Blewitt Mushrooms for the Adventurous Gardener

May 18, 2010

The rain and cooler temperatures made Blewitt Mushrooms the only crop to plant in the garden this week. If you’ve watched my shiitake log inoculation video or read any of the entries on cultivating edible fungi you know that I’m into growing gourmet mushrooms, and today it’s time to add another one to the list.

I first discovered Blewitt mushrooms a couple years ago during a fungi identification and foraging class at the local community college. As part of our homework assignments each week we collected any mushrooms that we encountered and brought them into the classroom for identification.

Interesting New Discoveries from the World of Fungi

My classmates made some impressive finds including the largest cluster of lion’s mane (Hericium) fungi that I have ever seen and some equally amazing colonies of hen of the woods (Maitake) fungi. All that I had to show was a curiously colored but strikingly beautiful mushroom that grows in my backyard every fall.

I had no idea what this unusual fungi was, but as soon as I pulled one out of the bag I was greeted with smiles and exclamations from some of my classmates… turns out that I had been sitting on a lode of gourmet Blewitt mushrooms and didn’t even know it! Blewitts are considered a great find for the mushroom forager and are prized for their delicious eating qualities.

I have to confess that while I think Blewitts are a very attractive mushroom species, I just haven’t actually eaten one of them yet. Maybe it’s the wild appearance and streaky colors, maybe they are just too close to home, or maybe it has something to do with the associations between Blewitts and fly larvae that I read and can’t get beyond!

Growing Gourmet Blewitt Mushrooms in the Backyard

But when I spotted Blewitt spawn for sale in the Field & Forest Products catalog and discovered that they can be grown on a litter of fallen leaves and twigs I knew that I would try to grow them in the backyard. After all if they grow up wild in the landscape it should be a breeze to go and cultivate them.

The spawn arrived on a base of grain that made it easy to sprinkle onto and mix in with the leaves that were collected and stored last fall. Ironically the grains made the inoculation process seem more like seeding a garden in the traditional sense and helped to make the connection of fungi as a living, growing element that in many ways is similar to plant life.

The process was as simple as gathering the raw materials; purchased spawn, leaves, pine needles (optional) and small twigs. To speed things along I purchased two bags of pine mulch to include in the mix. I soaked the pine mulch and as many of the leaves as I could manage in water overnight.

The next day I built the compost pile… make that the “Blewitt mushroom pile” by alternating a thick layer of leaf litter, thin layers of pine mulch, and  sprinkling on the grain that carried the Blewitt spawn. I situated the pile in a shady spot under some pine trees that seemed like a perfect location. The four pounds of grain spawn is recommended to inoculate a leaf pile that is 4’ x 4’ x 4’ in dimension.

Blewitt Mushrooms Care, Rewards, and Cautions

Afterwards I simply watered my new Blewitt garden and that’s all there was to it! Now I’ll sit, wait, and occasionally water the pile as the fungi go to work at decomposing the leaf litter and produce a byproduct of gourmet Blewitt mushrooms. If this is successful I will harvest Blewitts in the fall and then build the pile back up every spring to keep the cycle going.

As with any unfamiliar or wild edible plant exercise caution with mushrooms and do your homework first. Blewitts must be cooked before eating and even then some people may suffer an allergic reaction. The spawn that I purchased included planting instructions and directions on making a spore print for identification purposes.

I don’t anticipate Blewitts replacing the Shiitake or Oyster mushrooms atop my list of favorites for backyard garden cultivation, but they do offer a special appeal as another option for recycling leaf and yard debris. And you never know, one of these days I may even get around to actually tasting the highly acclaimed Blewitt mushroom!

Other Related Vegetable Gardening Posts:

  • Can you expand on why the wild mushrooms are unsafe, but the mail order ones aren’t going to have fly larvae? I’m confused.

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Lisa, I’m not saying that wild Blewitt mushrooms are unsafe and didn’t mean to infer that. It was just something that I read in a discussion about Blewitts and fly larvae that left an impression and I will have to see if I can dig up again. It wouldn’t make any difference between wild and mail order Blewitts, but I’m really not convinced that it is an issue at all.

    I would use wild Blewitts just as readily as the ones that I’m cultivating, though if it is a concern it is easier to use some type of screening or fabric to protect a patch of cultivated mushrooms from insects, animals, or anything else that wanted to get at them. I’ve seen shiitake’s that looked like something had been taking bites out of them and also have observed tiny insects walking underneath in the gills of mushrooms that could easily go unnoticed. I always examine mushrooms closely, shake out any bugs, and if needed give them a quick dunk in a bath of salted water.

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  • Bill

    This was interesting to me. I’ve just plugged some logs with oyster mushrooms and planted some King Straphoria spawn. I have my fingers crossed that something will eventually happen.

    I was reluctant to plant mushrooms in the yard because the yard is full of unidentified little brown mushrooms, already. I was afraid they might compete or get mixed together. But I planted the KS mushrooms in beds with cardboard bottoms, with hardwood chips for them to feed on. My beds are made of 6″ x 6′ fence pickets and three are 6′ x 2′ x 6″; a fourth is 6′ x 3′ x 6″. The 5pound bag of spawn on wood chips is supposed to cover 100 square feet. This is a little less than half a bag.

    I’ll eventually have a bed everywhere that the grass doesn’t grow under my pecan tree and four oaks, because of the shade.

  • Biacco

    Kenny Point, the fall is gone.
    The attempt of growing blewitts (Lepista Nuda) in the Backyard had been a success…or not?
    Bring up to date us, please.
    I’m very interested

  • doctoroop

    I “planted” 5 pounds of blewitt spawn in fresh mixed wood chip mulch in July in Greenville, SC. No sign of mushrooms yet, but when I grab a handful of the mulch, it smells like mushrooms. I’m sure they will come when they are ready. Last time I checked was today… I plugged 11 Oak logs, 6 to 8 inches in diameter with Oyster mushrooms. One of those logs has the first signs of a very few, very small oysters.

    Growing mushrooms requires some faith.

  • Biacco

    Yep, but if i were you, i ‘d add an heap of fallen leaves to your mixed wood chip mulch. Or Pine needles, barks and similar things.
    In nature, blewitts love to grow in
    a litter of fallen leaves and pine needles.
    Good luck on your Mushroom cultivation attempts!

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Biacco, I did not harvest any blewitts from my leaf pile this fall. May have been partly due to neglect on my part as we had a dry and hot summer and I did not water or check the moisture levels of the mulch at all. I will check it in the spring and may add more organic matter and re-inoculate if necessary.

  • Kenny Point

    Good luck with your blewitts Doctoroop, my logs did yield mushrooms this fall but so far I haven’t gotten a single blewitt. Agreed… faith and patience are both necessary!

  • Biacco

    Hi Kenny.
    I absolutely agree. The only thing you can do now is wait the spring to see what it will happen.
    In my experience Lepista nuda loves to grow in the last part of fall, but i sometimes find it ,in the wood , in spring too.
    One month ago, i’ve prepared a tray in my home for an indoor cultivation attempt . A tray with blewitt spawn mixed with pieces of fallen leaves, pine needles, cardboard and coffee ground. So far it looks like the mushroom is spreading very well, with very small signs of contamination (green mold).
    I’m waiting with faith and patience.
    I wish you an happy new year!

  • doctoroop

    Biacco, I don’t know whether green mold is a show-stopper for home cultivation, but I went out to visit Tradd Cotter a couple of times at Mushroom Mountain. He has a commercial mushroom concern (and is working on his doctorate in microbiology). At the first sign of green mold in his cultures (he grows oysters in ten foot long plastic ducting, hanging from the ceiling on chains, with the ducting stuffed with inoculated and nourished straw, then stabbed in a double spiral pattern–I have photos), he gets rid of the whole unit. I’m not sure whether that’s an abundance of caution, or whether it’s a fatal problem… Let us know if you get mushrooms in the presence of green mold and how you work around it. BTW, chlorox doesn’t kill mold–dryness does.

  • Biacco

    Yeah. Tradd Cotter is a very expert cultivator.
    It’s enough to go on youtube to see a lot of very interesting videos realized by him.
    For example, have you seen “Blewitt Bomb” or “Blewitt Burritos”? Outstanding!
    Therefore, if Tradd Cotter gets rid of the whole unit, at the first sign
    of green mold, surely this is the best thing to do.
    As far as me, i’m only an amateur in cultivating mushrooms.
    However I know that green mold is a terrible problem for indoor experiments, while it seems that it doesn’t like the fresh air and the outdoor cultivations.
    Yesterday i’ve brought my tray on terrace to see what it will happen. I’ve been thinking about using bleach but If Chlorox doesn’t kill mold, i don’t know what could be the better way to solve this problem. Perhaps the better thing to do is praying…

  • Biacco

    Have my prayers been answered?
    I’ve taken off the green spots with a small tablespoon and then i’ve put
    a small amount of salt upon the “wound”.
    So far green mold seems to be under control, while the mycelium is still growing.
    I’ll bring you up to date on my experiment.

  • Biacco

    It’s me again.
    Yesterday i have realized my first “casing”.
    Perhaps, someone could wonder what is a “casing” in a coltivation mushrooms.
    A casing is simply a “shell” that provides moisture for the substrate.
    Some species will not fruit in captivity without a casing layer.
    There are many types of casing materials, and i’ve choosen this simple recipe:
    70% potting soil
    20% sand
    10% gypsum and hydrated lime

    This compound has been wet, mixed and heated (pasteurized) in oven at 70 C for 1 hour, to kill off mold spores and bacteria.
    Sterility is not very important , cause the mycelium in my tray has matured and is capable of fighting off most invading spores.
    After the pasteurization, once cooled, the substrate has been covered with a inch of this casing mixture. Then i’ve sprayed some water over the casing mixture, enough to moisten but not saturate.
    Now, I must only wait…
    (maybe two or three weeks)

  • biacco

    I was saying
    I only have to wait…
    but although the mycelium has covered almost fully the casing layer several days ago, there aren’t sign of mushrooms yet.
    Maybe could it be a problem of temperatures?
    I don’t know. Perhaps if i add a thin casing of dirty soil this could goad my blewitt mycelium. I’ll think about it and let you know

  • Biacco

    New (and last?) update
    of my personal log 🙂
    After five months, the result of my home attempt of cultivating blewitt
    (don’t laugh, please!)
    One specimen of Agaricus spp. Perhaps A.Campestris
    What’s happened to my Lepista Nuda mycelium? At least on surface, it’s vanished!
    Why?… I have no idea, unfortunately.
    Therefore, i’ve decided to empty the contents of the tray in a little wood, near my home, where i’ve never found any blewitts.
    We will see what will happen in the next autumn.
    The best of luck to everybody.

  • Biacco, don’t give up yet. I planted several beds with blewitts, back in July 2010. So far nothing has happened. Two weeks before that, I planted six beds with King Straphoria. On Easter morning, there were two kings in one bed and six in another. I immediately harvested those and tried them (very good). No more mushrooms till Mothers’ Day, but then there were six mushrooms in one bed and four more growing out the side of that bed. Nothing from the other bed. There was another small flush yesterday and again this morning. Every flush seems to have more mushrooms. So far all are coming from one bed of the six beds.

    I trenched the blewitt beds and planted asparagus in them. I’m hoping the trenching will cause the mycelium run to decide it can’t go any further. We probably just need more time.

  • Doug

    Hey there, I am very new to wanting to grow mushrooms, but my garden has an Alice in Wonderland theme and I would love to grow blewit mushrooms… however, I cannot seem to find where to buy them. Since you guys have been working with them, what are your sources? I would really appreciate it!

  • Biacco

    Nothing so far.
    I haven’t found any blewitts in the little wood where i did empty the contents of my tray. But, given that i’ve never seen a day of rain in this autumn|winter, and that i didn’t find any L.Nuda nowhere…perhaps i can only hope that the mycelium is still alive.
    my sources are the forests.

  • Michael Chancey

    Where you able to locate mycelium growing in the substrate? I think you would have a much better chance if the spawn you purchased was on sawdust instead of grain. Grain is attached very quickly infecting the spawn with many different contaminates. Keep us informed!

  • Ning Forsi

    It’s me again.
    Yesterday i have realized my first “casing”.
    Perhaps, someone could wonder what is a “casing” in a coltivation mushrooms.
    A casing is simply a “shell” that provides moisture for the substrate.
    Some species will not fruit in captivity without a casing layer.
    There are many types of casing materials, and i’ve choosen this simple recipe:
    70% potting soil
    20% sand
    10% gypsum and hydrated lime
    —–men automatic watch
    —–forsining watch

  • David Steiner

    I dug up 1 piece of Blewit mycelium that was about 2 square inches and transplanted it in my yard on top of my own special blend of organic mulch that took me 7yrs to develop and I have harvested Blewits and several other gourmet mushrooms. I even had Mycologists @ UWM, UNC and USW told me it would NEVER work but I ENJOY ALL of my mushrooms ALL YEAR ROUND!!! I have Clitocybe nuda, 3 different types of Morels, 4 different types of Chanterelles, King Boletes, Black Trumpets, and also Wine Caps(Stropharia rugosoannulata) growing together ALL YEAR!!! They say “NO WAY” and I say “SCREW YOU”!!! I DID IT!! Don’t EVER let anyone say you can’t do it. I DID!!!!!!

  • Grace Dowling

    Hello from Hesperia, Calif.(the high desert near Victorville)… we have received a lot of rain since Oct.2016 til now~March of 2017. No snow this year and a milder winter have contributed to me being able to harvest several kinds of ‘shrooms around the yard. Meadow mushrooms, Horse Mushrooms, spring Pavement mushrooms and quite a few Blewits(second harvest today!) We get puffballs too, occasionally and they are so good! Glad to see others who enjoy mushrooms on here 🙂 Some places to buy culture/spawn (though I didn’t purchase any of the kinds I have ~ they’re simply Volunteers). Northwest Mycological Consultants, in Oregon (541)753-8198. International Mycological Network ~ Another variety is making appearance in my yard that I am researching now…it seems to be making a partial ring around a dead pine about a foot and more out from the stumps’ base!

  • David Steiner

    It’s still alive, just dormant. It’s like transplanting wild asparagus, they are in shock so they go dormant. When that happens to me I do a “CONTROLLED BURN”. That wakes up and activates the “SURVIVOR MODE” and forces them to multiply and spread in order to guaranty survival.

  • David Steiner

    I have found them in cemeteries that have an abundance of pine and fur trees. I just asked for and received WRITTEN PERMISSION to dig up what I needed as long as I fill in the holes. Cemeteries are an extremely lucrative provider of an abundance of many different varieties of mushrooms. ALWAYS GET WRITTEN PERMISSION before you harvest or dig up what you want.

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