How to Grow Oyster Mushrooms

Oyster mushrooms can grow easily in cold climates, and freshly gathered mushrooms are generally superior in flavour and shelf-life to those "gathered" from your local produce section. For those of us who can't or don't gather mushrooms in the wild, they can be cultivated in a shady place in your own garden. This could be a good solution for an area in a yard where there are not enough hours of sunlight for any other food crop.

What you need:
In early spring, make sure you have a source for oyster mushroom spawn (in Canada, try The Gourmet Mushroom Company). Mushroom spawn is not seeds, but when it is "planted" properly, it will produce the next generation of mushrooms. Once you have sourced your spawn, you will need to find a source for freshly cut logs, preferably poplar, but any deciduous tree species will likely work. The ideal size for the logs is about the size of firewood; four to eight inches in diameter and about a foot long.

What to do:
In late spring, stand your freshly cut logs on end. Cover the top end of each log with oyster mushroom spawn. Cover it with aluminum foil and secure it to the log to keep the mushroom spawn moist. When all your logs are complete, place them in black coloured garbage bags (to keep the light out) and store them in a sheltered place, such as an unheated garage or shed, for about 3 months. This gives the mushroom spawn time to colonize the logs. In the fall, dig a trench about six inches deep where you want the mushrooms to grow. Unwrap the logs and place them, upright, in the trench. Replace the soil around the logs and mulch the area with woodchips or leaves. Ensure that the soil doesn't dry out, and keep your eye out for mushrooms growing on and around your logs after the first hard frost. Mushroom logs like this can continue producing for up to five years.

If you don't have a garden at all, various online sources offer mushroom kits that can be grown indoors. Although you may never have heard of them, they are nothing new. My grandfather once told me that at one point in his sales career, may years ago, he sold mushroom kits.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting idea. Oyster mushroom is native here, so it should do quite well. You'll need to protect them from the mycetophilid midges and mycetophagid beetles, but I like them fried in butter and garlic, and I think they go well with eggs, so they are worth a little effort. Also, I have an undescribed species of mite that is a parasite of the mycetophagid beetles, but I have only one collection from Pleurotus ostreatus on an aspen log. Seems like a great way to work out the life cycle of the mite and have a good meal or two as a reward.

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