Our little mini-farms are BIG sellers.
The bag of goodness is fully inoculated and ready to go. We’ve done all the hard work, so you can pretty much just sit back, relax and watch the magic happen. However here’s some tips to help you farm like a pro.
What size bag should I get?
- 5kg bag will provide plenty for a couple of BIG mushroom eaters/Vegans or a small family
- 4 kilo’s for a hungry couple or small family
- 3kg for singles or occasional mushroom lovers
Whatever bag you choose, we have tried to price it so that your yield works out at about $28 per kilo of fresh mushrooms. If you are a keen farmer you may do even better. This compares to a well-known supermarket that sells old and tired mushrooms for about $100 per kilo. Go figure!
While the bag is “incubating” it’s easy to ship and should start fruiting about a week or so after you receive it.
What variety should I get?
If you have not tried these before, here’s a brief description.
Phoenix (Grey): These are the easiest to cook. I usually tell people that you can use them in any dish that you would do chicken, and cook it in a similar way. So is a great vegetarian or vegan staple. If you are a meat eater, it pairs very well with white meats including fish.
Pinks: These have a stronger umami flavour and a more textured or meaty mouth-feel. The flavour is not for everyone, but those that love it prefer nothing else. This mushroom works well in curries and pasta. We liken cooking it to bacon, where it has similar characteristics. For instance, aggressively frying it, it’ll take on a similar texture, if not flavour, so is fantastic as a topping for pasta dishes, or just salting it and having it as a snack.
Frequently asked questions.
- While the bag is in this ’vegetative state’ (before it starts pinning), it is fairly robust, so will be okay with a bit of rough handling. As long as it doesn’t get too hot and subject to excessive knocks, it should travel well in the boot of your car or even in a suitcase!
- Everything the mushroom wants is in the bag, including all the water it needs. All you need to do is provide the conditions for optimal results.
- We recommend keeping it inside. 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 that are in the bag. You will not need to make any more holes.
- Keep an eye on these holes, this is where the little mushrooms will appear. They will be looking for air and look like little pins or matchsticks.
- Once the bag starts pinning it will need more humidity, see below.
- Growing healthy mushrooms is about managing water loss. So keep it out of direct sun, and drafts etc.
- 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.
How do I store the bag?
You can do what we do, and hang it from something. However, it can just as easily sit on a table or level surface. You can lay it flat or sit it on its bum. It won’t care.
When will my bag pin?
The bag is sold in an advanced stage of colonization, so should start pinning in a week or so.
If it doesn’t, be patient and try some of the tips below. It may even 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. Naturally these mushrooms grow in the deep shade of a forest, so normal inside light is about right.
When should I harvest?
- For the Phoenix: 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 they look like, like how big they are or have changed, and harvest them. Use this knowledge to guide you for later harvests.
- If you see mushrooms spore, then 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.
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 misting spray bottle. Do this several times a day.
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. However, 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 laundry or bathroom (close to the shower) however any room is fine. A garage or shed might be okay.
How many mushrooms can I expect?
This depends on how well you manage the moisture loss from the bag. So keeping relative humidity high, both when the farm is fruiting and keeping it cool while resting will affect the overall yield.
At a minium a 5kg mini farm should produce about 700g on the first ’flush’, (many people have had over 1kg) 500g on second and 200g on the third… But your mileage may vary.
Note: You will get several harvests (pickings) per flush.
What should I do after its fully harvested?
After picking off, or harvesting, 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 min-farm 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 4 to 6 weeks.
You may notice the bag get a lot lighter with each flush. This is due to the water, the mushrooms are using 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.
How long will the picked 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.
What should I do if some contaminant like 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 and is used in medicine like antibiotics.
Mould will not effect the quality of the fruit. It will stay within the bag, and not the actually mushroom itself.
However, the mushroom will expend some energy fighting the invader, so may yield slightly less.
What exactly is in the bag?
Depending on what you purchased your bag will be inoculated with either the cultured mycelium of…
- Grey or Phoenix Oyster Mushroom aka pleurotus pulmonarius
- Pink or Flamingo Oyster Mushroom aka pleurotus djamor (available in summer only)
This is mixed with untreated sawdust, a mix of oak and pine; some soy hull (for additional nutrition); and an equal part water. We also use lime to through the PH out, which retards and mold until the mushroom mycelium has grown and can deal with invaders.
We use the same ingredients and technique as we do in our commercial operation. Some people grow these mushrooms on just about any media (substrate). For instance 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...
Chemicals or other nasty stuff.
We keep everything clean and use organic materials whenever possible. There is absolutely no pesticides or herbicides.
What to do next
Take photos and show your friends the success you are having in your new job as a farmer Instagram and Facebook. 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… all the way from your farm gate to your dinner plate. We would also be thrilled if you could write a testimonial on our Facebook page.