On February 20th this year I seeded a 20ft. garden bed mulched with 30lbs of wheat straw with two quarts of Pleurotus ostreatus (Oyster) mushroom spawn. Less than 8 weeks later on April 13th I harvested my first flush of mushrooms, about three ounces. This is how I did it with some notes on you too can easily incorporate tasty mushrooms into your home garden.
I gathered a native oyster mushroom from a local park and brought it into sterile culture in my home laboratory then expanded it on 400 grams of pasteurized rye berries mixed with a couple grams of gypsum in two quart jars. This previous post explains my process in greater depth. If you would like to seed your own garden with mushrooms buy an oyster mushroom strain suitable to your current season. If its cool outside get a cool variety, if its summer get a warm or tropical variety. I recommend Mushroom Mountain’s mushroom spawn for folk living in the Southeast as they tend to sell season-specific spawn that is expanded from native cultivars. Paul Stamets recommends using straw-based or sawdust-based spawn for outdoor cultivation, because insects like to eat grain-based spawn, but I think that the insects are doing us a favor by spreading the mushroom mycelium around our yards to possibly find other suitable habitats to grow and fruit. Use what is available and convenient. Don’t become paralyzed if you don’t think you have the perfect equipment and supplies. Fungi are alive and want to grow. Perfection is often the opposite of the good.
I established my mushroom bed right in with my vegetable beds. As the plants grow they create a little microclimate for the mushrooms. In the morning, dew collects in this microclimate providing baby mushrooms with much needed moisture during dry days. These plants can also provide shade if you are planting in a sunny area. Our yard is shaded by huge white oaks, so we already have lots of shade. Mushroom gardening is perfect for those of you without sunny yards for tomatoes! We started by sheet mulching our beds and amending them as we usually do. You can simply add a layer of fresh dry wheat straw, bought from your local hardware or garden supply store, to your existing bed or shady area.