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Growing mushrooms in Western Kentucky  RSS feed

 
Posts: 97
Location: Hopkinsville, KY (Western KY) Zone 7
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Disclaimer:  I posted this here because Western Kentucky is really a transition zone but I feel it has more common with the midwest than the east or south east.

I recently just stepped into the fungi world for the first time, literally stepped on mushrooms in my backyard, and I've been reading more and more since then.  I would like to start growing oyster mushrooms in buckets as a means to sell at farmer's markets.  I was wondering if anyone knew of someone or someplace near me where I can get organic spawn for a good price.  I can't find anything on-line without having to order a kit, which I don't want.  Thanks in advance!
 
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Welcome to the wonderful world of myology! The rabbit hole is endless!!

I would make my own spawn if I were in your position and trying to grow a consistent amount of mushrooms for farmers' market. I believe that this would be the cheapest method, if you are trying to grow for ongoing production. For me, continually buying spawn would be too pricey.

I started with methods similar to what you are describing. Following is what I think it is probably the easiest way to start growing, learning the habits of mycelium, and see results with minimum equipment needed and for a relatively low price point. Learn the concepts and you can expand as you gain more experience and practice new techniques. Anyway, here is what I suggest:

1) Obtain a liquid culture (I got mine from Mycology and Botany classifieds group on FB, but you can obtain them elsewhere. In fact, I can send you a syringe, if you want.)

2) Grow out your LC in jars with homemade LC lids containing air port and injection port. This will become kind of like a "mother culture" for you

3) Transfer to grain

4) Use grain spawn to inoculate cold fermented straw in 5 gal. buckets (with holes in them)


I can give more detailed instructions on each step, if you would like. Or you can research on your own. You will need a pressure cooker, quart jars with homemade LC jar lids, syringes and needles, 5 gal. buckets, a variety of ingredients to make LC recipes from, organic grains, and straw. Not too bad for a start up.

Just my two cents...hope it helps. Good luck!
 
Jon La Foy
Posts: 97
Location: Hopkinsville, KY (Western KY) Zone 7
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Casey Williams wrote:Welcome to the wonderful world of myology! The rabbit hole is endless!!

I would make my own spawn if I were in your position and trying to grow a consistent amount of mushrooms for farmers' market. I believe that this would be the cheapest method, if you are trying to grow for ongoing production. For me, continually buying spawn would be too pricey.

I started with methods similar to what you are describing. Following is what I think it is probably the easiest way to start growing, learning the habits of mycelium, and see results with minimum equipment needed and for a relatively low price point. Learn the concepts and you can expand as you gain more experience and practice new techniques. Anyway, here is what I suggest:

1) Obtain a liquid culture (I got mine from Mycology and Botany classifieds group on FB, but you can obtain them elsewhere. In fact, I can send you a syringe, if you want.)

2) Grow out your LC in jars with homemade LC lids containing air port and injection port. This will become kind of like a "mother culture" for you

3) Transfer to grain

4) Use grain spawn to inoculate cold fermented straw in 5 gal. buckets (with holes in them)


I can give more detailed instructions on each step, if you would like. Or you can research on your own. You will need a pressure cooker, quart jars with homemade LC jar lids, syringes and needles, 5 gal. buckets, a variety of ingredients to make LC recipes from, organic grains, and straw. Not too bad for a start up.

Just my two cents...hope it helps. Good luck!


Casey,

Thank you very much for the help.  I would greatly appreciate it if you sent me a syringe.  I'll PM you my address if that's okay?
I think I would prefer inoculating my own mycelium and the process does not seem too difficult. I have researched all of your steps and I have a question on just one: how do you make your homemade lids?  I have plenty of mason jars so I'll be using those.
Instead of straw, I'd like to grow the mushrooms on woodchips, since I can get them for free.  I'll probably use straw first since I understand it'll grow faster.
Thanks again for the help!
 
Casey Williams
Posts: 36
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Straw is, I think, the easiest substrate to start with, because it breaks down quickly, is easy to prep. for use (don't even have to pasteurize it), and it has a structure that some mushrooms love. I am trying to move away from straw, because I don't know the source of the straw that I get, which makes me uncomfortable. I have a source of fresh mesquite sawdust, woodchips, and logs. The problem is that I have read that mesquite can be used, but there is not much info. available for which mushrooms will grow well on it. So I am experimenting to find out what will work and what won't work.

BUT...to your question (just to clarify...this is definitely not my invention. Someone much more clever came up with this):

Drill a 3/16" hole in one side of your lid and a 5/16" hole in the other side. Fill the smaller hole with polyfill (roll a piece and pull it through until it is snug in there. Then cut off the excess). You could probably use a more natural material, but I have not experimented with that yet (maybe coconut coir or something??). Fill the larger hole with high temperature RTV silicone (red silicone that you can get at auto store or probably in a big home store like Target or Wal-Mart).




There you have it. A lid with an air port and injection port!




PM me your address and I will send you a couple of syringes of the oyster varieties that I currently have.
 
Jon La Foy
Posts: 97
Location: Hopkinsville, KY (Western KY) Zone 7
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Casey,

As before, thanks for the help.  I think for now I'll use cotton balls for the breathe hole, since I have some.  I do have silicone, although I do not think it is high temo RTV kind.  If what I have doesn't work I'll try to find something that does, then I'll buy to RTV.  I'm trying to do a start-up with ZERO cost, so if I don't have to buy it, then that's best! 
I've read that you can store the syringes in the fridge until used... Do you have any experience with that?  If so, what have you learned?
 
Casey Williams
Posts: 36
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My pleasure to assist!

As for the silicone...I would go ahead and get the high temp. silicone. If you will be pressure cooking LC jars, it is my understanding that the RTV silicone can hold up to those higher temperatures, where regular silicone cannot. I am not positive on this front. However, I have learned and read elsewhere that the high temp. stuff is the way to go.

The syringes can be stored in the fridge. I'm not sure how long they can be stored, though. LC stock is generally stored in the fridge, which slows the growth of the mycelium. Though the growth is slowed, it is not stopped. Thus the mycelium is still consuming the nutrients and expanding. Eventually, the cultures will simply grow too much and clog the needle and/or senesce. I can't be certain, but I believe this (senescence) has happened to me with some of my quart jars of LC after 3-4 months in the fridge. Your syringes can be stored for a while, though (several weeks at least??).
 
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Casey Williams wrote:Straw is, I think, the easiest substrate to start with, because it breaks down quickly, is easy to prep. for use (don't even have to pasteurize it), and it has a structure that some mushrooms love. I am trying to move away from straw, because I don't know the source of the straw that I get, which makes me uncomfortable.


Casey, I wonder where you are from? SImply to contextualize your experience and not dispute it, straw is not universally found by fungi cultivators to be a good media for growing spawn (the first expansion of culture after LC/agar). This may partially be an oyster thing as oysters perhaps love straw to a degree of magnitude even more than other typically straw-loving species.

Straw is more or less universal as a good final "bulk" substrate, the last and largest expansion of culture before the fruiting stage (the bulk stage is omitted in some smaller-scale techniques). PASTEURIZED straw is found by many to be highly contaminated-resistant, outdoors or in ventilated indoor spaces.

Many growers, however, find that Straw contaminates easily when sterilized inside jars or mycobags. COmpounding this issue is the difficulty of inoculating straw directly with LC or agar, this is a bit like doing the same thing to manure or coconut coir - some species won't tolerate this and the moisture is tricky to get correct as you need to use large amounts of LC to inoculate a bulk substrate directly.

What you are describing with lids and filters is what is generally used to sterilize spawn for the first culture expansion. Bulk substrates are more typically pasteurized and the inoculation is not done through the lid because you need to add bulk amounts of your spawn (grain usually) to large amounts of substrate and this is inconvenient in jars. Spawn needs perfect sterility for weeks after inoculation, bulks substrate merely needs pasteurization and cleanish conditions after innoculation as the mycelium has a head start.

I am aware, however, that straw is more heavily used in oyster farming than most other mushroom species. Something like cubensis (a vigorous, highly tolerant grain-loving species) would require straw to be used only in the final culture expansion, and even then only mixed with other ingredients to buffer pH (lime/gypsum). Straw buffers moisture itself but only up to a certain limit, at a certain point the addition of vermiculite/coir may be needed or some similar material that buffers moisture without adding significant nutrients.

To sum up, obviously you, Casey and others are leaning heavily on straw almost by itself (?). Whether this will work for the OP in West Virginia or with their situation would have to be seen about.


ALL fungi procedures will carry different amounts of success or fail depending on your climate. the fact is its just more difficult to grow fungi in FL than in AZ, because the climate increases your contamination rates inevitably. West VKentucky, I'm not sure exactly how humid and spore-laden is your air and how this is different at different times of year but my guess is - maybe somewhere in the middle in terms of difficulty.
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Coconut coir cannot be used as a filter in place of polyfill. 99.9% of 3-micron-sized particles is what you need from the filter (only for spawn - filters are generally not needed for the next steps after spawn colonization). FINE-GRADE VERMICULITE is the only close-to-"natural" substance I've seen used successfully as a filter for mushroom cultures (cf. "The PF Tek"). BTW, the polyfill from a single pillow will let you make thousands of filter lids for your jars or bags.
 
Cybil Opsin
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Casey, I reread this thread and I see you were talking about straw as a final substrate for grain spawn, from the get-go. Now I look silly.

Casey, would you mind providing a bite-size picture of the cold-fermented-straw concept? This is entirely new to me, I always thought straw and all other substrates needed to be at least pasteurized. very intriguing, thanks a lot!
 
Casey Williams
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Cybil, I currently live in Corpus Christi, TX. It is often very hot and very humid here.

I am currently constructing a small mushroom growing building and hope to attempt some outdoor, more "natural" installations in the future as well.

The fermented straw method requires no pictures, as they would be pointless. You literally just shake some straw into a container (trying to make sure there are no large clumps) and cover it with water (with no chlorine or chloramine....you can use ascorbic acid to remove the chloramine). When it gets smelly (one to two weeks, depending on the outdoor temp.)--yes, it can get quite smelly, because you are relying on anaerobic bacterias to colonize the straw--then it is ready to use. Drain the water off and innoculate.

I am generally on the Paul Wheaton side of "if it smells, then you are doing it wrong" these days (though I personally think that there can be exceptions to that rule), so it's not my favorite method. BUT it is very easy and has a very low energy input.
 
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