Mushroom Cultivation and Harvesting
Mushroom cultivation is a technical process. As mushroom professionals often talk in a technical language, a few of these terms will first be explained :
Mycelium – the fungal threads (comparable to plant roots) that sprout the mushrooms.
Spores – miniscule mushroom ‘seeds’ that are kept safe in the brown gills under the cap of the mushroom (almost impossible to see with the naked eye).
Grain spawn – sterile grain inoculated with mushroom spores. The mycelium sprouts from the spores and retrieves food from the grain.
Compost – a mixture of horse manure, straw, gypsum and chicken manure.
Permeated compost – compost that has been mixed with grain spawn. The mycelium permeates the compost. The grower creates the perfect conditions under which the mycelium will start sprouting mushrooms.
Casing – a layer of peat covering the compost to regulate the humidity of the compost. The peat is often mixed with foam soil (spent lime), a by-product of the sugar industry.
Flush – a cropping cycle of mushrooms, from the moment they pop their heads above the casing.