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

Home-propagated oyster mushroom spawn

Propagating oyster mushroom spawnWe haven't made much progress on our goal to propagate our own mushroom spawn because this year's hot summer wasn't conducive to mushroom fruiting.  So when I found wild oyster mushrooms, I decided to give propagation a shot even though I knew that spring was the best time to propagate mushrooms.  I cut the stem butts off all three of our oyster mushroom clusters and sandwiched them between several layers of  pre-soaked, corrugated cardboard.

Ten days later, the mycelium was running!  I suspect that if I waited another week, I would have had a whole bowlful of spawn, but I wanted to get the mycelium into its final habitat so that it would have some time to get established before winter.  So I tore off all of the Oyster mushroom spawnwhite spawn, then discarded the un-inoculated cardboard around the edges.  Look at this mass of spawn gluing several sheets of cardboard together --- that's a healthy fungus!

Next step was choosing something to inoculate.  In the past, we've had good luck with inoculating logs, but I've been curious about inoculating stumps as a way of hastening decomposition while producing a delicious food.  We have plenty of stumps in our garden area, but most are too old to inoculate --- wild mushrooms have beat me to it.  Luckily, Mark cut down a magnolia this spring to give me space for forest pasture trees, and the stump has sprouted a bush of new branches.  I hope the vigor of the tree means that it was able to fight off invading fungi between April and October, but that the tree has lost enough life that it won't be able to kill my oyster mushrooms. 

Inoculating a stump with oyster mushroom spawnMark already showed you the inoculation step --- drilling the holes, stuffing in the spawn, then sealing each one up with melted beeswax.  Our three stem butts turned into enough spawn to fill up a dozen holes, and I even had one huge stem butt leftover to bury in the soil at the base of the stump.  Maybe next fall we'll be harvesting completely homegrown oyster mushrooms!

Our homemade chicken waterer keeps backyard coops clean and backyard flocks healthy.

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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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Just found this. Like to see your results.
Comment by Brent Sun Dec 9 20:21:30 2012
The totems we made at a similar time fruited sooner, but this stump finally started producing mushrooms this fall. So a success, even if a bit of a wait!
Comment by anna Mon Dec 10 07:47:45 2012

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