Saturday, 6 January 2018

Days to maturity oyster mushrooms on newspaper logs

I wondered how difficult it would be to grow edible mushrooms.  Mushroom kits are expensive, and many people who sell mushroom spawn charge a lot of money and often bang on about how they are amazingly talented experts and you will surely fail unless you pay for their advice.

So I decided to work out how to grow some edible mushrooms just using common sense.  I have grown many different plants, I have raised many different animals, I have studied mycology at university, how hard could it really be?  Button mushrooms grow on compost, I don't have great access to this and steralising it sounds like a hassle so I looked for something that grows on wood.

Paper and cardboard are made from wood and I have free access to these.  Oyster mushrooms (as well as a few others) grow on wood.  As it turns out, it is not overly difficult to grow edible oyster mushrooms at home.

I tried a few different methods to grow oyster mushrooms, all of which were free once I got the oyster mushroom mycelium to start with.  Some methods were easier than others, some produced larger mushrooms than others, some produced faster than others.  You can see in the pictures below that I had a few different things in the plastic bag.  I also tried a few different types of card board.  Turning a free waste product such as newspaper into something edible is always pretty cool.

One of the easiest methods I thought of was to make some fake logs out of newspaper.  Newspaper is often free and is easy to work with.  I made it damp, tied it together with string, inoculated this in one place with oyster mushroom, and then kept it in the wood shed in a plastic bag with the end open to allow in air and light.

Oyster mushrooms need oxygen to survive and contrary to what people may tell you they benefit from sunlight.  Every now and again I would dunk this in a bucket of water as the mushrooms need moisture to survive.

From inoculation to harvest was only about 4 months, this time could have been far shorter if I inoculated more than one spot.

02/07/2017   newspaper log inoculated with oyster mushroom    Day 0
13/11/2017   large mushroom fruiting                                          Day 133

Oyster mushrooms growing on newspaper


  1. Where is is possible to get the spores to start? I grew shiitake for years, getting crop after crop, and I would have loved to know if it were possible to save spores. (I think the recent crop was the final one, after about three years, because there were only two mushrooms.) I got the original spores at a workshop about growing them on a log.

  2. Hi Parlance,

    It is possible to save spores but few people bother for some reason. I collected spores from oyster mushrooms and it was very simple.

    I got an oyster mushroom from the supermarket and took a spore print, I also tissue cultured some in two types of agar, and grew some mycelium from the stem and used this to inoculate the damp newspaper. It is the mycelium newspaper that are in the pictures above.

    I am under the impression that shiitake are more tricky than oyster mushrooms but have no experience so am just going off what I have heard.

    I have plans of experimenting with the best ways to grow a few different edible mushrooms. I can't afford to buy plugs so will have to find them in supermarkets and either save spores or clone them. If I get around to it I should sell beginner starter kits or something.

    1. Hi Parlance,

      I think I may have misunderstood your comment. Were you talking about spores or spawn? A few places online sell spawn, they are all pretty expensive.

      Did the course show you how to use your shiitake log to inoculate a new log? If not, they should have. It is pretty simple and will save you a lot of money. It is worth a try and sounds like it is not too late.