Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms

October 23, 2021#myco📚

Check out the book

I spent most of the fall studying YouTube videos for guidance on how to grow my own mushrooms, a process I'm detailing on Mushroom Grow Log 1. It was only after I worked through some of Paul Stamets' legendary book on the subject that I finally felt ready.

It's half reference text, half normal book, so read the first half and consult the second half for information on specific strains you want to grow. Notes below.


Chapter 1 Mushrooms, Civilization, and History

The above is an artist recreation of a cave painting in Tassili, Algeria dating back 5000 years BC. is "The spiritual interpretation of this image transcends time and is obvious," Stamets writes. Really, Paul?

He also suggests they may have played a role in the Eleusinian mysteries in ancient Greece.

Chapter 2 - The Role of Mushrooms in Nature

Mushrooms can be classified into what three ecological groups?

  • saprophytic, which live off of dead things
  • mycorrhizal, which live symbiotically off of the roots of living plants (rhizal means root)
  • parasitic

Mycorrhizal fungi

Mycorrhizal mushrooms live in symbiosis with trees and grasses. Tree roots which are wrapped in mycorrhizal spores spread further and extract more nutrients. They can wrap the outside of roots in a protective shield, called extomcorhizal, or they can invade the interior of root cells in the host plants and are called endomycorrhizal. They are very hard to cultivate. Examples include chantarelles and truffles. Some try cultivating by planting young trees near older trees that are proven to have a relationship with the fungus underground.

Parasitic fungi

Parasitic fungi can be huge (they're among the largest mushrooms--and living creatures--on the planet, sometimes) and though they used to be thought of as biological evil, they actually can have many medicinal properties.

Saphrophytic fungi

Most gourmet mushrooms are saphrophytic. They're the premier recyclers of the planet, breaking down the cell walls of dead and dying plants, secreting enzymes that degrade large moleculer complexes into simpler compounds that reenrich their environment.

Primary decomposers

Fast growing first responders to dead plant life, usually trees. Oysters and shiitakes are prominent exaamples. Break down the cell walls of plants so the other mushrooms can take it further.

secondary decomposers

They grow on composted material. Button mushrooms are a perfect example.

tertiary decomposers

These live in soils that have been treated by the other types of mushrooms for many years. They can be found in mushroom cultivation because they live where secondary mushrooms are finished.

The first two are the best options for cultivation. Here he also discusses mycoremediation (removing harmful waste in soil) and mycofiltration (cleaning water that passes through mycelial soil.)

Chapter 3 - Selecting a Candidate for Cultivation

this just contains a table of all cultivated mushrooms and their latin names

Chapter 4 - Natural Culture: Creating Mycological Landscapes

Natural culture means growing mushrooms outdoors. So much is left to chance. He practices laissez-faire cultivation; it's best to leave them alone. Mushrooms can live on almost any organic debris. He recommends a polyculture in which multiple spores coexist and fruit at different times. You can do this indoors too, with, say, shiitake logs that keep get inoculated with more species that eventually completely consume the substrate till there's nothing left. Since I'm going to start with indoor cultivation, I'm going to leave the rest of this.

Chapter 5 - Permaculture with a Fungal Twist

Here he walks through variations on permaculture with some tips for fungus. Stuff that jumped out:

  • if doing a needs-yields analysis, consider that mushrooms, like animals, exhale C02. They can be fed to greenhouse, helping plants warm.
  • species sequencing, a technique described in Chapter 22, is a good way to reuse substrates for indoor growing that are spent
  • argues for the establishment of "mycological response teams" that can plant spores at big disasters and bioremediate

Chapter 6 - Choosing a Substrate

Sawdust and wood debris, from deciduous woods that decompose quickly, are best. Aldar, cottonwood, and poplar are all recommended.

Three more factors: structural composition, pH, and moisture.

Many forms of compostable bioproducts are fine choices for substrates.

There is a big table of suitable tree species for use as substrates on p48-9.

Best substrate for oysters is wheat straw.

Supplements for substrates can boost yields, but they also boost competitors, so you have to be careful about sterilizing. Examples include: wheat brans, nutritional yeast, cornmeal, rye grain, and a lot more.

Thermogenesis (spontaneous heat increase) is common when mycelium grows in enhanced substrate environments. Space out the spawn bags, try to keep them well under 100 degrees.

Structure of substrate is also important. A mixture of large, loos particles with space and fine particles without space is ideal.

For a good analogy of this phenomenon, think of a campfire or a wood stove. When you add sawddust to a fire, there si a flare of activity that soon subsides as the fuel burns out. When you add logs or chunks of wood, the fire is usstained over the long term. Mycelium behaves in much the saame fashion. Bigger chips sustain long term growth.

Chapter 7 - Biological Efficiency

ratio of the weight of the substrate to the weight of the yield. One pound of substrate yielding one pound of mushroom is 100% biological efficiency.

adjusting for the weight of the water in both substrate and fruited mushroom, 100%BE is also 1lb of shroom for every 4lb of moist substrate or 10% conversion of dry on dry

The best way to increase yields is to increase the spawn rate.

That means, figure out how to harvest more often.

If you're growing on sterilized sawdust, he recommends dumping everything after the third flush into an open air, netted growing room. Mist it. Can grow more, otherwise I i magine you'd just compost it. ==verycool composting picture on p56==

Chapter 8 - Homemade vs. Commercial Spawn

It's really the best to spawn your own strain. Really.

Spawn in any form of mycelium that can e dispersed and mixed into a substrate.

Chapter 9 - The Mushroom Life Cycle

-Mushrooms produce through spores. A small mushroom can produce more than a million spores.

  • "Each spore has one half of the genetic material necessary for reproduction. Once germinated, a filament-like cell called a hypha extends from the spore. This hyphae continues reproducing via mitosis. Two spores with compatible hyphae intertwine, fuse, and this speeds up their growth. collapsed:: true
    • After two hyphae combine, the mycelium is binucleate (two nucleii) and dikaryotic: "A hypha occurring in certain fungi after sexual reproduction in which each compartment contains two nuclei, one from each parent."
  • Compatible spores are genetically compatible.
  • Enzymes and acids are secreted by the mycelium which break down soil and living matter around it. When the complex molecules are made simpler, the mycelium ingests them.
  • When mycelium spreads, it becomes a network.
  • In winter mycelia sometimes retreat. At this time many mushrooms produce sclerota: a hardened, woodlike tuber-ish structure. They are the resting phase of the mycelial life cycle. They can survive all kinds of bad weather. In the spring, they'll soften with exposure to water.
  • When two spores mate, they make something called a "clamp connection" (bridges between the cells.) These are useful for confirming that the mycelium is made from two fused spores and not a single spore which is infertile.
  • As the mycelial network expands, it produces carbon dioxide in vast quantities.
  • When mycelium finishes colonizing its substrate, its heat reduces and it declines in CO2 output. It rests before beginning to fruit mushrooms. This is called its "biological switch," and precisely what triggers it is unclear.
  • Very quickly after this switch is hit, the pins of mushroom fruits form, called "primordia." Primordia formation lasts from 2 days to 14 days.
  • Cultivators then carefully control oxygen, CO2, and humidity in the space. This sequence of controlled variables is caleld an "initiation strategy."
  • The mushroom cap functions like an umbrella, shielding the gills which generate spores from the elements.
  • Mushrooms grow toward lights, air currents, and gravity.
  • Spore producing cells are known as basidia. They grow on the gills. The arms of tthe basidia grow little globs on their tips that eventually detach to become spores. The way spores are ejected is still a mystery; they know that they're sent with 25,000 G's, insane speed and force. That's how they travel super far.
  • The gills are used to increase moisture and humidity where the spores are being created. More gills = more spores.
  • When it's done creating its spores, it dies.
  • do a few small notes and ankify, i already read it once

Chapter 10 - The Vectors of Contamination

Pretty straightforward. Everything must be extremely sterile.

Chapter 15 - Grain Spawn

Skipping ahead for now since I have no plans to cultivate agar media yet. Step by step. Learning grain spawn is the next step, after simply growing someone else's pre-existing grain spawn.