How to Grow the Stinkhorn Mushroom in Your Backyard

How to Grow the Stinkhorn Mushroom in Your Backyard

How to Grow the Stinkhorn Mushroom in Your Backyard

Growing the stinkhorn mushroom in your own backyard can be a fun and rewarding hobby for nature enthusiasts. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to cultivate this pungent fungus at home.

Choosing a Suitable Location

Stinkhorns thrive in areas with plenty of shade and high humidity. When selecting a site, consider the following:

  • Partial to full shade – Stinkhorns grow best with limited sunlight exposure. Ideal spots are under or near trees, shrubs, and dense vegetation.

  • Damp soil – The growing medium should be moist and retain water well. Add compost or peat moss if your soil is too sandy.

  • Protection from wind – Gusty conditions can dry out developing fruiting bodies. Place the growing area in a sheltered corner.

  • Good drainage – Excess water can lead to rotting. Make sure the ground slopes to allow runoff. Add sand or perlite if drainage is poor.

Optimal locations include near moist woods, beside compost heaps, under decks or porches, and next to exterior walls on the shady side of your home.

Obtaining Stinkhorn Spawn

Stinkhorn mushrooms do not grow from spores like other fungi. They must be cultivated from spawn, which consists of mycelium infested with stinkhorn mycorrhizae. Here’s where to find it:

  • Purchase from specialty growers online or at foraging conventions. Reputable vendors sell pure cultured stinkhorn spawn, not mixed mushroom varieties.

  • Receive a starter culture from a fellow mushroom enthusiast. Many hobbyists are happy to share spawn once their stinkhorns start fruiting.

  • Order a scientific supply kit containing an inoculated growing medium. These kits help beginners learn techniques.

  • Make your own spawn using sections of mature stinkhorn eggs. This requires access to an established stinkhorn patch.

Always obtain spawn from a trusted source to avoid contamination. One parasitized culture can ruin an entire stinkhorn patch!

Preparing the Growing Medium

Stinkhorns thrive in a customized soil mix. Aim for the following characteristics:

  • Low pH – Target a pH between 4.5-6.0. Stinkhorns prefer acidic conditions. Test soil pH and amend with sulfur if needed.

  • High organic matter – Incorporate compost, aged manure, leaf litter, sawdust, and coconut fiber. These provide nutrients and retain moisture.

  • Coarse texture – Create an open, loose structure with perlite, vermiculite, or sand. Pores allow oxygen circulation.

A suggested recipe is 2 parts peat or coconut coir, 2 parts compost, 2 parts chopped leaves, and 1 part perlite or builder’s sand. Thoroughly mix ingredients when preparing beds.

Planting the Spawn

When your growing medium is ready, follow these steps to inoculate it with stinkhorn spawn:

  • Moisten the soil mix until damp but not sopping wet. Good moisture control prevents rot issues.

  • Bury pieces of spawn 3-4 inches deep and 12 inches apart in shady areas. Small patches yield a few mushrooms while larger beds produce more.

  • Cover the inoculated spots with mulch or leaves. This retains humidity while allowing some air circulation.

  • Water gently every 2-3 days if rainfall is inadequate. Keep the soil moist but not flooded.

Encouraging Fruiting

Once planted, stinkhorn spawn needs warm, humid conditions to generate mushrooms. Promote fruiting with these tips:

  • Mist the growing area daily, especially during hot or dry weather. Evaporation triggers pinhead formation.

  • Spread an extra layer of mulch before periods of extreme heat or cold. Mulch moderates soil temperature.

  • Add a thin layer of compost or rotting wood. Nutrient influxes often stimulate mushroom development.

  • Be patient! It may take weeks or months post-planting before you spot the first emergent stinkhorns.

Harvesting Stinkhorns

Mature stinkhorn mushrooms appear quickly, often overnight. Look for these indicators that specimens are ready to collect:

  • The fruiting body has reached full size, up to 12 inches tall.

  • The slimy spore mass (gleba) coating the tip has turned olive-brown.

  • An intense stench emanates from the mushroom. This attracts insect spore dispersal.

Use gloves and scissors to snip mushrooms at the base. Immature specimens stop growing once cut. Process harvested stinkhorns as desired.

With ideal conditions, established stinkhorn patches produce fresh mushrooms recurrently. Just follow basic maintenance like weeding, mulching, and regular watering. Reworking the soil and adding nutrients every 2-3 years boosts productivity. Enjoy your aromatic bounty!