Spores from a print were streaked out onto 2% malt agar and incubated in the dark at 25 °C. After 7 days, the healthiest looking rhizomorphic colonies were isolated and transferred to fresh plates, also cultured on agar slants in universal 1 oz glass bottles, for cold storage in the fridge (5.0 °C).
Spores germinating on agar media
100 ml of organic rye grain and 80 ml of tap water was put in 1 pint glass jars, with synthetic filter discs fitted under the caps, and autoclaved for 20 minutes. Once cooled, 1cm wedges of mycelium were cut from the agar and transferred, 3 to each jar. Lids were replaced, and jars incubated at 25 °C for 7 days. Each jar was shaken to disperse the rapidly spreading mycelium, and then incubated for a further 7 days.
Bulk substrate preparation
Fully colonised grain spawn was then used to inoculate "filter patch spawn bags" . Each bag contained around 1 pound of mixed hardwood sawdust and alder wood shavings/chips. Enough boiling water was added to each bag to fully wet the substrate (approx. 5:4 substrate : water ratio). These substrate bags were left to soak overnight then autoclaved for 20 minutes, and allowed to cool. Around ½ pint of spawn was used to inoculate each bag of substrate and these were left to colonise in a dark cupboard for 2-3 weeks @ about 20 °C. An alternative method for an attempted indoor patch was using a plastic "washing-up" basin with a cased substrate consisting of wood shavings and wheat straw (#1). As you can see, the fungus loves this cellulose rich substrate.
Fully colonised wood/straw substrate
Preparation of outdoor beds
Patches were placed in different areas of the garden, during the summer around June-July, 1999:
#1. Under Rhododendron bushes, next to grassy lawn
#2. Under a pear tree amongst weeds/shrubbery
#3. Under an ash tree with surrounding gooseberry bushes
#4. In rich woody soil next to a compost heap
Each site was prepared by digging trenches about 6 inches deep, around 2 square feet. The trenches were raked over and lined with a thin layer of moist, well rotted leaf litter/twigs. The colonised woody substrate was broken up and spread out (about 1 bag per patch). The spawn was then covered with another 2 inch layer of rotted leaves/twigs, and finally covered with a thin (1 inch) layer of soil.
Preparation of an outdoor patch (#1)
Establishment of beds
It has now been about 6 weeks since preparing the patches and they are all doing very well. Rhizomorphic mycelium can be observed creeping over leaves, and spreading out into the surrounding leaf litter which comprises the top 2-3 inches of the soil. The weather is cooling down now (August) and it's getting wetter.
Rhizomorphic mycelium spreading over leaf litter
Watch out for slugs, which like to eat mycelium. The best way of getting rid of them is to bait them with bread, and go out at night with a torch and remove them (wearing gloves!). Wood lice were also present and probably feasting on the mycelium. The other pests are squirrels, which discovered the grain and dug a few little holes in the patch under the pear tree (#2), soon after preparing the beds.
The patches were kept well-watered, mostly by rain, although they did encounter some dry periods, which implemented the use of a watering can. There was a light frost at the beginning of October, but the patches were snug under the leaf litter.
The following images show the development of primordia to "grown-up" mushrooms.