Growing oyster mushrooms on logs requires only a simple recipe, but the ingredients must be just right. This album is based on what we learned at a Guerilla House workshop called "Low Tech Shrooms" which I highly recommend. The workshop untangled some of my misunderstandings about growing mushrooms, set me off on a steep learning curve and also has changed my whole approach to gardening and soil creation.
Oyster mushrooms are primary saprophytes, that means their food is dead plant material that has not been decomposed by other micro organisms. They like straw and wood products like logs, and chip, so you can find suitable unspoiled logs and buy spawn or grow it at home. In this case commercially grown dowel spawn was used. You can see a bag of it in the album on spawn. If you are growing another primary saprophyte (Guerilla House provides lists of mushrooms and their favourite media to workshop attendees) choose a wood that it 'likes'.
by melting candle wax
painting it over
Set off on a journey of discovery that is thrilling, rewarding and full of show stopping moments as you stalk the fungus in lonely woods and forest trails........
but be warned there is a lot to learn
mycology opens up a new universe
Growing oyster mushrooms is simple, but not as easy as growing some other foods. We need teaching, reading and exchange to make it happen.... and most of all we need practice, and to make mistakes. In honour of this principle I've included mine, post workshop. We went home with a little parcel wrapped in pasteurized cardboard, an oyster mushroom. Here is a list of my little faux pas, I hope they are instructive !
1) I took the parcel home in an old plastic shopping bag, which was highly likely far from sterile.
2) Instead of waiting till the oyster mushroom had thoroughly colonized the cardboard parcel, I whipped on my gloves, tore up the cardboard, which already had a few white threads of mycelium the next day, and placed pieces of torn cardboard in boiled rice.
3) I did not seal the jars with micropore until several days later
Soon the jars were showing a gray green growth in addition to the snowy white mycelium of the oyster mushroom. Once the jars were filled with mycelium, I put on gloves again and opened them up. I spread them on a pasteurized plastic sheet, cut out all the gray-green growth I could see, mixed them with fermented straw and put them in a pasteurized bag.
4) The straw was not fully fermented yet
5) There seem not to have been enough puncture holes in the bag.
6) It was impossible to remove the gray-green mold completely from the rice medium
Within days we were back to the situation where the gray green mold was thriving. Though the oyster mycelium is also expanding at this stage, we will see what happens when the waves of expanding mycelium meet. There is dew, a lot of it, on the inside of the bag, which is supposed to be bad, as it can promote rotting.
After the workshop I began reading the downloads Guerilla House sent, such as Paul Stamets book Mycelium Running. When I have money I am going to buy everything he has written. I look back and realize I've made a huge leap forward, because even last week I was getting everything wrong. I've spent decades growing things and it takes time to acquire this combination of new information and experience that build the skill. I am not dismayed by my failures, I'm so glad I went to the workshop and I look forward to new horizons and ways of growing.
Please let me know if you have any questions, comments or stories to share on gardening, permaculture, regenerative agriculture, food forests, natural gardening, do nothing gardening, observations about pests and diseases, foraging, dealing with and using weeds constructively, composting and going offgrid.
Check out our selection of ecological designs printed on T-shirts, accessories and decor items. The designs are about soil regeneration, indigenous Cape wild flowers, wild African animals and other fauna, as well as bible quotes and geometric patterns.
Oct 21, 21 12:27 PM
Growing against extinction. Some of the many reasons why one should garden for wildlife all around the world using native food plants
Sep 03, 21 06:37 AM
can an established, large, wild plum tree Harpephyllum caffrum be pruned in order to try shape/reduce the width of its canopy? I have a huge wild plum
Aug 31, 21 12:08 PM
Caroline, thanks so much for the valuable information in your blog. I also try to garden in Cape Town in a garden that is battered by the Southeast in