Mushroom composting

I got this book about organic mushroom cultivation for Christmas and have been reading through it with interest in the possibility of cultivating mushrooms for sale. The procedures you have to follow to ensure good yields are quite specialist and time consuming, so I was pleased to read the chapter entitled ‘Shrooming off Grid’, which describes ways of cultivating mushrooms successfully without a lot of equipment.


I had read in the previous chapter about how worms love spent mushroom growing media and with a lot of cardboard stacking up in the veg bag packing area, a light bulb went on and a plan for recycling this ‘waste’ product back into the soil was born.

I contacted UK based supplier Ann Miller’s Speciality Mushrooms to ask some advice on which species of mushroom spawn, (this is the white mycelium threads that run through the growing media, be it wood chip, straw or the leaf mould you find naturaly in forest floors), would be best. She recommended oyster mushrooms and a few weeks later I got round to ordering some which promptly arrived in the post a couple of days later.

My idea is to soak the cardboard in the old recycling bin we have at the site and then layer it one sheet ontop of another covering it with impervious plastic to stop it drying out. I’ll innoculate the first layer with my expanded spawn (process shown below), and the mycelium should colonise the layers above. I then take the bottom layers and put them in the compost heap. The disintergrating cardboard run through with mycelium is basically worm superfood, and this should kick start all my compost piles into fast decomposition, giving me a very good microbe rich compost to help restore and enrich the soil.

Expanding the spawn





First I start off by cutting some clean cardboard into pieces that fit my sealy bag.




I then thoroughly soak these three pieces in a bowl of water. Make sure your surface and equipment is clean as contaminants can ruin the process of spawn colinisation.



Taking a piece out I place it on a clean towel so as not to get everything wet!




Sprinkle the spawn evenly on the cardboard, this spawn comes on grain making it easy to get it spread out.





Roll it up like a cigar and put it in the bag, repeat the process.





Placing it in a sealed bag in the fridge. You do this so any contaminating bacteria or fungi from surfaces or hands have less chance of spreading rapidly and ruining the spawn run.

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This is the first stage in my project and fingers crossed it’ll work as planned. We sometimes get deliveries of wood chip from tree surgeons which is an excellent growing media so long as you get it wet enough, so maybe I’ll be able to grow some organic oyster mushrooms for sale… It’s going to be a learning process whatever happens!


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