Straw (oysters, enoki)

Straw (oysters, enoki)

Straw is a great substrate because it’s cheap and easy to use. The fungi will grow in it easily and have no problem breaking through when fruiting. A general rule of thumb is to inoculate in a 1:5 ratio, ie 1 pound of spawn to 5 pounds of straw. You will have to pasteurize the straw, which is a different process than pressure canning.

Pasteurization: it’s best if your straw is in pieces 1-3 inches long. It’ll be more quickly colonized, for one thing. Small amounts can be cut up on a food processor or blender. For larger amounts, run over it with a lawn mower. Cutting by hand is only for the most masochistic.

Temperatures matter here. The proper range for this process is 160-180 F/70-80 C. More than that will kill helpful bacteria, less won’t properly pasteurize the straw. A meat thermometer is very helpful here. Soak the straw in the water bath for a good hour; a mesh bag and a heavy plate will help keep the straw in the water. In one hour, carefully bring the bag out of the water, place it in a strainer, and let it cool. Cooling is very important so you don’t kill the mycelia you’re about to inoculate into it. Rubber gloves are nice because the straw will be very hot and burned hands are no fun.

Inoculation: I pack my straw into one gallon freezer bags, but it’s important to not pack the bag totally full. Inoculate in layers: one layer of straw, one layer of spawn, and so forth. Labeling the bag beforehand as mentioned above is helpful. I use Sharpies for this purpose. Seal the bag and put it in a spot that’s no more than ambient lighting. Watch as the bag colonizes, which can take 2-4 weeks. When the bag appears fully colonized, poke holes in it for the mushrooms to grow out of. Keep it moist & humid by misting regularly, several times daily if it’s dry in your grow space.

Helpful tips:

I’ve seen a ton of videos claiming that other mushrooms, such as shiitake and lion’s mane, can also be grow in this way. My shiitake did but I got very few fruits from it. My lion’s mane did not; it failed spectacularly in fact. I ended up tossing that one after a few months because of the very intense smell of contamination. So give it a try it you’d like, but be aware of this possibility.



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