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Growing mushrooms indoors and outdoors

Oyster mushroomsLast week, I posted how to clone mushrooms then expand your spawn as the first steps toward growing your own mushrooms.  Of course, if you have extra cash and little time, you can always buy spawn from one of the many companies that cater to the home mushroom grower.  Regardless of how you get it, what do you do with that spawn?

The pros grow their mushrooms indoors in bags, trays, or jars.  These methods are definitely the most cost-effective for large-scale growers since the growing conditions can be tweaked easily to speed up mushroom production.  However, I'm leery of indoors growing since it requires sterile conditons and lots of up front equipment costs.  Basically, by providing the perfect conditions for your mushrooms, you're also providing the perfect conditions for lots of molds and bacteria, so you need to fight contaminants constantly.
Growing mushrooms on logs
On the homestead scale, I think that outdoor growing is usually the best way to go.  We've had good luck growing both oyster mushrooms and shiitakes on logs, and a similar method can be used to inoculate fresh stumps. 

A new method I want to check out is growing mushrooms in beds of wood chips, straw, or other materials.  If you inoculate your chips in early spring or fall, the mycelium will naturally expand through the substrate and you may get mushrooms within the same year.  Just be sure to give the fungus at least four weeks to grow before cold weather kicks in and put your mushroom bed in a damp, shady, north-facing area.

Already choosing new varieties of chickens for this year?  Protect your young chicks from drowning with an automatic chicken waterer.

This post is part of our Growing Gourmet Mushrooms lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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