Has anyone succeeded in growing a sustainable supply of mushrooms just for your own eating pleasure? It seems like all the rules around mushrooms just make it much more complicated than it needs to be. After all, they have been growing all by themselves in nature for a long time. . .
I was just thinking about something simple like button mushrooms. What if you just left some to mature and make more spores?
I suppose that I have an endless supply of mushrooms, because whenever it rains during cold weather, mushrooms are fruiting for me.
When I collect logs, or non-conifer wood chips, I set them into the mushroom growing area, then whenever I have mushrooms fruiting, some of them get blended up into water and poured as spawn over the new logs and chips to inoculate them.
I don't grow button mushrooms, because I cannot identify them consistently when grown outdoors in the wild, and there are nasty wild look-alikes.
Currently, I am attempting to grow button mushrooms in my basement, or their more mature title of "Portabella" mushrooms (yet they are cheaper under the title "button"). Thanks so much for the ideas on feeding them for a continuous growth. Once I know I am successful, what variety of mushroom are you growing? Do you have to do anything special for them in the winter? Are there specific ways of cooking/preserving them that make you choose them?
I'm growing oyster mushrooms. Most of my spawn was originally wild-crafted, therefore they are locally-adapted, and survive our winters, (and summers) without intervention from me. I chose oyster mushrooms, because they are trivial to identify, and I think there are no poisonous look-alikes, and because they are not fussy about growing conditions. Most typically, I eat them by adding them to the stir-fry, roast, stew, or casserole of the day, whatever that happens to be.
Because I am growing some of them on logs, I can do a little bit of season shifting, by moving the logs into the greenhouse to encourage fruiting.
Part of the year, my place is hot and arid. Mushrooms don't grow much.
Part a year, my place is covered with ice/snow and frozen solid. Mushrooms don't grow much.
The in-between times are cool and damp. Perfect conditions for growing the locally-adapted mushrooms.
In other areas of the world, different species of mushrooms grow that take advantage of the times when moisture and proper temperatures (for those species) are available. My local mushroom producer, for example, grows "Tropical mushrooms".
I picked up some used artificial logs from a local commercial grower and have been incorporating them into some sheet mulching / composting experiments. They were all oyster mushroom strains and I've had a steady stream of mushrooms all summer long.
Actually, I've had more than I can eat (the family is now sick of mushrooms), and I've used some of the surplus to give away to friends and family, some to trade for fresh produce and honey, and I've dehydrated a whole lot.
I'll be experimenting with making some un-pasteurized straw logs to see how they go. Apparently they do work as you suspect in your OP. I'm going to try a used coffee grounds core wrapped in paper, wrapped in straw, and bound with baling twine.
Not that you shouldn't, Nick, but I tend to use carbonaceous material for my fungal food. Coffee grounds are too high in nitrogen, and too much of a worm favourite, for me to put them anywhere but in my beds and vermicompost.
Mind you, I would love to hear of your results. I suspect that the worms will love the coffee grounds even after they've been used as mushroom substrate.
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
-Robert A. Heinlein
I have a continuous stream of mushrooms growing in my indoor fruiting chamber, since I'm growing them for the market as a side hustle. But it's an effort to produce them in this quantity. This doesn't qualify as sustainable - plastic and electricity are used to recreate the humidity and fresh air found in nature, and sterilization artificially simulates the niches in nature where the fungi are able to find food sources free of serious competition.
If you were to use filter patch bags to create 2-3 bags of sterilized substrate per week, inoculating them with a liquid culture syringe purchased online, and place each of those bags in a "shot gun fruiting chamber" or "martha" style fruiting chamber when colonized and ready - you could produce an endless personal supply.
If you were to use fresh straw bales, you could use oyster mushroom spawn to inoculate the whole bale, keeping the whole bale moist while colonizing (outer layer dries out fast due to all the surface area). Don't use old straw bales (they won't colonize well) and if possible, store in a place where it doesn't contact dirt (on top of a plastic layer or sand layer)
If you were to create an outdoor bed with woodchips/straw, I personally think wine cap mushrooms ("king stropharia") are a better choice than oyster, a little hardier of a species. A big outdoor bed of wine caps using wood chips should produce whenever conditions are right. It'll stop producing when it runs out of its food source (or when too cold/hot/dry of course), and will require supplementation with more material.
I've been wondering if the keyhole raised garden design could be adapted for wine cap beds, actually - an open bottomed compost bin that feeds compost right into the soil over time. This would allow compost to be worked over by worms at the bottom of the pile, with worm action, water flow, and gravity combining to spread compost in an area around the keyhole container.