Instructables

Oyster Mushrooms in a Laundry Basket

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Picture of Oyster Mushrooms in a Laundry Basket
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Mushrooms often get overlooked in the grand scheme of gardening, just because they're not plants. However, they are extremely beneficial to your garden's soil, are highly nutritious and make a tasty addition to almost any meal. The high levels of protein also make them especially valuable to vegetarians and vegans.

Most people have never thought about growing their own mushrooms, which is a huge shame. It's true that some species can be a little tricky to grow, but once you learn a few basic requirements, it is feasible to grow all the mushrooms you can eat.

Each type of mushroom has specific "ideal" requirements for temperature, humidity, light, and nutrition. Some grow in soil, others on compost piles, logs, trees - the list is endless. However, for the beginner, we recommend oyster mushrooms. Get your feet wet with this most forgiving mushroom and you'll definitely want to advance into the realm of others like Shitake, Paddy Straw, Garden Giant, and more. 

Growing oyster mushrooms in a laundry basket is easy, cheap and it's a great project to do with kids.  They'll enjoy watching the quick growth of the fruiting bodies as well as the rewards of eating them after harvest.

Check out step 9 for our favorite recipe with mushrooms - Italian Braised Rabbit. It's a delicious, nutritious meal, for which we grow all the ingredients needed (except olive oil, salt and pepper) here on our homestead.

For more information on mushrooms, click here.
For more information about our other how-tos, visit our site www.velacreations.com
 
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Step 1: Materials Needed

Picture of Materials Needed
  • Oyster Mushroom Spawn
  • Cardboard
  • Large Pot
  • Thermometer
  • Ice chest (it cleans up easily afterwards)
  • Chopped Straw
  • Agricultural Lime
  • Agricultural Gypsum
  • Screen
  • Laundry Basket (we use ones that are 15" squares, 10" tall, which we found for $1 each)
  • Medium Trash Bag

WARNING: do not gather wild mushrooms (to clone) or their spawn, unless you can provide a 100% positive identification.  Instead of collecting from the wild, a better strategy for beginners is buying spawn for species you are interested in.
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WUVIE1 year ago
Your excellent Instructable has won, and won big! Sincere and hearty congratulations on a job very well done, you absolutely deserve it! Fabulous, fabulous!
velacreations (author)  WUVIE1 year ago
thank you! we are honored to have been selected from so many wonderful Gardening Instructables!
Wepwopper1 year ago
Nice post velacreations, You make it look so simple. :)
I especially love the picture of the pink mushroom! Beautiful! You could sell that. ;)
I have lots of questions.
Can I grow these from store bought mushrooms?
Is it OK to use grass clippings instead of chopped hay?
Is it better to use green or dry grass?
Is it OK to boil the water instead of using it at 180 degrees F?
Should I boil the water to treat the cardboard as well?
Can these be grown outside in summer? Perhaps in an inclosure? It gets plenty hot outside but we keep it cool inside.
Is it OK to let the basket cool at night?
Can our summer harvest be frozen to last all winter?
Is it better to 'can' the unused mushrooms instead?
Is there a limit to the amount of mushrooms we can eat?
Thanks ahead! It all looks very fascinating and delicious!
velacreations (author)  Wepwopper1 year ago
Thank you for your questions! Generally speaking, there is a mushroom for just about every climate and substrate out there.  We use oyster mushrooms, because they are easy to grow and taste great.  There are many strains of oyster mushrooms that have been selected for specific climates and substrates.

Can I grow these from store bought mushrooms?
Yes, this is possible.  It helps to know what mushroom you are buying, and if possible, look up the temperature, lighting, and humidity requirements of that species/strain. 

You can clone from a store brought oyster mushroom to cardboard, like how we do it in this instructable.

Is it OK to use grass clippings instead of chopped hay?  Is it better to use green or dry grass?
Grass will work, and you want dry grass.  Really, for most oyster strains, any dry plant material will work.  Straw, wood chips, paper, dry grass, corn stover, coffee grounds, cardboard, and even junk mail should all work just fine.  You may have to try a few different strains to find one that does really well on your particular substrate.

Is it OK to boil the water instead of using it at 180 degrees F?
We are only pasteurizing the straw, so we don't need to boil the water, but it won't hurt to have it that hot.

Should I boil the water to treat the cardboard as well?
You can, if you want, but generally, you don't have to pasteurize the cardboard.  There are not many nutrients available to molds and competing organisms, so the mushrooms should be able to colonize without a problem.

Can these be grown outside in summer? Perhaps in an inclosure? It gets plenty hot outside but we keep it cool inside.
You can grow mushrooms outside if the humidity is high enough.  There are cold and warm weather strains.  Pink oysters tend to be warm weather mushrooms, and they will fruit in temps up to 85 F.  Grey and white oysters like cool weather, so you could grown them inside or in the winter.  They prefer temps in 55-65F range.

Is it OK to let the basket cool at night?
You should not put hot straw in the basket.  If you spread the straw out, it should cool very rapidly, and only when it is no longer hot can you add cardboard spawn to it.  If you add the cardboard when the straw is still hot, it will kill the mushrooms.

Can our summer harvest be frozen to last all winter?
Freezing mushrooms is not recommended.  But, there are many strains that do well in cool weather, fruiting at temps of 45-65F, so choose a strain that is suited to your season and climate.

Is it better to 'can' the unused mushrooms instead?
Drying mushrooms is the preferred method of storage, but for oyster mushrooms, they are best eaten fresh.  This is one of the reason you don't find them in big super markets, they don't store/last.  So, eat them fresh and add a new basket every week to have a continuous supply.

Is there a limit to the amount of mushrooms we can eat?
Generally, no, though some people might have allergies or reactions to certain types.  Oyster mushrooms spores can irritate some people, and if you are growing a lot of them (many, many baskets), you should wear some protection over your nose and mouth to avoid breathing in the spores.
rlynn102 months ago
Thank you for these instructions. I'm growing these oyster mushrooms, but having trouble getting them to fruit. OK, getting the idea to spray and air them, but don't disturb the straw.
nibardo3 months ago

nibardoyesterdayReply

I have just started trying to grow oyster mushrooms in a laundry basket and it produced about 2 lbs of mushrooms so far. I harvested those and have been misting the basket religously but am not seeing anything coming after about 4 days. First of all will the basket continue to produce? and second when it looks like the basket is finished, can the same straw be used again? Your instructable was excellent , and I want to thank you.

velacreations (author)  nibardo3 months ago

yes, the basket can produce more, but it will take a few weeks to do another flush. The best thing to do is to keep it moist and wait. The straw won't be good for mushrooms after it is used up, but you can use it as compost in the garden.

pmuhammad dwi4 months ago

tip: you might just want cloning your mushroom from cardboard only two generations, as fruiting bodies will shrink the more you're cloning it

greetings from IDN

ausieking5 months ago

im doing this for a school project i was wandering if there is any diseases/pests/insects that can affect them and how to treat them

no pests, no insects

just diseases, just be sure you're doing it all clean and you're good to go

johnalbert2394 months ago

Hi, thank you very much for your generous share to this community. I want to know what if the mycelium didn't cover the straw completely in 21 days? should I wait for more time?

I am growing grey oyster by the way.

Thanks

thomas96664 months ago

Congrats on the win :D This is a great instructable! I personally hate eating mushrooms, but would this would be a great way to grow them to try and extract enzymes! Again, great ible, keep up the good work!!

usmacs6 months ago

are you saying there is no nutrition in raw mushrooms?

velacreations (author)  usmacs6 months ago
there's nutrition there, but I have confirmed this information from several mycologists that in general, we can't digest raw mushrooms very easily, and we get little to no nutrition from them.

could you direct me to that literature? ty

velacreations (author)  usmacs6 months ago
Check out Paul Stamets, "Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms" as well as "Mycelium Running"
rguillen6 months ago

Great project! I do have a few questions, I don't know a thing about growing this beautiful food. Is the percent humidity, in the room or in the basket holding the straw? do you expose the basket contents to fresh air by removing the plastic bag? is full light, sun light or artificial light?

Thank you

mushrooms0112 months ago
I have read this post velacreations and I appreciate your efforts for providing useful information about how to grow your own mushrooms at home. I have also read that it is very easy to start. Please explain more about it.
mantobrew1 year ago
Hi guys
What substrate do you use for normal button mushrooms. Will just straw work with them as well??
First, Congratulations! Well deserved, you put some real work into this and it shows. Next thank you! You have broadened my mind and given me a new project.
bajablue1 year ago
YAY velacreations!!!
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Jason991 year ago
I'm guessing it varies with the size of the basket but any general tips on how much spawn is needed?
velacreations (author)  Jason991 year ago
the more the better! actually, for these baskets, we use a stack of cardboard that is basically a 6" cube. You can use more than that, if you have it, and the mycelium will grow even faster!
WUVIE1 year ago
What a fabulous instructable! Absolutely excellent!
antioch WUVIE1 year ago
Seconded!
Excellent Instructable, I will be trying this one
How do you get 75000 views in less then a months time???
Wow, baffles me!
horphmyre1 year ago
Just looking at the picture of the mushrooms cooking made my saliva glands run,
Awesome!  I am soooooo happy you made this instructable - I've been eyeing the home mushroom growing kits forever!  Now I just need to find the space to do this....  And some pretty pink oyster mushrooms too!

I'm especially grateful for the info on growing clones from stems. I see you mentioned in step 4 (section 6) that you'll also give instructions for growing clones from liquid culture in step 8, but you only described growing clones from stems/bases in step 8. Could you please include instructions for liquid cultures too? Although I think I'll just do the stem culturing like you described.

I'm thinking I'll be able to get some straw from the pet shops as they sell it for rabbits, but wondering whether you have tips for getting cheaper straw (without access to farmers)?  Maybe a gardening centre would have some too?
velacreations (author)  flammaefata1 year ago
Yes, sorry about the liquid culture reference. I had originally planned to write about that, but it started to become too complex, so I never added it. We will do a separate Instructable on that at a later date. I will go ahead and delete the reference to LC in this instructable.

As for the straw, the cheapest way to do it would be to cut some grass/weeds (preferably without seed heads, and already dry if possible) and dry them in the sun. You'd then need to chop the dried straw fairly fine. Or look in feed stores and see if they have a bale of straw. Straw is generally the cheapest type of bale in a feed store, as it was cut dry once all the seeds had been removed or had fallen.
No worries, like I said I think I'll probably do the stem culturing step. The other thing I was wondering about is whether you know how to make dormant mushroom spores, as opposed to keeping live mushrooms growing all the time?
velacreations (author)  flammaefata1 year ago
for spores, it is very easy. Take a piece of paper, place it under the mushroom cap (the cap can be alive or picked), and wait for a day or so. You will see a very fine "dust" on the paper, and those are the spores. There are literally hundreds of billions of them on this paper. Make sure the paper is dry, and then store in a ziplock bag with species, date of collection, and any other notes.

To grow from spores, take a bit of that dust and start on some moist cardboard or in a petri dish on agar.
Thanks so much! Hopefully I'll let you know in a while whether I've got a setup running :D
Eirinn1 year ago
"Freezing mushrooms is not recommended."
Where did you get this from? Frying it and then freezing it is a conservation method widely used AFAIK :)*

*unsure about oyster mushrooms, but mushrooms in general.
velacreations (author)  Eirinn1 year ago
you can freeze them, but you will end up with soggy mushrooms. The taste should be fine, but the texture will be ruined.
Actually, we saute - either in bacon grease or olive oil - oyster mushrooms all the time (we have a farm) and freeze them for use in soups, stir fries, pizza and pasta dishes, with no issues regarding texture.

You must cook all of the water out, but that's really the only caveat. We've found that freezing them flat in quart sized freezer bags makes for manageable portions that thaw quickly.
dbbd1 year ago
Great instructible.
However, too much work and too many requirements. I'll leave this specific DIY to the experts and continue to buy mushrooms at the market.
DIY-Guy dbbd1 year ago
Heh! Dbbd, if you've got the money to buy these expensive mushrooms at the market, I am sure there are people like me who don't have much money (but have time) will be happy to sell mushrooms to you. I did notice at a farmers market recently someone tried to sell oysters but their sales were low, only gourmet foodies knew how good they were!
So you're basically measuring the amount of straw first by putting it in the basket before dumping it into the ice chest?
Sorry if it's a stupid question - I really want to try this.
Many thanks, Duncan
velacreations (author)  duncangallimore1 year ago
Yes. There are so many types of cheap laundry baskets out there that it's best to put the straw in the one you have to measure it, and then dump it into the ice chest.

We're glad you want to try it - it is so worth it. Once you get the hang of it, you can put aside one morning per week to do mushrooms and you will always have all you can eat.
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