Lenggong, Perak, Malaysia
Thu 3 Mar 2011 28 °C
Rather than grow from a seed, mushrooms grow from spores. Spores can be collected very easily and from any mushroom, including the ones you buy at a supermarket. Stand a mushroom upright on a piece of glossy paper and leave it overnight. When a mushroom is not refrigerated, it begins to ripen and releases its spores. In the morning, the mushroom will have left an imprint on the paper. Though not visible, the microscopic spores are there. They can be stored between two sheets of plastic, or mixed with distilled water for immediate use.
The spore mix is then injected into a substrate. The intention is for the spores to produce mycelia, the spreading vegetation of a fungus, which then grows outward. A male mycelium and female mycelium meet, go out, have a few drinks, do some things they will probably both regret and then, the miracle of life: a mushroom is born.
Mushrooms are grown in a sterile environment, usually in a petrie dish, on a substrate of sawdust, straw, or dead wood. As a trial, we are attempting today to grow them in a non sterile environment (the barn) using resources we have lying around the place.
To begin, we built a 1 meter by 1 meter brick enclosure, 3 bricks high. To prevent, the bricks from absorbing any moisture, we lined the inside walls with plastic. The concrete floor has been left bare to allow just a little drainage. The mushroom environment should always be damp, but never wet. A roughly cut, polycarbonate sheet is being used as a lid to contain the humidity.
To create a substrate we have made 3 rows from old egg cartons and covered one row in coconut fibers. The other 2 rows we covered in a 50-50 mix of coconut fibre and elephant dung, kindly donated by our big grey jungle friend. He must have felt bad about the banana trees he flattened.
The first row, of just coconut fibre is injected with some oyster mushroom spores that we collected. The rows of elephant dung will already have spores from the mushrooms that were growing on it when it was collected.
Tomorrow we will be making another mushroom environment, this time spreading some lime that we found, on the concrete floor for sterilization. The other improvement on design will be to stand the mushrooms on the substrate overnight, allowing spores to drop directly on to the bedding. Mother nature never uses glossy paper, so why intervene?