I would love to try to grow some edible mushrooms. We have a lot of wild mushrooms during wet periods, but so far I have not been successful trying to grow edible ones. I have tried plug spawn of Chicken of the Woods, and sawdust spawn of Oyster. But no mushrooms whatsoever have appeared. I would like to try again to grow them in the vegetable garden where they will get more regular irrigation. What kinds would you suggest for a very hot and often dry climate? Central Texas, Zone eight.
I have collected and eaten the native Chanterelles but I didn't like them much.
Mushrooms are tricky to grow. The actual organism, the mycelium, grows in secret, inside of logs, or underground, invisible to our eyes until it suddenly fruits. Imagine if a tomato plant was invisible until the tomatoes suddenly appeared on the ground. How would you know when to water them? How would you know that bugs weren't killing the plants?
Your logs may be growing perfectly well, just waiting for the right conditions to fruit. Or the spawn may have died from heat and lack of moisture, and other fungi are now eating away at the logs. It's very difficult to tell what is going on!
Don't expect to be able to harvest mushrooms in the seasons when there aren't any wild ones growing. Mushrooms need a lot of moisture. Many of them only fruit during certain seasons, depending on the length of day. You need to keep them out of direct sunlight.
Chanterelles and several other edible species exist in symbiotic relationships with certain trees and have so far eluded cultivation. Try and find some local mushrooms that are saprophytic. Local mushrooms will be adapted to your climate. Mushroom spawn from a northern state will not have an easy time in the Texas climate. You might try joining a local mushroom club, if there are any in your area, as it's a good way to meet people with expert advice.
If you find a log with oysters or an other edible species growing on it, move that log to your garden or closer to your house so you can keep an eye on it.
I have successfully cloned wild oysters and grown them indoors under controlled conditions, but that is an involved process.
I've decided to try the "three Amigos" mushroom kit from Fungi Perfecti:
"For species successionism of friendly fungi in the garden, we recommend using these three garden allies: in concert, the Garden Oyster (Hypsizygus ulmarius), the Garden Giant™ (Stropharia rugoso-annulata) and the Shaggy Mane (Coprinus comatus). They can be placed in the garden for the benefit of vegetables and for improving soil quality. And, gourmet mushrooms flourish throughout the seasons to create the best of edible landscapes!"
There are a few mushrooms that would do better in your climate than in my rainy, cool climate. Check out the temperatures for fruiting on the Fungi Perfecti and Field and Forest sites. A couple of ideas: Pink oysters, Pulmonarius oysters, Almond agaricus, Brazilian mushrooms, Golden oysters. All should do well for you. Read the Paul Stamets books Growing GOurmet and Medicinal Mushrooms and Mycelium Running. I didn't focus on those mushrooms because I live in a drastically different climate to yours. Make sure you have food for them to eat, too, like wood chips in the soil, or compost/manure. I think King Stropharia should do well for you too. Some shade in that Texas heat.
Tyler, good thread to start, im still trying to figure these sort of things out, the main thing i think to try for is good shade cover over swales and such places that concentrate and collect extra moisture and humidity, with tree cover and tall herbaceous perennials and tall annuals to help keep a large amount of the sun out without first filtering it through leaves and stems and such
also keeping the drying wind out and down as much as absolutely possible
im also not so sure ill get anything here, and even indoor, in small containers barely bigger than the mushroom cake and fruiting bodies, complete with a container of water with an airstone and multiple spritz of water throughout the day i have trouble keeping humidity up without a full on fog machine and air tight room
but ive noticed that in the windbreak, between the junipers and siberian pea shrubs, where there is barely room for a full grown adult to walk through, that there are mosses growing, something i understand requires a lot of moisture... so im confident that it will be possible, eventually, but it certainly wont be immediate, until then ill be perfecting my skills at attempting to produce mushrooms in low tech, low humidity locations lol
and maybe, just possibly by the time the land is ready, then i'll have the knowledge of a newbie outdoor grower in places like the northwest where its hard NOT to get your mushrooms to produce lol
Tyler, I agree with what John said above, try some of those species that might be better adapted to your hot climate, such as almond agaricus, Brazilian agaricus, golden oyster, pink oyster, etc.
I have another idea that might work for you- try an indoor spawn run using large plastic bags to maintain moisture and humidity. For example, I grew almond agaricus last year in my house, without a humidifier. First, I purchased some fresh leached cow manure compost from a local dairy. I mixed the compost with lime, then layered it in large organic banana boxes along with fresh agaricus spawn from Field and Forest, watered it, then covered the boxes with big plastic garbage bags. After about five weeks at room temperatures between 60 and 80, I was ready to add the casing (mulch) layer to promote fruiting. I use pre-moistened peat moss mixed with lime for the casing layer, using the instructions at the Mushroom Adventures website. Using only a mister, the casing layer and clear plastic sheeeting over the top, I was able to retain moisture in my dry house. I got three or four nice flushes of big, yummy mushrooms from the boxes, then started more boxes with the old spawn. You could try this method, and then try to inoculate an outdoor compost pile when you get a warm, wet cycle of weather. I also did successful indoor spawn runs with phoenix oyster on toilet paper rolls and king stropharia on fresh wood chips in boxes using similar methods. Good luck!
I think Wyoming would be a fantastic place to gather mushrooms. Huge state, hardly any people. Many mycorrhizal mushrooms, which are almost impossible to grow, are found in symbiotic growth with conifers, which I bet you have a lot of. There are also many meadow mushrooms. I recall lots of meadows in Wyoming.
i have heard of giant puffballs in the hills about 50-75miles away from that cheyenne property and i bet there are a few up on casper mountain - which i plan to heavily explore this summer
but other than that i just see lots of LBM's when we have rains, which isnt too often, i do hope to get some growing over the years and the natives will likely become more prevelant and ill eventually try to get some king stropharia's or something growing around here as well, they should do ok in heavily mulched corn fields or swales
but so far i havent seen anything that i recognize, other than the stinkhorn i found this last summer - that was kinda cool