From Spores to Fruiting Body- Our Growing Process by Allison Dunbar

Instead of seed packets, our mushrooms start out in petri dishes. Either spores, the reproductive portion of the mushroom, or tissue cultures are collected and transferred onto potato dextrose agar filled petri dishes. The mushroom feeds off of the agar and spreads across the length of the petri dish. The growing part of the mushroom, mycelium, acts as the communication network signalling and transferring nutrients similar to roots. From this stage we cut sections of the mycelium covered agar with a scalpel and transfer it into pre-sterilized grain bags. The grain we use is locally sourced and acts as the second food source for the mushrooms. In these large filter patch bags the mushroom is free to spread in and around the grain with clean air flowing in and out of the bag through the filter. Two weeks later, the fully colonized grain bags are white with mycelium. The mycelium is now ready for its third and final food source, straw. We pasteurize locally sourced straw and fill our large plastic columns with straw and mycelium covered grain. The bags are then put in our grow room and after a months time, will be producing mushrooms. Mushrooms require oxygen and light. So, instead of filter patches, we cut holes in each column for the mushrooms to pop out of in search for oxygen. They require oxygen because this is a signal to the mushrooms that they are above ground. It would be useless for a mushroom to form underground as their spores would not disperse. The light also helps signal the caps to form upright. The full spectrum light creates a richer color in the mushroom cap. Once the fruiting body, the mushroom, starts popping out of the holes, we can expect to harvest a mushroom cluster ranging from a quarter pound to two pounds in weight.  From spore to fruiting body, the process takes anywhere from two to five months depending on which mushroom we grow.

 Mycelium growing radially on potato dextrose agar

Mycelium growing radially on potato dextrose agar

 Filter patch grain bags before and after innoculation

Filter patch grain bags before and after innoculation

 Mushrooms fruiting out of straw columns 

Mushrooms fruiting out of straw columns