Thursday, December 1, 2011

Some thoughts on Oyster cultivation

I have been experimenting a lot the last 6 weeks with growing oyster mushrooms- and finally had some success.  Time to jot down a few of the things I have learned.

Happy oysters (pleurotus ostreatus) 15 days after inoculation!
Second harvest of oysters growing already on day 19.

  1. Mushrooms really care about their environmental conditions.  Hit the sweet spot for temperature, light, humidity and airflow, and they are champs.  Too high or too low in any 1 variable and you have sadness (and no mushrooms).
  2. Oyster mushrooms will grow on lots of things.  So far I have seen good growth on: shredded paper, coffee chaff, coffee grounds, coffee jute bags, hardwood pellets, and rye grain.  Nothing surprising here, but neat to see it.
  3. Too much moisture in your substrate (growing material) is a real killer.  Better to have non- sterilized substrate at the right moisture than sterilized and too wet.  
  4. If a culture is given the right conditions it will grow like crazy.  I made up 8 containers with different moistures, materials, etc.. and a couple grew like crazy.  Just 7 days after mixing the spawn into freshly sterilized rye grain primordia was already forming.  I harvested 10 ounces of mushrooms from 1 block on day 15! (see first photo).
  5. Spawn bags with a filter patch are pretty awesome.  Limits contamination and allows fresh air in.  Totally worth the cost (~$0.50/bag).
  6. You can do a lot without a HEPA hood, but having one exponentially increases what you can do.  At $1,000+ however, they ain't cheap.  Note- if you are reading this and make HEPA hoods- I will be happy to write a lot about how great your hood is if you are feeling generous.... :)