Propagating Wine Caps on Waste Products

I’ve posted a few ways recently we’re propagating edible mushrooms at our sites for increasing production next year, and there’s another that’s very worth mentioning: turning cardboard and newspaper into mushroom spawn.

Specifically, we’re growing mycelium of wine cap mushrooms (Stropharia rugosoanullata) in these, but I expect some other types of mushrooms such as various Pleurotus species could do it as well. This works because Stropharia is an aggressive spreader and consumes dead plant matter like woodchips, straw, leaves, etc.

The process is simple, and doesn’t even require sterilization. We used an old shallow tote that has a crack in it, figuring that just in case we over moistened the medium it could drain the excess out. Cleaning consisted only of spraying it out to get leaf and other debris out.

We soaked cardboard from ripped up boxes as well as some cheap hardwood fuel pellets. We poured boiling water over each but since sterilization isn’t necessary we weren’t aiming to get every square inch. The fuel pellets were mostly moistened so they broke apart into sawdust. The sawdust was probably unnecessary anyway.

At this point, we layered split cardboard, Stropharia sawdust spawn, and plain hardwood sawdust into the tote, with a layer of moistened newspaper on top. Then it was covered with a garbage bag to keep out dust and keep in moisture,and left to sit. A week later and we see PLENTY of mycelium running out from the spawn and into the new woody materials.

When this tote is full “colonized” (I hate that term) we’ll be placing pieces of the cardboard into the lower biomass berm and some of the garden beds that didn’t get innoculated in the fall, and the sawdust will be used to further innoculate more cardboard and newspaper.

If you like what I’m doing here and want to make sure I can keep doing it, please consider supporting these projects financially. It sucks, but until capitalism isn’t a thing there are bills to pay.

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