Mushrooms need a specific environment to grow and flourish. This includes:
- Low light
- No direct sunlight
- The correct temperature – shiitake and oyster generally prefer between 15 and 20°C
An easy way to diversify is to grow your own shiitake or oyster mushrooms. In the wild these fungi feed on dead wood, slowly decomposing it. However, commercial growers have worked out a way to speed this up with the use of grow bags. Grow bags consist of straw, sawdust and other nutrients, which have been inoculated with the fungi spawn. A quick Google will show you that these grow bags are widely available, and they will begin producing mushrooms within two weeks.
Mushrooms appear in flushes every two to three weeks from then on. How long they continue to produce depends on how many nutrients were supplied in the grow bag and the growing conditions. Some will produce for up to 12 weeks. Once the bag is exhausted, you can spread the contents on a garden bed as mulch or add it to your compost.
Another tried and true method is to create a "shiitake log", which mimics the natural growth of mushrooms you'd see in the wild.
Here's what you'll need
- Freshly cut logs (any hardwood - oak or eucalyptus works really well)
- A drill with a large bore-bit
- Mushroom spawn
- Drill holes along the log and insert the mushroom spawn
- Cover it with beeswax (which will stop other fungi from growing apart from the shiitake)
- Place in a semi-shaded space and keep them moist
- They will grow in 6-12 months and yield 5-6 flushes whenever the conditions are right
Diseases and pests
Luckily, mushrooms aren't prone to any particular types of pest or disease. However, toward the end of their life you may notice small black flies and moulds, but don't worry, these aren't cause for concern (they can just be annoying!).
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