This photo album is about growing mushrooms on straw, but there is much more to it than that.
One can grow mushrooms on pure straw in growing boxes, as well as use the straw in beds as a starter to allow mushrooms to extend into the garden ecosystem. So this album covers some of the super informative workshop by Guerilla House called 'Low Tech Shrooms' as well pictures of the environment it was held in. Other albums cover growing spawn and growing mushrooms on logs. I am so glad I went to the workshop, its a gift that just keeps giving.
Before growing mushrooms on straw the straw medium must be made into a favorable environment for the expansion of the mycelium. We would need to knock down competitors but not necessarily remove all the life in the medium. The straw needs to be a favorable environment to give the mushroom mycelium a chance against competitors. As with the spawn medium preparation, heat pasteurization can be used, but with the big quantities needed for creating fruiting medium other methods are good. Imraan soaked the straw in lime in the big green barrel to create a favorable environment for mushroom growth. He is emptying the barrel in the first photo. If you are growing mushrooms which live on manure or straw you don't want to remove all the beneficial organisms which aid the mycelium's growth.
After our introductory talk we put on gloves. Our hands carry an enormous amount of microbes which could take hold and compete with the oyster mushrooms. Buckets were filled with straw, spawn was weighed and added to the straw, the buckets were stuffed tight and lids put on, and micropore stuck over the holes, to allow air not bad organisms to pass, or in the case of the crate, it was covered with cling wrap and then pricked with air holes.
We learned how to create edges around garden beds with straw and cardboard and spawn. The mycelium should slowly spread through the straw, then the dead carbon in the garden soil, which can be added regularly. This way we move from growing mushrooms on straw in a semi sterile environment into growing them in a diverse environment where they can slowly adapt to the garden micro flora and find new food sources. Here is more on my own attempts to grow mushrooms outside.
This not only means resilient mushroom strains, but a garden with ever improving soil and well nourished plants. Mycelium tubes feed on the sugars in plant roots paying for them with minerals and water mined at great distances sometimes. The mycelium also filters water and breaks down petrochemicals washing from under cars.
Oyster mushrooms are saprophytes and eat dead plant matter. The chickens read and write in the straw,
scratching it into the soil and spreading it around. They are dedicated and studious and its unlikely one will see happier chickens than these, doing what chickens do best. They add manure to the soil, and one day Imraan may have a mushroom polyculture when secondary saprophytes that eat compost or even coprophiles that like manure discover this unique garden and its treasure. Thank you dear chickens and do another doodle, cock !
The next photo album is on growing mushrooms on logs as taught by Guerilla House.
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