Learn to grow your own mushrooms with The Mushroom Guru

Posted on 10 October 2013

I have long maintained the notion that the future holds a shortage of water and food, which means the human race is going to have to adopt survival skills rather than social media ones. The time has come to embrace solar and wind power, along with harnessing rain water and growing food. So you can imagine my delight at finding out that Gary Goldman aka The Mushroom Guru, whom I met at the mushroom foraging at Delheim Wine Estate, is encouraging people to grow their own mushrooms. You can buy a shiitake-inoculated log directly from him, but you can also attend a workshop where you inoculate your own log with Shiitake mycelium and take it home with you. Not only is this a fun way to spend a few hours, it’ll also save you sitting on a mushroom-log waiting list (it’s long) and you’ll be embarking on growing your own food.

Drilling, banging and waxing Bluegum logs at the Shiitake Workshop.

The workshops are held at Craig Fourie’s home in Somerset West (Cape Town) where both Gary and Craig will assist you in preparing your shiitake-sprouting log. The workshop starts with coffee and muffins and after a general chat about the wonders of mushrooms, log preparation begins. First you get to choose your log (we used bluegum logs – a great use for alien trees!) and then you drill holes in it. The holes are plugged with dowels that carry the Shiitake mycelium and then sealed with wax (to protect them from bacteria). As mushrooms have been known to push their way up through concrete, the wax will in no way hinder the shiitake mushrooms from growth. After all that drilling, banging and waxing your log is labeled (lest you forget what is growing on there) and it’s ready to take home, along with a set of notes detailing the whole process so you can prepare more logs on your own. It couldn’t be easier!

The only snag is that you have a bit of a wait (approximately 12-18 months) before you see any mushrooms popping up on your log. The spawn run includes both a rainy season and hot summer and is very dependent on conditions like temperature, humidity and log properties. During the spawn run you need to make sure your log is kept in a cool shady spot (direct sunlight will kill the spawn) and off the ground to prevent bacteria and disease getting into the log. This dampened (excuse the pun) my enthusiasm a little as I prefer instant gratification, but I know I will be jumping up and down with glee when little shiitake mushrooms start appearing after winter next year!

Wooden dowels carrying the Shiitake mycelium are inserted into the log and are then covered in wax.

To keep me happy in the meantime however, I have Pink Oyster mushrooms growing on damp cardboard in a plastic container in the cupboard and they should be ready in about a month. Yes, it’s that simple – all you need is a container with a lid, cling-film to cover the container, damp pieces of cardboard and mushroom spawn (which you get from The Mushroom Guru), a cupboard to store it in and after a few weeks you’ll have home-grown Oyster mushrooms. There’s a workshop for growing Oyster mushrooms too.

Growing mushrooms (or any form of produce) is fun and rewarding. It’s also not that difficult and anyone with a garden that has a shady spot can grow shiitake mushrooms. If you don’t have a garden with a shady spot, find a friend who does and reward them for their kindness with mushrooms. Failing that, there are mushrooms that will grow in your cupboard. So there’s really no excuse!

Oyster mushrooms can easily be grown in your home, using damp cardboard and an airtight container.

The health benefits of mushrooms

Not only do mushrooms taste good, they are also good for you! Here are a few health benefits from some mushrooms:

Shiitake mushrooms: Anti-tumour properties, reduces side effects from radiation and chemotherapy, improves the immune system, helps lower cholesterol levels and assists liver in detoxification.

Oyster mushrooms: The iron content in these mushrooms is higher than that present in meat while the potassium content is a preventative for heart disease. Also known to lower cholesterol, strengthen the immune system and even benefit those trying to quit smoking.

Reishi mushrooms: Anti-cancer and anti-oxidant, facilitates blood circulation, reduces cholesterol, assists in clearing airways to help breathing, improves short-term insomnia, supports joint mobility and muscle relaxation.

Mushroom Workshop dates

Here are the dates for upcoming Mushroom-growing workshops for the reminder of 2013.

Shiitake log inoculation workshops

Saturday, 12 October at 09h00
Saturday, 19 October at the Slow Market
Sunday, 27 October at 14h00
Saturday, 16 November at 09h00
Sunday, 8 December at 14h00

Oyster Mushroom Workshops

Sunday, 13 October at 14h00
Saturday, 2 November at 09h00
Sunday, 24 November at 14h00
Saturday, 14 December at 09h00

Contact The Mushroom Guru

To book for these workshops, or buy mushroom dowels/spawn/cultures, or simply find out more about mushrooms, contact The Mushroom Guru on 021-852-6771, email [email protected], www.mushroomguru.co.za.

yoast-primary -
tcat - Food Culture
tcat_slug - food-culture
tcat2 -
tcat2_slug -
tcat_final - food-and-drink