The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Expanding the oyster mushrooms

Oyster mushroom spawn on cardboard

Inoculating new cardboard using previously inoculated cardboard.A little over three weeks ago, I started propagating our oyster mushrooms from stem butts.  Two weeks ago, I saw that the mycelium was starting to run.  But I was still shocked when I peeked this week and saw fuzzy, white threads of fungus engulfing most of the cardboard in my flowerpot.  Time to move our experiment up a notch!

I soaked a lot more cardboard and found a much bigger container.  Since it worked so well last time, I crumpled up the flat pieces that peel off either side of the corrugated cardboard and laid them on the bottom of the container to keep the spawn out of any standing water.  Then I alternated layers of freshly soaked cardboard with layers of innoculated cardboard as if I was making a lasagna.

If our spawn keeps growing at this rate, I suspect we'll have to divide it again a few more times before the weather is right to innoculate logs.  I feel so empowered --- like growing tomatoes and broccoli from seed rather than relying on seedlings from the feed store!

Want to feel empowered?  Make your own homemade chicken waterer.  Or read our ebook and create your own small business.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I have been interested in growing oyster and shitake mushrooms for the local farmer's market for years. What kept me from doing it was like you I thought everything had to be super sterile etc. Now thanks to your blog, I think I am just going to jump in and go! Appreciate your input!! Actually, I am thinking of using newspaper logs.
Comment by Rick Woodward Sat May 14 14:46:14 2011
I'm not sure that you'll have luck fruiting on newspaper logs. There needs to be a certain amount of easily accessible sugar/carbohydrates in the substrate to allow the fungus to fruit, which is why I transfer off cardboard after I've got the spawn going and into logs cut during the winter while the high-sugar sap is present in the wood. It's worth experimenting with, though! Maybe if you added something like used coffee grounds?
Comment by anna Sat May 14 15:41:34 2011
Newspaper and cardboard will work as a fruiting substrate for things like oyster mushrooms, they are well capable of breaking down and feeding on the lignin found is such substrates.
Comment by mark combellack Tue Mar 20 12:53:55 2012
Mark --- It does make sense that if they could fruit on a log, they should be able to fruit on newspaper. But it's also true that the cambium of a tree (which is where oyster mushrooms concentrate their attention) has a lot of sugars in it if you cut the logs in the early spring. Have you fruited oysters successfully on newspaper and cardboard alone?
Comment by anna Tue Mar 20 13:15:55 2012

This is fantastic idea, a lady on youtube used cardboard and coffee grounds also with great success. Though I did find a research paper which found using newspapers for growing oysters tested a high level of heavy metals and they were inedibe. taste at you own risk!

Comment by Jane Sat Oct 6 23:20:48 2018

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