Mushrooms - Cultivation at HomeW
hen the mushroom-hunting bug has bitten and the taste buds have awakened to the nuanced flavors of the wild mushroom, what logical next step is there but to grow your own mushrooms? Many Club members tend vegetable gardens for the table in a sunny spot in the yard. But what about that shady corner? Perfect for the mushroom garden!
Many Mushroom Club members have been introduced to this fruitful pastime over the last few years through Workshops on Log Cultivation of mushrooms. Beginning with a presentation with photos and step-by-step instructions and ending with hands-on log prep, these workshops are both informative and great fun. Participants are taught how to select the proper tree species for the mushrooms they intend to grow, when to cut the fresh wood needed, and how to drill, plug, wax, and care for the logs until they begin to fruit. Few mushrooms like the hot sun, so that’s where that shady spot comes in handy.
Shiitake and oyster mushrooms are the most common mushrooms grown at home, though there are many edible and medicinal species that can be cultivated. Plug, sawdust, or grain spawns cultured with a specific mushroom mycelium are available from mushroom suppliers throughout the country. Once the freshly-cut log is inoculated with the mushroom spawn, patience is the next step. Shiitake takes about a year to begin fruiting; the aggressive oyster mushroom can produce in as little as 3-4 months. Oak logs can produce shiitake for 3 or 4 years, with rest periods in between flushes.
Poplar is commonly used for oyster mushroom production, and being a softer wood, is consumed more quickly by the mushroom, but may still last 2 or 3 years. Logs need watering or soaking in the hot summer months, but can produce mushrooms until the wood disintegrates. Log-grown mushrooms can get very large compared to their commercially produced, store-bought cousins. What reward it is to step outside and pick a 6-inch shiitake for dinner!
Mushroom Club members have also been introduced to alternative methods of mushroom production. Species can be grown on hay bales, straw, sterilized grain, shredded paper, egg cartons, phone books, fabric or many other media inoculated with spawn. These methods generally begin production more quickly but don’t last nearly as long as mushrooms grown on logs.