Shaggy Mane Cultivation
Shaggy manes (Coprinus comatus, from the Greek copros, manure) are excellent edible mushrooms, often growing close to manure. At maturity, its white cap can reach up to 5 cm in diameter. As it matures, it darkens and liquifies rapidly. Their white stipe reaches about ten cm high and 2cm in diameter. The gills under the cap are white, then turn pinkish before blackening. They cannot be kept fresh for very long. They should be eaten the same day they are picked, or soon frozen or dried for storage. Specimens that have started to turn black are no longer edible. The bag of mycelium can be stored for a month in a cool place (10-15oC). The substrate should be largely colonized by the mycelium (turned white) before using. Shaggy manes usually fruit before the first frosts in late summer or early fall, when the temperature reaches 10oC a few hours a day. There are several ways to seed. In all cases, choose a shady, humid location, with rich soil, sheltered from the wind.
Here are a few possible methods to use the mycelium bag :
Under the lawn in rich soil
Raise the lawn, enrich the soil with cow or horse manure, distribute the mycelium, add straw and/or saw dust as added nutrient to replace the lawn. Ensure constant moisture by watering daily without soaking.
In a pile of straw and/or wood chips
Dig a trench or patch and cover with straw and/or hardwood chips. Distribute the contents of the culture bag. Cover with newspaper, water and keep moist. After a few weeks, the greyish mycelium will spread through the substrate, giving off a scent of orange. Remove the newspaper and cover with 2.5 to 5 cm of garden soil. Add 10% lime (CaCO3) to the volume of soil. Water regularly without soaking.
Mix the colonized substrate with compost. Distribute one cubic meter of material taken from the center of the compost deposit it in a sufficiently deep plot; add the contents of a fully colonized bag and mix. Cover with newspaper. After a few weeks, the mycelium will spread through the compost. Remove the newspaper and cover with 2.5 to 5 cm of garden soil. Water regularly without soaking.
If there is no space
Mix in equal parts garden soil and manure to fill a 20 L pot. Place 5 cm of this moist soil in the bottom of a 20 L pot with a drainage hole. Remove the fully colonized mycelium from the bag and place it in the center of the pot, add soil to fill the sides and cover with 2.5 to 5 cm of soil without compacting. Water a few times, cover with perforated plastic. Leave to rest at a temperature of 15 to 25o C, watering regularly without soaking. After two weeks, the white mycelium begins to appear: then remove the plastic and water copiously. If, four weeks later, flushes have not yet broken through the surface, add another layer of garden soil and start over.
After one watering and a short break, the shoots will follow one after another, producing several crops every three weeks for a few months. Once the mushrooms have pierced through, water occasionally. It takes between 8 to 10 weeks before the first flush.
Other mushrooms can sometimes grow in your mushroom patch: make sure that the ones you eat are indeed shaggy manes!