The cultivated mushroom only grows under controlled conditions in a special growing medium. This includes pasteurized, synthetic compost consisting of a mixture of corn cobs and hay with a complete fertilizer (composted horse manure was formerly used by commercial growers); high humidity (70%); darkness; and a uniform temperature of 50° to 60°F.

Although you can purchase spawn—the fungus mycelia used to start mushrooms (mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of this particular fungus)—and buy the growing medium, it is not very practical to produce mushrooms at home.

Wild mushrooms. Several wild mushrooms are edible, but many others are poisonous. Be sure that you only pick nonpoisonous mushrooms for food. Wild mushroom gathering is not recommended unless you are an expert at identification.

Shiitake (Japanese forest mushroom). Shiitake can be successfully grown in Wisconsin using special techniques.

A nonpathogenic fungus, Shiitake can be grown on a variety of small-diameter hardwood logs, especially oaks. After an incubation period of to 2 years, mushrooms are produced for 4 to 6 years during spring and autumn.

Organic Gardeners Composting

Organic Gardeners Composting

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