Grow your own oyster mushrooms at home | Urban Farming | Gardening Australia

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Learn how to have your own steady supply of oyster mushrooms growing at home, using a no-waste technique. Costa heads to Melliodora to learn from the pros: Nick Ritar and Kirsten Bradley at Milkwood have been teaching permaculture for over a decade.

They grow oyster mushrooms year-round in recycled food-grade plastic buckets, gleaned from their local cafe. They have built a grow-room from bits collected form the local tip shop, but they said a cheap kit greenhouse, misted every day and stored in the bathroom works just as well! You just need a structure that will retain humidity and a fairly stable temperature while still offering a good amount of fresh air and daylight.

02:10 What you’ll need:
• Food-grade buckets, sterilised and with 1cm holes drilled at different heights every 10cm or so around the sides.
• Surgical tape
• A large icebox or insulated tub
• 30-litre straw or sugarcane bagasse
• ½ cup hydrated (builders’) lime
• Waterproof gloves, eye protection, face mask
• A clean brick (or similar inert + heavy thing)
• A 50-litre (14 US gal) bucket (or plastic garbage bin) with lid
• 3 clean pillowcases
• Rope
• 40 litres of 80ºC water – a large urn is good for this job
• A clean table or tarp
• 3-litre Oyster mushroom spawn

02:10 How to:
• Cover the holes with pieces of surgical tape to keep the mix moist until the mushrooms are ready to grow.
• Break up the mushroom spawn into small bits (it’s best to do this while it’s still in the bag it came in; it makes less mess and it best not to touch it too much)
• Put on the protective gloves, mask and goggles and then mix the growing medium by combining the straw, sawdust blocks, lime and some water in the icebox (hydrated lime is caustic and can burn your throat and eyes).
• Add enough warm water to make sure it’s damp
• Fill the pillowcases (or nylon brew bags) with the mix then tie the tops with rope – leave a long enough piece to be able to hang these up later.
• The next step is to pasteurise the substrate; do this by placing the pillowcases back in the icebox and pouring over the 80ºC water – it needs to remain above 60ºc for at least one hour. Place the clean brick on top to keep the mix under water.
• Hang up the bags of substrate to drain. When you can no longer squeeze out water, spread out the mix (with clean hands) on a clean surface to dry (use alcohol gel to sanitise both your hands and the surface).
• Once it’s cool enough (about 35 degrees), sprinkle of the spawn and mix it through thoroughly.
• Pack the inoculated substrate into your clean food-grade buckets.
• Place the tubs in a warm dark place at about 24C. After a few weeks the mix in the bucket is white and fully colonised with mycelium, which means it’s ready to fruit.
• At this stage, take off the surgical tape, place your bucker in a place with airflow, cool temperature and high humidity and wait for it to fruit.

Want to try your hand at making a shitake log? Nick and Kirsten have tips for that too:

What you need:
• Freshly cut logs (all hardwood is suitable; Nick often uses oak, elder and eucalypt)
• A drill with a large-bore bit (to make holes approximately 1cm across)
• Mushroom spawn (buy form a reputable source)
• Beeswax
What you do:
• Drill holes along the logs and inserts mushroom spawn
• Cover it with beeswax. This ensures that you get the mushroom you want, not some other fungi.
• Place the logs in a semi-shaded place and keep them irrigated.
• They will fruit in 6-12 months. Every log will yield about 5-6 ‘flushes’ or harvests anytime there is moisture and the temperature is below 20 degrees.

SAFETY MESSAGE: Don’t consume mushrooms unless you are 100% sure of what they are. This is the most important rule. Some mushrooms are toxic and can kill.

N.B. Different mushroom mycelium grows on different materials, so you may need a different growing medium for a different mushroom spawn.

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