Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Mushroom Bonsai, and how to grow them.

Mushroom bonsai. I tried to make a joke about it at my job studying agaricus mushrooms, and my Chinese boss just shrugged and said "It would work better with ganoderma." Mushroom bonsai is a thing, and I have so much to learn about mushrooms. I've always been interested in bonsai, never done it, but I like gardening and enjoy reading about bonsai techniques. This strikes me as a cool project that would be a future dream of mine. It would be growing mushrooms at home, which I have yet to do, and practicing bonsai. Here is a collection list of some websites and their summaries for making mushroom bonsai.

Cultivation Of Ganoderma Bonsai - Alice G. Chen and Philip Miles; PDF

This first one is a scientific paper written on the matter. It's hard and dry for the general reader, but it's where I prefer to start when I'm looking for any information relating to mushrooms. For anyone outside of the mushroom industry without training and tools necessary to
do the techniques listed here, then quite a bit will be useless. For example, growing tissue cultures obtained from the hyphae on Potato dextrose agar is not something I expect someone to know how to do. I didn't know how to do it or what all that meant until I started doing it as a job. But the average mushroom nut can buy Reishi kits online. Really, just google Reishi or Ganoderma kits and you can probably find a better kit for a better price than I did.
This paper shows pictures of the initial antler stages of reishi, and the think to focus on here is the technique given for the spawning, cold-shock, and casing stages. The paper is technical, but the substrate mix is very good (80% oak sawdust, 18% coarse unprocessed wheat bran, 1% sucrose supplement, 1% calcium, 67% moisture content), and it comments on how it can and should be mixed in the discussion section. The discussion section is by far the most interesting part, as it talks about how antler reishi is formed by CO2, and other studies on the affect of CO2 on reishi mushrooms. The bonsai can be kept refrigerated and alive for long periods of time as long as it's kept hydrated as well.
Simply put, the key to creating bonsai is to control the CO2 in the growing body. With experience, a grower can create interesting shapes from a combination of antlers and pileate (flat, plate like structures). This cobination comes from proper control of the growing environment. Alice Chen also has another paper online, Growing Ganoderma Mushrooms, which is written for the general reader, and has a ton of pictures. She mentions you need to autoclave materials, but if your supplement logs are the right sizes you can do it in a big pressure cooker.

Growing Reishi Mushrooms - North Coast Mushrooms Farming Cooperative; Website

Less of a how, more of a why. In case you're not sure what reishi is or why you should care, it's become the god-king of medicinal mushrooms. It's not eaten, but ground into a powder and made into tea. It's medicinal affects range from lung cancer prevention, raising or lowering blood pressure (which makes it a natural Viagra), stimulating liver action, and almost any other aliment you can think of. This site has plenty of videos and links to other sites for more information.

How to Grow Reishi Mushrooms - Garden Guides.com; Website

Finally, a simple step-by-step guide to growing mushrooms. Using wood from a hardwood tree, the log is inoculated after three weeks. Dig a trench in your garden that is half the height of your log and 4 feet long. You drill about 50 - 60 5/16" holes about 2" deep and spaced 4" apart. Wedge the log into the trench and hammer your spawn plugs into the holes. Melt beeswax and brush it over the plugs to help seal in the mositure. Water every day and cover with plastic to keep the humidity high. In 6 months to a year you will develop mushrooms.
This is good basic step by step guide, but it assumes that you have the correct climate for growing reishi and have access to hardwood logs. If you go to the bottom of the page, they have more articles on growing other types of mushrooms. Honestly, this stuff needs to get out more because I'm sick of every person asking me how to grow psilocybin. There is so many other mushrooms, America! And they are beyond healthy! It's more than just proper nutrition, but they have wonderful medicinal effects as well. Well, enjoy your day.


  1. That is very cool! My wife loves mushroom and this idea would definitely pique her curiosity.

    1. It seems like a great way to have such an awesome medicine at your hands. Apparently, there's quite a few people in China who keep these to them self, and the mushrooms can grow very tall.