Veggie – mushroom alliance

I personally believe that these two complete each other especially because the waste that remains from growing veggies may be used to grow mushrooms, and what remains from mushroom (the spent substrate) may be used as a soil fertilizer so you can grow veggies in a nutrient-rich soil. Besides these two may be grown together on the same piece of land. On a veggie farm there are always plant leftovers like: corn, pea, bean, tomato or potato stalks, different kinds of leaves, etc. that could be turned into protein via mushrooms but unfortunately many farmers, toss these agricultural wastes.

If you think about it, there are some differences in regards to effort, time until harvest and market price for both, veggies and mushrooms and this depends very much on the type that you pick to grow. Veggies in general need more time to complete their grow cycle and their price at the farmer’s market is lower compared to mushrooms, and I also believe growing veggies comes with more labor and care compared to growing mushrooms. So, these are just few of the reasons why I encourage veggie farmers to venture into mushroom farming as well and consider this as a great addition to their farm.

DRY BEANS

Effort: soil work, seeding, weed removal, watering, picking

Time until first harvest: 10 weeks or more (depending on bean type)

Market price: $2-3/lb

OYSTER MUSHROOMS

Effort: substrate disinfection, inoculation, picking

Time until first harvest: 2-3 weeks 

Market price: $4-8/lb

What you see above it’s a simple example outlining some of the differences between what means to grow dry beans and oyster mushrooms, but if you’re thinking about other kinds of veggies or mushrooms you’ll get slightly different results. However, this is not to convince you that mushrooms are better than beans, but to show you that growing both, mushrooms and veggies is more pofitable compared to growing them separately. If these two are grown at the same farm they form a strong bound because they complete each other in a sustainable way. This is very true for different kind of plants that you’re probably already growing at your farm (if you own one). If you’re interested, I encourage you to dive into it and find out more. Take my class on oyster mushroom growing and see what other types of agricultural waste usually found on a farm are suitable to design an oyster mush substrate recipe.  

If you want to grow shiitake mushrooms instead of oyster mushrooms, the time wait for it would be of up to 8 weeks until it fruits (depending on the strain) but also the market price is of up to $10 or more per pound. Unfortunately, there are very few strains that would fruit on bean plant waste and this requires fruiting trials. I’ve heard about some growers that grew shiitake on straw. Personally I never tried to grow this mushroom on straw but I had luck in growing it on paper. Shiitake is usually grown on hardwood sawdust and logs -poplar, alder, oak, cottonwood, beech, etc or aged conifer wood. Some other species like lion’s mane, enoki, maitake, nameko and so forth also have an affinity for wood rather than straws or other agricultural wastes, therefore the best choice in this case remains oyster mushrooms. 

You don’t need fancy growrooms and equipments to grow mushrooms, they will fruit if you provide them with the conditions they need – the ones they get in their natural habitat. They behave preety much like plants, respect their needs and they will flood you with a tone of fruiting bodies.

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