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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Growing Your Own Mushrooms

Learn how at Discovery World

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Plenty of homeowners grow small gardens of tomatoes, peppers and squash in their backyards, but far fewer attempt to grow their own mushrooms. Although mushrooms are seen as a much more exotic crop, they're actually fairly easy to cultivate, says Joe Krawczyk, owner of the Peshtigo specialty mushroom supply business Field and Forest Products.

"For anybody who has an interest in mushroom cultivation and wants to do something basic, it's a pretty simple process to grow at least three different mushrooms,” Krawczyk explains. “All you need is a natural log to grow shiitake, or a soft hardwood log to grow oyster mushrooms; you can also grow oyster mushrooms on straw in your home if you wanted to. And to grow wine-cap mushrooms, all you need is access to wood chips. So those three fungi are easy to grow, even for beginners, but the process requires patience. It might take 12 to 18 months for a shiitake log to begin to produce. We can teach people how to grow mushrooms on logs, but we can't teach them to have patience.”

Krawczyk will teach mushroom cultivation at two workshops at Discovery World on Saturday, March 17. A 10 a.m. workshop will explain how to cultivate shiitake mushrooms on logs; a 1:30 p.m. workshop will detail how to cultivate oyster mushrooms in straw.

The shiitake mushroom workshop will be of particular interest to power-tool enthusiasts. The process involves drilling holes into a log, setting mushroom spawn into the holes and then sealing them. “It's a straightforward process,” Krawczyk says. “We provide the spawn and the tools, then it's up to the homeowner to take care of the log after that, making sure there's enough moisture on the log for the mushrooms to grow. If it hasn't rained for a couple of weeks, you may want to put the sprinkler on the log; otherwise, if it's been rainy and wet, you can just let things decay as they please.”

The mushroom workshops are $75 per session or $130 for both sessions (Discovery World members save $5 per session). Call 414-765-8625 for reservations.
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