Mushroom Cultivation Workshops are a great way to learn how to grow mushrooms and meet mycophiles. I have been to 2 different workshops through the Bioneers Conference.
The first one was with the Missoula Guru Larry Evans with the WMMA and the Fungal Jungal. The idea with this one was to pasteurize straw, and then inoculate the pasteurized straw with Oyster mushroom spawn. Everyone got to participate and take a bag of inoculated straw home ready to produce mushrooms.
The process was simple and straight forward. We broke a bale of straw up, and then ran over it with a lawn mower until it was chewed up to smaller pieces. A steel barrel of water was heated with a propane burner until boiling. Larry had fashioned a basket out of hardware cloth with a handle of wire. we stuffed the basket loosely with straw and plunged it into the boiling water. It stayed about 20 minutes with a brick on top to keep it down. The basket was raised, drained some, and then dumped on a clean tarp. It took about 3 batches to complete. The straw was spread out and allowed to cool to a tepid temperature.
The bags of spawn were then spread out over all of the straw and was mixed by hand being careful not to step on the tarp. The inoculated straw was then bagged up in small plastic bags, and nails were used to poke holes throughout the bag. The bags of inoculated straw were then taken home by participants to grow fresh mushrooms. The mycelium quickly consumed the straw in the bag and in about 2 weeks I had fresh oyster mushrooms to eat.
Me and about 30 other people were turned on to the simplicity and complexity of growing mushrooms. You could see it in their eyes, they were hooked for life. I have been playing around with oyster mushrooms since, and am constantly amazed at the aggressiveness of this mushroom.
If you get a chance to attend a mushroom cultivation workshop, I would highly recommend it.
Mushroom hunting, or harvesting, is all about the patches that you find or grow. Once you find some good places that mushrooms grow, you have a (hopefully) private patch. Patches have obvious advantages because you have found or placed mushrooms there, so you have a better chance of finding mushrooms than wandering around the woods. Don’t get me wrong, I love to wander around the woods!
So you have your patch, and if you are careful you can harvest it for years. I also have found that patchs or mushroomy places sometimes produce several types of mushrooms at different times. Another handy thing about known patches, is they tell you when to wander about looking for new patches. If Oysters are flushing in your known spot, you are likely to find new sources when searching in the woods. I also keep my eye on some patches in town that I won’t eat for a variety of reasons. These patches tell me when my hidden mushroom patches, that are harder to get to, are ready to check.
This brings up an earlier topic of cultivating stump mushrooms, and watching them to indicate when their wild cousins are ready to check . I think this is an excellent way to know when to look for wild mushrooms and helps with identification of the wild cousin. Once you have grown Oysters you will know them in the wild.
I can not walk by a stump without thinking, that stump could be growing mushrooms. Stumps are the most under utilized substrate (material) for growing mushrooms that I see. Choosing the right mushroom for the stump is important, but many mushrooms will grow on a variety of stumps. Cottonwood stumps in particular will host a wide variety of mushrooms. The mushroom consumes the stump and the root system, and mushrooms can be harvested for years on a seasonal basis. The root system gives a place for the mycelium to hide in bad weather, and a place to get moisture for fruiting when the weather is ripe for the flush.
It bothers me to see stumps ground up, pulled out of the ground, or chemically removed, when they could be inoculated. Food can be harvested for years, and the stump is reduced to great soil for planting. When included with inoculation of the tree material removed, food can be harvested from a process that usually involves a lot of waste, and filling of our landfills.
Good candidates are oysters for hardwoods, and conifer corals for conifers. Inoculation can be with dowels or various spawns. This is another great way that mushrooms can help reduce waste while providing a usable product.
Hello fellow mycophiles,
I have been reading “Mycelium Running” by Paul Stamets. I have several of his books and have been inspired by them. This book blew my mind with his low tech approach to cultivation. His examples of growing mycelium on cardboard are worth the price of the book alone. I have learned a lot of new concepts from it and have not been able to put it down. Give it a try,