Sometimes we also have a workshop before the meetup, for instance cloning or low-tech agar preparation methods. If you have ideas about workshops or would like to host one, or if you would like to organize a Myco Meetup in your area, get in touch! If you would like to stay updated about future Myco Hacklab events, you can subscribe to the Myco Hacklab Finland Newsletter here:
We have two new species on offer:
You can cultivate this mushroom in a (self-made) growkit on coffee waste but also on for example straw pellets. The taste is more spicy than the grey oyster and the texture is firm.
The Elm Oyster is not part of the pleurotus species, but still looks quite similar. It is a fast growing species and grows on almost anything: coffee, straw & sawdust. The mushrooms are big and have a strong flavor.To our webstore
In this blogpost we will share with you how to make a mushroom bed, an easy way to grow oyster mushrooms in your garden.
Step 1 – Get spent substrate
There are two ways to get spent substrate:
1) from your Helsieni Growkit after it has given 3 flushes of mushrooms. Be sure to save some of it to restart your kit.
2) You can come to our farm and pick up as much spent substrate as you want. This is an output of our mushroom growing operation, and usually the boxes are dry or have a some contamination (green mold). The green mold is not a problem if you are cultivating outdoors. Best is if you take a big trash bag and empty the white buckets in that, as we wash and reuse the buckets.
Step 2 – Find a well shaded spot for your mushroom bed
Mushroom like shade and humidity, so find a spot in the garden that gets plenty of rain & moisture but not that much sunlight. If you have a garden box or a crate to put the spent substrate into that helps keep it together. The box can be as deep as you want it to be, the more substrate the more mushrooms you can expect.
Step 3 – Spread out the substrate and water it.
Put the spent substrate into the box and optionally mix in some straw or sawdust. Give it plenty of water. Rainfall will increase the humidity even more.
Step 4 – Cover and wait
Mushrooms like shade and humidity, so cover the bed with a piece of cardboard or tarp that lets through water. After week or so you should see healthy white mycelium spreading through the substrate and binding it together again. Check after a few rainy days if there are mushrooms! Note: These mushrooms are so delicious that other species like snails and flies also love eating them, so be quick to harvest them before something else gets to them.Good luck!
Last week we went to Lohja to visit Eric Puro and his new outdoor mushroom farm called Gifts from Metsä. This spring he has been inoculating over 1000 logs with different strains of Shiitake, Oyster, Nameko, Elm Oyster and Reishi. Eric has been farming Shiitake in Kentucky (USA) for many years and now he is starting to do this here in Finland. The local climate conditions in Southern Finland are very different from hot & humid Kentucky. This is why he has made a big variety of trials and he will be meticulously monitoring his logs’ humidity and mushroom output. He will also try different watering methods, to figure out what practises work best in the dry & cold Finnish climate. In this article we will focus on the different methods of inoculation and we will explain the considerations that come with each method.
STEP 1: Choose Your Growing Substrate
Logs may be cut at any time during the year. However, for best results, we recommend cutting your logs when the tree is dormant (late winter/early spring) and before tree buds sprout. Cut the logs in 1 m pieces. The mushroom mycelium will feed on the sap and moisture during the colonization period. It is recommended to let freshly cut logs rest at least 2 weeks before inoculation. Stumps are also usable, but they can get a lot of sun and might dry out or start to sprout before the mycelium ‘takes’. Select stumps that are well shaded, don’t sprout and are not more than 3 months old. Don’t let the wood dry out. If you see large cracks in the wood (you can slide a euro into the largest cracks), consider soaking the logs 24-36 hours and letting them dry a day before inoculation.
Oak, Birch, Maple, Alder and other hardwoods are recommended. Avoid using any coniferous tree species (Havupuut: mänty, kuusi, etc.) for growing mushrooms as they contain many anti-fungal resins. Your logs and stumps should be clean, healthy, and free of any other fungi. Moss or lichens will not interfere with your mushrooms. The logs or stumps should also have their bark intact.
STEP 2. Choose your mushroom
The table below shows a list of common Finnish tree species and which mushrooms Eric has inoculated them with.
|Mushroom Species||Tree Species|
|Shiitake (Lentinula edodes)||oak (tammi), birch (koivu), black alder (terva leppa)|
|Oyster (Pleurotus Ostreatus)||aspen (haapa), willow (paju)|
|Nameko (Pholiota microspora)||alder (leppa), birch (koivu), aspen (haapa)|
|Reishi / Lakkakääpä (Ganoderma Lucidum)||oak (tammi), birch (koivu)|
|Elm oyster (Hypsizygus ulmarius)||aspen (metsähaapa)|
|Chaga / Pakuri (Inonotus obliquus)||Living birch (koivu)|
Since there is not much data on what species of mushrooms work well with what tree species here in Finland, the above list is Eric’s educated guess of what might work. Please try your own experiments, and we would love to hear from you what worked, but also what didn’t work.
STEP 3: Inoculation
Below we list three different inoculation methods, all are relatively simple procedures but some require more specific tools and equipment. Eric uses sawdust spawn, but since this is harder to come by, it is easiest to start with the dowel method. Dowel spawn can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 month. You can store dowel spawn in your refrigerator for up to 6 months.
Setting up your workstation
Eric’s workstation consisted of 3 log holders, a small table with an electric stove with molten wax and some bar stools for putting on the bags of spawn. Eric uses a double boiler for the wax which has water in the bottom and beeswax in the top and keeps the wax at 70-80C which prevents it from burning or sticking to the pan. He has 3 log holders is so that he can do each process step in batches of 3. By the time he is done waxing the 3rd log, the wax of the first log has dried. If there are more people helping out 1 person fetches the logs, drill holes, labels ready logs and stacks them on piles, 2 people inoculate the holes (the bottleneck process which takes the most time), 1 person waxes the inoculated holes.
This method is requires the least amount of equipment and is perfect for beginners. However it is not the fastest method.
- Dowel spawn
- 8.5mm or 9 mm drill with duct tape at 35 mm to create a stop, or a special mushroom drill bit.
- High speed drill. Generally the wired ones have a higher rpm than the battery-powered ones.
- Rubber or wooden mallet.
- Beeswax, garden wax, cling film or duct-tape for sealing your logs or stumps.
- A brush or spatula to apply the wax.
Drill holes no more than 10 cm apart, and in an evenly spaced “diamond” pattern around the log. 4 rows of holes per log is enough, unless you have very large logs. If inoculating stumps, the holes should be drilled along the circumference of the face of the stump, in the area between the bark and heartwood (called the sapwood).
With clean hands, take one dowel from the bag put it in the hole. If it is a bit tight, grab your mallet and gently pound the plug into the hole. The top of the dowel should not stick out of the bark and be flush or slightly sunk into the wood. Do not leave any drilled holes empty.
Seal the holes with wax, cling film or tape. This step will help retain moisture and prevent the invasion of parasites and competitive fungi.
Hensley Chainsaw / Duct tape Method
Eric also showed us this supercool method which he learned in Kentucky from Mr. Hensley himself.
- Sawdust spawn
- A Chainsaw (preferably a light / electric one. Eric uses vegetable oil on the chain, to minimize the chances of contamination).
- Duct tape.
About 5 cm from each end of the log, cut a 1cm wide groove, about 3/4ths around the log, until the beginning of the heartwood, a few cm into the log. If you are inoculating a stump, simply cut a cross in the face of the stump.Press the sawdust spawn into the groove.Seal the groove with wax or duct tape.
This method is the most commonly used one for outdoor shiitake cultivators around the world, and is the one Eric used to inoculate most of his logs.
- Sawdust Spawn
- A lightweight angle grinder with a steel adapter and a 12 mm mushroom bit.
- A sawdust spawn filler tool.
- Beeswax and a thick brush for applying it.
- Metal / Plastic Labels and a waterproof marker for marking the logs. Eric used old window blinds and cut them in 10cm pieces.
Drill 4 rows of holes along the length of the log. The holes should be around 10 cm apart and make a ‘diamond’ pattern.
Fill the holes with sawdust spawn. The hole does not need to be fully filled with spawn, as the wax will hold better if there is about 5mm of space left in the hole.
Apply the hot wax generously on and into the holes and let it cool and harden. If you want you can also apply some to damaged parts of bark and cut off branches.
Label the log with the mushroom species & strain, type of wood and year.
Stack the logs in squares of about 5 logs x 5 logs in 3 levels. Don’t stack them too high as they might collapse in winter with heavy snow, and the humidity tends to be higher lower to the ground. He uses 2 coniferous (pine) branches/logs to prevent the bottom layer of logs from touching the ground, as this might invite other fungi to start eating them.
Optional: Monitor the moisture content of the logs periodically. If it falls below 30% they need to be watered. This can be either by soaking them or spraying water on them. Using some kind of breathing tarp to cover the logs helps keep the moisture high. Do not use plastic to cover your logs as this will encourage mold or bacteria to form on your logs.
The logs stumps will require 6–12+ months for the mycelium to fully colonize the wood. The length of time needed for colonization depends on the species of mushroom, wood type, and the size of the log. Smaller diameter logs (4–6 inches) will colonize more quickly compared to larger (8+ inch) logs.
Good luck with your cultivation projects!
In the future we will post updates on how the different methods, substrates and strains are performing and we want to build and share the knowledge of what works in Finland regarding outdoor mushroom cultivation. So please get in touch , join the Myco Hacklab Finland group, or contact Eric via email. You can order dowels and other tools from Helsieni’s online store.
Resources / Further reading
There was a great turnout of the Myco Hacklab Helsinki’s Myco Meetups at our Helsieni Headquarters last Friday 10.3.2017! The diversity of people was large and it was wonderful to sense the high level of curiosity and knowledge that was present in the room. The topics that were discussed are: fungal dyes, medicinal mushrooms, we started growing mushrooms on old jeans, home growing of exotic species like Enokitake, machinery from mushroom cultivation, Finnish strains, how to start an NGO, funding and much more!
If you would like to join the Myco Hacklab community and stay updated about future events, please join the Myco Hacklab Finland facebook group.
After the successful crowdfunding campaign Helsieni went on to an autumn full of work. Once the containers arrived in Hernesaari, we started building the mushroom farm. We are designing and building the whole farm ourselves.
As mushroom home growers know, important in mushroom growing is the right temperature and humidity at the right time. Therefore, there are two containers: the first for incubating and the second for fruiting. Finnish climate and changing seasons make container farming more challenging. Even if outside it’s freezing cold or a heat wave, the mushrooms growing inside the containers must have stable conditions.
Construction continues regardless of the snow piling up outside of our containers. Our aim is to get mushroom production started as soon as possible.
A big thank you to all volunteers for your valuable help in building or farm!
We had our first public appearance with our open-source Mushroom Growing Fridge aka ‘Growfridge’ at the Open Source Circular Economy Days Helsinki 2016.
What is a Growfridge?
A growfridge is a micro-mushroom farm. The main component is a refrigerator. This is retro-fitted to create optimal growing conditions for mushrooms to grow and fruit. With this “Growfridge” you can have a growing and fruiting room to cultivate up to 3 kg of fresh oyster mushrooms per month at home.
The workshop consisted of drilling holes in the fridge for air-exchange and installing a CPU-fan, a humidifier, a lamp and hygro/thermometers.
- a refrigerator with 2 compartments
- an ultrasonic humidifier (we used a Trixie Fogger XL)
- a water-proof lamp
- a hygro/thermometer
- a CPU-fan (12V, about 0,1A)
- an adapter 230AC – 12DC
- 3 timers
Before the workshop we connected the CPU-fans to the adapter to make them run on 230 AC.
Helsieni will travel up north to Tampere for the biggest vegeterian/vegan food festival in Finland, VegFest! This year it will be held on May 21st & 22nd on the Tampere Central Square. Come and taste our home-made mushroom pies or sihis (a vegan version of the popular Finnish snack: Lihis)! You can also buy a Helsieni Growkit or just come to say hi, hope to see you there!
We reached another milestone with Helsieni: we graduated from the Master Program: “Growing Edible Mushrooms”! The founders of RotterZwam in the Netherlands offer an intensive 4-day training program in which Sini and Stéphane learned everything there is to know about growing mushrooms in an urban environment. Chris and Lilli also joined the beginning and the end of the program, and in the evenings we discussed until deep in the night about all the things we had learned.
For four days we were running the mushroom farm. The week starts with picking up coffee waste from the partner cafe’s or offices. Stéphane took a ride on the custom-made coffee collection cargo-bike. (We might need an E-bike to be able to cross Helsinki with 100+ kilos of coffee waste, though).
We learned about making the ‘magic mix’ substrate bags. A perfect combination of coffee, filler and mushroom spawn, in order for the mushrooms to grow optimally. Sini paid special attention to how the room needs to be organized and climatized. There are two specific environments necessary for mushroom farming: a growing room and a fruiting room, both with specific conditioning requirements.
Finally we learned when to harvest and how to prepare them. we even tasted the world-famous in Rotterdam delicacy: the Oesterzwam bitterbal. This is a deep-fried ball of oyster mushroom ragout, covered in breadcrumbs. Delicious!
On the final day we discussed all the Ins and Outs of running an urban mushroom farm, covering finances, business models and how we can contribute to the growing european network of urban mushroom farms.
All in all an exciting week, thank you RotterZwam!