Tuesday, 15 April 2008


I've said before that my home garden doesn't get very much sun - indeed there's one corner that gets no sun at all and is always very damp and dark. I wondered for ages what I could grow there, and suddenly it hit me; mushrooms! Why go out of my way to create shade on the allotment when I've got it right here?
My one previous attempt at growing mushrooms was in one of those 'mushroom kits' in a box in the kitchen. I got a few mushrooms out of it, but all sorts of flies and spiders liked the dark, damp environment and it got absolutely infested with creepy crawlies. The mushrooms got covered in cobwebs and were impossible to clean, and all in all, the experience was so icky I swore never to try it like that again!

So, open air this time. The spawn packet assures me complete darkness is not needed; just plenty of shade. The spawn packet also goes into great detail about how to rot down straw to create the perfect mushroom compost - something I feel I should have been told before buying the product! I have neither the time nor the space to rot down heaps of straw (nor the straw, for that matter), so a bag of farmyard manure from Homebase will have to do (hey, the things are spreading their little white threads even in the packet - they obviously want to grow, right?)

To hold my mushrooms, I picked up a few of these wooden boxes from the market while they were clearing up. I put them on a few thick sticks just to keep them off the ground and allow them to drain when it rains.

I filled them with manure. It's supposed to be to a depth of 6 to 8 inches but this is only about 5. Surely it can't make that much difference...?

The spawn, which appear to be wheatberries impregnated with the white mushroom spores, are spread thickly on the surface of the manure then mixed in to the top 5cm or so and pressed down well:

And then the whole lot is covered with wet newspaper to keep the moisture in:

I'm supposed to leave it like this for 2-4 weeks until the spawn work their little white threads throughout the soil, then remove the newspaper and put a 'casing' layer of peat or subsoil on top. (I went and bought topsoil. Whoops.) Then I sit back and wait for my mushrooms... Do you know, I think this is the most exciting thing I'm growing yet!

In other garden news, I don't know what this rose thinks it's doing, do you?

It was put upside-down in the shop at a crucial stage of new growth is my guess, but it doesn't seem to want to recover and starting growing upwards. I should have checked in the box before I bought it; that'll teach me.
I've trimmed the shoots off and am trying them as cuttings. I don't know much about it but I don't have much to lose either, and a shoot I accidentally knocked off one of the other roses while planting has established itself nicely where I dropped it, so it can't be that hard!


Simon Kirby said...

Hi Nome. I wonder that the rose has been grafted upside down. If it's been growing in the dark - and it looks like it has - it might have been growing towards the only bit of light that was creeping in under whatever was covering it.

For the shady corner mushrooms is an excellent idea - yum - but if it doesn't work out some of my favourite plants are ferns and they do quite well in dark damp corners.


Matron said...

I tried growing mushrooms a couple of times recently. I didn't have any luck with the dry spawn, but had one crop from the pre-packed kits in boxes. I hope you have better luck than I did.

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