Turkey tail mushrooms get their name from their varying coloured stripes and flat shelf-like shape that resembles the tail of a wild turkey. These mushrooms are very slow growing but relatively easy to grow. These polypores are known for their medicinal properties and their leathery texture make them well suited for use in teas, stocks or powder form. Recommended for intermediate growers.
The Mushroom Grow Kit is intended to be grown inside. The Kit contains a bag of hardwood sawdust inoculated with Turkey Tail mycelium and is ready to ‘fruit’ straight from the bag.
Step 1: Inspect your Mushroom Grow Kit
- Examine your bag to make sure it is fully myceliated (white all over). If so, then it is ready to start fruiting! However, if you can see areas of brown sawdust that are not myceliated then place your kit in a dark location (~18-24 C), and check it every day until it is all white.
Step 2: Choose a location for your kit
- When your kit is fully myceliated (all white), choose a location that is bright but out of direct sunlight, at room temperature (~15-24 C), and is well-ventilated to minimize exposure to spores.
Step 3: Prepare for fruiting
- You can grow turkey tail in two ways, either as a rosette from the top of the bag or as shelves from the side of the bag.
For Rosettes out the top of the bag
- Keep the bag closed until white and yellowish/brown mycelium lumps form on the top of the sawdust.
- Then cut off the top of the bag leaving a rim of ~1inch of plastic around the top of the kit.
- Finally, make a ‘Humidity Tent’ to go over your Grow Kit to help create a humid environment for your mushrooms to grow. Get a clear plastic bag (so light can come through) that is large enough to loosely cover the grow kit with enough room for the mushrooms to grow. Cut approximately 10-1.5cm holes to allow for air exchange (CO2 out O2 in) and place it over your grow it.
For Shelves of mushrooms out the side of the bag
- Using a knife, gently cut 2 to 3 slits 5 cm long each the front and side of the bag with as little damage to the mycelium as possible.
- Next, gently squeeze as much air as possible out of the bag through the slits and fold the extra plastic bag (part with the filter in it) under the kit and place the kit upright. The fresh oxygen at the slits will signal the mycelium to start producing mushrooms (usually within 2 weeks or so).
- Then make a ‘Humidity Tent’ to go over your Grow Kit to help create a humid environment for your mushrooms to grow. Get a clear plastic bag (so light can come through) that is large enough to loosely cover the grow kit with enough room for the mushrooms to grow. Cut approximately 10-1.5cm holes to allow for air exchange (CO2 out O2 in) and place it over your grow it.
Step 4: Care for your mushrooms
- Lift up & replace the ‘Humidity Tent’ 2 to 5 times a day to spray the inside of the tent with water and allow for fresh air in.
- Over several weeks you will notice the white mycelium thicken over the areas exposed to the air, get blob like and gradually flatten out into rings of brown velvet mushrooms with a creamy white porous surface below.
- Turkey tails are very slow growing and can take 1-2 months to fully fruit depending on temperature and humidity.
Step 5: Harvest, Storage and Cooking
- You can harvest turkey tails as long as they are in good health (have a white underside) and still growing (1-2 months).
- Harvest by twisting or cutting of the entire cluster or shelf at the based.
- Turkey tails are generally dried in the sun or in a dehydrator and stored in an air tight jar or bag.
- They are too leathery to eat and are usually ground into a powder or used in a tea or broth.
- The book ‘The Fungal Pharmacy’ by Robert Rogers is a good resource for information on the medicinal properties and ways to use turkey tail.
- To attempt a 2nd harvest (not guaranteed), stop spritzing your kit for 3 days, soak it in cold water for 20 min and start again at Step 2! If you can get your kit to fruit again it will produce a smaller flush the second time round.
- Once you are done fruiting your kit, break up the sawdust/mycelium and put it in your home or city compost or use as a soil amendment in your garden bed.
- Mushrooms produce airborne spores as they grow. When released from the gills they produce a dusty surface on your grow kit and surrounding area. To reduce exposure fruit your kit in a well ventilated area, use a ‘Humidity Tent’ and harvest mushrooms while they are still young.
- Always cook mushrooms before consuming.