What are appropriate growing mediums for mushroom production?
Answer: Mushroom production is completely different from growing green plants. Mushrooms do not contain chlorophyll and, therefore, depend on other plant material (the “substrate”) for their food. The part of the organism that we see and call a mushroom is really just the fruiting body. Unseen is the mycelium?tiny threads that grow throughout the substrate and collect nutrients by breaking down the organic material. This is the main body of the mushroom. Generally, each mushroom species prefers a particular growing medium, although some species can grow on a wide range of materials.Most shiitakes are grown on logs or in sawdust, while oyster mushrooms can grow in bulk substrate materials such as coco coir, compost or manure, straw, and wood. Depending on your markets, choosing a substrate plays a critical role in the enterprise budget and overall bottom line of a farm’s profit/loss.For more information, consult the ATTRA publication Mushroom Cultivation and Marketing, available at https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/summaries/summary.php?pub=77. This publication offers useful information on growing mushrooms, choosing a mushroom species, pest management, marketing mushrooms, and financial analysis. Note that this publication is currently undergoing revision, and an updated version will be available soon.The following resources offer additional information:Small-Scale Mushroom Cultivationhttp://journeytoforever.org/farm_library/AD40.pdfThis book contains detailed information on how to grow oyster, shiitake, and wood ear mushrooms.Best Management Practices for Log-Based Shiitake Mushroom Cultivation in the Northeastern United States. http://www.uvm.edu/~susagctr/resources/ShiitakeGuide.pdfThis manual outlines best management practices for shiitake mushroom cultivation and sales.