If you’re like me you like to make use of as many places as possible in your yard to grow food but what do you do when you have a shady spot where plants won’t grow? Why not grow some mushrooms!
For a long time I have wondering how to make use of what seemed like a useless space on the north side of my house. It was a space 7 feet wide by 12 feet long with only a couple hours of sunlight a day on different portions of it.
It’s possible a few greens would grow there but probably not very well but the conditions of this area are perfect for growing mushrooms. So I decided on an easy to grow variety called Wine Cap Mushrooms or Stropharia rugosoannulata or “King Stropharia”. These grow in wood chips or straw which I thought would be perfect for a raised bed in this spot.
I ordered my mushroom spawn from Field and Forest which I promptly received with great instructions on what to do with the spawn in order to get the best results.
You wouldn’t have to grow these in a raised bed filled with mulch as I have chose to do, you can also inoculate mulch pathways and mulch that has been used around trees and landscape as well which is a great way to add food production to spaces that are already there.
So here is what I did. I built a 3 foot by 8 foot raised bed against the north side of my house. I then spread out about 3 inches of hardwood mulch on the bottom of the bed. You don’t want to put any kind of weed barrier in the bottom of this bed as the wood chips should have soil contact.
I hosed down the bottom layer of wood chips until they were saturated in water. I then added straw that had been soaking in a kiddie pool filled with water for about 6 days. I spread this straw about 3 inches deep over the bottom layer of wood chips and then took my bag of mushroom spawn and spread it all over the soaked straw.
I then added about 2 more inches of the wood chips over the inoculated straw and sprayed it down with the hose also. That’s it, the mushroom bed is done. You just want to make sure it never gets overly dry throughout the summer and in a few months and a couple years following you should be harvesting beautiful and tasty wine cap mushrooms.
I proceeded to take things a little further for this previously useless space and build a rhubarb bed and pathway in the area as well and also put up a small fence and gate to keep my dog from walking on the bed and possibly crushing the mushrooms.
I hope this has give you an idea of what you can do to produce more food on your homestead with a space that gets too much shade for anything else. Happy Homesteading!