Let’s talk fungi

Last autumn I finally had the chance to start experimenting with growing edible mushrooms. The easiest way to do this is to order a kit online, very straight forward, very simple. All you need is a humid spot with no direct sunlight, like a bathroom or a basement. My favorite so far: the Pink Oyster, fried with a bit of oil and salt it tastes like bacon.

Oyster mushrooms feeling very happy

I got two bags with inoculated substrate, which means mycelium, the „roots“ of the mushroom has been added to a mix of sterilized straw. All you have to do is wait a couple of days and be surprised.

Vegetarian Schnitzel

Given the shape and the texture I went straight to turn them into „Schnitzel“, a breaded and fried thin piece of veal or pork usually and very common in Austria. Absolutely delicious!

Another way to grow mushrooms at home is directly on fresh wooden logs. I hopped on our old Ford and drove into the forest to get some beech logs. There were also some fruit trees around the house which needed some pruning, those also went into the experiment.

We tried two ways of inoculating the logs. One was to make cuts into the logs and fill the cuts with mycelium growing on seeds. This is rather difficult since the cuts are relatively narrow and it’s hard to fill them without dropping any substrate.

It’s much more convenient to get inoculated dowels. We drilled holes into the logs and hammered the dowels into the holes. When finished we put the logs into some plastic bags and sealed them to avoid drying out and contamination. We left them in the basement for some weeks after that. A probably better way to do it is to seal the dowels with some bees wax and leave the logs outside in a shaded place.
Now it’s all about waiting. The literature says between 6 to 18 months…

Over the Christmas holidays we went a bit deeper into the whole story: We wanted to set up a test with self-made substrate – which we did! First we needed to make the substrate. So we took the chipper and fed it with straw and branches which we cut from the fruit trees.

We cleaned out a small room in the basement, my grandfather used to raise two cows in there. Cleanliness is extremely important so we washed down everything. The buckets for the experiment had to be perforated so we drilled two or four holes into them, later the mushrooms will grow out of the holes but they also allow for a gas exchange, the mycelium produces CO2 when it’s growing.
Everything we used, buckets, tools, shelves, etc., had to be sterilized. We used different products but mainly alcohol.

The substrate also needs to be pasteurized or sterilized. We have this old cooker on the farm which, back in the days, had been used to process different products. We put the straw and the chips separately into the huge pot, filled it with water and started to cook it.
Later we made two different sets of buckets: 2 holes and 4 holes. Each set had five different mixes: 100% straw, 100% wood, 50 – 50, 80 – 20 and 20 – 80.

There is no internet yet but we got some Bluetooth sensors for humidity and temperature. they are very convenient and easy to handle. Later we will be getting the data straight to the app. A thermostat switch and a heater as well as a humidifier are in the room to keep the parameters as stable as possible.

Here we go! Thanks Silvia for your help and input!

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