Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Shroom With A View

Why did the girl go to a movie with a mushroom? Because she liked a fungi on a date!!!

For many people in north central Alberta the only thoughts of mushrooms these days would be enjoying them in a bowl of soup. But right now is the best time to start planning a mushroom garden for next year.

As surprising as it seems, growing mushrooms is not only fun and easy, but it is a type of gardening that can be continued throughout the winter because mushrooms thrive in cool low light conditions.

The first order of business when starting a mushroom garden is to gather and prepare a substrate on which the mushrooms can grow. For some species such as oyster mushrooms, straw or compost is ideal but the substrate needs to be pasteurized before the mushroom spawn is added. The simplest way of pasteurizing straw is to put an entire bale in a metal 45 gallon drum filled with water heated over 70ºC (145ºF) and let simmer for 10 minutes while the best way of eliminating bacteria from compost is with steam.

If the pasteurization process is not your cup of tea, then you may want to try shiitake mushrooms because they grow best on freshly cut, rot free poplar logs while wood chips are ideal for the cultivation of wine cap, agaricus or shaggy mane mushrooms.

Lastly for those that want absolutely no muss or fuss what-so-ever, tabletop kits are available with the substrate already selected, prepared and inoculated for you. All you have to do is provide a cool dark place and enjoy the harvest.

Gardening questions? Contact Bruno at

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