Oyster mushrooms in a box

The Mushroom Farm in a Box allows anyone to produce and harvest oyster mushrooms on a small scale, writes Roelof Bezuidenhout.

This self-contained oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus) farm comes with 5kg of organic growth medium (wheat hay and growth enhancer), spawn (mushroom seed), and water.It takes the spawn two to four weeks to grow, once you’ve activated it by spraying water into one of the holes in the box.

You’ll have to spray up to six times a day, depending on the ambient humidity and temperature. Humidity of 60% to 80% and a temperature of 18°C to 27°C are ideal. Oyster mushrooms do best in dim light. Don’t keep the box in direct sunlight or in a draught. Once it’s positioned, don’t handle it unnecessarily.

- Advertisement -

Pinheads will emerge through the holes and mushrooms will mature in two to four days. Spray the heads directly, but you’ll have to be careful – too much moisture will make them soggy, too little and they’ll crack. The heads will double in size daily, without a change in flavour. Harvest a bunch, or bouquet, as soon as the heads’ ends straighten out and stop drooping, by turning the whole bouquet by hand and pulling gently.

The process will repeat itself for two to three weeks if you spray through the holes twice daily. Three to four flushes will appear, each with slightly fewer mushrooms. Overall, this R100 box should produce 3kg to 4kg of oyster bouquets – costing about R80/kg in a shop.

Contact distributors Milkwood on 041 379 5846.