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A Fungi to call your own

I like mushrooms. They are high on my list of items that I would like to grow for my consumption. The only problem is that I didn’t quite see how I can get them to reproduce.

As well as buying the bulk of my mushrooms from supermarkets I have tried to grow the mushrooms in a box variety. Generally the little button mushroom. You have a spore bag which you keep damp and at just over 20 degrees for 10 days, then you add the special compost and then keep at about 10 degrees till they start sprouting. Harvest while they grow and then throw away the complete kit on the compost heap. Buy another kit for next time. Although, I don’t want to buy the next kit as I want to grow my own.

Now, the way mushrooms reproduce is that, and I quote from Suite 101;

Mushrooms have two methods of reproduction, one asexual and one sexual. All mushrooms go through sexual reproduction and the part of the mushroom seen above ground is the structure used for this process.

Sexual Reproduction in Basidiomycota Mushrooms

Even though most people associate mushrooms with the above-ground structures visible to the eye, these fungi are actually made up mostly of a below-ground structure, called a mycelium, made up of filaments called hyphae. This mycelium is the actual “body” of the fungus.

When underground fungi encounter good environmental conditions, they send up reproductive structures, the mushrooms found in backyards and on the forest floor. Fungi, unlike plants or animals, don’t produce seeds or sperm and egg in their reproductive organ. Instead, they produce spores.

Inside the mushroom cap of Basidiomycota, special cells called basidia make spores, called basidiospores. Basidia are located at the ends of tiny projections within the mushroom cap. Inside the basidia, the genetic process of meiosis occurs, splitting the entire genetic code of the mushroom and creating reproductive cells that contain only half of the genetic material. Since the original fungi have two nuclei, the basidiospores each have only a single nucleus. When two basidiospores combine, they can form a new dikaryotic (two nucleus) organism which can then sprout more mushrooms to continue the process.

Asexual Reproduction of Basidiomycota

While basidiospores often act in much the same way as the reproductive cells of other living things, they also have another function. Basidiospores in the ground can also reproduce asexually, dividing themselves over and over to create cloned copies of themselves, spreading their hyphae out underground, ever in search of other, compatible basidiospores.

Because these expanding hyphae are haploid, containing only half of the required genetic code, they cannot grow into a mushroom. They can only continue to spread through the ground until they reach a compatible partner so that they can continue the cycle.

So that means the two bags I use in the kit are a bag of the underground spores and another, different, bag of spores that makes them active. A binary agent in effect. Now obviously there are places that sell the two components and I could go that way but I want to know how to make my own separate spore cultures from mushrooms. That way I can recreate them at home from my cultures any time when these shops are not available and I can also create them from mushrooms found in the wild. Obviously identified mushrooms from a good book or tested on a politician.

Anyway, while browsing the web I found these books on exactly how to do that. The Mushroom Cultivator: A Practical Guide for Growing Mushrooms at Home and Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms. I’m going to get them soon and have a go. Clearly this is another subject where having the right kit at hand before society starts to fall apart is a must. There is talk about lab work and spore handing. It sounds like a specialist subject and I’ll need to get my lab gear out for it.

I’ve not eaten any truffles but they must reproduce the same sort of way and they are very expensive to buy. An expansion route for a mushroom farmer.

But, I think it’ll be worth looking into and to have have mushrooms you can be sure of rather than looking through woods.

4 comments to A Fungi to call your own

  • half

    How did you get on with that kit skean dhude? I tried one last year but only got 3 mushrooms out of it.

  • Skean Dhude

    Half,

    You did well. My first try I got zero from it. Ironically when I put it in the composter I actually got a few popping through every now and again for months after.

    I’ve discovered that the temprature is important. You need to make sure that it is always in the bands mentioned.

    I got a good batch the following few years because I was monitoring the temperature and spraying daily. However, they worked out very expensive compared to how much you can buy them for in the supermarket.

    This year is going to be bad because already I have let the temperature drop. That never worked out well previously.

    I think these kits are overpriced and not cost effective. That is why I want to get the spores sorted out. Although with the books talking about testing and a lab I wonder how much that costs and what my ROI will be.

  • Skvez

    Although a very tempting idea, I’m not sure it’s safe to test potentially toxic substances on politicians. They spend all day surrounded by and in fact excreting legislation; they must have a well above average tolerance to toxic substances.

  • Skean Dhude

    Good point. Perhaps as a first cut. If they do fall then it must be really bad, if they make it then there is still local council officials for the next stage. Their tolerances must be much lower.

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