Under The Trampoline Mushroom Bed

I tried growing mushrooms indoors. The result was some amazing mushrooms. However, there were not many. About a pound or two. The sawdust block that they came in ended up needing water sprayed on it (or the mushroom caps) multiple times a day. It was fiddly and I didn’t enjoy it. It also looked pretty gross. You can see my post here: growing mushrooms indoors. It was a lot of effort for a very small reward. At the same time I ordered the indoor kit I ordered an outdoor kit for wine cap mushrooms. They grow in straw and mulch so I thought if I wanted mushrooms, why not go outside where nature can do the fiddly stuff?

Two types of wine cap mushroom spawn.

The outdoor kit sat in my refrigerator for almost a year. My husband had been working out of state and I miscalculated the time I had available to build a mushroom bed.

Over the last year, every time I went outside to get something from the garage refrigerator, I saw the sawdust block and felt both hope: that I would soon have time for this project and fear: that the spawn would be so weak and old that it wouldn’t grow. Giving into the fear I ordered another container of spawn from the same company. This time it was growing in millet seed.

Winter weeds and soaked straw. This has been wet for about a week. Everything has sprouted so it’s time to use it. Compressed bales from tractor supply come in plastic so I just opened the top and set my hose in there. It’s in a large wheelbarrow.

The two spawn containers sat in the refrigerator for another two months after the millet spawn came. Finally. Today. I made time to create the mushroom bed. I live in south Texas and it gets super hot and dry in the summer. I could have tried growing these in my raised beds, but I was afraid that the summer heat would get to the dormant mycelium even with supplemental water. So. Where to make a mushroom bed that will stay wet all year? I took a cue from my dog and put them under my kid’s trampoline. It’s always moist. The dog lays under there when it’s hot, and comes in smelling like swamp dog. Pretty pungent! I’d rather have a mushroom bed, thanks.

Sprouted nasty stinky straw.

I figure I’ll enclose the trampoline supports with fencing to keep the dog out of it.

Here’s how I built this: If you are a person taller than 5’5″ I suggest you get someone shorter to help you. I was under there for a couple of hours, bent over, and I barely fit. I didn’t want to crawl around in it because one of the things the mushroom company suggests is to soak the bale(s) of straw to “sterilize” it. Well, that’s a poor use of the word sterilize, because what they are actually doing is sprouting all the seed while the straw starts to rot. It smelled like a really dirty horse stall. I rode growing up and I would never have let my horse’s stall smell this awful. But, seeds were sprouted. Time to lay out the bed.

The “before”. This is a 15×15 foot trampoline by the way.

I started with cardboard. One: because I have a ton of it saved for another project. Two: there were a few weeds trying to survive under there. And three: the cardboard will help retain water.

Cardboard layer.

I have a sprinkler under the trampoline that I keep wanting to cap off because for years it’s been unnecessary. But, with the mushroom bed: now it is needed.

My next layer was wet straw. Awful smell and I probably will need allergy medicine tonight. I should have worn a mask. If you make one of these, I suggest that you do wear a mask. It took a long time to break apart the wet leaves and spread the straw around evenly. Plus, the stink and mold factor was really high. It was not my favorite garden project but from here on out all I’ll need to do is add a layer of straw and mulch and I will have a perennial mushroom bed.

I used about 3/4 of the bale of straw. I’ll use the other one over my bananas, which I still need to lay down and cover. Read about how I grow bananas in zone 8b.

I broke up the sawdust spawn block. It was super easy to crumble. I made it most of the way around the bed, but I knew I had more spawn, so I put it down thick. The millet spawn was even easier to use, and I just dumped it in my hand and tossed it around. The millet was actually way too much, for the bed size, even if I had only used the millet spawn container, I could have probably covered all of my raised beds. I am not done cleaning out my raised beds for the winter or I would have put it out there too.

The next layer was a year or two old bags of mulch. I had spread the bags across my yard intending to use it for other things. Again, I haven’t had time for this other project that I bought the mulch for. The spawn company suggested using year old mulch, so my procrastination ended up useful.

Black mulch over straw. You need to use hardwood mulch. The dyes they use are natural so won’t affect anything, but look on the bag for a designation to make sure your mulch is safe for using near plants that you intend to eat. Like this: certified mulch

At this point it was getting dark. I didn’t add my planned third layer of the bed (more straw). The amount of backed up projects that I need to finish before we get our first freeze of the season (we usually freeze around Thanksgiving but it’s now December and we’re still having 80 degree days. Very unusual.) is making me think this project is done for the season.

So, I may add more straw or I may just decide that this is “good enough for now”. Which is a phrase I seldom use.

I’ll show you my spring mushroom bed when it comes up. I plan on slicing and dehydrating about half of the harvest and powdering the other half, to add umame flavor to my home cooked meals.

I think I’m going to inoculate some logs and lay those down in my raised beds. That way I could grow a wider variety of mushrooms, and that would make me happy!

See you out in the garden! Crazy Green Thumbs

2 thoughts on “Under The Trampoline Mushroom Bed

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