Oyster Mushrooms FAQ

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Quick notes:
  • While the bag is in this ’vegetative state’ (before it starts pinning/fruiting), it is fairly robust. It’ll be okay with a bit of rough handling. Just don’t let it get too hot or subject it to excessive knocks. It travels well in the boot of the car or even in a suitcase!
  • Everything the mushroom needs is in the bag, including water. All you need to do is provide the conditions for optimal results.
  • We recommend keeping it inside as you might have fungus gnats about, one of the few pests that will wreak havoc.
  • Keep the plastic on, the mushrooms will grow out the holes we have put through the bag. You will not need to make any more.
  • Keep an eye on these holes, as this is where the little mushrooms will appear. They will be looking for air and appear like little pins or matchsticks.
  • Once the bag starts pinning it will need more humidity, see below.
Quick tips:

Growing healthy mushrooms is about managing water loss. So keep it out of direct sun, and drafts.

  • Unlike plants they breathe oxygen as we do. So make sure they have access to plenty of fresh air, but don’t let that dry them out.
  • Once it starts pinning, treat it like a tropical house plant.
Frequently asked questions
How do I store the bag?

You can do what we do, and hang it. However, it can just as easily sit on a table or level surface. You can lay it on its side or sit it on its bum. It won’t care.

When will my bag pin (fruit)?

It should start pinning in about two weeks from when it was made. A date will be written on the side. If it doesn’t, be patient and try some of the tips below. It may pin sooner, so be on the lookout. Once it starts pinning you need to increase care.

What does pinning look like?

You will notice extra activity and growth around the holes. A thickening of the mycelium and tiny little white matchstick or pin shapes forming. This is the mushroom primordia.

What if my bag doesn’t pin?

If you think it’s taking a while and the bag is looking fully colonized, trick it into thinking it’s autumn.

  • Give it a shock by raising or lowering the temp by 5 or so degrees. For instance, leaving it outside overnight if it’s cool, or into a warmer room
  • Increase the humidity and fresh air.
  • If you are still unsure, call Brent on the emergency mushroom hotline: 0204 098 5657
Does it need darkness?

No. In nature, these mushrooms grow in the deep shade of a forest, so normal inside light is about right.

When should I harvest?
  • For the Phoenix: The best time is as the cap flattens or when you start to see the gills under the cap. As the cap starts pointing upward it will start to spore.
  • For Pinks, it’s a little harder to tell as the caps are already upturned. Once you see spore, make a note of what it looks like, and how big the mushrooms are, or have changed, and harvest them. Use this knowledge to guide you for later harvests.
  • If you see mushrooms spore, harvest them, else they will make a mess and the fruit may deteriorate more quickly. They are still good to eat, but kind of like overripe fruit, they will deteriorate more quickly and the flavour may be affected.
How do I harvest?

Oyster mushrooms often grow in dense clusters. I gently pull off the entire cluster with my hand, when a bunch of individual mushrooms in the cluster look read. Just slide your fingers behind the cluster, palm out and gently pry off. Other clusters may not be ready, so pick these later. This way you can harvest the bag over several days. Sometimes you can carefully cut individual mushrooms off if the rest of the cluster is not looking ready.

What does the spore look like?

It is a fine powdery substance and sometimes forms icicle looking things hanging from the cap. Clean it gently with a damp cloth and try not to inhale as some people may develop an allergy issue. if you have a person with allergies or asthma please take extra care.

What temperature is best?

They like a temperature similar to you. So if you are feeling comfortable, your mushrooms will be happy. However, they also prefer the climate to be humid, and the Pink’s prefer it tropical, so think shorts and tee-shirt weather.

How can I manage humidity?

The simplest is mist using a spray bottle. Do this as often as humanly possible. If you really want to get into it you could make a humidity dome out of a very large plastic bag to trap some evaporation and raise the humidity but make sure it’s still getting plenty of fresh air. Also try looking on YouTube, you will find all sorts of innovative ways to improve humidity.

Can I grow it outside?

Yeah… nah! It will grow, but the fruiting will not be great as its harder to control the conditions. You will also have to deal with pests and risk other critters getting to the deliciousness first.

Where should I grow it?

The best room is probably the bathroom (close to the shower), laundry, or someplace in the house that’s okay with high humidity. A garage or shed might be okay. If you are short on space, put it on a stool within the shower cubicle after you’ve finished with it. Also, if it spores you could run the shower to clean it.

How many mushrooms can I expect?

A 5kg mini farm should produce about 700g on the first ’flush’, 500g on second and 200g on the third… But your mileage may vary. You may also get several harvests (pickings) per flush.

What should I do after its fully harvested?

After picking all the mushrooms from the ’flush’ the bag will need to rest. This resting might be for a few days or a week then it will start pinning again. While it’s resting it’s back into a vegetative state so can be treated as you did when you first got the bag.

How long will the bag last?

Sadly all good things must come to an end. The mini-farm should last about 3 or 4 flushes over a period of between 6 to 8 weeks. You may notice the bag gets a lot lighter with each flush. This is due to the water the mushrooms have taken in order to grow, and evaporation through the holes. You could try reviving the bag and going for another flush, by soaking it for an hour in cold water.

What do I do with the bag when it’s spent?

Chuck it in the compost, or break it up into mulch for the garden. Tip, mulch it under cover of say a pumpkin vine and it may continue to fruit.

How long will the fresh mushrooms keep?

Pop them into a brown paper bag, and put in the fridge (as soon as possible) they should last well over a week.

How do I increase their vitamin D content?

Simply put freshly harvested mushrooms in direct sunlight for an hour … wham vitamin D explosion. But keep them as cool as possible.

My mushrooms look strange

Of the mushrooms are not getting enough air they will grow long and skinny with small caps. This is because they are looking for oxygen. Once this has happened you can not fix it, but make a note and try to remedy for the next flush.

What should I do if mold appears?

If something does inadvertently creep in, the mycelium should be healthy enough to deal with it. In which case you may witness a time-old battle of nature and see the mushroom secrete metabolites, which look like a brown stain. This is the mushrooms’ immune system and also a property that is bio-available to us and boosts our own immune system. It is also a component used in medicine like antibiotics. Mould should not affect the quality of the fruit. It should stay within the sawdust inside the bag, and not the actual mushroom itself. However, the mushroom will expend some energy fighting the invader, so it may yield slightly less. Mold is perhaps the most pervasive organism on the planet, and the mini-mushroom farm is the tastiest place in town. After all, it’s technically a fungus farm!

What’s in the bag?

Depending on what you purchased your bag will be inoculated with either the cultured mycelium of…

  • Grey, Phoenix Oyster Mushroom aka pleurotus pulmonarius
  • Pink, Flamingo Oyster Mushroom aka pleurotus djamor

This is mixed with untreated organic (actually food grade) sawdust, some soy hull (for additional nutrition); and an equal amount of water. We also use lime to push the PH out to 12. This retards any mold until the mushroom mycelium has had a chance to grow and can deal with any invaders. After about a week the mycelium will bring the PH back to neutral. We use the same ingredients and techniques as we do in our commercial operation. Some people grow these types of mushrooms on just about any media (substrate) like old coffee grounds or straw. In nature, these mushrooms grow on decaying trees, so we use wood and try to simulate the tree with the bag. This is more natural and produces consistent and higher yields.

What it doesn’t contain…

No chemicals or other nasty stuff. We keep everything clean and use organic materials whenever possible. There are absolutely no pesticides or herbicides.

What to do next

Take photos and post to Instagram and Facebook to show your friends the success you’re having in your new job as a farmer. You could also change your LinkedIn profile to note your new job title and profession. Please also remember to tag us @mycobio so we can share your mushroom growing journey. We would also be thrilled if you could write a testimonial on our Facebook page

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