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Q.Growing Mushrooms

Zone Zone 6 | abowers831 added on March 26, 2020 | Answered

We are wanting to try your method of growing mushrooms using ends from organic mushroom. We are not understanding the layering process and the “medium” requirement. Can you please help. I envision a layer of straw then mushroom pieces, more straw and them again mushrooms the until container is full. Is this correct? Or are other mediums available such as cardboard, paper bags, etc? Enjoyed browsing your website thank you. Alice Bowers

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Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Answered on March 27, 2020

Ah... Mycology... My other passion!

This process is not straighforward, and very dependent on the type of mushroom that you want to cultivate.

There are many ways to go about this, but you will need to choose the correct medium based on each specific mushroom's needs.

For example, Lignophiles (wood eaters) will start just fine on sawdust, cardboard, paper, woodchips (hardwood), and with more advanced culture methods such as grains. These can include Oysters, Blewits, Shiitake, Lions Mane, and other lignin-lovers.

Mushrooms that consume soil, compost, grasses, or any other materials will need to be started on such. Wheat straw (not hay) will be suitable, as can be coffee grounds, potting soil, leaf litter, and other plant wastes. There is quite a bit of overlap on what mushrooms will consume what substrate, but these mushrooms will include the Blewit (again) Stropharia, Cremini, and other soil borne mushrooms.

Starting with something simple, like oysters, you can use straw, or sawdust (or a mix of many substrates like I do) and pasteurize it. This means that you want to try and keep it between 180 and 200 degrees F for an hour or so. Drain this off to field capacity (barely a drop or two comes out when squeezed) and put in your stem butts (and better if you have more of the colonized material that they came from). Layer colonized and uncolonized material for the best results.

Let this colonize (unfortunately every mushroom has their specific needs here) Then expose to more airflow. Keep moist, and watch for signs of life!

I would also advise perusing some of the mushroom cultivation forums, searching specifically for gourmet. (You will end up finding a lot of other information that you will need to sift through if you don't)

This is not a simple subject, and the confines of the growth parameters are MUCH more strict than with gardening. Proper research will be key here, since success rate without proper equipment is quite low in mycology. Don't give up, though. Practice makes (close to) perfect in this hobby.

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