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Monday, May 9, 2016

Mushroom Business Startups

Photo credits: Farming Fungi LLC

Mushrooms such as oysters are easy to grow on a wide range of agricultural wastes. For basic information on how to grow them please click here Every grow method is different and has its secrets; however, we are here to help you start your business and as you go along help you get better yields. The investment in such a business is low or depends on how you want to start: small or big. Of course to start small is the best way because to build experience needs time. You can actually start this with $100 in your pocket if you already have a grow space. Basically there are several stages in developing such a business with low investment.


  •          Grow space available [any dimensions: the bigger the better]
  •          No climate control equipment available

This is the option for $100 investment. Find a local source of cheap substrate [any kind of agricultural wastes], paper, sawdust or any cellulose based substrate will work. Next you’ll need a container, water and fire. These will be needed to pasteurize your substrate. Then spawn will be added to the wet pasteurized substrate –we offer spawn and according to the volume you need we’ll give you a special price plus advice on how to grow your business. Climate control refers to temperature, moisture, light, and air exchange. How to avoid unnecessary expenses on climate control:

  •          Temp: by adjusting the species and strain requirements for temp
  •          Humidity: suspended bottle method [to be discussed]
  •          Air exchange: through passive air exchange in the grow room [to be discussed]
  •          Light: natural light works best.

By no climate control you will get somewhat lower yields. How to solve this issue? Simply by adding up to 10% more spawn to your substrate blocks you’ll get a faster colonization time and better yields. This is an important stage for those that want to get familiar with mushroom growing and feel the difference when they’ll get to stage 2.


  •          Grow space available
  •          Climate control equipment available

This option would be for a $500-1000 investment range. The difference is that you’ll get better yields. This means that you could use with 10% less spawn to your substrate.

  •          Temp: by using a heating/cooling device –thermostat controllable or set on a timer
  •          Humidity: ultrasonic humidifiers are very popular today. They can supply a small grow room with the necessary humidity. They could be combined with humidity installations for bigger grow rooms.
  •          Air exchange: one or several fans will do the right work. Set on a timer they will pull in fresh air so needed for proper mushroom fruitbody development.
  •          Light: natural light works best or artificial light would be another option.

These would be the first two stages for a startup to know before he or she will get into the mushroom business. Mushrooms are highly demanded by restaurants, farmer’s markets, wholefoods chain stores, etc. Best is when you’re located near bigger cities that you could supply with a continuous mushroom flow.

A huge advantage for farms out there interested in the approach of a sustainable type of agriculture: I call it the closed loop.

Step one: you grow your veggies and collect your crop. At this point what you have left is agricultural waste (corn cobs and stems, cottonseed hulls, sugarcane waste, etc).

Step two: use this waste to grow mushrooms. At this point you collect your mushroom crop.

Step three: use the spent substrate from your mushroom crop -turn it into compost with worms. Let them do what they know best.

Step four: use the compost as a soil fertilizer for your veggie crop. 

Those interested in starting such a business are invited to contact me at:


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The nutty flavored Agrocybe cylindracea

Agrocybe cylindracea, the poplar mushroom, is small white rot fungi that commonly grows in the holes and on tufts of living or dead poplar trees, hence the common name. While rarer in North America this mushroom has been found on all continents. This small agaric looks similar to a button mushroom but tinged darker brown on the cap and growing from trees. Agrocybes of many varieties have been cultivated across Europe and Asia since the time of the Greeks and still is popular today. Agrocybe cylindracea was first described by Augustus Pyramis De Candolle in 1876 as Pholiota cylindracea but was later changed by French mycologist Rene Charles Joseph Ernest Maire in 1938 to the current name Agrocybe cylindracea.

Agrocybe cylindracea can very often be confused for Agrocybe aegerita, and for good reason, they are very similar. They both grow in the same environments and are cultivated in the same way. Cylindracea tends to grows slightly darker in the center of the cap than aegerita, appearing to be a light brown, with the margins of the cap displaying white. Cylindracea produces a thin stalk leading to gills similar in color to the rim of the mushroom.

Agrocybe cylindracea. Photo credits: Brooxi Worden
Agrocybe cylindracea Lam and Thai are both fast growing hearty strains that produce a nice series of full flushs of mushrooms when grown in the right conditions. Lam and Thai both grow strong in culture and colonize substrate quickly for the species. While fruiting in the standard amount of time the fruit bodies produced are meaty. Both strains have a nutty taste and go perfect with rice or an excellent addition to a stirfry.
Agrocybe cylindracea grows at room temperature, 73F, but ideally is fruited at lower temperatures of 60F-70F. The ideal humidity for fruiting is 80%
The basic ingredients needed to produce Agrocybe mushrooms include sawdust (of oak, poplar, beech, alder, pine spruce, fir, etc), straw (wheat, barley, cotton, etc), corn cobs, leaves and other agricultural wastes. Of all these ingredients the most used substrate is oak sawdust. In some areas where oak sawdust is scarce it can be mixed with conifer sawdust. However if you want to use only conifer sawdust then better would be to leave it outside for a year or two. The conifer wood contains resins and other compounds and this inhibits the mycelium hyphae to spread through the wood mass. The substrate formula can be supplemented with nutrients: grains or bran (wheat, corn, barley, sorgum, rice, soy, etc).

Substrate formulas:
sawdust 80%, bran 20%
sawdust, 10-20%, corn waste, 1-2% calcium carbonate

1. Weight the basic ingredients of the formula
2. Mix the ingredients
3. Pasteurize the mixed ingredients at 90-95 C/ 194-203 F for an hour.
4. Boil the supplements for two hours (100 C/ 212 F)
5. Leave the ingredients and the supplements to cool down on a clean surface
6. Mix everything together
7. Adjust the humidity of the substrate. [When squeezed in your hands the substrate shouldn't let any water drops]
8. Add mycelium 1-5% to the mix.
9. Throw the mix in plastic bags and make holes on their surface for gas exchange.
10 Store the bags in a clean area [free of dust] and wait until mycelial hyphae colonize the entire substrate

Agrocybe cylindracea. photo credits:
Note: The substrate can be sterilized (121 C / 249 F for 30 minutes to one hour) if you have at home a pressure cooker or if you have specialized equipment designed especially for the sterilization purpose. This procedure is superior to pasteurization especially when adding to the substrate supplements, because of improper heat treatment of supplements provides a suitable medium for bacteria and competitor fungi to develop.
Once fully colonized soon small brownish bumps or spots will form on the substrate, when this happens remove the bad from the colonized block of sawdust and store in a cool place, spraying with water daily. Mushrooms should start forming soon. The block should produce multiple flushes over a few month span.


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

New Finding - Plastic decomposing fungus (Pestalotiopsis microspora)

Pestalotiopsis microspora. Photo credits:

Throughout the past century, plastics have become increasingly common in our day to day lives. Plastic is inexpensive, easy to reproduce, and resistant against deterioration. Over the years plastic has gradually been replacing wood, metal and glass objects. While plastics carry a great use of advantages, they also carry some severe ecological and waste management problems around the world.
Once plastic is placed into landfills (and the ocean) it is said that it takes 400 years + to decompose (if at all) depending on the plastic. Over time they leach chemicals and byproducts (BPA) into the ground; which eventually ends up in our ground water.  With 30% of landfills being consumed by plastic (both biodegradable and non-biodegradable forms), the question is what can be done? There is recycling, however this does not fully solve the problem. There is also the non-biodegradable plastic (such as polyurethane) that is either far too expensive to recycle or cannot be recycled (aka thermosets).
Pestalotiopsis microspora may hold a significant key in solving this problem. Pestalotiopsis microspora is an endophytic fungus that was first identified in Buenos Aires in the fallen foliage of the common ivy plant. In 2012, a group of Yale research students went into the Ecuadorian Amazonian rainforest and discovered a secret about this fungus that no one would have guessed. This is the first fungus to survive exclusively on polyurethane as its only carbon source, and do so in anaerobic or aerobic conditions. Think of the possibilities. This fungus could survive at the bottom of a landfill, where little to no oxygen is present and consume plastic. While the possibilities are exciting, we cannot (and should not) release this fungus into new environments without fully knowing the environmental consequences that could occur.
Consuming plastic is not the only thing Pestalotiopsis microspora is capable of. This fungus also causes leaf spot in the hidcote shrub. The hidcote shrub is a cultivated ornamental in the landscape gardens and courtyards in japan. The leaf spot starts out as small brown, round lesions, expanding and getting darker in color, eventually turning black. There is also the talk of cultivating this mushroom by feeding it plastic (polyurethane specifically) and then using the spongy mature mushroom as a food source (keep in mind this is still under experimentation). 
These are just a simple glance at the nature of this fungus. This is just a start and hopefully over time we will be able to assess the environmental impact and use it to the benefit of our race and our environment globally.

An article By Allison Cleaver


The Author Recommends
Here are some of recommendations for books I've reviewed that can improve your results. This is a short list since it only includes my top picks.
Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms -by Paul Stamets
The Mushroom Cultivator: A Practical Guide to Growing Mushrooms at Home -by Paul Stamets Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World -by Paul Stamets
Shiitake Growers Handbook: The Art and Science of Mushroom Cultivation -by Paul Przybylowicz, John Donoghue
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