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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Mushroom Growing Experiment - Update

This is the end of July and the experiment started mid May. There is some progress.


And more success

The process for Oyster Mushrooms works i.e. break up an Oyster Mushroom into some used coffee grounds obtained from your espresso machine or from the local coffee shop. Fresh grounds only as they will go mouldy after a few days. Keep the container warm (21 to 26 C) and moist (85%+) and within a few days or so some white threads appear. Boil some straw to sterilise and when cool mix in the coffee grounds. Wrap tightly in a plastic bag so it stays moist and continue to keep warm and moist. This can take 2-3 months. When the mushroom stems appear inside the plastic bag cut lots of small holes (20 cent coin size) in the bag for the shoots to pop out.

The only thing that we did wrong was cut the holes too early which allowed the straw (or in our case hay) to partially dry. It has received another soaking and now the waiting begins. Will the mushrooms shoot from the holes?

To keep the small hothouse warm at the correct temperature there are three lights. To keep the humidity up there is a 9 litre bucket with a small aquarium pump splashing water and it needs topping up daily. Running these must be consuming a lot of electricity compared to the potential yield of mushrooms. Either the volume will need to be ramped up, growing restricted to Spring and Autumn or it will be cheaper to buy mushrooms.

This process works for Oyster Mushrooms. The same process was used (optimistically) on several other mushroom varieties (just to fill the hothouse) with no success which means there is some more research to take place to understand their particular needs.

There are kits available from Bunnings and occasionally from Big W but at $20 there needs to be a harvest much greater than 2 kilograms to justify their acquisition. We have never ever been skilled enough to get more than a few individual mushrooms from a kit. Now that the hothouse is in operation this may change the situation and may be worth a trial.

I suppose the question to answer is whether it is possible to maintain a steady flow and not flood of mushrooms (with or without kits) such as is done in the garden with succession planting. Doing it seasonally and keeping running costs very low may make it a viable operation. Doing it without kits would make it an inexpensive exercise. Much like a vegetable garden there is still a lot to learn in order to get to a set and forget operation.

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