I’ll apologise first off that I didn’t get any still pictures for this blog post, they’re taken from the video I made that you can view here or in the window at the bottom of this blog! Let’s begin!
This week I visited Ian Loynes at NonSuch-Shrooms just outside of Guildford, UK. Ian started his mushroom growing adventure a few years ago but has recently expanded into this unit. As a Chef, Ian has had a familiarity with all kinds of fresh produce his whole working life but his interest was taken keenly by our fungal friends
Ian rents a small corner of a barn that is used as a livery yard. It’s not the kind of environment that I would think of starting a mushroom farm in but Ian’s entire setup is testimony to his ‘can-do’ attitude. Having started growing on the balcony of his flat, upgrading to all this space must have been a godsend!
As you walk into the yard there is a small shed that he uses as his lab. Though Ian doesn’t make his own spawn yet, opting to buy it from Amycel and Mycelia, he uses the lab to spawn his substrate and perform other sterile works. It has a small homemade HEPA filter and either a 30qt or 41qt All American pressure cooker as well as the other essential lab kit like masks, gloves etc…
Walking through the main door you’re met with a giant grow-tent on your left. This is Ian’s only fruiting chamber which, by my estimations can have as much as 240 bags fruiting at any one time on his homemade racking. This uses a very simple pipe and clip system and seems to work great!
On the right of the tent are the first flush bags, during my visit predominantly occupied by grey/blue oysters, but there were some pinks and yellows fruiting there too. Once they’ve produced their first flush, they’re moved to the left-hand side of the tent and a fresh batch of ready to go bags are put on the right. Ian only harvests two flushes off each block before a local allotment grower comes and collects the spent blocks.
Ian runs a single hydroponic humidifier in his fruiting chamber which is connected to a humidistat whilst running a small heater besides it, keeping the room at around 11c. Ian’s fresh air exchange is controlled by a fan that runs 24/7 and his lighting cycle is controlled by a timer of 12 on 12 off.
Outside of the chamber, we move to a racking where he shocks the colonised bags before putting them into the FC. Then we move onto the 3 other tents which Ian uses for incubation/colonisation. Heated with a small greenhouse heater in each tent this helps Ian to keep his costs down!
Despite being in a high-risk contamination environment (a barn with loads of straw), Ian loses very little to contamination, no doubt due to his good sterile working practice. Although it looks somewhat full, Ian is in the process of getting a partition installed to segregate his grow from the other people that use the yard. This will allow him to expand and shuffle his grow about making it easier for him to work!
I think what Ian’s setup shows is that you can begin your farm whilst on a budget and with some simple kit. If you want to get in touch with Ian you can through his Facebook page, NonSuch-Shrooms or you can find him in the Mushroom Growing UK Facebook group! Thank you Ian for showing me around! I’m sure i’ll go back to Guildford and visit NonSuch Shrooms in the next few years to see how he’s getting on!