Gold Country Mushroom Inc.
How we grow mushrooms
Ricks of compost
Mushroom growing starts with making a compost of straw, chicken manure, lineseed meal, sugar beet pulp and thousands of gallons of water. The compost is turned every three to four days for about 20 days while it breaks down the straw to make a growing medium for the mushrooms. During composting most of the ammonia from the chicken manure is consumed by the micro organisms in the compost. The mushrooms grow feeding on these dead micro organisms and the broken down plant material from the straw. Next the compost is loaded into the pasteurization tunnel where it is brought to 136 degrees to kill molds that might compete with the mushrooms for nutrition. Then the compost is held at 120 degrees for a week to convert excess ammonia from free ammonia to complex ammonia that does not interfere with the spawn growth.
Tray handling machine
Spawn, which is the mushroom “seed” is then added to the compost which is then filled into trays. The compost in the tray is pressed to increase the density of the growing media. Now the trays go into spawn room where it sits for two weeks while the mycelium (growth of the spawn) colonizes the compost. Next the trays are “cased” or covered with a layer of wet peat moss and limestone dust. The trays then enter the grow room where the mycelium grows up into the peat moss layer. The actual mushrooms will grow on the surface of the peat moss layer. After about 10 days the grow room temperature is lowered over a three day period to signal the mushrooms to grow. In a few more days the mushrooms are ready to pick.
Mushrooms ready to pick
Mature mushrooms are picked off the beds over a three day period. The empty bed is watered and in a week a second crop of mushrooms grow. There is also a third crop from each grow room before the compost is dumped and sold to gardeners who value the very high nitrogen content of the compost. The whole cycle from starting composting to dumping the spent compost is about 2 and a half months. We start a new cycle every week and have 13 batches at different stages at any one time. A good batch can produce up to 2,000 lb of mushrooms.