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The Mushroom Miniseries: How to Grow Functional Mushrooms in Your Garden, Ep 183



What if you could grow functional mushrooms next to your tomato plants? In this episode 2 of the Mushroom Miniseries, Billy and I continue our exploration of the world of mushrooms in partnership with North Spore and their expert mycologist, Louis Giller. Today's episode focuses on growing mushrooms in your garden and covers topics such as integrating mushrooms into a traditional garden and the benefits of cultivating mushrooms alongside your plant babies!


In this episode, we learn:

  • [05:35] Benefits of Lion's Mane mushroom supplements for improved focus and energy
  • [09:15] Why should you grow mushrooms in your garden?
  • [10:45] Specific vocabulary in mushroom cultivation
  • [12:43] Is mushroom DNA diverse or uniform across different areas?
  • [15:30] Why you can't simply grow any mushrooms in soil alone
  • [17:15] Are mushrooms annuals or perennials?
  • [20:14] Where can you find full spectrum plant lights to bring the beauty of outdoors inside this April?
  • [22:16] Where can you find a healthy meal delivery program?
  • [24:52] What protections exist for preventing other mushroom species from colonizing a bed of ripe food and confusing the farmer?
  • [26:29] Can you harvest mushrooms immediately after inoculating your garden beds?
  • [27:35] What mushrooms are best for beginners to grow in the garden?
  • [29:30] Do you need a lot of space to grow a good harvest?
  • [30:29] Do worms compete or work with mycorrhizal? 
  • [32:25] What materials do you need for growing mushrooms in your garden?
  • [34:44] Where can you find a wind chime that would make the perfect gift these holidays?
  • [36:21] How can you grow mushrooms in your mulch? 
  • [41:04] Does a denser, ground-level plant provide better shade for the mushrooms??
  • [44:00] Is there a general rule for spacing the insertion points when inoculating a bale of hay?
  • [44:49] How do mycorrhizal networks and mold coexist in nature, particularly in damp and dark environments?
  • [48:09] How to create a mushroom container for small gardening spaces
  • [52:49] What are the required maintenance tasks for growing mushrooms during the season?
  • [57:03] What is the difference between cutting and pulling mushrooms during harvesting?
  • [58:23] Best beginner mushroom varieties that are resilient to temperature and humidity changes
  • [59:40] Different mushrooms that you can grow in different garden zones or different climates
  • [01:00:56] What is the process of inoculating logs for growing mushrooms?
  • [01:03:48] What's the purpose of wax capping your mushrooms?
  • [01:05:29] Can mushroom inoculation be done before or after the frost date?
  • [01:10:12] Where can you find mushroom spawns and learn more about mushroom growing?


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Why Grow Mushrooms in Your Garden?

Mushrooms are not only a great food source, but they also offer benefits to your garden. They can grow on waste materials found in your garden, helping to break them down and make nutrients more bioavailable to your plants. Plus, they add a unique and aesthetically pleasing element to the garden!


Inoculating Your Garden with Spawn

Plant friends, if you're new to growing mushrooms, don't worry about the terminology. Inoculating your garden simply means adding spawn, which is the genetic material used to grow mushrooms.

The experts at North Spore don't work with spores but instead use tissue culture to create clones of specific strains. This ensures that you get the same mushrooms every time you buy from them!


How to Grow Mushrooms in Your Garden

Mushroom cultivation requires some tinkering with your garden, but it can be a fun and rewarding experience. Here are the steps to grow mushrooms in your garden:

  1. Choose a low-lying, shady area of your garden. This could be under a pine tree, in a corner of your garden, or any other shady spot.
  2. Use a mix of hardwood or straw that will be digested slowly to create the mushroom bed – you got this!
  3. Inoculate the bed before planting other plants and watch the magic happen!
  4. Keep the bed healthy by adding more spawn and nutrition every couple of years.

Remember, mushrooms thrive in a high-humidity microclimate, so make sure to provide them with shade from other plants.

With a little time and patience, you'll be harvesting delicious mushrooms in no time. Exciting, right?


Materials You’ll Need

Before you start growing mushrooms, make sure you have the following materials:

  • Spawn: This is the genetic material you need to grow mushrooms.
  • Hardwood Chips: This is the best material to use, but it can be hard to find. You can contact your town or city, arborists, or landscaping companies to find them.
  • Straw: Any kind of grain straw will do.
  • Soil: You can add a layer of soil to create a live and active microclimate layer.

If you're looking to successfully grow mushrooms, keep these tips in mind: use small particles to create a dense layer, add soil for an active microclimate, opt for hardwood chips or straw, and make sure to use the appropriate spawn for your desired mushroom type!


Best Beginner Mushrooms for Your Garden

Louis shares some top mushroom recommendations for those new to growing mushrooms in their gardens:

  • Wine cap: aggressive and versatile, able to handle various conditions
  • Oyster mushrooms: like pink oyster, golden oyster, or blue oyster
  • Chestnuts and Namekos: closely related and delicious species that grow well on manure
  • Almond agaricus: grows best on a mix of manure and hardwood

Blewits: delicious mushrooms that thrive in cold weather


Different Ways to Grow Mushrooms in Your Garden

There are several ways to grow mushrooms in your garden, including:

  • Mulch: If you have a layer of mulch in your garden, you can easily grow mushrooms on top of it.
  • Garden Bed: You can also grow mushrooms in your garden bed. Make sure to use smaller particles that will compact to form a dense layer.
  • Garden Pads: Another option is to grow mushrooms in your garden pads.

Inoculating Logs: This is a more advanced method of growing mushrooms, but it can yield a higher harvest.


Growing Mushrooms in Containers

Thanks to the straw and pasteurization method, growing mushrooms in containers can be a simple and successful process. Here are some steps to follow:

  • Use the “lasagna method” or alternate layers of straw and mushroom spawn to fill up your container.
  • Keep the container watered and in a shady spot with high humidity.
  • Utilize containers with half-inch holes to provide a defined space for the mushrooms to grow.
  • Avoid unlimited surface area to maintain moisture and stimulate growth.

You can also experiment with different types of containers such as wine barrels, terracotta pots, and even a strawberry pot with controlled openings.


Maintenance and Harvesting

Maintenance for mushroom containers is relatively simple. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Protect your mushroom bed from pests with agricultural cloth and fencing.
  • Cover your mushrooms during rainfall to prevent degradation and maintain shelf life.
  • Harvest young mushrooms before they flatten out or release too many spores.

Remember to always clean and properly identify your mushrooms before preserving, cooking, or freezing them!


Mentioned in our conversation:


Thank you to our episode sponsors:

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