I'm awful at growing mushrooms, have never managed it.
I have tried
- button mushrooms on straw and manure
- oak oyster and shitaki logs
- maple oyster and shitaki logs
- a purchased oak shitaki log (I got two tiny harvests from this one! And the chickens stole one of those)
- innoculated woodchip with oyster spawn
- a 'grow your mushrooms' indoor kit consisting of a plastic bucket of preinnoculated sawdust-looking stuff
From all of that I managed one shitaki mushroom! So we can concur that I'm awful at growing mushrooms.
However today I have taken possession of sooooo much woodchip. Me, the one who always complains about never having any organic materials and having to transport everything on a bicycle- today the planets must have been aligned, or there was a blue moon or something, anyway I called upon He With a Van and we gained 8 cubic metres of woodchip! And quite a lot of freshly cut logs.
Most of that will be making my teeny tiny forest garden not look like a horrible weedy mess!
What can I do with the rest to grow mushrooms in a successful fashion? And I need your most explicit and 'for dummies' instructions, because I've never managed to successfully follow previous mushroom-growing instructions.
I have 3 large bags (75L of so) pf woodchip right out of the centre of the big woodchip pile, it is all wood with not a speck of greenery and it was mega hot and steaming in there- can I consider this pasteurised?
I also have a load of logs. Some are sycamore, some are alder, and I can identify the rest, but they're definitely not conifers. They are about 12 inch in diameter, and two foot or so long.
I think everyone has there fair share of mushroom failures. There is obviously a lot to it and you learn from your mistakes but starting from spawn hygiene is always important. Here are the tips that helped me the most:
Starting indoors on cardboard is a good idea if you dont have a lot of spawn as it doesnt tend to get infected as easily as some substrates. However the more spawn the better chance of it taking the substrate before competitor species does. If you are using wood make sure its as fresh as possible. Using Hydrogen peroxide solution for watering can save the day in some infection suitations (but sadly not trichoderma).
Personally I find the most forgiving is king stropharia despite it starting to go wrong I put it in the garden and it took off consuming all the freshly chipped apple wood I had put down:
I agree with Henry,
Everyone has mushroom failures, even Paul Stamets.
Just pick yourself up and aim at a richer target.
Shiitake on logs, oysters in buckets and Stropharia in a patch in the ground are three high success projects to start with.
Branch out into harder stuff when you see yourself regularly successful and you want to try something harder.
I had my failures (two) but never actually got mushrooms growing. I did the cardboard method indoors with the hot water to get oysters started. Which worked. but the next step did not work. What would be the next step to transfer that cardboard outside, in a non sterile method (glove boxes are definitively not my thing!). Is autumn a good season to start oysters on cardboard. Il like the method with the shop bought ones. A I had a third failure that even the cardboard thing did not work!
With buckets inside, buy spawn, then multiply it by using an appropriate substrate, such as wood chips or straw for oysters. Must drill some holes in the buckets. You can do this even in winter, or outside in some other seasons, depending on your local climate.
So after the cardboard comes a bale of straw? And I have to ppasteurize the straw? Can I use mulch? Does it HAVE to be pasteurized?
There is this new book on growing mushrooms is it helpful to complete beginners? "Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation: Simple to Advanced and Experimental Techniques for Indoor and Outdoor Cultivation" amazon
- Wine caps in a bed in the garden. I've got a 2m2 bed under a cherry tree that gets no direct sun ever so stays damp, right at the edge of the canopy of an oak tree, and with a small morello cherry tree. I shall follow a set of instructions that basically says layer cardboard, some sawdust wine cap spawn, then 3cm of wood chip, times 3 layers. Should be done in March. 1kg of spawn good for the bed. Must keep chickens out of said bed.
- Oyster sawdust spawn in bags of pasteurized wood chip. I've purchased some actual mycobags with filters in, fill with my pasteurized damp wood chip with spawn mixed in. Keep indoors in the dark whilst the mycelium colonises- temperature will be about 22C. Then I can put them outside in the shed to fruit (there's light in there, and the temp will have risen a bit whilst still falling at night).
- Shiitake in my alder logs, using shiitake dowels- drill holes in the log (probably 30 dowels per my 0.5m log), seal the ends with beeswax.
The bit I'm unsure of here is where to keep the logs? I think this is what I have struggled with in the past and why all my other logs have failed, I assume I'm keeping them in the wrong conditions. I have north facing shade but I still think it dries out too much in summer. Very damp patches like under the water store (its raised off the ground) get infested by slugs. Can I keep the logs inside in a plastic bag (with air filters in) whilst the mycelium colonises? Currently its about 6C outside.
Anything else look awful about my plan? I tend to read too many instructions then merge them all together in my head, rather than follow one set.
Sounds good if you can get a hessian sack you could put some chips with the spawn in there too. The hessian colonises pretty quick and makes it a little harder for some mycellium munching creatures to get a snack too early on.
I put some of my last attempts on a pallet (heat not fungicide treated) which worked well until what looked like a slime mold travelled up the pallet and hit the mycellium pretty hard. So if I were to do it again I would use more than one pallet as the bottom one probably absorbed water from the ground.
Step one completed- wine cap mushroom patch in the garden
I cleared the area around the cherry tree and hammered in some old oak flooring boards to hold everything in place.
Putting cardboard down- the gaps are hostas that haven't come up yet!
And the woodchip
Repeat that times 3, then cover in straw and protect from chickens
As the instructions said I did 3 layers of 3cm woodchip. then at the end I noticed it said my layers together should be 20-25cm thick... but 3cm times 3 and some cardboard isn't anywhere near that high! So err... we'll see if it works! I'm hoping it does! And that in the futures i can top it up by throwing the used chicken coop sawdust bedding at it, not sure how else I'll get a 5-10cm layer of woodchip to add to it every year. I have a willow-coppice area but Ionly make a tiny amount of wood chip a year, maybe enough for half a cm!
I purchased some myco bags with filters built in to try and make this as easy as possible. 2 bags contain 'unsteralised woodchip'- but it came out of the centre of the steaming compost pile. 1 bag of pasteurised wood chip, 2 bags straw and wood chip mix, 2 bags sawdust (probably soft wood) and wood chip mix, and one bag of everything. Pasteurised by putting the medium in the bag and pouring a few litres of boiling water in, then leaving to cool for 12 hours or so (it took that long to cool down sufficiently!) and mixing the spawn in. These are in my house in the warmest room (20.3C right now) to see if the mycelium grows.
And the shiitaki logs now completed as well, dowels sealed with organic beeswax
Stacked on a pallet by my water source- so no direct sun, sheltered under a tree canopy, and I'm sploshing water at them every day when I water the wine cap bed (but that is only throwing water at the surface of the logs, so I hope that is enough)
Oyster mycelium is growing well! Seems to be going slowest in the bags with sawdust in, and fastest in he 'unpasteurised' woodchip (so I hope it is the right mycelium!)
I was literally just preparing some photos to show how this project was going!
Shitaki logs- I'm soaking them in rainwater every week or so, hoping to keep the logs moist enough, they still seem far too dry.. but then I don't really know what I am looking for!
The wine cap patch is mycelium-central underneath the straw (which also all sprouted.. oops), so I have high hopes that at some point I'll have mushrooms.
Oyster mushroom bags were sat in a corner of my bedroom in their bags, and you could see the mycelium spreading through them:
Then yesterday I was attempting to count weeks and see if I should move onto the next step (which I think was to open up the bags to let oxygen in, and put them in the light).. realised I was a bit late:
550g of fresh oyster mushrooms! From only 3 bags (I have 7)- both of them woodchip and sawdust mix bags (I'd tried pure wood chip, pasteurised woodchip, and mixes of pine sawdust, wood chip and barley straw). And I've actually spread the bags about and opened them to let fresh air in and things now so expect the rest of them to sprout (there's pinhead mushrooms in quite a few). Going to try making mushroom pate as soon as I have time!
And wandering how I can keep up the supply of wood chip to make more bags and keep one always going so I don't have to buy more spawn... The fact that a bag abandoned in the corner of the room has grown edible mushrooms is amazing!
Location: Suburbs Salt Lake City, Utah 6a 24 in rain 58 in snow
The winecaps didn't work at all- a large thickness of the woodchip has degraded and there's mycelium there, but no sign of mushrooms growing though. I guess you need more depth of wood chip? I only had about 10cm. I'm unlikely to ever get enough woodchip, so this area will probably just be recycled into compost next year.
The oyster mushroom bags have been great, I've harvested 3kg of oyster mushrooms- and probably missed harvesting just as many. The bags did pick up fungus gnats so I put them outside for the summer. It is now getting cold so I'd like to bring them in- there's still wood chip visible so I wander if I will get any more mushrooms. But I hesitate to bring fungus gnats into the house! So will attempt various bags sprinkled with diatomic earth, etc. I was also going to start up a new bag with some of the mycelium from an existing bag- I don't have fresh wood chip at the moment but I do have straw and softwood shavings, so I shall try those.
I shall have a few bags of fresh woodchip in about December- so I shall try it keep the oyster mushrooms going over winter and next year.
If I have purchased the oyster mushrooms (ignoring that they're very difficult to get hold of!) it would have cost me about £35. The spawn I used cost me £15, and the bags £9 (I wouldn't buy the bags again, but to begin with I was trying to do it 'by the book'). So I am in slightly in profit!
Mushrooms were doing well- the bags of oysters survived winter and started growing again this year with no effort on my part... but we've had really strange weather here- no rain for weeks on end, and I ran out of rain water. I did try watering with tap water- but the oysters didn't like it and still dried out. I'm convinced I can start them up again though- using bags of chicken bedding woodchip, or perhaps shredded raspberry canes (the only types of wood chip I'm likely to get hold of).
The wine caps didn't do anything- there was mycelium in the wood chip but no fruiting mushrooms, I think maybe my wood chip layer just wasn't thick enough. And I have no wood chip to pile on top to try again.
None of my mushroom logs have done much (I get the occasional shitake from the purchased log), I did keep soaking them to keep them moist enough- but the lack of rain and high temperatures here have dried everything out.
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
Wilson! your oyster mushrooms are looking good, one thing though: probably it was kinda hot in your bedroom -those fruitbodies have a burnt and splited margin. Best if you don't grow them inside your house -in some people may cause serious allergies due to spores.