Following on from our last post, we wish to tell you about two more ways of growing mushrooms in the average garden.
If you have a compost heap it is possible to set up a colony of Oyster mushrooms. We choose the yellow variety as it is more tolerant to cold and will be easy to spot even when small because of its bright colour. We have a few very big heaps in our woodland with mostly brushwood and weeds and we picked the north, shady side of one of them to start our colony.
We put some old silage we were given from a neighbour on top of the heap and scattered on the mushroom spawn mixed with saw dust and a little bit of sugar. As this is a big heap we used 180 grams of spawn. You could probably use more like 100 grams on an average compost heap. We forked in the mixture and added a thick layer of straw on top of the spawn before finishing off with another layer of silage. All mushrooms need a damp growing site so we watered the heap in. Now we are confident that the rain will do the rest of the watering for us, but if we get any dry spells, our stream is conveniently located close to the heap.
We also wanted to try out a couple of slightly more difficult varieties and looked at the ideas in James Wong’s excellent book, Grow for Flavour, for growing Lions mane and Shiitake. These varieties both like a vertical surface to grow on and they like hard wood chips as a medium. We adapted Mr .Wong’s ideas slightly and started off with some hard plastic crates we were given from our local supermarket. Putting down a layer of cardboard in each box to contain the woodchips and started filling them by putting down slightly larger half rotted twigs from a pile in the garden. Then it was time for filling the gaps with hard wood chips to create a level surface about half way up in each box that the spawn mixture could be scattered across. Again we added sawdust and a sprinkling of sugar to kick start the spawn into action.
We filled the boxes to the top with wood chips and put on another layer of cardboard to insulate against the cold and create a dark, cosy environment for our mushrooms.
Now the boxes are stacked up and wrapped in some plastic for the next couple of months and hopefully the mycelium will start to form, and our boxes will fruit for years to come. If for any reason our colonies will not take off, it is easy to order some more spawn later in spring and add to our different created environments. It might be a bit of a gamble, starting this project in January, but we do not have many frosts here and all of our colonies are well protected from the cold. Only time can now tell if we will succeed. Hopefully it will only be a few months until we can start harvesting our very own gourmet mushrooms.