hrs. Then re-stack them. Should start growing.
 
John Saltveit
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Nice, CJ. I also grow oyster mushrooms in buckets with wood chips, which are free here, while you have to buy straw. They also last longer than straw.
John S
PDX OR
 
Thekla McDaniels
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If I were to try this, what temperature range would the oyster mushrooms prefer? Maybe I could put them in the greenhouse I am not planning to use for plants this winter. I also have a basement that stays above freezing, but maybe I should wait til spring.

Thanks
Thekla
 
Colin Nelson
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great technique! I've eaten many a mushroom grown in buckets, and they are sold at some farmers markets in New Zealand for about $20 kiwi each.
 
John Saltveit
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Tree oysters are native here, as they are in many places. We are rarely below freezing in the winter for very long. Rarely for 24 hours in a row, but very consistently wet, and we have huge forests, so lots of wood. They can definitely tolerate moderate cold, depending on the type of oyster. There are many species.
John S
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James Kniskern
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I have grown oysters on wood chips. I'm planning on using a 55 gallon drum on a rocket stove to boil up my woodchips in the future. I love the bucket method, and it works great. Thanks for reminding me I wanted to do this again after my house is finishes.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Thanks, John. I guess the greenhouse is worth a try. Better now than in the summer. It will stay mostly above freezing, especially inside the barrel or bucket. I've got a 55 gallon steel drum, but I don't want to drill holes in it. If I put straw and spawn in it (after treating the straw to decrease presence of other organisms in it, would the mushrooms form at the top? I also have plenty of 7 gallon buckets, all of them former food containers.

Thanks
 
Cj Sloane
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J Dog wrote:CJ,
Try soaking those logs (pond, bucket, water trough) for about 5-6 hrs. Then re-stack them. Should start growing.


I have tried soaking them as I soak my shiitake logs frequently. Still no fruitings. Maybe next year
 
Cj Sloane
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Thekla McDaniels wrote:If I were to try this, what temperature range would the oyster mushrooms prefer?


The company you purchase your mycelium from should list the temperature and they might even have a variety suited to greenhouse production.
 
Cj Sloane
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John Saltveit wrote:Tree oysters are native here, as they are in many places. We are rarely below freezing in the winter for very long. Rarely for 24 hours in a row, but very consistently wet, and we have huge forests, so lots of wood. They can definitely tolerate moderate cold, depending on the type of oyster. There are many species.
John S
PDX OR


In Vermont we have lots of freezing temps, of course, but plenty of wild oysters. I have not tried to use wild mushrooms as a source except for a Bear's Tooth experiment as they seem to grow well in buckets too.
 
Cindy Ruprecht
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Great! Glad to see a thread on this topic as I have just embarked on my mushroom journey. I have Oyster spawn and turkey tail kits I just got from fungi perfecti. They both are budding now, but slow, so I moved them to a warmer area of the house. I am trying to propagate the oysters with free used coffee grounds from the local coffee shop. I need to make alder chips for the tukey tail.....Watch this video from paul staments.....It is life changing! Thank You Paul for your service to humanity and the Earth.!
[youtube][/youtube]
 
John Saltveit
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I got my buckets from restaurants that were giving them away. Sometimes I had to clean soy sauce out of them ,but totally worth it. I put medical (breathable) tape over the holes, which you can also do instead of the two bucket method. The mushrooms pop out the tape. We have a group here that delivers spawn to a farmer's market if you call ahead of time. I also buy the spawn at our annual mushroom show.
John S
PDX OR
 
Colin Nelson
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I got dozens of food grade buckets from Baskin Robbins, used for cake icing. We kept the mushroom buckets in a closet in the house.
 
Cj Sloane
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My question now is do you have to pour water in the bucket to get it to fruit? And, do you have to poke out the holes that previously fruited?

I did that and got those nice looking mushrooms but also wound up with a lot of water pouring out the holes! I tried again today and didn't poke out the holes and still got some water coming out the lower holes. Next time, I'll try to remember to bring the buckets OUTSIDE before adding water.

I love the idea of the medical tape.

I just took some buckets I innoculated 3 weeks ago out of the 2nd bucket and I'm starting to see mycelium in some of the holes but not in the top. The 2nd bucket did have several inches of water in it so I'd recommend leaving it outside till it stops draining water for sure.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Well, here is a thought about what to do about the problem of too much water in the bottom of the food grade plastic buckets we are all so familiar with (if that IS a problem).... Couldn't you install a little plastic spigot of some kind, like the one at the bottom of worm bins, to extract the "tea"? Or if those are not as easy to find as I think, then the plastic fittings that are used to drain swamp coolers?

 
Matt Saager
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John,
What group in the Portland area will bring spawn to farmers markets?
How do I contact them?

Thanks much
 
bill rittchen
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What kind of woodchips can you use for oyster mushrooms? Thanks
 
Cj Sloane
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It might be easier if you tell us what kind of wood you have available. For sure, no conifers. Most likely, no fruit trees. On the plus side, probably most of the softer hard woods like Birch, Poplar, Willow would work fine.
 
Colin Nelson
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What about putting a few pegs on the bottom of the spawn bucket and sitting it inside another 5gal bucket so when it drains you can just pour it out? I don't remember any holes being in the spawn buckets we used in Christchurch, NZ, it was literally just a growing medium, spores, and exposed surface kept moist in a dark closet. I don't even remember wetting it, grew for about a month and then was done. There are probably 30,000,000,000 different ways to 'skin a cat'...just gotta figure them out and which way works best for you!
 
Colin Nelson
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Oak ^^^
 
Cj Sloane
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Thekla McDaniels wrote:Well, here is a thought about what to do about the problem of too much water in the bottom of the food grade plastic buckets we are all so familiar with (if that IS a problem).... Couldn't you install a little plastic spigot of some kind, like the one at the bottom of worm bins, to extract the "tea"? Or if those are not as easy to find as I think, then the plastic fittings that are used to drain swamp coolers?


This will take some tinkering. I have the lowest holes about 2" from the bottom. I think excess water will eventually be absorbed by the wood.

My problem was water pouring out the holes when I tried to encourage fruiting. I think watering outside is a reasonable precaution. I'm keeping them inside now as Vermont temps are starting to get too cold for fruiting.
 
John Saltveit
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I usually grow mushrooms in buckets from say, September until they last. They are in the shade and hardly need any water at all. This is our rainy season, right now. Make sure you don't put tap water in them, because they contain chlorine, which can be gassed off, and in our case, chloramines, which can't be gassed off. Rain, creek, or well water is much better.

The Mushroomery will deliver at least White Elm Oyster spawn Hypsizygus Ulmarius and maybe others. I think they go to farmer's markets in Eugene, COrvallis, and Salem, as well as Portland, at Peoples 20th near Clinton.
https://www.facebook.com/The-Mushroomery-121054471245448/

Other areas of the country/world will probably have others that do that as well. No shipping charge!

I have two micro holes in the bottom. They are like 1/8" I think. The buckets can but put up on something to make sure they drain.
John S
PDX OR
 
Casey Williams
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I have a question about the wood chips in buckets method. I have been growing in 5 gal. buckets using cold fermented straw with great success. However, it is REALLY hard for me to find organic straw around south TX, but I have plenty of wood chips available.

Do I have to boil the wood chips, or could I possibly cold ferment them as well? How long do you boil the wood chips for?

And how often do you think I would need to hydrate them? Obviously, it is temp. dependent, but maybe a general idea? I could pour water in over the top, or even just fully submerge the buckets for a short period of time.

Finally, is the double bucket/medical tape necessary? With straw, I usually don't do that, but maybe since it takes longer for the mycelium to colonize wood, it would be a good idea.
 
John Saltveit
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Organic straw is hard to find even here in sustainable land.

I wouldn't boil the chips. To pasteurize them, you can heat them to 140-160 F for an hour.

I haven't successfully cold fermented substrate, but I know that people use it, so I can't advise.

For water, I just put unchlorinated/unchloraminated water on them when they look dry. I just pop them open and check every few weeks in the drier parts of the year so they're like a wrung out sponge.

I think double bucket or tape are a good idea. Wood chips take longer but they produce more.  Oysters are probably the most forgiving of the edible mushrooms to cultivate.
John S
PDX OR
 
Casey Williams
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Thanks for the info., John!

I am playing around with several different species, so I'll do several test buckets and see if I can't get a good variety with this method.
 
Cj Sloane
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Casey Williams wrote:
Do I have to boil the wood chips, or could I possibly cold ferment them as well? How long do you boil the wood chips for?


I poured boiling water over chips from chainsawing. It worked fine but Oysters are fairly aggressive.
 
Casey Williams
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Sounds good, C.J. I figured Oyster (spp.) or Stropharia would be good ones to start with because of their aggressive natures. I ran a couple of buckets in cold fermented wood chips with no success, but I need to do some more experimenting before I rule that method out for myself.
 
Regan Dixon
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Question for CJ Sloane about the chips from chainsawing:  any concern about the chain oil that's on the chips?
 
Cj Sloane
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Not a problem for me. I use an electric chainsaw (oregon cordless) and it will take food grade oil because it's just for the chain.
 
Peter Ellis
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Regan Dixon wrote:Question for CJ Sloane about the chips from chainsawing:  any concern about the chain oil that's on the chips?


Oyster mushrooms are used for remediating oil spills. I don't think it would be a reason for concern even if it were a petroleum oil.
 
Regan Dixon
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Ah, food grade oil.  I didn't know that would work?  I learn something new every time I'm on this forum!

Question for Peter Ellis:  my presumably petroleum-based chain oil is marked "harmful or fatal if swallowed".  So, I'm curious to know whether oyster mushrooms break down the oil into smaller chains of non-toxic compounds, or whether they would sequester any heavy metals that might be present in the oil?  Yes, some fungi do take up heavy metals, as do some plants and trees, which is why I understand they are used in environmental remediation--to get the metals out of the ground and water--but I don't believe that renders those metals edible.  I also don't know what specifically is in the chain oil that makes it toxic.  Off to look that up....

Edited to add:  back from checking MSDS.  Chain oil not expected to be readily biodegradable, and not expected to bioaccumulate.  NOT expected to be harmful if swallowed!  Go figure.
 
Cj Sloane
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I think using oyster mushrooms to remediate oil spills is great but I it may be an intermediary step towards human consumption. I'm not positive, but it seems wise, just like using non-productive trees around a composting toilet and then composting those trees and feeding that resulting compost to crops for humans or animal consumption.
 
Cj Sloane
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Every year thousands of gallons of chain-and-bar oil are carried into the forests and none returns.


[url=https://www.fs.fed.us/eng/pubs/html/98511316/98511316.html]VEGETABLE OIL FOR LUBRICATING CHAIN SAWS
[/url]



https://www.fs.fed.us/eng/pubs/html/98511316/98511316.html
 
Peter Ellis
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Regan Dixon wrote:Ah, food grade oil.  I didn't know that would work?  I learn something new every time I'm on this forum!

Question for Peter Ellis:  my presumably petroleum-based chain oil is marked "harmful or fatal if swallowed".  So, I'm curious to know whether oyster mushrooms break down the oil into smaller chains of non-toxic compounds, or whether they would sequester any heavy metals that might be present in the oil?  Yes, some fungi do take up heavy metals, as do some plants and trees, which is why I understand they are used in environmental remediation--to get the metals out of the ground and water--but I don't believe that renders those metals edible.  I also don't know what specifically is in the chain oil that makes it toxic.  Off to look that up....


paul stamets gives a pretty thorough report on his field test work with oyster mushrooms remediating bus yard oil contamination.  Heavy metals, being elements, cannot be broken down,only sequestered, so, yes, when mushrooms or plants take up heavy metals, there is a need to treat them as hazardous materials.  With regard to the petrochemicals, the mushrooms break them down, use the carbon to make more mushroom.  It is a direct path to safely edible mushrooms, no need for any additional steps.

This is significantly different from manure, where biological contamination by pathogens through a number of mechanisms is a potential problem. The plants do not necessarily break down bacteria or viruses that might be in the manure, some of which may actually get into the plant's cell structure, or be splashed onto the surface.  So, tree fruit, which are effectively isolated from the rest of the plant, would not be contaminated by pathogens in the plant, and may be safely removed from splash contamination.  But leafy greens and root vegetables would almost certainly be contaminated by pathogens that were present in the manure.  Note that mushrooms can actually consume bacteria and clean up some pathogens, King Stropharia for example is known to consume e. coli and can be used to clean up contamination with that bacteria.
 
Regan Dixon
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Back from checking MSDS.  Notwithstanding the validity of choosing vegetable oil, according to the MSDS for the petroleum chain oil, which I am duly reporting on, having brought the subject up:

-not expected to be readily biodegradable
-not expected to bioaccumulate
-NOT expected to be harmful if swallowed! 

Go figure.  It would still be nice to not use petroleum products.

http://en.stihl.ca/p/media/download/en-ca/Stihl%20Canada%20Light%20Bar%20%20Chain%20SDS%20Rev.%201.pdf
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