CREATING MUSHROOM FRUITING ENVIRONMENTS

Creating the right conditions for mushroom growth is a key part of growing mushrooms successfully. There are a wide range of spots where mushrooms can grow, ranging from a shady and sheltered spot in your back yard right through to a high-tech climate controlled grow room, and anything in between. If we imagine a sheltered, damp but fresh nook in the forest where we might expect to see a log covered in mushrooms, this is the climate we are aiming to create!

When creating a space to fruit our mushrooms, the three key aspects of conditions which mushrooms thrive in should always be kept in mind. Humidity, fresh air exchange and temperature. 

1) HUMIDITY

Mushrooms, being a small, supple fruit body, require a humid environment to grow in. But not so much that they become soggy or over saturated. Humid air which feels like fresh moist air in a forest is what we are aiming for. Also keep in mind that wind and direct sunlight can be very drying, so shelter from wind helps mushrooms a lot too. Humidity gauges can be bought fairly cheaply but are often not super reliable - the best way to evaluate humidity is to look at the mushrooms. If they are cracked or yellowing at the edges, or shrivelling up before they reach full size, then its too dry. If they're glistening and soggy then its too humid. Avoid spraying water onto mushrooms directly - focus more on creating a generally humid environment around them. At a small scale (for grow kits) humidity can be provided with a spritzer bottle of water or a tray of damp perlite. Outdoors, just watering with the garden hose on mist or rain setting is all fine. For higher tech indoor grows, dedicated humidifiers (ultra-sonic mist makers) are often used. 

2) FRESH AIR EXCHANGE

It's a common misconception that mushrooms are happy to be grown in an enclosed, musty, dark space. In reality, because mushrooms 'breathe' oxygen in and CO2 out (the same as us!), they need a good supply of fresh air to keep them happy. The telltale signs of mushrooms not having enough fresh air supply is weak, spindly growth with small caps and elongated stems. Fresh air can be provided in a number of ways - if the mushrooms are growing in a naturally airy space such as outdoors or in a partially enclosed shed, greenhouse or shade house, then its usually not a problem. For growing in more enclosed spaces, plenty of holes or mesh for ventilation are needed, or for grow tents or grow rooms, actively exchanging the air with an exhaust fan is usually required. The exhausted air should be ducted outside due to the fact that its humid air and possibly laden with spores. 

3) TEMPERATURE

Most of the mushrooms that we stock cultures of here at MycoLogic are either native to New Zealand or are naturally found here. We work hard to trial and select strains with a wide temperature range for fruiting. Most of our strains can be grown year-round in most parts of NZ without the need for heating or cooling. As a general rule of thumb, the warmer it is, the faster mushrooms grow (up to a point). Mushrooms can grow very slowly in the winter but the trade off for that is that they develop a wonderful texture and deeper more complex flavour when cold grown. Musrooms grown in the height of summer can grow very quickly, but sometimes too quickly and have ruffled or thin edges or suffer heat stress. Generally speaking, most mushrooms fruit very well at temperatures between 10 and 28°C. Temperatures below zero or above 35°C will likely harm the mushrooms (although outdoor beds and mushroom logs can happily over winter through frosts etc and fruit again in the spring).

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