So, the first ‘Learn To Grow Mushrooms In Doncaster’ was a great deal of fun! We had 5 people + me teaching, making for 6 total. We started off the day by getting to know each other. We had a range of people from those who have never grown before to those in the more advanced stages of cultivation. After getting to know each other we prepped some straw for the logs we would be making later that day. Due to a technical problem with one of my elements in my straw boiler (it was allowing current to flow through the water.. oops) we had to prep it to fit into my pressure cooker using it as a vessel. No big deal, we just stuffed the straw into a poly-sack and weighted it down with a jar of water for 90 minutes at about 70c-80c.
During this interlude of pasteurisation, we covered the whole life cycle of mushrooms and how we, as cultivators, worked in at every step. Since this was my first ‘lesson’ I was apprehensive about getting the message across without over-phasing people or repeating myself. However, I feel as though the group went away with a good understanding of the subject. We then popped into the lab for a bit of a crash-course in agar/lab practices. We started by transferring a blue oyster dish from one petri dish to another, expanding that or ‘cloning’ that culture. Everyone had a go, it was really interesting to see how different people excelled in various tasks through the day. Some, whose background was more ‘hands on’ excelled at the finer works whereas others excelled at the courser works.
We then spread out our straw and everyone had a go at the process of making straw logs using some really high quality Amycel 3015 oyster spawn. We used a high spawning ratio of around 20%. This was because I had a lot of spawn and wanted to guarantee their success and minimise any trich damage. We stopped for lunch, where everyone got to know a bit more about one another and threw questions around the room, this continued on after lunch while I demonstrated how to make a simple LME agar batch. We knocked that up and went down to the lab to continue with the agar work.
Once everyone had a go at working in front of the flowhood pouring agar, we took it in turns to clone some store-bought mushrooms. These oysters weren’t the best quality and were rather small making them difficult to clone. However, writing this one week later, I believe they’ve all been successful bar one which was a shiitake. Obviously, it’s not uncommon for clones to contaminate especially since it was everyone’s first attempt but having demonstrated and kept my cultures, it’s safe to say that the setup was working great but I think people just needed a bit more practice working sterile!
We also included some spore streaking of an old batch of king oyster spores I collected, these have contaminated in a spectacular fashion but it will be interesting to see if any colonies take-root and can be saved from the dish! After the lab work we had a good talk about substrates, grain spawns and supplements for substrates, this took us to the end of the day which my voice was thankful for! We said our goodbyes, and everyone took home some cultures, spawn, straw logs and hopefully some extra knowledge!
For next time, I will improve by having grain prepped in advance! I would also like to touch more on the hardware of cultivation as I felt that I rather glossed over this subject! Live and learn eh! If you’re interested in the next event, just see my post below! Cheers! Gareth.