Franklin Stone wrote:Log cultivation is probably one of the best permaculture methods of growing mushrooms. It fits in very well with the hugelkultur idea of using decaying wood as the basis of soil fertility. Logs can be stacked in shady areas that don't get much sun - like north facing slopes in the Northern Hemisphere - that aren't suitable for intensive cultivation.
The only expense, or difficult part, would be in acquiring spawn - either sawdust spawn or wood dowel spawn. There are numerous commercial sources for obtaining spawn, or you can learn to make your own (with a certain investment in equipment.)
A really great resource for learning how to clone mushrooms and grow your own spawn is the DVD set "Let's Grow Mushrooms!" by Marc R. Keith, available at http://www.mushroomvideos.com/ or Amazon.com or perhaps through your regional library system.
The most expensive piece of gear needed is a pressure-canner, preferably a large one. You will also need Agar-agar. Petri dishes are nice to have, though some people make do with small jelly jars or tiny polypropylene storage containers (which can survive the heat of the pressure canner).
Mr. Keith's videos demonstrate him using a flow-hood to filter his air from air-borne contaminants, and while this expensive piece of gear is very nice to have, I have been able to successfully grow mushrooms over the past few years without one.
I suspect that many people on the permaculture forums already own a pressure-canner for preserving food. The principles behind growing mushrooms are very similar to those used in brewing alcohol or leavening bread - difficult but highly rewarding.
Franklin Stone wrote:Since this thread is nominally about fungi cultivation resources, I guess I should mention the most obvious and important works on the subject - the books of Paul Stamets.
Mycelium Running has tips for wildcrafting mushrooms. This is a gorgeous, full-color book, written for a general audience with the aim of popularizing mushrooms and fungi for food as well as the basis of cleaning up our polluted environment. It is the book that first introduced me to the concept of permaculture.
Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms, is a bit more advanced, aimed at the commercial grower. It is THE definitive reference book on growing about two dozen species of gourmet and medicinal mushrooms. The book is black and white with a few color plates.
The Mushroom Cultivator, co-written with J.S. Chilton, is an earlier work, largely superseded by GGMM. It has some chapters on growing psilocybin mushrooms that are not covered in his later works, as well as a lengthy section on identifying contaminations in mushroom cultures. (This focus on the diseases afflicting mushrooms was dropped in his later works as he realized that properly-grown, healthy mushrooms don't really suffer from such things.) This book is black and white with a few color plates.
Paul Stamets has a company, Fungi Perfecti, that sells these books and others, as well as mushroom products and everything needed for mushroom cultivation. You can find him on the web at Fungi.com.