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Falconer, William / Mushrooms: how to grow them a practical treatise on mushroom culture for profit and pleasure
(This file was produced from images produced by Core
Historical Literature in Agriculture (CHLA), Cornell

How to Grow Them.

Mushroom Culture for Profit and Pleasure.




Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1891, by the
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.


Mushrooms and their extensive and profitable culture should concern
every one. For home consumption they are a healthful and grateful food,
and for market, when successfully grown, they become a most profitable
crop. We can have in America the best market in the world for fresh
mushrooms; the demand for them is increasing, and the supply has always
been inadequate. The price for them here is more than double that paid
in any other country, and we have no fear of foreign competition, for
all attempts, so far, to import fresh mushrooms from Europe have been

In the most prosperous and progressive of all countries, with a
population of nearly seventy millions of people alert to every
profitable, legitimate business, mushroom-growing, one of the simplest
and most remunerative of industries, is almost unknown. The market
grower already engaged in growing mushrooms appreciates his situation
and zealously guards his methods of cultivation from the public. This
only incites interest and inquisitiveness, and the people are becoming
alive to the fact that there is money in mushrooms and an earnest demand
has been created for information about growing them.

The raising of mushrooms is within the reach of nearly every one. Good
materials to work with and careful attention to all practical details
should give good returns. The industry is one in which women and
children can take part as well as men. It furnishes indoor employment in
winter, and there is very little hard labor attached to it, while it can
be made subsidiary to almost any other business, and even a recreation
as well as a source of profit.

In this book the endeavor has been, even at the risk of repetition, to
make the best methods as plain as possible. The facts herein presented
are the results of my own practical experience and observation, together
with those obtained by extensive reading, travel and correspondence.

To Mr. Charles A. Dana, the proprietor of the Dosoris mushroom cellars
and estate, I am greatly indebted for opportunities to prepare this
book. For the past eight years everything has been unstintedly placed at
my disposal by him to grow mushrooms in every way I wished, and to
experiment to my heart's content.

To Mr. William Robinson, editor of _The Garden_, London, I am especially
indebted for many courtesies--permission to quote from _The Garden_,
"Parks and Gardens of Paris," and his other works, and to illustrate the
chapters in this book on Mushroom-growing in the London market gardens
and the Paris caves, with the original beautiful plates from his own

The recipes given in the chapter on Cooking Mushrooms, except those
prepared for this work by Mrs. Ammersley, although based on the ones
given by Mr. Robinson, have been considerably modified by me and
repeatedly used in my own family.

My thanks are also due to Mr. John F. Barter, of London, the largest
grower of mushrooms in England, for information given me regarding his
system of cultivation; to Mr. John G. Gardner, of Jobstown, N. J., one
of the most noted growers for market in this country, for facilities
allowed me to examine his method of raising mushrooms; and to Messrs. A.
H. Withington, Samuel Henshaw, George Grant, John Cullen, and other
successful growers for assistance kindly rendered.


DOSORIS, L. I., 1891.



Market Gardeners-- Florists-- Private Gardeners-- Village
People and Suburban Residents-- Farmers.


Underground Cellars-- In Dwelling House-- Mr. Gardner's
Method-- Mr. Denton's Method-- Mr. Van Siclen's Method-- The
Dosoris Mushroom Cellar.


Building the House-- Mrs. Osborne's Mushroom House-- Interior
Arrangement of Mushroom Houses-- Mr. Samuel Henshaw's Mushroom


The Temperature of Interior of the Bed-- Shelf Beds-- The Use
of the Term Shed.


Cool Greenhouses-- On Greenhouse Benches-- In Frames in the
Greenhouses-- Orchard Houses-- Under Greenhouse Benches--
Among Other Plants on Greenhouse Benches-- Growing Mushrooms
in Rose Houses-- Drip from the Benches-- Ammonia Arising.


Mushrooms often appear Spontaneously-- Wild Mushrooms-- Mr.
Henshaw's Plan-- Brick Spawn in Pastures.


Horse Manure-- Fresher the Better-- Manure of Mules-- Cellar
Manure-- City Stable Manure-- Baled Manure-- Cow Manure--
German Peat Moss Stable Manure for Mushroom Beds-- Sawdust
Stable Manure for Mushroom Beds-- Tree Leaves-- Spent Hops.


Preparing out of Doors-- Warm Sunshine-- Fire-fang-- Guard
Against Over Moistening-- The Proper Condition of the Manure--
Loam and Manure Mixed.


The Thickness of the Beds-- Shape of the Beds-- Bottom-heat
Thermometers-- The Proper Temperature-- Too High
Temperature-- Keep the House at 55°.


What is Mushroom Spawn?-- The Mushroom Plant-- Spawn Obtained
at any Seed Store-- Imported from Europe-- The Great
Mushroom-growing Center of the Country-- English Spawn--
Mill-track Mushroom Spawn-- Flake or French Spawn-- Virgin
Spawn-- How to Keep Spawn-- New Versus Old Spawn-- How to
Distinguish Good from Poor Spawn-- American-made Spawn-- How to
make Brick Spawn-- How to make French (flake) Spawn-- Making
French Virgin Spawn-- A Second Method-- Third Method-- Relative
Merits of Flake and Brick Spawn.


Preparing the Spawn-- Steeped Spawn-- Flake Spawn--
Transplanting Working Spawn.


Cavities in the Surface of Beds-- The Best Kind of Loam--
Common Loam-- Ordinary Garden Soil-- Roadside Dirt-- Sandy
Soil-- Peat Soil or Swamp Muck-- Heavy, Clayey Loam-- Loam
Containing Old Manure.


Loam is Indispensable-- The Best Soil-- Proper Time to Case
Beds-- Inserting the Spawn-- Sifting the Soil-- Firming the
Soil-- Green Sods.


Beds that are in Full Bearing-- Filling up the Holes-- Firming
the Dressing to the Bed-- Beds in which Black Spot has


Covering the Beds with Hay-- A High Temperature-- In a
Temperature of 50°-- In a Temperature of 55°-- Boxing Over the


Artificially Heated Mushroom Houses-- Sprinkling Water over
Mulching-- Watering Pots-- Manure Water-- Preparing Manure
Water-- Common Salt-- Sprinkling the Floors-- Houses Heated by
Smoke Flues-- Manure Steam for Moistening the Atmosphere.


When Mushrooms are Fit to Pick-- Picking-- The Advantages of
Pulling over Cutting-- Pulled Mushrooms-- Gathering Field or
Wild Mushrooms-- Marketing Mushrooms.


Worn Out Beds-- Spurts of Increased Fertility-- A Spent
Mushroom Bed-- Living Spawn.


Maggots-- Black Spot-- Manure Flies-- Slugs-- "Bullet" or
"Shot" Holes-- Wood Lice-- Mites-- Mice and Rats-- Toads--
Fogging Off-- Flock-- Cleaning the Mushroom Houses.


Ridges in the Open Field-- Bed Making-- Manure Obtained from
City Stables-- The Site for Beds-- Planting the Spawn--
Drenching Rains-- Russia Mats-- The First Beds-- The First
Cutting-- Watering.


Caves and Subterranean Passages-- The Manure Used--
Preparation of the Manure-- Making the Beds-- The Spawn--
Stratifying the Spawn-- Chips and Powder of Stone-- Earthing
Over the Beds-- Temperature in High-roofed Caves-- When the
Mushrooms are Gathered-- Proper Ventilation.


Baked Mushrooms-- Stewed Mushrooms-- Soyer's Breakfast
Mushrooms-- Mushrooms à la Crême-- Curried Mushrooms-- Broiled
Mushrooms-- Mushroom Soup-- Mushroom Stews-- Potted Mushrooms--
Gilbert's Breakfast Mushrooms-- Baked Mushrooms-- Mushrooms à
la Casse, Tout-- Broiled Beefsteak and Mushrooms-- To Preserve
Mushrooms-- Mushroom Powder-- To Dry Mushrooms-- Dried
Mushrooms-- Mushroom Ketchup-- Pickled Mushrooms.


Mushroom Cellar under a Barn, 16
Boxed-up Frame with Straw Covering, 19
Cross Section of the Dosoris Mushroom Cellar, 27
Ground Plan of the Dosoris Cellar, 28
Base-burning Water Heater, 32
Vertical Section of Base-burning Water Heater, 32
Mushroom House Built Against a North-facing Wall, 34
Section of Mrs. Osborne's Mushroom House, 35
Ground Plan of Mrs. Osborne's Mushroom House, 36
Interior View of Mr. S. Henshaw's Mushroom House, 38
Boxed Mushroom Bed under Greenhouse Bench, 41
Mushrooms Grown on Greenhouse Benches, 43
Wide Bed with Pathway Above, 44
Mushrooms on Greenhouse Benches under Tomatoes, 45
Mr. Wm. Wilson's Mushroom Beds, 51
Mushroom Bed Built Flat upon the Ground, 52
Ridged Mushroom Bed, 53
Banked Bed against a Wall, 53
Perspective View of the Dosoris Mushroom Cellar, 58
Bale of German Peat Moss, 66
Brick Spawn, 80
Flake, or French Spawn, 82
Brick Spawn Cut in Pieces for Planting, 97
A Perfect Mushroom, 116
Mushrooms Affected with Black Spot, 125
A Flock-Diseased Mushroom, 133
The Covered Ridges, 140
In the Mushroom Caves of Paris, 147
Gathering Mushrooms in the Paris Caves for Market, 149




=Market Gardeners.=--The mushroom is a highly prized article of food
which can be as easily grown as many other vegetable products of the
soil--and with as much pleasure and profit. Below it is shown, in
particular, that this peculiar plant is singularly well adapted to the
conditions that surround many classes of persons, and by whom the
mushroom might become a standard crop for home use, the city market, or
both. It is directly in their line of business; is a winter crop,
requiring their care when outdoor operations are at a standstill, and
they can most conveniently attend to growing mushrooms. They have the
manure needed for their other crops, and they may well use it first for
a mushroom crop. After having borne a crop of mushrooms it is thoroughly
rotted and in good condition for early spring crops; and for seed beds
of tomatoes, lettuces, cabbages, cauliflowers, and other vegetables, it
is the best kind of manure.

Years ago market gardening near New York in winter was carried on in
rather a desultory way, and the supply of salads and other forced
vegetables was limited and mostly raised in hotbeds and other frames,
and prices ran high. But of recent years our markets in winter have
been so liberally supplied from the Southern States, that, in order to
save themselves, our market gardeners have been compelled to take up a
fresh line in their business, and renounce the winter frames in favor of
greenhouses, and grow crops which many of them did not handle before.
These greenhouses are mostly long, wide (eighteen to twenty feet), low,
hip-roofed (30°) structures. In most of them the salad beds are made
upon the floor, and the pathways are sunken a little so as to give
headroom in walking and working. Others of these greenhouses are built a
little higher, and middle and side benches are erected within them, as
in the case of florists' greenhouses, and with the view of growing salad
plants on these benches as florists do carnations, and mushrooms under
the benches. The mushrooms are protected from sunlight by a covering of
light boards, or hay, or the space under the benches is entirely shut
in, cupboard fashion, with wooden shutters. The temperature is very
favorable for mushrooms,--steady and moderately cool, and easily
corrected by the covering-in of the beds; and the moisture of the
atmosphere of a lettuce house is about right for mushrooms. In such a
house the day temperature may run up, with sunshine, to 65° or 70° in
winter, but an artificial night temperature of only 45° to 50° is
maintained. Under these conditions, with the beds about fifteen inches
thick, they should continue to yield a good crop of short-stemmed, stout
mushrooms for two or three months, possibly longer.

Besides growing the mushrooms in greenhouses our market gardeners are
very much in earnest in cultivating them in cellars. Some of these
cellars are ordinary barn cellars, others--large and commodious--have
been built under barns and greenhouses, purposely for the cultivation of
mushrooms. Several of these mushroom cellars may be found on Long
Island between Jamaica and Woodhaven.

=Florists.=--In midwinter the cut flower season is at its height and the
florist endeavors to make all the money out of his greenhouses that he
possibly can; every available inch of space exposed to the light is
occupied by growing plants, and under the benches alongside of the
pathways dahlias, cannas, caladiums, and other tubers and bulbs are
stored, also ivies, palms, succulents and the like. In order that the
plants may be more fully exposed to the sunlight, they are grown on
benches raised above the ground so as to bring them near to the glass;
and the greenhouse seems to be full to overflowing. But right here we
have the best kind of a mushroom house. The space under the benches,
which is nearly useless for other purposes, is admirably adapted for
mushroom beds, and the warmth and moisture of the greenhouse are
exceptionally congenial conditions for the cultivation of mushrooms.
Florists need the loam and manure anyway, and these are just as good for
potting purposes--better for young stock--after having been used in the
mushroom beds than they were before, so that the additional expense in
connection with the crop is the labor in making the beds and the price
of the spawn. Mushrooms are not a bulky crop; they require no space or
care in summer, are easily grown, handled, and marketed, and there is
always a demand for them at a good price. If the crop turns out well it
is nearly all profit; if it is a complete failure very little is lost,
and it must be a bad failure that will not yield enough to pay for its
cost. Why should the florist confine himself to one crop at a time in
the greenhouse when he may equally well have two crops in it at the same
time, and both of them profitable? He can have his roses on the benches
and mushrooms under the benches, and neither interferes with the other.
Let us take a very low estimate: In a greenhouse a hundred feet long
make a five foot wide mushroom bed under the main bench; this will give
500 square feet of bed, and half a pound to the foot will give 250
pounds of mushrooms, which, sold at fifty cents a pound net, brings
$125. This amount the florist would not have realized without growing
the mushrooms.

=Private Gardeners.=--It is a part of their routine duty, and success in
mushroom growing is as satisfactory to themselves as it is gratifying to
their employers. Fresh mushrooms, like good fruit and handsome flowers,
are a product of the garden that is always acceptable. One of the
principal pleasures in having a large garden and keeping a gardener
consists in being able to give to others a part of the choicest garden

In most pretentious gardens there is a regular mushroom house, and the
growing of mushrooms is an easy matter; in others there is no such
convenience, and the gardener has to trust to his own ingenuity where
and how he is to grow the mushrooms. But so long as he has an abundance
of fresh manure he can usually find a place in which to make the beds.
In the tool-shed, the potting-shed, the wood-shed, the stoke-hole, the
fruit-room, the vegetable-cellar, or in some other out-building he can
surely find a corner; or, handier still, convenient room under the
greenhouse benches, where he can make some beds. Failing all of these he
can start in August or September and make beds outside, as the London
market gardeners do.

In fruit-forcing houses, especially early graperies, gardeners have a
prejudice against growing any other plants than the grapevines lest red
spiders, thrips, or mealy bugs are introduced with the plants, but in
the case of mushrooms no such grounds are tenable. As the vines have
yielded their fruit by midsummer and ripened their wood early so as to
be ready for starting into growth again in December or January, the
grapery is kept cool and ventilated in the fall and early winter, but
this need not interfere with the mushroom crop. Box up the beds or make
them in frames inside the grapery; the warm manure will afford the
mushrooms heat enough until it is time to start the vines, when the
increased temperature and moisture of the house will be in favor of the
mushrooms because of the declining heat in the manure beds. The
mushrooms have no deleterious effect whatever upon the vines, nor have
the vines upon the mushrooms.

=Village People and Suburban Residents.=--Those who keep horses should,
at least, grow mushrooms for their own family use and, if need be, for
market as well. They are so easily raised, and they take up so little
space that they commend themselves particularly to those who have only a
village or suburban lot, and, in fact, only a barn. And they are not a
crop for which we have to make a great preparation and need a large
quantity of manure. No matter how small the bed may be, it will bear
mushrooms; and if we desire we can add to the bed week after week, as
our store of manure increases, and in this way keep up a continuous
succession of mushrooms. A bed may be made in the cow-house or
horse-stable, the carriage-house, barn-cellar, woodshed, or
house-cellar; or if we can not spare much room anywhere, make a bed in a
big box and move it to where it will be least in the way. But the best
place is, perhaps, the cellar. An empty stall in a horse-stable is a
capital place, and not only affords room for a full bed on the floor,
but for rack-beds as well.

=Farmers.=--No one can grow mushrooms better or more economically than
the farmer. He has already the cellar-room, the fresh manure and the
loam at home, and all he needs is some spawn with which to plant the
beds. Nothing is lost. The manure, after having been used in mushroom
beds, is not exhausted of its fertility, but, instead, is well rotted
and in a better condition to apply to the land than it was before being
prepared for the mushroom crop. The farmer will not feel the little
labor that it takes. There is no secret whatever connected with it, and
skilled labor is unnecessary to make it successful. The commonest farm
hand can do the work, which consists of turning the manure once every
day or two for about three weeks, then building it into a bed and
spawning and molding it. Nearly all the labor for the next ten or twelve
weeks consists in maintaining an even temperature and gathering and
marketing the crop.

Many women are searching for remunerative and pleasant employment upon
the farm, and what can be more interesting, pleasant and profitable work
for them than mushroom-growing? After the farmer makes up the mushroom
bed his wife or daughter can attend to its management, with scarcely any
tax upon her time, and without interfering with her other domestic
duties. And it is clean work; there is nothing menial about it. No lady
in the land would hesitate to pick the mushrooms in the open fields, how
much less, then, should she hesitate to gather the fresh mushrooms from
the clean beds in her own clean cellar? Mushrooms are a winter crop;
they come when we need them most. The supply of eggs in the winter
season is limited enough, and pin-money often proportionately short; but
with an insatiable market demand for mushrooms all winter long, at good
prices, no farmer's wife need care whether the hens lay eggs at
Christmas or not. When mushroom-growing is intelligently conducted there
is more money in it than in hens, and with less trouble.



=Underground Cellars.=--Mushrooms require a uniform moderately low
temperature and moist atmosphere, and will not thrive where draughts, or
sudden fluctuations of temperature or moisture prevail. Therefore an
underground cellar is the best of all structures in which to grow
mushrooms. The cellar is everybody's mushroom house.

Cellars are under dwellings, barns, and often under other out-buildings.
These cellars are imperative for domestic purposes, for storing apples,
potatoes and other root crops and perishable produce; and for these uses
we need to make them frost proof and dry. These cellars are ideal
mushroom houses, and any one who has a good cellar can grow mushrooms in
it. In fact, our market gardeners who are making money out of mushrooms
find it pays them to excavate and build cellars expressly for growing
mushrooms. Indeed, some of our market gardeners who have never grown a
mushroom or seen one grown, but who know well that some of their
neighbors are making money out of this business, instinctively feel that
the first step in mushroom-growing is a cellar. It is almost incredible
how secretly the market growers guard everything in connection with
mushroom-growing from the outside world, and even from one another; in
fact, in some cases their next-door neighbors and life-long intimate
friends have never been inside their mushroom cellars.

If a cellar is to be wholly devoted to mushroom-growing it should be
made as warm as possible with double windows, and double doors, where
the entrance is from the outside, but if from another building single
doors will suffice. A chimney-like shaft or shafts rising from the
ceiling should be used as ventilators in winter, when we can not
ventilate from doors or windows; indeed, side ventilation at anytime
when the beds are in bearing condition is rather precarious. There
should be some indoor way of getting into the cellar, as by a stairway
from the building above it. Also an easy way of getting in fresh
materials for the beds, and removing the exhausted material. This is,
perhaps, best obtained by having a door that opens to the outside, or a
moderately large one from the building above.


The interior arrangement of the cellar is a matter of choice with the
grower, but the simplest way is to have beds three or four feet wide
around the inside of the walls, and beds six feet wide, with pathways
two, or two and one-half feet wide between them running parallel along
the middle of the cellar. Above these floor-beds, shelf-beds in tiers of
one, two, or three, according to the height of the cellar, may be
formed, always leaving a space of two and one-half or three feet between
the bottom of one bed and the bottom of the next. This is very
necessary, in order to admit of making and tending the beds and
gathering the crop, and emptying the beds when they are exhausted.

Provision should also be made for the artificial heating of these
cellars, and room given for the heating pipes wherever they are to run.
But wherever fire heat is used in heating these cellars, if practicable,
the furnace itself should be boxed off, by a thin brick wall, from the
main cellar, and the pipes only introduced. This does away with the dust
and noxious gas, and modifies the parching heat.

But in a snug, warm cellar, artificial heat is not absolutely necessary.
We can grow capital crops of mushrooms in such a cellar without any
furnace heat, simply by using a larger body of material in making the
beds,--enough to maintain a steady warmth for a long time. But this,
observe, is a waste of material, for no more mushrooms can be grown in a
bed two feet thick than in one a foot thick. In an unheated cellar the
mushrooms grow large and solid, but they do not come so quickly nor in
such large numbers as in a heated one. And a little artificial warmth
has the effect of dispelling that cold, raw, damp air peculiar to a
pent-up cellar in winter, and purifies the atmosphere by assisting

Instead of using box beds, some growers spread the bed all over the
floor of the cellar, and leave no pathway whatever, stepping-boards or
raised pathways being used instead. Of course, in these instances, no
shelf beds are used. Others make ridge beds all over the cellar floor,
as the Parisians do in the caves. The ridges are two feet wide at
bottom, two feet high, and six or eight inches wide at top, and there
is a foot alley between them. Here, again, no shelf beds are used.

One of the chief troubles with flat-roofed mushroom cellars is the drip
from the condensed moisture rising from the beds, and this is more
apparent in unheated than in heated cellars,--the wet gathers upon the
ceiling and, having no slope to run off, drips down again. Oiled paper
or calico strung along [Symbol: Inverted V] wise above the upper beds
protects them perfectly; whatever falls upon the passage-ways upon the
floor does no harm.

In any other outhouse cellar, as well as in one completely given over to
this use, we can make up beds and grow good mushrooms. Mr. James Vick
told me that at his seed farm near Rochester he raises many mushrooms in
winter in his potato cellars; and so can any one in similar places. Mr.
John Cullen, of South Bethlehem, Pa., a very successful cultivator,
tells me that his present mushroom cellar used to be a large underground
cistern, but with a little fixing, and opening a passage-way to it from
a neighboring cellar, he has converted it into an excellent cellar for
mushrooms, and surely the immense crops that I have seen in that cave of
total darkness justify his good opinion of it.

=In Dwelling House.=--The cellar of a dwelling house is a capital place
for mushroom beds, and can be used in whole or part for this purpose. In
the case of private families who wish to grow a few mushrooms only for
their own use it is not necessary to devote a whole cellar to it; but
partition off a part of it with boards and make the beds in this. Or
make a bed alongside of the wall anywhere and box it in to protect it
from cold and draughts, and mice and rats. You can have shelves above it
for domestic purposes, just as you would in any other part of the
cellar. Bear in mind that mushrooms thrive best in an atmospheric
temperature of from 50° to 60°, and if you can give them this in your
house-cellar you ought to get plenty of good mushrooms. But if such a
high temperature can not be maintained without impairing the usefulness
of the cellar for other purposes, box up the beds tightly, and from the
heat of the bed itself, when thus confined, there usually will be warmth
enough for the mushrooms, but if not spread a piece of old carpet or
matting over the boxing.

The beds may be made upon the floor, and flat, or ridged, or banked
against the wall, ten or twelve inches deep in a warm cellar, and
fifteen to twenty inches or more deep in a cool cellar, and about three
feet wide and any length to suit.


The boxing may consist of any kind of boards for sides and ends, and be
built about six or ten inches higher than the top of the beds, so as to
give the mushrooms plenty headroom; the top of the boxing may be a lid
hung on hinges or straps, or otherwise arranged, to admit of being
easily raised or removed at will, and made of light lumber, say one-half
inch thick boards. In this way, by opening the lid, the mushrooms are
under observation and can be gathered without any trouble. When the lid
is shut they are secure from cold and vermin. Thus protected the cellars
can be ventilated without interfering with the welfare of the
mushrooms. A light wooden frame covered with calico or oiled paper
would also make a good top for the boxing, only it would not be proof
against much cold, or rats or mice. If desirable, in warm cellars, shelf
beds could be built above the floor beds, but in cool, airy cellars this
would not be advisable.

Manure beds in the dwelling-house cellar may seem highly improper to
many people, but in truth, when rightly handled, these beds emit no bad
odor. The manure should be prepared away from the house, and when ready
for making into beds it can be spread out thin, so as to become
perfectly cool and free from steam. When it has lain for two days in
this condition it may be brought into the cellar and made into beds.
Having been well sweetened by previous preparation, it is now cool and
free from steam, and almost odorless; after a few days it will warm up a
little, and may then be spawned and earthed over at once. Do not bury
the spawn in the manure, merely set it in the surface of the manure;
this saves the spawn from being destroyed by too great a heat, should
the bed become unduly warm. This, if the manure has been well prepared,
is not likely to occur. The coating of loam prevents the escape of any
further steam or odor from the manure.

On the 14th of January last, Mr. W. Robinson, editor of the London
_Garden_, in writing to me, mentioned the following very interesting
case of growing mushrooms in the cellar of a dwelling house: "I went out
the other day to see Mr. Horace Cox, the manager of the _Field_
newspaper, who lives at Harrow, near the famous school. His house is
heated by a hot-water system called Keith's, and the boiler is in a
chamber in the house in the basement. The system interested me and I
went down to see the boiler, which is a very simple one worked with coke
refuse. However, I was pleased to see all the floor of the room not
occupied by the boiler covered with little flat mushroom beds and
bearing a very good crop. Truth to tell, I used to fear growing
mushrooms in dwelling houses might be objectionable in various ways; but
this instance is very interesting, as there is not even the slightest
unpleasant smell in the chamber itself. The beds are small, scarcely a
foot high, and perfectly odorless; so that it is quite clear that one
may cultivate mushrooms in one's house, in such a case as this, without
the slightest offence."

=Mr. Gardner's Method.=--Mr. J. G. Gardner, of Jobstown, N. J., uses an
ordinary cellar, such as any farmer in the country has, and the little
that has been done to it to darken the windows and make them tight, so
as to render them better for mushrooms, any farmer with a hand-saw, an
ax, a hammer and a few nails and some boards can do. Mr. Gardner is a
market gardener, and has not the amount of fresh manure upon his own
place that he needs for mushroom-growing, but he buys it, common horse
manure, in New York, and it is shipped to him, over seventy miles, by
rail. And this pays; and if it will pay a man to get manure at such a
cost for mushroom-growing, how much more will mushroom-growing pay the
farmer who has the cellar and the manure as well? Mr. Gardner raises
mushrooms, and lots of them. When I visited him last November, instead
of trying to hide anything in their cultivation from me, he took
particular pains to show and explain to me everything about his way of
growing them. And he assures me that by adopting simple means of
preparing the manure and "fixing" for the crop, and avoiding all
complicated methods, one can get good crops and make fair profits.

His cellar is sixty feet long, twenty-four feet wide, and nine feet high
from floor to ceiling. The floor is an earthen one, but perfectly dry.
It is well supplied with window ventilators and doors, and in the
ceiling in the middle of the cellar opens a tall shaft or chimney-like
ventilator that passes straight up through the roof above. While the
beds are being made full ventilation by doors, windows and shaft is
given, but as soon as there is any sign of the mushrooms appearing all
ventilators except the shaft in the middle are shut and kept closed.

The bed occupies the whole surface of the cellar floor and was all made
up in one day. As a pathway, a single row of boards is laid on the top
of the bed, running lengthwise along the middle of the cellar from the
door to the farther end, and here and there between this narrow path and
the walls on either side a few pieces of slate are laid down on the bed
to step upon when gathering the mushrooms. Here is the oddest thing
about Mr. Gardner's mushroom-growing. He does not give the manure any
preparatory treatment for the beds. He hauls it from the cars to the
cellar, at once spreads it upon the floor and packs it solid into a bed.
For example, on one occasion the manure arrived at Jobstown, July 8th;
it was hauled home and the bed made up the same day, and the first
mushrooms were gathered from this bed the second week in
September,--just two months from the time the manure left the New York
or Jersey City stables. The bed was fifteen inches thick. In making it
the manure was first shaken up loosely to admit of its being more evenly
spread than if pitched out in heavy forkfuls, and it was then tramped
down firmly with the feet. The bed was then marked off into halves. On
one half (No. 1) a layer of a little over three inches of loam was at
once placed over the manure; on the other half (No. 2) no loam was used
at this time, but the manure on the surface of the bed--about three
inches deep--was forked over loosely. Twelve days after having been put
in the temperature of the bed No. 2, three inches deep, was 90°, and
then it was spawned. On the next day the soil from bed No. 1, spawned
four days earlier, was thrown upon bed No. 2, and then part of the soil
that was thrown on No. 1 was thrown back again on No. 2, so that now a
coating of loam an inch and a half deep covered the whole surface of the
bed. When finished the surface was tamped gently with a tamper with a
face of pine plank sixteen inches long by twelve inches wide. Mr.
Gardner does not believe in the alleged advantages of a hard-packed
surface on the mushroom bed, but is inclined to favor a moderately firm

He uses the English brick spawn, which is sold by our seedsmen. He has
tried making his own spawn, but owing to not having proper means for
drying it, he has had rather indifferent success.

Almost all growers insert the pieces of spawn about two to three inches
under the surface of the manure, one piece at a time, and at regular
intervals of nine inches or thereabouts apart each way--lengthwise and
crosswise. But here, again, Mr. Gardner displays his individuality. He
breaks up the spawn in the usual way, in pieces one or two inches
square. Of course, in breaking it up there is a good deal of fine
particles besides the lumps. With an angular-pointed hoe he draws drills
eighteen inches apart and two and one-half to three inches deep
lengthwise along the bed, and in the rows he sows the spawn, as if he
were sowing peach stones, or walnuts, or snap beans, and covers it in as
if it were seeds.

Mr. Gardner regards 57° as the most suitable temperature for a mushroom
house or cellar, and, if possible, maintains that without the aid of
fire-heat. He has hot-water pipes connected with the contiguous
greenhouse heating arrangement in his cellar, but he never uses them for
heating the mushroom cellar except when obliged to. By mulching his bed
with straw he gets along without any fire-heat, but this is very
awkward when gathering the mushrooms.

After the bed has borne a little while it is top-dressed all over with a
half-inch layer of fine soil. Before using, this soil has been kept in a
close place--pit, frame, shed, or large box--in which there was, at the
same time, a lot of steaming-hot manure, so that it might become
thoroughly charged with mushroom food absorbed from the steam from the
fermenting material.

Should any portion of the bed get very dry, water of a temperature of
90° is given gently and somewhat sparingly through a fine-spraying
water-pot rose, or syringe. Enough water is never given at any one time
to penetrate through the casing into the manure below or the spawn in
the manure. But rather than make a practice of watering the beds, Mr.
Gardner finds it is better to maintain a moist atmosphere, and thus
lessen the necessity for watering.

Mr. Gardner firmly believes that the mushrooms derive much nourishment
from the "steam" of fermenting fresh horse manure, and by using this
"steam" in our mushroom houses we can maintain an atmosphere almost
moist enough to be able to dispense with the use of the syringe, and the
mushrooms are fatter and heavier for it. And he practices what he
preaches. In one end of his mushroom cellar he has a very large, deep,
open box, half filled with steaming fresh horse-droppings, and once or
twice a day he tosses these over with a dung-fork, in order to raise a
"steam," which it certainly does. It is also for this purpose that he
introduces the loam so soon when making the beds, so that it may become
charged with food that otherwise would be dissipated in the atmosphere.

There is a marked difference between the mushrooms raised from the
French flake spawn and those from the English brick spawn, but he has
never observed any distinct varieties from the same kind of spawn.
Sometimes a few mushrooms will appear that are somewhat differently
formed from those of the general crop, but this he regards as the result
of cultural conditions rather than of true varietal differences.

His last year's bed began bearing early in November, and continued to
bear a good crop until the first of May. After that time, no matter what
the crop may be, the mushrooms become so infested with maggots as to be
perfectly worthless, and they are cleared out. It is on account of the
large body of manure in the bed, and the low, genial, and equable
temperature of the cellar that the beds in this house always continue so
long in good cropping condition.

Some years ago the mushrooms were not gathered till their heads had
opened out flat, but nowadays the marketmen like to get them when they
are quite young and before the skin of the frill between the cup and the
stem has broken apart.

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