Why did the fungi leave the party? Because there wasn’t “mushroom!” Get it?
Growing mushrooms is no easy task. It takes skills, patience, labor, and accuracy. Touring the mushroom “farm” at Mountain Meadow Mushrooms, by co-owner, Gary Crouch, gave a new perspective on how mushrooms are grown. Mushrooms do not grow on the farm as you would see driving on the freeway with acres of grapes vines, fruits, and other vegetables you could see for miles planted into Mother Earth’s soil. The actual growing of mushrooms are done inside the buildings on “soil” looking beds. Think of bunk beds, times three high! But, before we get to that, we first have to talk about what goes into the making of the stationary bed for mushrooms to rise from.
Compost. What is compost? Full of nutrients to make growing delicious foods. Mushroom is not considered a vegetable or fruit because it’s considered a different type of kingdom, fungus. To make this compost, MM uses local San Diego byproducts. Straw is wet in a holding pit where all the water is saved from rainfall and recycled water. Once wet, they are piled on a mound to self-heat with thermometers taking note. The heat burns the wax off of the straw, helping access the ligament inside of the straw in order for mushrooms to grow in the compost.
A tractor machine mixes the material inside out and outside in along with the alfalfa seed, cotton seed meal, and almond shells byproducts into long piles, called ricks. Gypsum is also added. The compost changes over time in a natural way. To ensure a good compost, they rely on watering the ricks, and cool air is pumped in tubes from underneath if it’s a warm day. Once the ricks are ready to go, they are pasteurized in a building to kill off insects and anything that got into the piles. Then, it is transferred to another building where the magic happens.
The room is heated and then cooled causing the mycelium plant to activate underneath the compost. This plant is white and looks like powder. When activated, pins start to form and rise up creating a mushroom. The mushroom is the fruit of the plant.
Mushroom beds will flourish and at its peak, it gets harvested. A crew of 100 is needed to run the farm. Forty of those workers harvest inside the rooms from early in the morning until they’re done picking. Small amount of crops can have them out by early afternoon. It just depends on how fast they work and what is available to harvest.
The compost can be used three times until the nitrogen in it is depleted causing no real mushroom growth. But, no worries! That compost they use gets cleaned and it’s a free-for-all to take from the dump pile! So you too can use it and grow your own garden, thanks to the mushroom “farm.”
For part two of “Mushroom Gary,” where we dig deeper into Mountain Meadow Mushrooms, click here.
Pile the mushrooms on top of your salad and in one of many soups we have to offer, such as the Asian Ginger Broth!
About Mountain Meadow Mushrooms
Our company was established in 1952 and had been responsible for providing outstanding service and mushrooms ever since. Our regular customers particularly value price, quality and service. Our business is located at 26948 North Broadway, Escondido, CA.