Mushroom Grow Log 1

May 16, 2022#bio, #myco🛠️

In October of last year, my girlfriend and I were new to town. She convinced me to check out the farmer's market one Saturday morning, despite much crank and morning grumbling, and what I saw there ended up defining my free time for much of the winter and spring.

A local vendor was selling gourmet mushrooms--oysters, lion's mane, chestnuts--and since eating them the first time they have enspored my impressionable primate-brain and are using it to propagate themselves. I'm totally fine with it.

Mushrooms are kind of like the coral of the land, a precious hub and coordinator of life at large. The stuff we eat is just the tip of their iceberg--"the fruit of a tree that grows almost entirely underground," Michael Pollan wrote of them in his book on psychedelics, How to Change your Mind.

The first mushroom we purchased was comb's tooth, a variant of lion's mane with dangling spines that eject its spores, drooping like a chandelier of the forest.

Photo by Timothy Myles

We ate it 'pulled pork' style with a little homemade BBQ sauce and served it to a visiting friend. Fascinatingly delicious. And after growing a batch myself, I can safely say their work-to-yield ratio is way, way better than vegetables. I believe they're the food of the future.

These are my supplies. Hardwood fuel pellets, wheat bran, a pressure cooker, and some rubbing alcohol are all easy to come by at local stores.

For the first grow I got grain spawn from a good company whose tutorials on YouTube I liked, Field & Forest. Lion's mane is wispier than other mycelia so it may not look like it's ready when it is. I also bought a small pack of filter patch bags from them, which allow for air flow in and out of the plastic but don't allow contamination.

The recipe I followed came from FreshCap, a very popular YouTube channel. 5 cups of hardwood and 1 1/4 cup of wheat bran, then 6 cups of water in the bag.

Then you rubber band them shut and drop them in the pressure cooker with some water. 15 PSI for 2 1/2 hours.

Remove it from the PC and wipe down your hands and work station with rubbing alcohol. At this point it's easy to contaminate the bag of moist hardwood & bran, so you should be careful. I put 1-2 cups of grain spawn in each of the bags, shook it up and rubber banded the bag back shut again.

At this point most of the work is done. You mostly just let them sit in a warm, not-too-sunny, somewhat-humid space for about a month. The hardwood in the bag will slowly turn white in places and blossom little micro-shrooms. Then you're almost ready.

When it's time to 'fruit' the shrooms you cut Xs in their sides. Otherwise, keep doing what you're doing--keep them humid, kind of warm, and in not-quite-direct sunlight.

When they first start busting out of the sides, they might look weird and pink. Mine look a bit unhealthy here, almost certainly due to operator error, but lion's mane (and most gourmet saphrophytic mushrooms) are really tenacious and can thrive despite a rocky upbringing.

In my limited experience, pink is well and good, and just means the shroom is young and wants to grow more. Brown and dry is bad, and means it's dead there and won't grow further.

I got huge yields for three rounds on all my bags, it was crazy how much food we got out of these.

At first I only made faux crab cakes with the fruits, but eventually we had so much that I just started adding it to stir fry, which was actually tastier. They complement the taste of soy sauce very well.

After this resounding success, I'm ready for more challenge with the growing operation. Next I'll be making my own grain spawn. There are more heavy-duty tools I'll need in the future, too, most notably a laminar flow hood for sterile processing earlier in the lifecycle, and a growing tent that can contain the humidity without molding my house. Stay tuned!