Mushroom Cultivation Workshops

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.

Fly Agaric

The Fly Agaric or Aminita muscaria is a mushroom with a rich history.

The Fly Agaric gets it common name from farmers putting them in milk or water to induce a stupor to the flies that consumed the liquid. It is in the Amanita family along with some deadly poisonous mushrooms like the Death Cap, (Amanita phalloids), and the Destroying or Death Angel(Amanita ocreata).

They are fairly common and fun to find. Until I started finding them, I thought they only existed in fairy tales and kitchen decor.

They are the most used image in mushrooms, but most people think they are mythical!

This mushroom also has the most written about it of any mushroom I have researched. Mushroom identification books list it as anything from edible to poisonous. There are stories of Siberians using it for rituals, to likening the colors of Santa clause and Christmas to the famous mushroom. I surely would not eat this mushroom, and do not recommend it to anyone. The poisonous varieties of the Amanita family cause painful deaths as they attack and destroy the liver.

There is plenty to read about this mushroom and plenty of opinions. I just like to find it in the woods as there is a kind of mystical appeal to it. I have found them growing in a circle ranging in size from little unopened buttons to saucer sized caps. When they are large, they are hard to miss! Anytime I find one kind of mushroom, I know the conditions are right for other types.


The King Bolete, or Boletus edulis is a treat when you can find them!

This has become my favorite wild mushroom to eat. They are tasty and can be quite large, although I prefer them about the size of this little fella. The king is sometimes hard to find and cannot be relied upon every year. Most of us that are hooked on this mushroom usually pick all we can…eat all we can…and dry the rest for another day.



Sometimes if you are lucky you can find a lot of food with this mushroom. You can eat them rehydrated in the winter, while thinking about when you found them. This mushroom keeps very well if dried and stored properly.

So learn this mushroom, the same way I did, through the books. Your closest friends probably won’t show them to you!


Going on an organized foray is a good way to learn identification. They usually have an expert to help id mushrooms, and other mycophiles at different stages. The group is able to really cover an area and find lots of variety. The mycologist then identifies the finds and someone logs them.

My first organized foray was with Larry Evans, the guru from Missoula with the WMMA ( We found edibles even in October and quite a bit of variety. I was hooked on learning as many mushrooms as I could. The ones I have attended since then have always been worth the time. Larry has taught me many tricks to learning mushrooms, but I have a long way to go!

If you get the chance to go on an organized foray, give it a try. You will learn about identification and meet other mycophiles. We will post forays here as they become available.

Mushroom Patches

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.