Last week I made an afternoon trip to Logro Farms, located on Fitzhugh Rd off 290 west. It’s next to Jester King Brewery and Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza. The mushroom farmers take the spent grain from the brewery and use it as media to grow oyster mushrooms, a gourmet variety popular with chefs. They sell the mushrooms to the pizza place next door, making for a hyper-local, extremely sustainable food system. Other chefs are buying uo the oyster mushrooms too. They are also growing hydroponic produce for the pizza place in a very tidy greenhouse. The mushrooms are grown in a special little building that is padlocked to maintain just the right conditions for them and to prevent contamination from other organisms, so I didn’t get to go in there. Ryan, one of the owners, told me they have plans to expand the mushroom production and lots of ideas for how to use the leftover spent mycelium (kinds like mushroom roots). Also, a few weeks ago my husband and I celebrated his birthday at Jester King Brewery, and our friend Joel who works there gave us some samples of the beer they brewed with smoked sea salt and the oyster mushrooms. It was unusual to say the least and would pair well with steak.
Speaking of leftover spent mycelium, Ryan was nice enough to give me about 200 lbs of that stuff. So…they grow the mushrooms on spent grain, but they also mix in other byproducts like sawdust and coffee grounds. Mushrooms are not plants- they are decomposers. They grow in this mix of stuff that would otherwise be thrown in a landfill. As they grow they partially decompose the stuff they are growing in, making sort of a kind of unfinished compost that still has the mycelium in it but doesn’t have enough nutrition left for the mushrooms to continue growing. I’m experiementing with the stuff Ryan gave me to see what will happens in a home gardening environment with this byproduct of his mushroom production.
I put some in my compost pile, to see if it will boost the speed of decomposition in my pile. I scattered some over/mixed it into my newly mulched flower beds to see. If the mycelium would age the wood chips in there to a darker color and if the spent grain etc would add nutrition to the soil for the microbes and my plants. I also “planted” some in a couple of tree stumps and a pile of wood chips to see if they will grow. I also gave some to my neighbors for their compost piles. My one neighbor is composting using black soldier fly larvae so it will be interesting to see if they eat it up. So far not much has happened but it’s only been a few days.
I’m thinking I whould go get more of it and put it in its own pile to finish composting. I would like to mix it with granite powder from a nearby granite recycling center and with worm castings. I think that might make the perfect all purpose compost for Austin soils.
By the way, I heard about all of this thru the Austin Materials Marketplace and the Austin Compost Coalition. Both of these awesome organizations are making huge strides to keep resuseable materials out of landfills! I’m happy to participate in both.
We shot a news segment out there that was super fun! And you can also grow mushrooms at home with Logro’s home growing kit.