Ted’s essays

growing my own mushrooms

Through Darby Adult Education, I took a class on growing Oyster mushrooms. Chase covered A LOT about mushrooms, what they are, how they grow and more.

The part we think of as mushrooms is a mere portion of the organism’s reproductive system. For reference, however, it is conveniently called “the fruit”, and the facility for encouraging its production, the fruiting chamber.

There is much into the process before it is ready for the fruiting chamber. Six weeks of class got us to this stage. The first picture has a jar that was infected, ruined somewhere early in the processes. Chase suggested finding a suitable environment to plant it in, hoping the natural world would enable its recovery.

The next photo is the business side of my fruiting chamber. I assembled a used 20-gallon aquarium, a super-quiet, low-volume fan, hygrometer, plastic shoebox, pearlite, towel and scrap lumber into my version of a fruiting chamber.

The fan exhausts air which is replaced through the wet pearlite and towel filters to add humidity and oxygen while keeping pollutants to a minimum.

I designed this to maximize the humidity with a minimum of technology, maintenance requirement and electrical energy. The back half is open to the water/pearlite reservoir while incoming air has to go through the wet towel and/or perlite to reach the upper chamber.

If you click on the side view thumbnail picture, then zoom in you will see a humidity reading of 68% at the beginning of my use. That is the lower end for good production. I was a bit disappointed about that. Now, a week and a half later, the humidity is up. I suppose the wood had to absorb a share at first.

The last two photos are from today.

We have fruit.

The majority of them will be reabsorbed by the plant. A select few will grow full sized for harvest.

Notice that the humidity is now at 73%. My box is getting seasoned. My engineering is validated by the results.

Not too long from now I will be harvesting the first of half-a-dozen batches of Oyster Mushrooms that are considered to be in the “gourmet” category. I will be treating them with appropriate respect.