Mushroom Cultivation

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Mushroom Cultivation
Mushrooms in History
 Mushrooms have been used by humans for
thousands of years for a variety of purposes:
Ancient cave image:
5,000 B.C.
Polypores found on Otzi, the Ice Man:
3,300 B.C.
What is a mushroom?
 It is important for cultivation to realize the iconic
mushroom shape is merely the fruiting body of a
much larger organism. For example, a single fungus
in Oregon was found to be spread over 10 square
kilometers and thousands of years old. Each year, it
gives rise to thousands of mushrooms.
Mushroom Life Cycle
Mushroom Life Cycle
 Spores: A reproductive unit produced by fungi that
typically contains half the genetic material of the
parent organism. When they find favorable
conditions, they germinate in the form of hyphae.
Hyphae are threadlike structures that grow into
whatever substrate is preferred by that species.
Mushroom Life Cycle
 The hyphae continue to expand into the substrate
until they have taken over the substrate or they run
out of nutrients
Mushroom Life Cycle
 Together, the hyphae are called mycelium. The
mycelium can be thought of as the “body” of the
fungus. It is from this body that mushrooms form.
Mushroom Life Cycle
 To prepare for mushroom formation, the mycelium
clumps together into structures called hyphal knots.
Mushroom Life Cycle
 The hyphal knots give rise to pinheads, which are
the first signs of very small mushrooms.
Mushroom Life Cycle
 Pinheads develop pretty quickly into primordia, which
are the step between pinheads and the mushrooms we
all know. It is common to see primordia and they are
often mistaken for fully developed mushrooms.
Mushroom Life Cycle
 The mushrooms will sometimes stay in the
primordia stage until conditions are just right, but
usually the primordia devlop quickly into
mushrooms. Once mature, the mushrooms produce
spores, releasing them to the environment and
continuing the cycle of mushroom growth.
Growing Mushrooms
 When you think about the life cycle of a fungus, it
quickly becomes apparent that to grow quality
mushrooms, you have to grow quality mycelium.
This is not unlike a tomato farmer having to grow
quality tomato plants to get quality tomatoes.
 So, how do we grow quality mycelium?
Growing Mushrooms
 There are dozens of methods for growing
mycelium. Most of these methods require strict
sterilization standards and are, therefore,
impractical for the average grower.
 For the sake of brevity, I will touch on three
methods, focusing on the last of the three, log
cultivation.
 Natural method
 Sterile lab inoculation
 Log cultivation
Natural Method
 The natural method just allows nature to do its
thing. Hobby cultivators often find places where
their favorite mushrooms grow. They carefully pick
some of the available mushrooms while leaving
enough to continue the cycle.
 Here in Leysin, there are many edible species. It is
NOT recommended that you try to identify and eat
mushrooms from nature unless you really know
what you are doing!!!
Natural Method
 Here is the shaggy ink cap, found behind Belle
Epoque. It is deemed one of the safest mushrooms
to eat because it is so easy to identify.
Natural Method
 Here is one of the shaggy ink caps after sitting in
my room for an afternoon:
Sterile Lab Inoculation
 Many different substrates can be used to grow
mycelium. Unfortunately, once you create a suitable
environment for mycelium, many other fungi can
take over your substrate, overpowering the fungi
you want to grow.
 To avoid this contamination, sterile lab techniques
must be used and perfect conditions must be kept
for the mycelium to develop properly.
 Despite these problems, most specialty mushrooms
are grown in this manner.
Sterile Lab Inoculation
 Typically, the mycelium is grown in bags or bottles
and the mushrooms emerge from these containers.
Log Cultivation
 Somewhere between the first two methods is log
cultivation. The logs act as a safe place for the
mycelium to grow and they can be kept outside,
eliminating the need for climate-controlled areas.
Log Cultivation
 Basically, the logs are inoculated with mycelium
through the use of small pieces of wood that have
spawn (mycelium).
 Holes are drilled in the logs and the spawn is placed
inside the holes. The holes are then capped with
wax to keep out any competing fungi.
 The cultivator then just needs to keep the logs moist
(in Leysin, watering should be minimal) until the
mycelium has sufficiently grown to allow for the
fruiting process
Log Cultivation
 To begin the fruiting of the mushrooms, the logs are
placed in cold water, mimicking the rains of spring.
 Different types of mushrooms require different types of
wood, so it’s important to do a little research to make
sure the needed logs can be found in your area. For
example, shitake mushrooms grow best on hardwoods,
such as oak.
 Finally, the logs must sit for anywhere from 6 months to
2 years, depending on the species of mushroom and
hardness of the wood. Shitake mushrooms typically take
from 6-18 months to begin fruiting.
Log Cultivation
Log Cultivation
Let’s give it a try!!!

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