I met the Biocentric Brothers, Chase and Kyle England, first at the Downtown Winter Market during my Digital Photography II field trip to the Rio Grande Depot. I stumbled upon their booth after they had already sold pretty much all the gourmet mushrooms they had grown. I was happy to find out that they would be teaching my next Lifelong Learning class, Growing Medicinal and Gourmet Mushrooms. They were so excited about mushrooms and sharing their knowledge–how could I not get excited too?!
I arrived to class and as we introduced ourselves, the range of people was varied. Some of us had attempted to grow mushrooms in the past, while many more had never grown mushrooms before–not on purpose anyway! But we were all there because we all love mushrooms.
Chase and Kyle first taught us the basics of mushroom cultivation. Jordan, a friend and fungi associate who works on the farm with the brothers, was there to help and share his experience also. Despite all the information they were sharing with us, you could tell we were only seeing the tip of the “fungal” iceberg. But their enthusiasm for mushrooms was infectious, so the time went by quickly.
We talked about the medicinal properties of mushrooms–this is a whole new undiscovered world. Then we talked about mushrooms for cooking. It’s been said that if you prepare it right, it’s the best mushroom in the world. If it’s not prepared correctly, it could kill you. I even learned what the Mario Bros red mushroom with white spots is called: Amanita muscaria. Don’t eat it–it’s hallucinogenic!
We then headed outside to check out how to make a mushroom straw bucket and to pick an already inoculated and growing mushroom block.
I’m not sure if you got that last sentence, so I’ll say it again–we got to take home with us an already-growing mushroom block. How cool is that! For someone as impatient as myself, this is a huge plus of this class.
We stood around a tarp that had been laid out with mushroom blocks in plastic bags, plastic 5-gallow buckets, straw, and jars of inoculated wheat kernels. We first got to choose our mushroom block–I grabbed a enoki block, because I was craving enoki mushrooms.
One thing that had me a little worried, was the fact that they said that it could be difficult to grow mushrooms. But they reassured us that if you know some of the basics for each mushroom species, it would be easy. For example, we found out that enoki needed to be handled with care, while shitake blocks needed to be “roughed up” a little. All these funny little details!
The brothers then showed us how to create our own mushroom straw bucket. We saw how to treat and soak our straw , how to layer the inoculated wheat kernels throughout, and how to care for it till we got our first flush. Most of us were given a jar of King Oyster start to try at home.
We were all quite a sight to see, carrying a bucket full of straw, a mushroom block, a jar start, and our notes in hand.
Now I’m off to prep my straw for my bucket. King Oysters, here we come!