How to use your Wine Cap Mushroom starter pack
To start with, purchase your Wine Cap Spawn pack here
Wine Cap mushroom (Stropharia rugosoannulata) is one of the easiest mushrooms you are ever likely to try to grow. I’m really pleased to be able to give you the opportunity to not only to try this amazing mushroom, but to also grow it for yourself! This Kit is designed to integrate mushrooms into your garden or allotment. Combined with additional wood chip and many other materials it can fruit for many years in your garden.
Things to consider before installing your wine cap bed:
- Where you decide to site your mushroom bed is quite important. Wine cap prefer shaded spots in gardens. Another great way to install wine cap beds is to companion plant them with soft fruit bushes, such as gooseberry or currants. This is beneficial to both the soft fruit and the mushroom bed as the fruit create shady areas where the mushrooms can grow without getting dried out, and the mushroom breaks down the wood chip which creates greater fertility which the soft fruit plants can use. Other options are to install 70% shade netting over the bed.
- The wood chip you use is also important, wine cap are open to consuming a huge variety of different tree species but won’t colonise coniferous wood chip easily. If you can try to get pure deciduous wood chip. If you can only to get hold of mixed species wood chip with coniferous species this can still be used so long as it is majority deciduous wood chip. This is because coniferous woods have natural fungicides in their resin which inhibit the growth of most fungi.
- If you are planning on building your bed onto grass it is sensible to put a layer of cardboard down before making the bed as this will kill the grass and stop it from growing through your mushroom bed. The wine cap will eventually eat the cardboard and break it down into mushrooms. Remove any sellotape or other non-degradable parts from the cardboard to avoid them ending up in the soil.
- Watering is very important to get good results from your mushroom bed so I recommend siting it within easy distance of a watering source. Using sprinklers is the best way to achieve the best results with grow wine cap mushroom though not essential and can be done with watering by hand.
- This mushrooms needs to be in contact with soil, it has bacterial associates in the soil which it needs to fruit correctly. A layer of cardboard is used initially during setup but is consumed by the mushroom culture long before fruiting commences.
- If you decided to go with the soft fruit option, begin by planting your fruit bushes at the recommended spacing for each species.
- Lay out your cardboard to cover the area where you decide to build your mushroom bed, creating holes for any fruit bushes to go through if needed.
- Lay down roughly about 10cm (4 inch) of wood chip over the cardboard and around any soft fruit.
- Open your wine cap spawn and use half of it to create small mounds across the woodchip.This will mean that the wine cap has some point where it is very strong and can defend against any potential “weed fungi” from trying to colonise the wood chip. Spread the rest evenly between these mounds you just created. See photo below:
- Cover the spawn with another layer of wood chip roughly about 10cm (4 inch)
- The bed should be water heavily for the first 5 days so that the chip is watered completely through.
- After that watering should be judge by putting your hand into the chip. You are aiming to keep the inner part of the bed damp but not saturated.
- The bed should take between 5- 12 months to fully colonise.
- Cardboard can be placed over the chip during the hot summer months to retain the moisture.
- Once fruiting starts, water regularly to get the best fruiting.
- After harvesting mushrooms the base of the mushroom (stem butt) can be cut off and planted back into the bed at areas where there is less colonised wood chip. The mycelium can grow off of these stem butts and colonise these areas.
Longer term maintenance
- When you notice that the amount of chip has diminished significantly in the bed it is time to top up with fresh chip. This is best done after a fruiting period usually either early summer or early winter. To do this I recommend moving the contents of the bed to one side and laying down fresh chip then mixing the colonised existing chip into the fresh wood chip.
- When you need to add fresh chip to a bed you can also take some of the spawn from the bed and use it to start another bed elsewhere and multiply the number of beds you have.
- Slugs can be a major pest for mushroom growing outdoors, I recommend regular harvesting of your mushrooms before they fully open up and expose their gills, as when they fully open their gills it is a major attractant for slugs.
- Occasionally other fungi species manage to start colonising an area within the bed. If this happens and you notice different mushrooms growing, dig down and try to remove as much of the mycelium/colonise wood chip as you can and replace with fresh wood chip