Mushtastic: Edible beauties being grown locally

May 11th, 2017
Mushtastic: Edible beauties being grown locally
A self-taught mushroom expert is helping other home gardeners cultivate mushrooms – in buckets.

Lobethal’s Wayne Slape has been experimenting with alternative mushroom growing techniques for over a decade.

Through his online business Forestspiral, Wayne offers everything needed to set up a mushroom farm, from pre-made mushroom kits to specific grain spawns.

It has taken him years of gathering information from books, online forums, and through his own experiments to develop a way to grow oyster and shiitake mushrooms.

“I just realised people weren’t growing mushrooms at home and there wasn’t much out there besides button mushrooms,” he said.

“So I started growing gourmet and medicinal mushrooms and teaching people how to do it.”

Wayne uses straw and sawdust to grow his mushrooms in everyday objects such as bottles, buckets, jars and tree logs.

First the fungi begins growing on grain spawn, straw is added and soon mushrooms will emerge.

Wayne has been most successful growing his mushrooms out of a bucket.

Straw is packed inside a bucket with drilled holes, so the mushrooms will grow through the holes.

“Mushrooms are usually grown in a temperature controlled shed, but I’m trying to grow them outdoors for better and more healthy mushrooms,” he said.

“When you grow them outside in the sun they accumulate vitamin D.

“They are also a protein source and contain compounds which can reduce
the chance of cancer and the size of tumours.”

Wayne also encourages integrating mushrooms into gardening, instead of segregating plants and fungi.

“Once the bucket of mushrooms is finished, bury the materials in your garden with more straw and soil on top,” he said.

“The mushrooms will come up – it breaks down the straw and provides nutrients for your veggies.”

Wayne’s persistence with his experiments has helped him develop his techniques over the years.

“I’ve had a lot of failures and one of them is dealing with mould and contamination,” he said.

“You need a sterile lab to start the kit and at first I had a lot of mould outbreaks.

“I also worked out that slugs like to eat the mushrooms, so trying to find material for them to grow on can be difficult.

“The oyster mushroom is the easiest because it can grow on plain straw and can overcome bacteria or mould problems – it’s very sturdy and good for a beginner.”

So what does Wayne do with all his mushrooms?

“I usually swap with my neighbours for veggies, share with family and friends or preserve them through drying,” he said.

“You can grow huge mushrooms, I had one weigh over one and half half kilos, the size of your head.

“Once I had two mushrooms growing and one turned upside down and attached itself to the top of the other mushroom’s hat to make a loop.”

Hobby farmer Terry Allen has been one of Wayne’s happy customers since meeting him at a fair in Gawler.

While he’d never had much success with store-bought mushroom kits, he was “totally taken” by the simplicity of Wayne’s method.

“It’s easy – anybody can do it,” he said.

“They’re very low maintenance.

“During the hotter months, an occasional spray with a spray applicator is all they need.

“I haven’t done anything at all to the ones I’m growing at the moment and they’re very promising.”

Terry grows white oyster and blue oyster mushrooms, which have become a staple of his home cooking.

“They can go in stir fries and all sorts of dishes,” he said.

"The mushrooms are just delightful – they’re very meaty and delicious.

“Particularly at this time of year when there’s so much flu around, there’s nothing better than fungi for a bit of a health boost. They’re a natural medicine.”

Wayne will host a free introduction to growing mushrooms workshop at the Gawler Farmer’s Market on Saturday, May 13 from 10am-12pm.

Wayne has recently changed his business name from Slape’s Mushroom House to Forestspiral to reflect the integration the three animal kingdoms: plants, animals and fungi.

Find Forestspiral on Facebook by searching Slape’s Mushroom House or visit http://www.forestspiral.x10host.com

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