How to grow your own ‘shrooms..in 1897!!

— looking around on the web for some what funny Gov. docs – found they want us to grow Mushrooms!!!! — Lol..

Historic, archived document 
Do not assume content reflects current 
scientific knowledge, policies, or practices.

V. P. P.— 65. 

U. „S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE. 

FARMERS' BULLETIN No. 53. 

HOW TO GROW MUSHROOMS. 
BY WILLIAM FALCONER. 

UNDER THE SUPERVISION OF THE DIVISION OF VEGETABLE 
PHYSIOLOGY AND PATHOLOGY. 

[March, 1897.] 
WASHINGTON 

GOVERNMENT PRINTING 
1897.. 



OFFICE. 



CONTENTS. 



Page. 
Introduction 3 
Raising mushrooms from spores, or seed 4 
Spawn 4 
Where to grow mushrooms 6 
Manure 9 
Preparing the beds 10 
Spawning the beds 11 
Loaming the beds 11 
Temperature 11 
Gathering the mushrooms 12 
Sorting 12 
Packing 13 
Marketing 17 
Renovating old or failing beds 17 
Mushroom diseases 17 
Insect and other animal enemies 18 
Growing mushrooms in summer 19 



ILLUSTRATIONS. 



Page. 

Fig. 1. English, or brick spawn 4 

2. Brick broken into pieces ready for planting 4 

3. French, or flake spawn 5 

4. Flake broken into pieces ready for planting 5 

5. Mushroom bed in cool cellar 6 

6. Shelf beds in warm cellar 7 

7. Board bed on floor of cellar or shed 8 

8. Cross-section of mushroom house 8 

9. Mushroom houses showing heating arrangement 9 

10. Basket of mushrooms from leading commission house 14 

11. Basket shown in fig. 10 when opened 14 

12. Mushrooms from basket shown in fig. 10 15 

13. Basket from a large mushroom grower 16 

14. Basket shown in fig. 13 when opened 16 

2 



HOW TO GROW MUSHROOMS. 



INTRODUCTION. 

The mushroom in commerce is practically the fruit of the mushroom 
plant, and not the plant itself, as some might be led to believe. The 
plant proper is a white or bluish white mold, called mycelium, or, in 
garden language, spawn, tbat grows in fields and manure piles. In its 
younger stage it becomes a network of white threads, and it is from 
the joints on these threads that the mushrooms spring. In growing 
the crop, therefore, it is important to keep the mycelium, or spawn, 
alive and spreading, and where this is done the production of mushrooms 
is sure to follow. 

Mushrooms are a winter crop, coming in from September till April or 
May — that is, the work of preparing the manure begins in September 
and ends in February, and the packing of the crop begins in October 
or November and ends in May. Under extraordinary conditions the 
season may begin earlier and last longer, and in fact it may continue 
all summer. 

Mushrooms are easy to grow and beginners are often as successful with 
them as are those having an extensive experience. Success depends 
upon general conditions, good materials, interest in the business, intel- 
ligent management, and persistent application. However, all these 
conditions' are just as necessary in the successful and profitable raising 
of sheep, poultry, fruit, grain, or garden truck as they are in the 
mushroom industry. Aside from preparing the manure and making 
up the beds, it is a clean crop to handle and occupies little space, and 
so far as the general routine attention required by the beds and the 
gathering, sorting, packing, and marketing of the mushrooms are con- 
cerned, the women of the household can do the work as well as the men. 

There is a widespread impression that there is some secret in the 
cultivation of mushrooms, that the whole procedure is shrouded in 
mystery, and that the mushrooms have even to be grown in midniglit 
darkness; but this is a mistaken idea. True, many mushroom growers 
do much to foster this impression by carefully withholding all informa- 
tion as to their methods of growing the crop and persistently refusing 
to open their doors to anyone. 

3 



4 



RAISING MUSHROOMS PROM SPORES, OR SEED. 

The dark-colored powder produced in great quantity and diffused 
from the gills of the mature mushroom is what is called spores. These 
are in a way equivalent to the seeds of higher plants. But raising 




Fig. 1. — English, or brick spawn. 



mushrooms from spores, or seed, is nature's business. In artificial culti- 
vation they are never grown in this way, but iustead are propagated 
from pieces of living spawn. 




Fig. 2 Brick broken into pieces ready for planting. 



SPAWN. 

As the underground stems of the blackberry and raspberry are cut 
into pieces and these planted to raise young plants, as the farmer chops 
up Bermuda grass "roots" and sows them to raise sod, or as the roots 
of the pestiferous bindweed are broken up into small pieces and scat- 
tered on the ground and every piece grows a plant, so if a lump of spawn 



5 



is broken into several pieces and these pieces planted, each will, under 
favorable conditions, start into new life, spread, aud eventually prod nee 
mushrooms. 

Only two kinds of spawn are in general use by our mushroom grow- 
ers, namely, English brick and French flake, both of which are imported. 




Fia. 3.— French, or flake spawn. 



One of our largest market growers, however, uses natural spawn, but 
as yet there is no good homemade marketable spawn. The English 
brick spawn is put up in bricks of dry dust manure (fig. 1). The bricks 
measure about 8| by 5§ by If inches and weigh 1 pound 4| ounces. 




Fig. 4. — Flake broken into pieces ready for planting. 



The manure in the brick has no virtue of itself, but is simply the host 
for the white spawn, hence the more spawn in the brick the better and 
more potent it is. The bricks are not planted whole, but each one is 
first broken into about twelve or fifteen pieces (fig. 2). The French flake 
spawn is imported in flakes of dry, strawy horse manure, either loose in 



6 



bulk, or, more commonly, iu 3-pound boxes (fig. 3). As a rule, tbe flakes 
consist of a mass of white mycelium and show far more spawn than is 
seen in the bricks. The flakes are broken into pieces about 2 or 3 inches 
square (fig. 4) and are planted in the same way as the lumps of brick 
spawn. Many growers have from time to time tried to make their own 
spawn, and with more or less success, but at no time has an article 
been made which for good appearance and evenness was equal to the 
imported bricks. So far as known to the writer, the home manufacture 
of spawn has been entirely discontinued. 

Spawn is kept in stock by all prominent seed stores and is advertised 
in seed catalogues. The price of brick spawn varies from 10 to 12 cents 
a pound in small lots, or $7 to $8 per hundred pounds, according to the 
quantity purchased. French, or flake, spawn costs about 30 to 35 cents 
a pound in bulk and 35 to 40 cents a pound in boxes. About 320,000 




6 FT. 

Fig. 5 Mushroom bed in cool cellar. 



pounds of brick spawn are now annually imported by our seedsmen. 
Six years ago the import amounted to only 64,000 pounds. This shows 
that mushroom growing has increased fivefold since 1890. 

WHERE TO GROW MUSHROOMS. 

Mushrooms can be grown almost anywhere out of doors, and also 
indoors where there is a dry bottom on which to set the beds, where a 
uniform and moderate temperature can be maintained, and where the 
beds can be protected from wet overhead, and from winds, drought, and 
direct sunshine. To grow mushrooms for profit, they should be culti- 
vated only under the most favorable circumstances. Where the condi- 
tions or materials are in the least unfavorable the crop should be let 



7 



alone. Among the most desirable places in which to grow mushrooms 
are barns, cellars, closed tunnels, sheds, pits, greenhouses, and regular 
mushroom houses. Total darkness is not imperative, for mushrooms 
grow well in open light if shaded from sunshine. The temperature and 
moisture are more apt to be equable in dark places than in open, light 
ones, and it is largely for this reason that mushroom houses are kept 
dark. 

A cellar is an excellent place in which to grow mushrooms. If the 
floor is free from water, it matters not whether it is made of cement or 
of wood. The windows and doors should be closed up and darkened. 
In case only a part of the cellar is devoted to the beds, this part should 
be partitioned off with cheap boards, or if that is impracticable the 
beds themselves may be covered over with mats, straw, etc., or may be 




i i i ■ * ■ * 



e ft. 

Fig. 6. — Shelf beds in warm cellar. 

boarded up (fig. 5). If the cellar is not heated, the beds should be built 
on the floor only, and should be 14 inches deep. If the cellar is heated, 
besides the beds on the floor, shelf beds 8 to 10 inches deep may be 
used (fig. 6). In the case of a cool cellar, a warm shed, or a tunnel 
being given up altogether to mushrooms, it is not an uncommon way to 
spread the beds, or bed rather, all over the floor (fig. 7), with a path 
one board wide raised over the bed, as shown in the illustration. 

A cave or a tunnel is practically the same as a cellar, except that 
these are seldom artificially heated. For this reason the beds are 
seldom in raised shelves, but are nearly always built on the floor. 
With beds built in this way and a good dry bottom, caves or tunnels 
make excellent places in which to grow the crop. A mushroom house 



8 



is generally a wooden building or shed built above ground or partly 
sunk, aud fitted up for the purpose of growing this crop. Any house 
or barn-like shed that can be kept tight, warm (56° F.), moderately 
moist (without being musty), and dry should make a good place in 




■ — 1 1 1 ■ * 

6FZ. 

Fig. 7 — Board bed on floor of cellar or shed. 



which to grow mushrooms. Figures 8 and 9 are good illustrations of 
the proper kind of mushroom houses. 

The empty spaces under the benches in greenhouses are good places 
for mushroom beds, and as very little else can be grown therein, by 
planting to this crop space is utilized that would otherwise go to 
waste. Many florists grow mushrooms extensively in this way. A pit, 




Fio. 8 — Crons.section of mushroom house. 



such as a sunken frame, if it can be kept dry at the bottom and sides, 
makes a fairly good place for mushrooms. There must be a deep bed 
of manure, however, and the place should be covered over with 
shutters to keep an even temperature. 



9 



MANURE. 

The best fertilizer for mushrooms, so far as the -writer's experience 
goes, is fresh horse manure. Get together a lot of this material (short 
and strawy) that has been well trampled and wetted in the stable. 
Throw it into a heap, wet it well if it is at all dry, and let it heat. 
"When it begins to steam turn it over, shake it well so as to mix 
thoroughly and evenly, and then tramp it down solid. After this let 
it stand till it again gets quite warm, then turn, shake, trample as 
before, and add water freely if it is getting dry. Repeat this turning, 
moistening, and trampling as often as is needful to keep the manure 
from "burning." If it gets intensely hot, spread it out to cool, after 
which again throw it together. After being turned in this way several 
times and the heat in it is not apt to rise above 130° F., it should be 
ready to make up in the beds. By adding to the manure at the second 




PEffSPECT/l/E OZ= HEATINq P/PES. 



Fig. 9. — Mushroom houses showing heating arrangement. 

or third turning one-fourth or one-fifth of its bulk of loam the tendency 
to intense heating is lessened and its usefulness not at all impaired. 
Some growers prefer short manure exclusively, that is, the horse drop- 
pings, while others like a good deal of straw mixed in with this. The 
writer's experience, however, is that if properly prepared it matters 
little which is used. 

Manure from animals fed with hard food, such as hay and grain, is 
best. Where carrots and such crops are fed the manure is apt to prove 
injurious. City stable manure is what most of the large mushroom 
growers use. Some of them haul it home from the cities in wagons, 
while others get it in car loads or boat loads. If the manure can be 
placed under cover of a shed, away from wind and wet, and there turned, 
it will be better in every way than if kept out in the open air. Manure 
from cows fed with dry feed if mixed with horse manure is excellent 
for mushroom beds. One-fourth cow manure and three-fourths horse 



10 



manure mixed and heated together from the first has given the writer 
fine mushrooms. When rotted sod loam, to the amount of one-fourth of 
the whole bulk, was added to the pile it was better still, as it heated less, 
was sooner ready for building, and the beds lasted longer than those 
made of plain manure. 

In gathering or saying manure for this crop it is not necessary that 
it should all be of the same age. If it is fresh and has good heating 
life it will answer even if some of it is two or three months old. 

PREPARING- THE BEDS. 

If the beds are to be made on the floor, the latter should be dry. If 
the house or cellar is cool and unheated, the bed should be 14 to 16 
inches deep. If stove, hot water, or steam heat can be used, a depth of 
12 inches will answer, but 14 inches is better. Measure off the floor 
space in long strips. These should be 3 or 4 feet wide at the sides, and 
4, 5, or 6 feet wide in the middle, with spaces 2 or 2£ feet wide for path- 
ways between them. If there are to be shelf beds over the bottom 
beds, the pathways should be 2| to 3 feet wide to admit of wheeling a 
barrow over them, as this will be necessary in taking the manure in 
and out. In the bottom of the beds place a (i inch layer of well- 
moistened hot manure from the ordinary stable pile and trample it 
firm. In a few days after, when it has cooled off somewhat, fill up the 
bed with the manure specially prepared for the mushrooms, shaking it 
on in -layers 1 or 2 inches thick, and trample down firm. If there is a 
probability of its heating intensely, put on only one or two layers a 
day, strew some loam between them, and raise the manure a little with 
the fork so that the earth may sift down through it. When the bed is 
made up, strew a little straw or hay over it to arrest the moisture from 
the condensed steam . If this is not done, the surface of the bed is apt 
to get rather wet. The straw should be left on until the bed is ready 
for spawning, after which it should be removed. 

Ordinarily the beds are only 8 to 10 inches deep, that is, they are 
faced with 10-inch-wide hemlock boards (fig. 6), and are only the depth 
of this board. In such beds put in a layer of fresh, moist, hot manure 
and trample it down firm until it constitutes half the depth of the bed; 
then fill up with the prepared manure, which should be rather cool (100° 
to 115° F.) when used, and pack all firm. If desired, the beds can be 
made up entirely of the prepared manure. Shelf beds are usually 9 
inches deep, that is, the shelf is bottomed with 1-inch boards and faced 
with 10 inch-wide boards. This allows about 8 inches for manure and 
1 inch rising to 2 inches of loam on top. In filling the shelf beds the 
bottom half may be of fresh, moist or wettish, hot manure, packed 
down solid, and the top half of rather cool prepared manure, or it 
may be made up of all prepared manure. As the shelf beds can not 
be trodden and can not be beaten very firm with the back of the fork, a 
-brick is used in addition to the fork. 



11 



SPAWNING THE BEDS. 

The beds should be spawned after the heat in them has fallen below 
100° F. The writer considers 90° F. about the best temperature for 
spawning. If the beds have been covered with hay, straw, litter, or 
mats, these should be removed. Break each brick into twelve or fifteen 
pieces, as shown in fig. 2. The rows should be, say, 1 foot apart, the 
first one being 6 inches from the edge, and the pieces should be 9 
inches apart in the row. Commencing with the first row, lift up each 
piece, raise 2 to 3 inches of the manure with the hand, and into this 
hole place the piece, covering over tight with the manure. When the 
entire bed is spawned pack the surface all over. It is well to cover the 
beds again with straw, hay, or mats to keep the surface equally moist. 
The flake spawn is planted in the same way as the brick spawn, only 
not quite so deep. 

LOAMIKG THE BEDS. 

At the end of eight or nine days the mulching should be removed and 
the beds covered with a layer of good loam 2 inches thick, so that the 
mushrooms can come up in and through it. This gives them a firm 
hold and to a large extent improves their quality and texture. Any 
fair loam will do. That from an ordinary field, wayside, or garden is 
generally used, and it answers admirably. There exists an idea that 
garden soil surfeited with old manure is unfit for mushroom beds 
because it is apt to produce spurious fungi. This, however, is not the 
case. In fact, it is the earth most commonly used. For molding the 
beds the loam should be rather fine, free, and mellow, so that it can be 
easily and evenly spread and compacted firmly into the manure. 

TEMPERATURE. 

An atmospheric temperature of 55° F. brings fine, solid, short- 
stemmed mushrooms, and in this temperature the beds bear longer. A 
temperature of 60° F. is good. It brings the crop in a little earlier than 
50° F., but exhausts it sooner. A temperature of 65° F. is too warm. 
Although mushrooms appear to thrive in it, they are rather thin, 
drawn, and short lived. Fifty degrees will do, but the crop in this 
temperature is slow in bearing. If the temperature in the cellar or 
mushroom house is apt to run higher than 60° F., some means must be 
devised for keeping it reduced. Should it fall below 50° F., it must be 
raised artificially either by covering the beds or by heating the place 
they are in by hot Water, steam, or a stove. Between the time of spawn- 
ing and the first appearance of the mushrooms a temperature of 65° or 
70° F. may be maintained with beneficial effects in causing the spawn 
to spread, but after the crop appears the heat should never be allowed 
to go higher than 55° to 60° F. 

If an even atmospheric temperature of from 55° to 60° F. can be main- 
tained, and the house or cellar containing the mushroom beds is kept 



12 



close and free from drafts, the beds may be left uncovered and should 
be watered if they become dry. But no matter where the beds are 
situated it is well to lay some loose hay or straw or some old mattiug or 
carpet over them to keep them moist. The covering, however, as before 
stated, should be removed just as soon as the young mushrooms begin 
to appear above ground. If the atmosphere is dry, the pathways and 
walls should be sprinkled with water. The mulching should also be 
sprinkled, but not enough to cause the water to soak into the bed. 
However, if the bed should get dry, do not hesitate to water it. 

GATHERING- THE MUSHROOMS. 

Go over the beds every day and if there are many beds twice a day, 
and pick every mushroom that is large enough for market. Lay them 
in a single layer in trays, flats, or baskets, then take them outside to 
a cool shed or room. In picking do not cut the mushroom oft' at the 
root, but catch it by the top and give it a gentle twist or bend and it 
will come away from the ground quite easily. Iu this way no butts are 
left in the ground to rot and transmit disease to other mushrooms. 

It sometimes happens that the mushrooms come up in solid cakes of 
about five, ten, or perhaps as many as fifty. To twist a few out of the 
clump would unfasten it and completely stop the further growth of 
those remaining. In such cases the mushrooms must be cut at the 
base, and a few days later, or just as soon as the clumps are gathered, 
the butt cuds should be rooted out and the hole filled with a little fresh 
loam. In gathering never pile the mushrooms one on top of the other, 
because the dirt from the butt ends is apt to fall on the tops and give 
them a soiled appearance, and if the caps are burst open and the dirt 
falls in among the gills it spoils the mushrooms and lowers the standard 
of the brand. 

Do not delay gathering mature mushrooms until others have reached 
this stage, but whenever one is large enough pick it. If allowed to 
remain longer or until a few more are ready to pick, it will burst open, 
and that means deterioration in quality and appearance. If picked 
young and kept cool, dry, dark, and close, mushrooms will remain 
pretty, plump, and white for two days. 

SORTING. 

In gathering mushrooms everyone that is big or old enough, whether 
good, bad, or indifferent, should be taken, for to leave them longer 
would be to spoil the bed. In sorting these for market, however, take 
only those which are good and throw away the remainder. Never send 
a poor, old, small, drawn, or wormy mushroom to market. Where a 
grower makes a practice of putting in his baskets only first-class 
mushrooms, and putting them up firmly, neatly, tastefully, and cleanly, 
he will have no difficulty in disposing of them. His commission agent, 
knowing the character of his baskets and having perfect confidence in 



13 



his honesty, will ship them to the first order. It will not be necessary in 
such cases for him to open the baskets to know what is in them. This 
saves him trouble, time, and expense, and he can guarantee satisfaction 
to his customers. On the contrary, where a grower puts all kinds of 
mushrooms in his basket — big and little, good, solid, white-headed 
ones, and flat, open, black-gilled ones, those with long, thin stems, and 
those with ugly, gouty ones — the commission agent has to sort them 
over and will keep and pay only for what is good. Moreover, as mush- 
rooms will not bear much handling without considerable breakage and 
discoloration, and hence deterioration, it is far better and more profit- 
able for the grower to sort them at home. 

PACKING. 

Having sorted the mushrooms, that is, thrown out everything that is 
worthless, they should be again looked over before packing. If the 
stems are long, shorten them half their length; if medium, cut off the 
butt ends; and if very stocky and short-stemmed, rub the butts over 
so as to clean them perfectly from dirt or discoloration. Brush off any 
earth, straw, dirt of any kind, or flies that may have stuck to the caps. 
Now line the boxes or baskets with clean, white, cheap paper, and lay 
the mushrooms in gently and compactly. One, 3, or 5 pound baskets, 
if long or wide rather than deep, may be filled up solidly and covered 
with white paper, and then all covered over with manila paper. These 
baskets can be shipped singly or in crates to the commission agents, 
and by them, without disturbing the contents, to their customers. The 
sizes of baskets mentioned are the most convenient for sending to 
private customers. 

When a grower carries his mushrooms to market, he may, for conven- 
ience, put them into large baskets, but they will probably have to be 
handled again by the commission man. For packing purposes boxes 
are not as good as baskets, for mushrooms soon spoil in tight cases, 
owing to lack of air. Never pack them when they are damp and never 
keep them in warm quarters. 

The following statement, dated January 18, 1897, is from one of the 
largest commission houses in the country, and will give some idea as to 
how this crop should be handled, prices, etc. : 

The demand for mushrooms is increasing every year. The supply is also increasing, 
so much so, in fact, that since the holidays mushrooms of poor quality have been a 
drug on the market and almost unsalable. As to the average price, there is really 
none. Prices vary according to the supply and demand, and according to the quality 
of the mushrooms. The finest quality of mushrooms (fig. 12) that comes to this 
market [New York City] sell here at 50 cents per pound. Now we have others 
that sell for 40 cents, 30 cents, and even as low as 10 cents per pound. For those 
that sell so very low, a market is being found among a poorer class of people. Still 
the supply is so great that we think if all the mushrooms sent to the market were 
first quality they would probably not bring over 25 cents per pound. 

The advice we give growers is to ship nothing but the best mushrooms, as poor 
ones are generally a drug on the market, even when the best are in good demand. 



14 



We also advise them never to ship anything that is old. Mushrooms shrink more 
than anything else that we handle. In warm weather we have known of 7-pound 
baskets to shrink one-half to three-fourths of a pound each from the time they were 




3TIG. 10 Basket of mushrooms from leading commission house. 




Fig. 11. — Basket shown in fig. 10 when opened. 



shipped on Saturday morning till we were able to put them on the market Monday 
morning. Fig. 10 is a very good illustration of the way mushrooms should be 
packed. However, we should prefer having tbo inside of the basket lined with 



15 



newspaper and the top covered with manila paper. Mushrooms stand a great deal of 
cold. We have never yet had any so badly frozen that they were unsalable. Very 
often they will be found to be moist, as though wet. This moisture does not appear 
to be water, but is a sort of oil, which does not freeze. 

The basket shown in fig. 10 is one received from the firm above quoted. 
Fig. 11 shows it when opened, and fig. 12 shows some of the mushrooms 
that were in it. The basket was lined with paper, the mushrooms were 
select specimens and were packed firmly, and the outer covering was 
moderately heavy manila paper. The string tied around the basket 
and up over the handle prevents other express packages from being 
laid on top of the mushrooms. The express charges were 40 cents from 
New York to Pittsburg and 15 cents for delivering, in all 55 cents. 




Fig. 12.— Mushrooms from hasket shown in flg. 10. 



One of the largest and most successful growers in the country 
sent the writer a basket of mushrooms and detailed his methods of 
packing. 

Fig. 13 shows the basket as received and fig. 14 as it appeared 
when opened. It was a most tasteful example of packing mushrooms 
for market or distant shipment. The basket was of common, cheap 
chip. It was lined with blue tissue paper, and the mushrooms, every 
one of which was fresh, plump, and solid, and gathered just before the 
veil broke, were packed most carefully and as solidly as apples in a 
barrel, but were not crushed. Around the sides and over the top of 



16 



the basket a sheet of waxed paper was laid, the outer wrapper being 
manila paper. The express charges on it were 70 cents — 15 cents from 
Long Island to New York, 40 cents from New York to Pittsburg, and 15 
cents for delivering. In a letter dated February 9, 1897, the gentleman 
who shipped the basket writes as follows : 




ITlG. 13. — Basket from a large mushroom grower. 




Fig. 14.— Basket shown in fig. 13 when opened. 



"The prices for mushrooms range from 25 to 35 cents a pound, though 
I get 40 cents or more from my commission man, who writes mo to-day 
that mine bring extra prices always." 



17 



MARKETING. 

The grower who can furnish a constant supply of No. 1 fresh mush- 
rooms, put up in first-class style, can market them in several ways, to 
wit, consign them to a commission merchant, or sell them to hotels, 
restaurants, retail fruiteries, or private parties. Most growers consign 
direct to the commission agents. Where the agents can depend on a 
grower for a supply of first-class mushrooms on certain days this grower 
can always sell for the highest market price. But if the mushrooms are 
mixed and not particularly good, and the supply is uncertain, the agent 
has more difficulty in disposing of them, and they bring a low price. 

Hotel trade has to be drummed up. The call generally is for so many 
pounds a week at a certain price. Any failure in supply or quality can- 
cels the contract. Eetail trade — that is, selling direct to the high-class 
fruit stores — is subject to the same conditions as hotel trade. Private 
trade is very uncertain and has to be drummed up. 

A few years ago the supply of mushrooms was so limited that high 
prices ruled. Nowadays, however, the supply has increased to such 
an extent that prices have fallen accordingly. At present it is easy 
enough to grow mushrooms; the difficulty is to create a greater demand 
for them. Think of the immense quantity of canned mushrooms that 
are imported into this country and how tough and tasteless they are 
when compared to fresh, home-grown ones. Cleaner handling, gather- 
ing the mushrooms younger than has been the custom, and selecting, 
sorting, and packing them more carefully than is generally done will 
help matters a little. Much can also be done for mushroom growing 
by spreading a knowledge of the industry and a liking for the mush- 
rooms among the middle classes. 

RENOVATING OLD OR FAILING BEDS. 

This can be done to a certain extent, but for commercial purposes it 
hardly pays. As soon as a bed has ceased to yield a fair crop, it is 
better to throw it out altogether and start in with a new one. To stimu- 
late an old bed, rub off any dirt or old roots that may be on the surface, 
top-dress it with a fresh layer of loam an inch deep, and give the whole 
a good soaking of tepid manure water (this water is usually prepared 
by dumping a bushel of fresh horse droppings into a barrel of water 
and letting it soak there overnight). 

MUSHROOM DISEASES. 

The diseases of mushrooms are generally known as fogging off, flock, 
and black spot. Fogging off is a softening, wilting, and dying of the 
pin-head and other small mushrooms. This trouble shows itself in 
patches or clumps. The cause of the fogging off is the death or injury 
of the mycelium to which the mushrooms are attached, but what kills 
the spawn is still a mystery. When once affected with this trouble, 
there is no hope for the mushroom. The little soft ones should be rubbed 
H785— No. 53 2 



18 



off and the spot top-dressed with clean, fresh loam, with a pinch of 
saltpeter in it. 

Flock is a white mold that runs over the gills of the mushroom, 
welding them together into hard or flocky masses. It is not common, 
does not spread, and seldom appears on new beds. Although not 
poisonous, flocky mushrooms should not be eaten. There is no known 
cure for this disease. 

Black spot appears as dark-colored spots or freckles on top of the 
cap of the mushrooms and is caused by a host of minute eel worms. 
This trouble seldom appears in beds while they are fresh. Rigid atten- 
tion to all cultural details and cleanliness about the beds are, in a 
measure, preventives of these diseases. 

INSECT AND OTHER ANIMAL ENEMIES. 

Several insects attack or infest mushrooms, but maggots are the 
worst of all. These are the larvse of Phora agarici Lintner, also of Phora 
minuta. They appear in April and continue all through the summer, 
perforating and tunneling the caps and the stems of the mushrooms. 
It is because of these pests that mushroom growing is discontinued in 
summer, except in caves. There is no practical way of preventing 
these and at the same time permitting the crop to be grown at a profit. 

Manure flies (Sciara coprophila Lintner), which may swarm in thou- 
sands in the cellar from February on, are not, so far as known to the 
writer, injurious to mushrooms. Different mites (at least two species, 
if not genera) have also been found by the writer infesting wounds or 
cracks in mushrooms, especially in the stems, but they are the effect, 
not the cause, of the wounds. Neither the manure flies nor the mites 
are worth considering as mushroom pests, and are only mentioned 
because they often appear in great numbers and their presence might 
cause alarm. 

Several slugs prey on mushrooms, eating holes in their caps or gills. 
One species eats a hole clear through the cap. The way to deal with 
these slugs is to take a lantern at night, search them out, and kill them, 
or lay pieces of dry, decayed boards here and there about the beds as 
traps. Two pieces hollowed a little and placed one above the other 
make a good trap. A teaspoonful of bran, with a little paris green 
mixed in it and laid on a thin piece of dry, decaying wood, is a good 
but a dangerous insecticide. 

Wood lice, or sow bugs, are also injurious. They abound wherever 
they can find a nice, dry spot for shelter, and especially where there 
is hay or straw. Rigid cleanliness about the bed is recommended. 
The writer uses little covered pasteboard boxes, open at one end. Into 
these is placed a piece of half-boiled potato and about it some perfectly 
dry dead moss. The sow bugs go into the box to eat the potato and 
enjoy the hiding place afforded by the moss. The boxes should be 
picked up every morning and the bugs shaken into a can partly filled 
with kerosene. 



19 



GROWING- MUSHROOMS IN SUMMER. 

In cellars, ordinary mushroom houses, greenhouses, or. pits, the mush- 
room season, as already pointed out, is the winter and early spring, 
that is, from October to. May. They can not be grown in these places 
in summer on account of the maggots. "Where it is desired to grow 
good, clean mushrooms during the summer months, the beds must be 
placed deep underground, where the little flies can not find an entrance. 
Caves or mines can sometimes be utilized for this purpose. In such 
places the crop in summer would doubtless prove profitable, provided 
there is a good market near by and the shipping facilities are not faulty. 



[Note. — The subject of mushrooms will be further treated in a bulletin to be issued 
in a few months, ■which will be devoted to descriptions of edible and poisonous 
species, with special reference to their identification.] 



20 



FARMERS' BULLETINS. 

These bulletins are sent free of charge to any address upon application to the 
Secretary of Agriculture, Washington, D. C. Only the following are available for 
distribution : 

No. 15. Some Destructive Potato Diseases : What They Are and How to Prevent Them. Pp.8. 
No. 16. Leguminous Plants for Green Manuring and for Feeding. Pp. 24. 
No. 18. Forage Plants for the South. Pp. 30. 

No. 19. Important Insecticides : Directions for Their Preparation and Use. Pp. 20. 

No. 21. Barnyard Manure. Pp. 32. 

No. 22. Feeding Farm Animals. Pp.32. 

No. 23. Foods: Nutritive Value and Cost. 32. 

No. 24. Hog Cholera and Swine Plague. Pp. 16. 

No. 25. Peanuts: Culture and Uses. Pp.24. 

No. 26. Sweet Potatoes :' Culture and Uses. Pp. 30. 

No. 27. Flax for Seed and Fiber. Pp. 16. 

No. 28. "Weeds; and How to Kill Them. Pp.30. 

No. 29. Souring of Milk, and Other Changes in Milk Products. Pp. 23. 

No. 30. Grape Diseases on the Pacific Coast. Pp. 16. 

No. 31. Alfalfa, or Lucern. Pp. 23. 

No. 32. Silos and Silage. Pp. 31. 

No. 33. Peach Growing for Market. Pp.24. 

No. 34. Meats: Composition and Cooking. Pp.29. 

No. 35. Potato Culture. Pp. 23. 

No. 36. Cotton Seed and Its Products. Pp. 16. 

No. 37. Kafir Corn: Characteristics, Culture, and Uses. Pp.12. 

No. 38. Spraying for Fruit Diseases. Pp. 12. 

No. 39. Onion Culture. Pp. 31. 

No. 40. Farm Drainage. Pp. 24. 

No. 41. Fowls : Care and Feeding. Pp. 24. 

No. 42. Facts About Milk. Pp. 29. 

No. 43. Sewage Disposal on the Farm. Pp. 22. 

No. 44. Commercial Fertilizers. Pp. 24. 

No. 45. Some Insects Injurious to Stored Grain. Pp. 32. 

No. 46. Irrigation in Humid Climates. Pp. 27. 

No. 47. Insects Affecting the Cotton Plant. Pp. 32. 

No. 48. The Man uring of Cotton. Pp. 16. 

No. 49. Sheep Feeding. Pp. 24. 

No. 50. Sorghum as a Forage Crop. Pp. 24. 

No. 51. Standard Varieties of Chickens. Pp.48. 

No. 52. The Sugar Beet. Pp. 48. 

No. 53. How to Grow Mushrooms. Pp. 20. 

No. 54. Some Common Birds in Their Relation to Agriculture. Pp. 40. 

No. 55. The Dairy Herd : Its Formation and Management. Pp. 24. 

No. 56. Experiment Station Work— I. Pp. 30. 

No. 57. Butter Making on the Farm. Pp. 15. 

No. 58. The Soy Bean as a Forage Crop. Pp. 24. 

No. 59. Bee Keeping. Pp. 32. 

No. 60. Methods of Curing Tobacco. Pp. 16. 

No. 61. Asparagus Culture. Pp. 40. 

No. 62. Marketing Farm Produce. Pp. 28. 

No. 63. Care of Milk on the Farm. Pp. 40. 

No. 64. Ducks and Geese. Pp. 48. 

No. 65. Experiment Station Work— II. Pp. 32. 

No. 66. Meadows and Pastures. Pp.24. 

No. 67. Forestry for Farmers. Pp. 48. 

No. 68. The Black Rot of the Cabbage. Pp. 22. 

No. 69. Experiment Station Work— III. Pp. 32. 

No. 70. The Principal Insect Enemies of the Grape. Pp. 24. 

No. 71. Some Essentials of Beef Production. Pp. 24. 

No. 72. Cattle Ranges of the Southwest. Pp.32. 

No. 73. Experiment Station Work— IV. Pp. 32. 

No. 74. Milk as Food. Pp. 39. 

No. 75. The Grain Smuts. Pp. 20. 

No. 76. Tomato Growing. Pp. 30. 

No. 77. The Liming of Soils. Pp. 19. 

No. 78. Experiment Station Work— V. Pp. 32. 

No. 79. Experiment-Station Work— VI. Pp.28. 

No. 80. The Peach Twig-borer— an Important Enemy of Stone Fruits. Pp. 16. 

No. 81. Corn Culture in the South. Pp. 24. 

No. 82. The Culture of Tobacco. Pp. 23. 

No. 83. Tobacco Soils. Pp.23. 

No. 84. Experiment Station Work— VIT. Pp. 32. 

No. 85. Fish as Food. Pp. 30. 

No. 86. Thirty Poisonous Plants. Pp. 32. 

No. 87. Experiment Station Work— VIII. (In press.) 

No. 88. Alkali Lands. (In press.) 

No. 89. Cowpeae. (In press.) 



o 


You may also like...