Field of Science

Fun with Fungus

The F1 and her Boy gave TPP a "Mushroom Farm" for Christmas, a pretty nifty little kit for growing oyster mushrooms. The first harvest provided a fairly decadent pasta for Sunday night dinner. This is not a cheap economical way to get fresh mushrooms, but you can't buy oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) in the market either, although more varieties of mushrooms are currently, regularly available than ever before here in the USA, where there is way more mycophobia than in Europe or Asia. What you get is a block of sawdust inhabited by a oyster mushroom mycelium (the fungal "plant"). Usually you find Oyster mushrooms growing on the sides of trees in great numbers in the fall. After soaking the dead wood block in water for a few hours, fruiting bodies, mushrooms, begin forming within a few days, and they grow quite quickly. Here's some images showing the initial appearance of the mushrooms, and then 2 days and 4 days later. Shortly after this last image they stop growing and it's harvest time. The mycelium should yield another crop or two. This would be a fun thing for curious kids or adults. If you decide to try this, shop around a bit for the best price. Thanks kids! Now about that other "grow your own" kit?  Are you sure that's legal?


One said...

The cost of the kit may put a bit hefty of a price on the resulting mushrooms but you can get some serious mileage out of it! If you make new substrate out of cardboard, wood chippings, used coffee grounds and tea leaves, straw, et cetera, you can keep the mycelium running and producing more mushrooms. I had the mycelium from a kit of mine last for two years, producing a batch every other month, until I lost the war against fungus gnats.

The Phytophactor said...

What a terrifically good idea!