Here’s something that I really love about the cultivation of mushrooms; we start with hardwood sawdust – a leftover product from the local sawmill. It is bagged, pasteurized and inoculated with the mushroom spawn and act as the tree for the mushrooms to grow on. You have basically used a waste or byproduct to create food. The sawdust will have been broken down by the mushroom mycelium and once it no longer produces mushrooms, can be used in the garden as a growing medium for vegetables – once again – enabling a food product to grow!
Something, the sawdust, that was once just discarded has now helped create food. Locally and with a small impact on our Earth.
There are a few environmental downsides to growing mushrooms, the use of plastic bags being one, and the need for pasteurization. There are some wonderful people who are using alternative methods, wood instead of plastic and lime pasteurization instead of heat, it is going to be interesting to see how this develops. When Adam first started growing Oyster mushrooms, he used leftover coffee and tea grounds and put it in empty jam or honey buckets, this way is easy if you wish to grow a few mushrooms for yourself.
As for the gardening, I wanted to test out the “power” of the mushroom compost. So, in the spring, Adam, his dad Bill and myself, build a raised bed, filled it with the leftover spent mushroom sawdust, added two bags of soil and planted right into it. We wondered if it would be soily enough, need fertilizer and generally be able to support a healthy vegetable garden. Well, judge for yourself!
P.S. If you buy mushroom compost from a store it’s most likely from a farm that use a different growing method than this one (White Button/Crimini are field mushrooms).
If you would like to try the mushroom compost from a gourmet mushroom farm (shiitake and oysters are tree mushrooms) just look up your local grower and contact them. If you are interested in our spent mushroom substrate, send an email via this website! Pick up is in Vaughn, WA and it is still in the bags. 🙂