Mastering mushrooms

At Bandstand Beds we’re always looking to widen the range of produce we can cultivate and so on a sunny Saturday last week we gathered learn how to grow oyster mushrooms.

A gathering of fungus fanatics

What are oyster mushrooms and what’s the challenge?

Oyster mushrooms are large fan shaped fungi. In the wild they are usually found in wooded areas on trees, especially beech. Unlike other edible mushrooms, and luckily for us, oyster mushrooms are cultivable. However, they still require careful preparation and minding if they are to be grown successfully. Mushrooms must be grown in a sterilised medium and container to prevent bacteria or other fungi from supplanting them and once setup must be grown in the correct conditions.

The fruiting body of the oyster mushroom. Unusually OMs are carnivorous and can consume small worms.

What did we do?

Firstly we gathered our ingredients. Mushrooms must be grown in a medium that provides them with food. For this we collected coffee grounds from Pear Tree Cafe and a straw bale we had on site. The mushrooms themselves were grown from mycelium inoculated grain.

Finally we needed containers to put the above in for which we reused old tubs that we cleaned thoroughly with anti-bacterial spray. After this we poured boiling water over the straw and then allowed it to cool to prevent the mycelium from being destroyed. We didn’t do this for the coffee grounds as they came pre-steamed.

We also washed the trugs the straw was soaked in to prevent contamination

Once everything was cleaned we needed to add holes to the tubs. This was to provide holes for the mushrooms to grow out of.

Holes being drilled. Our 1st test at growing mushrooms is in the bottom right of the pic

Finally it was time to bring everything together. To each tub a 1st layer of medium followed by some mycelium inoculated corn. This was repeated until the tub was full. As an experiment we made 3 different types of tubs: all straw, all coffee grounds, and a mix of both.

What next?

Now we have the tubs all setup they need to be stored in a cool dark place to allow the mushrooms to develop. We’ll leave them for about 6 weeks and if everything goes to plan we’ll have a crop in time for common people event.

Written by Jonathan Wilson, photos by Daisy Everingham, David Dandridge, and Tabby Gardner.

Our community garden is a wonderful place to learn and share gardening skills as well as meet and make friends. For more information about taking part at Bandstand Beds click on this link to our website, email or stop by our produce table on Saturdays between 10am and midday to chat to one of our members.