I wanted to write a quick article outlining how I created my new mushroom patch over the weekend. This is an experiment, for as far as I can tell, there has not been any mushroom cultivation on this island in the Azores. The Azoreans as a whole are fairly fungophobic (please see my article on Fighting Fungophobia for more details). If there has been mushroom cultivation on any of the Azorean islands, I am fairly certain it was not for edible, gourmet mushrooms, if you know what I mean.

For those of you who have never attempted growing your own mushrooms, the idea can seem a bit overwhelming. I will take you through how I set up my patch, step by step. It is really rather simple. In my opinion, there should be at least one Mushroom Patch in every garden around the world.

Before I begin, I want to explain two things. First, I ordered my mushroom spawn from Fungi Perfecti. This fantastic company has always had great customer service and quality products. I highly recommend them. Second, I plan on performing a number of experiments with a variety of mushroom species. I will share those projects as well. I chose to start with Stropharia rugosoannulata, also known as the King Stropharia, the Garden Giant, Wine Cap Stropharia, and Burgundy Mushroom. This mushroom is delicious, but not nearly well known as it should be. It reportedly can grow in a wide range of conditions which is one of the reasons I am starting my mushroom patch experiments with it.

So let me show you how easy this is…


This is the box shipped in from Fungi Perfecti.


Inisde the box was this plastic bag filled with wood chips and sawdust, white with King Stropharia mycelium!


Here is the location of the mushroom bed. Just next to my compost bin. Close enough for regular monitoring and watering (if needed), but out of the way.


I removed the grass and any sticks and large rocks from the area. It is 3 feet square (0.9 meters). I obtained one bucket (about 5 gallons or 19 L) of sawdust and two buckets of woodchips, all from the local Azorean Fire Tree (Myrica faya). The Myrica genus are contains the Bayberry, Wax-Myrtle, and Sweet Gale trees. This was the only source I could find that would not be tainted with the mycelium repellant wood of the cypress trees on this island. This project would not have been possible without the help of a fellow Permaculturist, Avelino, who has a small farm near my home.


Once the patch was cleared, one half of the woodchips were placed on the patch area.


Then one half of the sawdust was added to the patch.


Next, I crumbled the mushroom spawn (the white block in the photo above) over the patch and watered everything until it was wet to the soil underneath.


I then added the remaining woodchips and sawdust over the spawn.


Finally, I mixed all the layers together very well to evenly distribute the spawn, and then I watered it all again very well.


King Stropharia does not grow well in direct sunlight. You can see from the shadows, that at least half of the bed would receive significant light each day. I constructed a frame with a piece of metal tubing I found lying around and a few canes of Giant Reed growing near my house that I had saved and dried from last year.


The last step was to place an old tarp over the frame and lash it down. You can see that the whole patch is in shade. Now comes the waiting!

So that is it. I plan to keep the wood chips moist, but not wet for a few months. Hopefully, the Winter rains will be starting at about that time, so I will not need to do any significant watering to induce fruiting. A fairly easy project for an afternoon.

Why don’t you grow your own?


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Photo References:

  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/ac/2011-05-19_Stropharia_rugosoannulata_Farl._ex_Murrill_183478.jpg
  • All other photos are mine. Please ask if you would like to use them. Thanks!