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Title: Mushrooms: how to grow them - a practical treatise on mushroom culture for profit and pleasure
Author: Falconer, William
Language: English
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Historical Literature in Agriculture (CHLA), Cornell
University)



MUSHROOMS:
How to Grow Them.

A PRACTICAL TREATISE
ON
Mushroom Culture for Profit and Pleasure.


BY
WILLIAM FALCONER.

ILLUSTRATED.



NEW YORK,
ORANGE JUDD CO.
1892.


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



PREFACE


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
unsuccessful.

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
books.

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.

                                                  WILLIAM FALCONER.

  DOSORIS, L. I., 1891.



TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER I.--THOSE WHO SHOULD GROW MUSHROOMS                            9

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

CHAPTER II.--GROWING MUSHROOMS IN CELLARS                             15

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

CHAPTER III.--GROWING MUSHROOMS IN MUSHROOM HOUSES                    34

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

CHAPTER IV.--GROWING MUSHROOMS IN SHEDS                               39

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

CHAPTER V.--GROWING MUSHROOMS IN GREENHOUSES                          41

    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.

CHAPTER VI.--GROWING MUSHROOMS IN THE FIELDS                          54

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

CHAPTER VII.--MANURE FOR MUSHROOM BEDS                                57

    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.

CHAPTER VIII.--PREPARATION OF THE MANURE                              69

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

CHAPTER IX.--MAKING UP THE MUSHROOM BEDS                              74

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

CHAPTER X.--MUSHROOM SPAWN                                            78

    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.

CHAPTER XI.--SPAWNING THE BEDS                                        96

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

CHAPTER XII.--LOAM FOR THE BEDS                                      100

    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.

CHAPTER XIII.--EARTHING OVER THE BEDS                                103

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

CHAPTER XIV.--TOPDRESSING WITH LOAM                                  107

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

CHAPTER XV.--THE PROPER TEMPERATURE                                  109

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

CHAPTER XVI.--WATERING MUSHROOM BEDS                                 111

    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.

CHAPTER XVII.--GATHERING AND MARKETING MUSHROOMS                     115

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

CHAPTER XVIII.--RE-INVIGORATING OLD BEDS                             120

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

CHAPTER XIX.--INSECT AND OTHER ENEMIES                               122

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

CHAPTER XX.--GROWING MUSHROOMS IN RIDGES OUT OF DOORS
             AROUND LONDON                                           136

    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.

CHAPTER XXI.--MUSHROOM GROWING IN THE PARIS CAVES                    143

    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.

CHAPTER XXII.--COOKING MUSHROOMS                                     150

    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.



ILLUSTRATIONS


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



MUSHROOMS, HOW TO GROW THEM.



CHAPTER I.

THOSE WHO SHOULD GROW MUSHROOMS.


=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
products.

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.



CHAPTER II.

GROWING MUSHROOMS IN CELLARS.


=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.

[Illustration: FIG. 1. MUSHROOM CELLAR UNDER A BARN.]

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
ventilation.

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.

[Illustration: FIG. 2. BOXED-UP FRAME WITH STRAW COVERING.]

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
one.

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. A good market is found in New York, Philadelphia
and Boston.

=Mr. Denton's Method.=--Mr. W. H. Denton, of Woodhaven, L. I., is an
extensive market gardener about ten miles from New York. During the
summer months he grows outdoor vegetables for the New York and Brooklyn
markets, and in winter mushrooms in cellars. He has no greenhouses.
Under his barns he has two large cellars which he devotes entirely to
mushroom-growing in winter. The cellars are seven and one-half feet high
inside; the beds five feet wide, nine inches deep, two feet apart, and
run parallel to one another the whole length of the cellar. The beds are
three deep, that is, one bed is made upon the floor, and the other two,
rack or shelf fashion, are made above the floor bed, and two and
one-half feet apart from the bottom of the one bed to the bottom of the
one above it. The shelves altogether are temporary structures built of
ordinary rough scantling and hemlock boards, and the beds are all one
board deep.

A common iron stove and string of sheet iron smoke pipes are used for
heating the cellars. But he tells me the parching effect is very visible
on the beds, it dries them up on the surface very much, and he has to
sprinkle them frequently with water to keep them moist enough. During
the late summer and fall months, on his return trips from the Brooklyn
markets, Mr. Denton hauls home fresh horse manure from the City stables.
All that he can put on a wagon costs him about twenty-five cents; and
this is what he uses for mushrooms. He prepares it in a large open shed
just above the cellar, and when it is fit for use he adds about
one-third of its bulk of loam. The loam is the ordinary field soil from
his market garden. He tells me he has better success with beds made up
in this way than when manure alone is used. We all know how very heavily
market gardeners manure their land, also how vigorously most writers on
mushroom culture denounce the use of manure-fatted loam in mushroom
beds, but here is Mr. Denton, the most successful grower of mushrooms
for market in the neighborhood of New York, practicing the very thing
that is denounced! While he likes good lively manure to begin with he is
very careful not to use it soon enough to run any risk of overheating in
the beds. The loam in the manure counteracts this strong heating
tendency, also with the loam mixture the shelf-beds can be built much
more firmly than with plain manure on the springy boards. When the
temperature falls to 90° he spawns the beds.

He uses both French and brick spawn, but leans with most favor to the
latter, of which in the fall 1889 he used 400 lbs. He markets from 1700
to 2500 lbs. of mushrooms a year from these two cellars. Mr. Denton
believes emphatically in cleanliness in the mushroom cellar, and
ascribes his best successes to his most thorough cleaning. Every summer
he cleans out his cellars and limewashes all over.

=Mr. Van Siclen's Method.=--Mr. Abram Van Siclen, of Jamaica, L. I.,
also grows mushrooms very extensively in underground cellars, whose
arrangements do not differ materially from those of Mr. Denton's, except
in his manner of heating. He runs an immense greenhouse
vegetable-growing establishment, as well as a summer truck farm, and
uses hot water heating apparatus, also smoke flues as employed
ordinarily in greenhouses, especially lettuce houses. The sheet iron
pipes, except in squash houses, he does not hold in much favor.

[Illustration: FIG. 3. CROSS-SECTION OF THE DOSORIS MUSHROOM CELLAR.]

=The Dosoris Mushroom Cellar.=--This is a subterranean tunnel or cellar
that was excavated and arched some ten years ago, expressly for the
cultivation of mushrooms. It is situated in an open, sunny part of the
garden, and its extreme length from outside of end walls is eighty-three
feet; but of this space nine feet at either end are given up to
entrance pits and a heating apparatus; and the full length of the
mushroom cellar proper inside the inner walls is sixty-three feet. The
walls and arch are of brick, and the top of the arch is two and one-half
feet below the surface of the soil. This tunnel or arch is seven feet
high in the middle and eight feet wide within, but a raised
two-feet-wide pathway along the middle lessens the height to six and
one-half feet. Between this pathway and the sides of the building there
is only an earthen floor, but it is quite dry, as the cellar is
perfectly drained. Three ventilators sixteen feet apart had been built
in the top of the arch, but this was a mistake, as the condensation in
the cellar in winter from these ventilators always keeps the place under
them cold and wet and rather unproductive. One tall wooden chimney-like
shaft would have been a better ventilator than the three ventilating
holes now there, which are covered over with an iron and glass grating.

[Illustration: FIG. 4. GROUND PLAN OF THE DOSORIS CELLAR.]

At one end of the house and behind the stairs descending into the pit is
the heating apparatus, from which a four-inch hot-water pipe passes
around inside the house near the wall and only four inches above ground.
A three-feet wide hemlock flooring for the bed to rest on is laid along
each side and about four inches above the pipe, leaving the aperture
between the earth floor and the bottom of the bed along the pathway open
for the escape of the artificial heat. One might think that the hot
water pipe under, and so near the bed, would dry it up and destroy it,
but such is not the case. In a cellar of this kind very little fire heat
is needed to maintain the required temperature, and I do not know where
else the pipes could be put where they would do the work any better and
be more out of the way.

These beds, for convenience in building them, spawning them, molding
them over, gathering the crop and watering the beds, and removing the
manure after the beds are exhausted, are built against the wall and with
a rounded face, thus giving a three and one-half feet wide surface of
bed in place of one three feet wide, were it built flat. This gain in
superficial area is not so important as it might seem, for the part
immediately next to the edge of the pathway seldom yields very much.
Above these beds a string of shelf beds is arranged which runs the full
length of both sides of the cellar. From the floor of the under bed to
the floor of the top bed is three feet, and the upper beds are just as
wide as the lower ones. The shelves for the beds are temporary affairs,
put up and taken down every year. The cross-bars rest in sockets in the
wall made by cutting out half a brick every four feet along the wall,
and on upright strips or feet one and one-fourth by four inches wide, or
two by three inches, set under the inside ends of the cross-bars and
resting on the cement floor close up against the lower bed. By having
this foot end a quarter of an inch higher than the wall end the heavy
weight of the bed is thrown toward the wall. Loose hemlock boards set
close together form the flooring, for there is no need of nailing any of
them except the one next to the upright face board, which is ten inches
wide, and nailed along the front, by the pathway, to the posts and shelf
board. By tilting the weight to the wall the upright board is firm
enough to hold its place against any pressing out in building the beds.
The supporting legs of the shelves are also nailed to the face board of
the lower bed, and this holds them perfectly solid in place. The shelf
beds are eight inches deep at front, but can be made of any depth
desired against the walls at the back. The cold wall has no injurious
effect upon the bearing of the bed, and many fine mushrooms grow close
against the walls.

The entrance pits are nine and one-half feet deep from ground level,
three feet eight inches wide, nine feet long, and are covered over with
folding doors on strong hinges, and descended into by means of wooden
movable stairs. These dimensions are needed at the end where the heating
apparatus is placed, but at the other end, although it is convenient in
handling the manure, a space two or three feet less would have answered
just as well. A close door at either end of the mushroom cellar proper
separates it from the end pits. The cellar is divided in the middle by a
partition. This gives, when it is in full working order, eight beds,
each thirty-one and one-half feet long, or a continuous run of 252 feet
or 756 square feet of surface, and as the beds are renewed twice a year
this gives 504 running feet of bed, or 1512 square feet of surface. A
common average crop is three-fifths of a pound of mushrooms to the
square foot of bed, and a good fair average is four-fifths of a pound.
This would give over a thousand pounds of mushrooms a season from this
cellar when it is in full running capacity. But as the aim is to have a
steady supply of mushrooms from October until May, and not a flush at
any one time and a scarcity at another, only two beds are made at a
time, allowing a month to intervene between every two.

For the two beds, No. 1, preparing the manure begins in July, the beds
are made up in August, and gathering of the crop commences in October;
work on the two beds, No. 2, begins in August, the beds are made up in
September, and the mushrooms gathered in November; preparing for the two
beds, No. 3, begins in September, the beds are made up in October,
gathering commences in December; for the two beds, No. 4, work begins in
October, the beds are made up in November, and the crop is gathered in
January; for the two beds, No. 5 (No. 1 renewed), work begins in
November, the beds are made up in December, and the crop is gathered in
February; for the two beds, No. 6 (No. 2 renewed), work begins in
December, the beds are made up in January, and the crop is gathered in
March; for the two beds, No. 7 (No. 3 renewed), work begins in January,
the beds are made up in February, and the crop is gathered in April; for
the two beds, No. 8 (No. 4 renewed), work begins in February, the beds
are made up in March, and the mushrooms gathered in May. After this time
of year the summer heat renders mushroom-growing uncertain, and the
maggots destroy the mushrooms. This system allows each bed a bearing
period of two months. After yielding a crop for some seven to nine weeks
the beds are pretty well exhausted and hardly worth retaining longer.
They might drag along in a desultory way for weeks, but as soon as they
stop yielding a paying crop we clear them out and start afresh.

And when the mushroom season is closed we lift out and remove the
manure, clean the boards used in shelving, and give the cellar a
thorough cleaning,--whitewash its walls and paint its woodwork with
kerosene to destroy noxious insects and fungi.

[Illustration: FIG. 5. BASE-BURNING WATER HEATER.]

[Illustration: FIG. 6. VERTICAL SECTION.]

The heating apparatus consists of one of Hitchings' base-burner boilers
with a four-inch hot-water pipe that passes around inside the cellar,
and it deserves special mention because of its economy, efficiency, and
the satisfaction it gives generally. This boiler needs no deep or
spacious stoke-hole. Here it is set under the stairway in a pit four
and one-half feet long, by three feet wide, by eighteen inches deep; it
is not in the way, and there is plenty of room to attend to it. The
heater, like a common parlor stove, has a magazine for the supply of
coal. It has a double casing with the water space between and down to
the bottom of it, so that when set in a shallow pit there is no
difficulty whatever about the circulation of the water in the pipes. The
hot water passes from the boiler to an open iron tank placed two feet
above it, as shown in the engraving, and thence down through a
perpendicular pipe till it reaches and enters the horizontal pipes that
pass around the cellar and, returning, enters the boiler again near its
base. The boiler and pipes are filled from this tank, which should
always be kept at least half full of water, and looked into every day
when in use, so that when the water gets lower than half full it may be
filled up again. About 134 running feet of four-inch pipe are included
inside the cellar (sixty-four feet on each side and six feet across at
further end); this gives 134 square feet of heating surface, or a
proportion of about a square foot of heating surface for every fifteen
cubic feet of air space in the cellar. This proportion is more than
ample in the coldest weather, but beneficial in so far that there is no
need to fire hard to maintain the proper temperature. A three-inch pipe
would have given heat enough, but the heat would not have been so
steady. Both nut and stove coal is used in this heater, and in the
severest winter weather it burns not more than a common hodful in
twenty-four hours. It is so easily regulated that the temperature of the
cellar day or night, or in mild or severe weather, never varies more
than three degrees, namely from 57° to 60°.

In a close underground cellar where the temperature in midwinter without
any artificial heat does not fall below 40° or 45° it is an easy matter,
with such a heater as this is, to maintain any desired temperature. If
the grates are renewed now and then, the heater should last in good
condition for twenty years. With the ordinary stove there is danger of
fire, of escaping gas and of sudden changes of temperature, and the evil
influence of a dry, parching heat--just what mushrooms most dislike--is
ever present. The first cost of a hot water apparatus may be more than
that of an old stove and sheet iron pipes, but where mushrooms are grown
extensively, as a matter of economy, efficiency, and convenience, the
advantages are altogether on the side of the hot water apparatus.
Furthermore, hot water pipes can be run where it would be unsafe to put
smoke pipes.



CHAPTER III.

GROWING MUSHROOMS IN MUSHROOM HOUSES.


[Illustration: FIG. 7. MUSHROOM HOUSE BUILT AGAINST A NORTH-FACING
WALL.]

A mushroom house is a building erected purposely for mushroom culture.
It may be wholly or partly above ground, and built of wood, brick, or
stone, and extend to any desired dimensions. But a few general
principles should be borne in mind. Mushrooms in houses are a winter and
not a summer crop, and they are impatient of sudden changes of
temperature and of a hot or arid atmosphere. Therefore, build the houses
where they will be warm and well-sheltered in winter, so as to get the
advantage of the natural warmth, and spare the artificial heat. They
should be entered from an adjoining building, or through a porch on the
south side, so as to guard against cold draughts or blasts in winter
when the door would be opened in going into or coming out of the house.
At the same time, do not lose sight of convenience in handling the
manure, either in bringing it into the house or taking it out, and with
this in view it may be necessary to have a door opening to the outside.
All outside doors should be double and securely packed around in winter.
Side window ventilators are not necessary, at the same time they are
useful in the early part of the season and in summer time; they should
be double and tightly packed in winter. The walls, if made of brick,
should be hollow, if of wood, double; indeed, walls built as if for an
ice house are the very best for a mushroom house, and should be banked
with earth, tree leaves, or strawy manure in winter, to help keep the
interior of the house a little warmer.

[Illustration: FIG. 8. SECTION OF MRS. C. J. OSBORNE'S MUSHROOM HOUSE.]

The floor should be perfectly dry; that is, so well drained that water
will not stand upon it, but it is immaterial whether the floor is an
ordinary earthen one or of wood or cement.

[Illustration: FIG. 9. GROUND PLAN OF MRS. OSBORNE'S MUSHROOM HOUSE.]

The roof should be double and always sloping,--never flat. The hoar
frost that appears in severe weather inside a single roof is likely to
melt as the heat of the day increases, and this cold drip falling upon
the beds below is very prejudicial to the mushroom crop. A double roof
saves the beds from this drip, and it also renders the house warmer, and
less fire is needed to maintain the requisite temperature. One might
think that a single roof like that of a dwelling house, and then a flat
ceiling under it, would be equivalent to a double sloping roof, but it
is not. The moisture arising from the interior of the house condenses
upon the flat ceiling, and the water, having no way of running off,
drips down upon the beds. With a sloping ceiling or inside roof the
water runs down the ceiling to the walls. A very pointed example of this
may be seen in Mrs. C. J. Osborne's excellent mushroom house at
Mamaroneck, N. Y. It had been built in the most substantial manner, with
a sloping roof and a flat ceiling under the roof, but so much annoyance
was caused by the drip falling from it upon the beds below that her
gardener had the flat ceiling removed and a sloping one built instead,
and now it works splendidly, and a few months ago I saw as fine a crop
of mushrooms in that house as one could wish to look at.

The interior arrangement of the mushroom house may resemble that of the
mushroom cellar. Beds may be made alongside of the walls and, if there
is room, also along the middle of the house, and shelves erected in the
same way as in the cellar. But in the case of cold, thin outside walls,
the shelf-beds should not be built close against them, but instead boxed
off about two inches from the walls, so as to remove the beds from the
chilling touch of the wall in winter. Economy may suggest the
advisability of high mushroom houses, so that one may be able to build
one shelf above another, until the shelves are two, three, or four deep.
But this is a mistake. The artificial heat required to maintain a
temperature of 55° in midwinter in a house built high above ground would
be too parching and unsteady for the good of the mushrooms; besides, a
second shelf is inconvenient enough, and when it comes to a third or a
fourth the inconvenience would be too great, and overreach any advantage
hoped for in economy of space. An unheated mushroom house must be
regarded as a shed, and treated similarly, as described in the following
chapter.

In large, well appointed, private gardens, a mushroom house is
considered an almost indispensable adjunct to the glasshouse
establishment, and is generally built against the north-facing wall of a
greenhouse. In this way it gets the benefit of the warm wall, and may be
easily heated by introducing one or two hot-water pipes from the
greenhouse system; besides, in winter the house may be entered from the
glass house or adjacent shed, and in this way be exempted from the
inclement breath of the frosty air that would be admitted in opening the
outside door.

[Illustration: FIG. 10. INTERIOR VIEW OF MR. S. HENSHAW'S MUSHROOM
HOUSE.]

=Mr. Samuel Henshaw's Mushroom House.=--Mr. Henshaw has raised
mushrooms several years at his place on Staten Island. His mushroom
house is nine feet wide and sixty feet long. One side is a brick wall
and the other is double boarded. The roof is of tin, in which there are
three sashes each two by five feet, supplying ample light. At each end
is a door giving convenient access to the interior, for carrying in and
removing material without disturbing the bearing beds. In winter the
roof is covered with a coating of salt hay, to preserve an equable
temperature and prevent the moisture from condensing on the ceiling and
falling in drops on the beds. The floor is of earth, which, when well
drained, he thinks preferable to either brick or lumber. The floor is
entirely covered with beds, no shelves or walks being used. This makes
it necessary to step on the beds, but as no covering is employed it is
always easy to avoid stepping on the clusters of young mushrooms, and so
long as they are left uninjured the bed is seldom, if ever, impaired by
the compacting effect of the treading. In order to maintain a necessary
winter temperature of 60° a four-inch hot-water pipe extends the whole
length of the house about two feet from the floor. On the other side of
the brick wall is a greenhouse which, by keeping the wall warm, helps to
keep the mushroom house warm. Mr. Henshaw divides this house into three
equal beds. The part at the further end of the house is made up in the
fall and comes into bearing in December; the middle part a month later
to come in a month later, and the near end still a month later, to
follow as another succession. Then, if need be, and he wishes to renew
the bed at the further end of the house, he clears it out and supplies
fresh material for the new bed.



CHAPTER IV.

GROWING MUSHROOMS IN SHEDS.


Any one who has a snug, warm shed, may have a good mushroom house, but
it is imperative that the floor should be dry, and the roof water-tight.
Of course a close shed, as a tool-house or a carriage-house, is better
than an open shed, but even a shed that is open on the south side, if
closely walled on the other sides, can also be made of good use for
mushroom beds. While open sheds are good enough for beds that yield
their crop before Christmas, they are ill-adapted for midwinter beds.
The temperature of the interior of a mushroom bed should be about 60°
during the bearing period, and the temperature of the surface of the bed
45° to 50° at least; if lower than that the mycelium has a tendency to
rest, and the crop stagnates. Now this temperature can not be maintained
in an open shed, in hard frosty weather, without more trouble than the
crop is worth. The beds would have to be boxed up and mulched very
heavily. And even in a close, warm shed, protection in this way would
have to be given, but the bed should not be under the penetrating
influence of piercing winds and draughts. The mushroom beds should
therefore be made in the warmest parts of the warmest sheds.

The beds should be made upon the floor and as much to one side as
possible, so as to be out of the way, and in form flat on the ground, or
rounded up against the sides of the shed; in the latter case the house
should be well banked around on the outside with litter or tree leaves
or earth, so as to exclude frost from the lower part of the walls, and
thereby prevent the manure in the beds from getting badly chilled. The
beds should be made deeper in a cool shed than in a cellar or warm
mushroom house, so that they may retain their heat for a long time.

Shelf beds should not be used in unheated sheds, because of the
difficulty in keeping them warm in winter. As a rule, shelf beds are not
made as deep as are those upon the floor; hence they do not hold their
heat so long. When cold weather sets in it is easy to box up and cover
over the lower beds to keep them warm, but in the case of shelf beds,
that are exposed above and below, it is more trouble to protect them
sufficiently against cold than they are worth.

Generally speaking, the term shed is applied to unheated, simple wooden
structures; for instance, the wood-shed, the tool-shed, a
carriage-house, or a hay-barn. But we often use the name shed to
designate heated buildings, as the potting and packing sheds of
florists. Were it not that these heated sheds are simply workrooms, and
where there is a great deal of going out and in, and, consequently,
draughts and sudden and frequent fluctuations of temperature, the
treatment of mushroom beds made in them would be the same as that
advised for regular mushroom houses; but as the circumstances are
somewhat different the treatment, too, should not be the same. A warm
potting shed is an excellent place for mushroom beds. Here they should
be made under the benches and covered up in front with thick calico,
plant-protecting cloth, or light wooden shutters, to exclude cold
currents and sudden atmospheric changes, and guard against the beds
drying too quickly.



CHAPTER V.

GROWING MUSHROOMS IN GREENHOUSES.


Any one who has a greenhouse can grow mushrooms in it. And it does not
matter what kind of greenhouse it is, whether a fruit house, a flower
house, or a vegetable house, it is available for mushrooms. One of the
advantages of raising mushrooms in a greenhouse is that they grow to
perfection in parts of the greenhouse that are nearly worthless for
other purposes; for instance, under the stages, where nothing else grows
well, although rhubarb and asparagus might be forced there, and a little
chicory and dandelion blanched.

[Illustration: FIG. 11. BOXED MUSHROOM BED UNDER GREENHOUSE BENCH.]

Cool greenhouses, in all cases, are better for mushrooms than hothouses.
Cool houses are seldom kept at a lower temperature than 45° or 50° in
winter, while hothouses run from 60° to 70° at night, with a rise of ten
to twenty degrees by day, and this is too hot for mushrooms. It is a
very easy matter, by means of covering with hay or boxing over and
covering the boxing with hay or matting, to keep a mushroom bed in a
cool house warm and free from marked changes in temperature; but it is a
difficult matter to keep a mushroom bed in a hothouse cool enough and
prevent sudden rises in temperature.

=On Greenhouse Benches.=--It sometimes happens that the beds are formed
on the greenhouse benches, and the mushrooms occupy the same place that
might be assigned to roses or any other planted-out crop. The beds on
the benches are made one board deep, that is, eight to ten inches of
short, fresh manure, and otherwise as in the case of beds anywhere else.
After the beds are spawned and cased with soil, by covering them over
with a layer of straw litter or hay, sudden drying out of the surface is
prevented, and in order to further prevent this drying it is a good plan
to sprinkle some water over the mulching every day or two, but not
enough to soak through into the bed. About the time the young mushrooms
commence to show themselves, remove the mulching and replace it with a
covering of shutters raised another board's height above the bed, or
with strong calico or plant-protecting cloth hung curtain-fashion over
the beds. The accompanying illustration, Fig. 12, for which I am
indebted to Henry A. Dreer, of Philadelphia, gives an excellent idea of
how mushrooms may be grown and cared for on greenhouse benches. This
illustration, Mr. Dreer writes: "is made from a photograph of a crop
grown on the greenhouse benches at the Model Farm, by Mr. McCaffrey,
gardener to J. E. Kingsley, Esq., of the Continental Hotel.... No
covering of litter is used, but the requisite shading on sunny days is
secured by the use of cotton cloth stretched over the top of the bed, as
shown in the engraving."

[Illustration: FIG. 12. MUSHROOMS GROWN ON GREENHOUSE BENCHES AT MR. J.
E. KINGSLEY'S MODEL FARM.]

My principal objection to mushroom beds on greenhouse benches is their
liability to frequent and marked changes of atmospheric temperature and
moisture, and to drying out. In midwinter they may be all right, but as
spring advances and the sun's brightness and heat increase, the
susceptibility of the beds to become dry also increases.

[Illustration: FIG. 13. WIDE BED WITH PATHWAY ABOVE.]

=In Frames in the Greenhouses.=--Mr. J. G. Gardner has a range of
greenhouses some 900 feet long--the longest unbroken string of
glasshouses that I know of--for the forcing of fruit and vegetables in
winter; grapes, peaches, nectarines, figs, tomatoes, cucumbers, snap
beans, peas, lettuce. This range is divided into several compartments,
to accommodate the different varieties of crops, also so that some can
be run as succession houses. In order to make the most of everything,
market-gardener-like, he doubles up his crops wherever possible, and for
this end he finds no crop more amenable and profitable than mushrooms.
It matters nothing to him whether the house is cold or warm, he can grow
mushrooms in it anyway, and in order to be master of the situation he
makes his mushroom beds in hotbed frames inside the greenhouses. By
attending to ventilating or keeping close, or covering up or leaving
bare, he can properly regulate the temperature of the mushroom bed, no
matter how hot or cold the atmosphere of the greenhouse may be. In the
same way--by shading the panes or unshading them--he governs the light
admitted to the mushrooms.

The greenhouses in which the mushrooms are grown are orchard houses,
that is, glasshouses in which peach and nectarine trees are grown and
forced. As these trees fruit and finish their growth early, it is
necessary that they be kept as cool and inactive as possible in the fall
and early winter, and started again into growth in late winter. In the
fall, therefore, the fermenting material being confined in frames
retains warmth enough for the proper development of the mushrooms, and
as the winter advances and the heat in the frames begins to wane it
becomes necessary to begin heating the greenhouses in order to start the
trees into bloom and growth, and thus are provided very favorable
conditions for the continued production of the mushroom crop.

[Illustration: FIG. 14. MUSHROOMS ON GREENHOUSE BENCHES UNDER TOMATOES.]

The frames used are common hotbed box frames seven feet wide and
carrying three and one-half feet wide sashes. A string of them is run
along the middle of the greenhouses, for greenhouse after greenhouse is
occupied by them. They are flat upon the floor, and in the early part of
the season alone in the greenhouses. But as the winter advances a
temporary staging is erected over these frames, on which spiræas, peas,
beans, or other flowers or vegetables are to be grown. These love the
light and a position near the glass, whereas the mushrooms grow
perfectly well in the dark quarters of the frames under the stages. If
he did not grow mushrooms under these stages the room would be
unoccupied, hence unproductive; but by occupying it with mushrooms he
not only gets peaches and snap beans at once out of the same greenhouse,
but also a crop of mushrooms, often worth as much as the other two.

In preparing the beds in the frames they were made up a foot deep, very
firm, and with New York stable manure brought direct from the cars.
There was no preliminary preparation of the manure. A layer of loam one
and one-half inches deep was then spread over the surface and forked
into the bed of manure one and one-half inches deep, so as to form an
earthy mat three inches deep. This was then packed solid with the feet,
and a two-inch layer of loose manure added all over. In about ten days
the temperature three inches below the surface was about 95°, and the
beds were then spawned. In spawning, drills were drawn across the beds
about a foot apart and just deep enough to touch but not penetrate the
earthy mat before referred to. The broken spawn was then sown in the
drills and covered with a layer of loam one and one-half to two inches
deep, which was tamped slightly. The sashes were then put on and tilted
up a little to let the moisture escape. By the time the mushrooms
appeared there was very little need of ventilating, as the condensation
of moisture on the glass was scarcely apparent; but ventilation is
easily guided by the appearance of moisture on the glass, the more of
this the more ventilation should be given. To begin with, there was no
attempt at shading the frames; but as soon as the mushrooms began to
appear the beds were shaded, and mostly by the crops of other plants on
the stages above them. These frame beds were made up last October, and
began bearing in December, and on March 14 Mr. Gardner wrote me: "The
mushrooms in my frames have done grandly. I cut large basketfuls to-day
of the finest mushrooms I have ever seen, some of them measuring five
inches in diameter before being fully expanded."

And further, in submitting the above notes to him for verification, he
adds: "There is one vital point we should impress upon all who grow
mushrooms in frames or under greenhouse benches, namely, that sudden
changes of temperature must be avoided. While light, in my opinion, is
good for mushrooms, it causes a rise of temperature, and this we must
guard against. In order to maintain a uniform temperature all glass
exposed to light or heat in any other way should be covered with some
non-conducting material. Rye straw is the best thing for this purpose
that I know of. Indeed, neglect of this simple matter, in cases where
sunlight and heat from hot-water pipes come in contact with the young
mushrooms or mycelium on the surface of the beds, is the cause of many
failures in growing in frames and greenhouses."

=Under Greenhouse Benches.=--Open empty spaces under the stages anywhere
are good places for mushroom beds. However, carefully observe a few
points, to wit: A dry floor under the beds is imperative, for a wet
floor soaks and chills the beds, and renders them unhealthy for the
spawn; but the common earth floor is good enough, provided water does
not stand upon it at any time; if it does, the floor to be under the
beds can be rendered dry by raising it a little higher than the general
level, or using a flooring of old boards. Beds should not be built close
up against hot-water pipes, steam pipes, or smoke flues, as the heat
from these when they are in working condition will bake the parts of the
beds next to them and render them unproductive, and also crack and spoil
the caps of the mushrooms that come up within a foot or two of the
pipes. But this injury from hot pipes and flues can be lessened greatly
by boxing the pipes, so as to shut off the heat from the mushroom beds
and allowing it full escape upward; then the beds can be made, with
safety, up to within a foot of the pipes. As a rule, hot-water pipes are
run around under the front benches of a greenhouse, then it would not be
advisable to make beds under those benches. The middle bench is the one
most commonly free from pipes, hence the one best adapted for beds. It
has more headroom, and therefore easier working facilities. Steam-heated
greenhouses generally present the best accommodations for mushroom beds,
because the pipes occupy less room under the benches than do those for
hot water, and they are always kept higher from the ground.

=Among Other Plants on Greenhouse Benches.=--It sometimes happens that
mushrooms spring up spontaneously among the roses, carnations, violets,
mignonette, and other crops that are grown "planted out" on the benches,
and this is particularly the case where fresh soil had just been used,
in whole or part, for filling the bench beds. These mushrooms come from
natural spawn contained in the loam or manure before they were brought
indoors, and which is apt to be true virgin spawn. The mushrooms are
generally of the common kind, grown from brick spawn, but occasionally a
much larger and heavier sort is produced, and this is the "horse"
mushroom. It is perfectly good to eat, only of coarser quality than the
other.

A fair and certain crop can be obtained by planting pieces of spawn in
the beds here and there between the plants and where they will be least
likely to be soaked with water. In order to further insure the
development of the spawn, holes about the size of a pint cup should be
scooped out here and there over the bed, and filled up solidly with
quite fresh but dry horse droppings, with the piece of spawn in the
middle, and covered over on top with an inch of loam, so as to leave the
whole surface of the bed level. So small a quantity of dry manure
surrounded with cold earth will not heat perceptibly, and the moisture
of the loam about it will soon moisten it, no matter how dry it may be.
The dry, fresh droppings are the very best material for starting the
mycelium into growth.

=Growing Mushrooms in Rose Houses.=--George Savage, the head gardener at
Mr. Kimball's greenhouses, Rochester, N. Y., grows mushrooms very
successfully under the benches of the rose houses. When he makes up his
earliest mushroom beds in the fall the rose house is kept cool, and this
is an advantage to the mushroom beds, which get all the warmth they need
from the fermenting manure; but as November advances, and the heat in
the beds begins to wane the rose houses are "started," and this
artificial warmth comes in good season to benefit the growing mushrooms.
The roses, in this case, are planted out on benches, hence there is
scarcely any dripping of water from above upon the mushroom beds below.

Mr. George Grant, of Mamaroneck, N. Y., who grows mushrooms in the
greenhouse, I called to see last January, and was very much pleased with
his simple and successful method. The beds were then in fine bearing,
very full, and the crop was of the best quality. The beds were made upon
the earthen floor of his tomato-forcing house and under the back bench.
The bed was flat, seven to eight inches deep, with a casing of a
ten-inch-wide hemlock board set on edge at the back, and another of same
size against the front. The bed was made of horse droppings, six inches
deep, and molded over with fresh loam one and one-half inch deep. Over
the whole, and resting on the edges of the hemlock boards, was a light
covering of other boards, with a sprinkling of hay on top of them to
arrest and shed drip, and maintain an equable temperature in the bed.

Mr. Abram Van Siclen, of Jamaica, Long Island, is one of the largest
mushroom growers for market in the country, as well as one of the most
extensive growers of market-garden truck under glass around New York. He
devotes an immense area under his lettuce-house benches to the
cultivation of mushrooms. The beds are made upon the floor in the usual
way, only for convenience' sake, to admit of plenty of room in making up
the beds and gathering the crop, besides avoiding the necessity for
building higher structures than the ordinary lettuce greenhouses, the
mushroom beds are sunken about eighteen to twenty-four inches under the
level of the pathways. As the lettuces are planted out upon the benches
there is very little drip from them, hence the sunken beds are well
enough. And the temperature of a lettuce house is about right for a
long-lasting mushroom bed. Light is excluded by a simple covering of
salt hay laid over the beds, and sometimes by light wooden shutters set
up against the aperture between the lettuce benches and the floor, in
this way boxing in the mushrooms in total darkness.

Mr. William Wilson, of Astoria, has an immense greenhouse establishment
near New York. In his greenhouses, under both the side and middle
benches, he grows mushrooms, and when I saw them in January there were
about 300 square yards of beds. The beds were flat, about nine inches
thick, built upon the ground, and protected from strong light by having
muslin tacked over the openings between the benches and the beds
alongside the pathways. But his crop was suffering from drip. Mr. Wilson
told me he could not begin to supply the demand. He says whatever he
makes on mushrooms is mostly clear gain. They occupy space that
otherwise would remain unoccupied, and he needs the manure and the loam
in his florist business, and it is in better condition for potting after
it has been rotted in the mushroom beds than it was before it was used
for this purpose.

[Illustration: FIG. 15. MR. WM. WILSON'S MUSHROOM BEDS.]

=Drip from the Benches.=--This must be prevented from the beds above,
else it will soak or chill, and in a large measure kill the spawn. I
have seen many examples of this evil. The beds would be full of drip
holes all over their surface, and although a good many mushrooms here
and there about the bed might perfect themselves, multitudes only reach
the pin-head condition--or possibly the size of peas--and then fogg off
in patches. It is not one or two little mushrooms in a clump that fogg
off, but where one foggs off all of the little ones in that patch go,
for it is not a disease of the individual mushroom, but of the mycelium
or mushroom plant that runs in the bed, and when this is injured or
killed all the little mushrooms arising from this particular patch of
plant are robbed of sustenance and must perish.

In greenhouses where the benches are occupied with roses, carnations,
bouvardias, violets, or lettuces, "planted out," as commercial florists
and gardeners generally grow them, there is very little drip, because
while the plants on these benches are freely watered, the soil is never
soaked enough for the water to drain from it in dripping streamlets, as
is continually the case in greenhouses where potted plants are grown on
the stages. Under these "planted out" benches, if care is exercised,
mushrooms can be grown in open beds; in fact, it is about the best place
and condition for them in a greenhouse.

[Illustration: FIG. 16. MUSHROOM BED BUILT FLAT UPON THE GROUND.]

With stages occupied by plants in pots provision needs to be made to
ward off the drip from the mushroom beds, by erecting over, and
conveniently high above them, a light wooden framework, on which rest
light wooden frames covered with oiled paper, oiled muslin, or
plant-protecting cloth. In fact, three light wooden strips run over the
bed, as shown in Fig. 12, or three strings of stout cord or wire run in
the same manner will answer for small beds, and act as a support for the
oiled muslin or plant-protecting cloth. Building paper is sometimes used
for the same purpose. Mr. J. G. Gardner uses ordinary hotbed frames and
sashes, as described in a previous chapter. Light wooden shutters--made
of one-half inch or five-eighths inch pine--may be used for the same
end, and will last for many years.

[Illustration: FIG. 17. RIDGED MUSHROOM BED.]

The beds under the greenhouse benches may be made up in the same way as
are beds anywhere else; that is, flat upon the floor and between two
boards set on edge, as seen in Fig. 16, or in ridges under the high or
middle benches, as in Fig. 17, or in banked beds against the back wall,
as shown in Fig. 18. Generally the flat bed is the most convenient to
make and take care of.

[Illustration: FIG. 18. BANKED BED AGAINST A WALL.]

In open, airy greenhouses it is always well to inclose the mushroom beds
in box casings and with sash or shutter coverings, to prevent draughts
and fluctuations of temperature and atmospheric moisture. This can
easily be done by making the sides a board and a half (fifteen inches),
or two boards (twenty inches) high, and covering over with light wooden
shutters, sashes, or muslin or paper-covered light frames. See Fig. 11.

=Ammonia Arising.=--Ammonia arising from the manure of the mushroom beds
in the greenhouse may be injurious to the other inmates of the
greenhouse. If the manure has been well prepared before it was
introduced into the greenhouse, the ammonia arising from it will not, in
the least degree, injure any other plants or flowers that may be in the
house; but if the manure is fresh, hot, and rank, the opposite will be
the case. Beds in greenhouses should always be made up of manure that
has been well prepared beforehand out of doors or in a shed, and as it
is brought into the greenhouse it should at once be built solidly into
the beds. Then very little steam will arise from the beds; in fact, it
will be imperceptible to sight or smell.



CHAPTER VI.

GROWING MUSHROOMS IN THE FIELDS.


Under suitable conditions we can grow mushrooms easily and abundantly in
the open fields, and the planting of the spawn is all the trouble they
will cause us. During the late summer and fall months mushrooms often
appear spontaneously and in great quantity in our open pastures, but in
their natural condition they are an uncertain crop, as in one year they
may occur in the greatest abundance, and in the next perhaps none can be
found in the fields in which they had been so numerous the previous
year. Why this should be so is not very clear. The popular opinion is
that after a dry summer mushrooms abound in the fields, but after a wet
summer they are a very scarce crop; and the inference is that the
moisture has killed the spawn in the ground. This may be true to a
certain extent, but how does it happen--as it certainly often does--that
good spawn planted by hand in the fields in early summer will produce
mushrooms toward fall no matter whether the summer has been wet or dry?
At the same time, it is true that a wet spell immediately succeeding the
planting of the spawn will kill a great deal of it.

As a rule, wild mushrooms abound most in rich, old, well-drained,
rolling pasture lands, and avoid dry, sandy, or wet places, or the
neighborhood of trees and bushes. In attempting to cultivate them in the
open fields we should endeavor to provide similar conditions. Then the
chief requisite is good spawn, for without this we can not raise
mushrooms.

About the middle of June take a sharp spade in the pasture, make =V= or
=T=-shaped cuts in the grass sod about four inches deep and raise one
side enough to allow the insertion of a bit of spawn two to three inches
square under it, so that it shall be about two inches below the surface,
then tamp the sod down. By cutting and raising the sod in this way,
without breaking it off, it is not as likely to die of drought in
summer. In this way plant as much or little as may be desired and at
distances of three, four, or more feet apart. During the following
August or September the mushrooms should show themselves, and continue
in bearing for several weeks.

Mr. Henshaw, of Staten Island, who has been very successful in growing
mushrooms in the fields as well as indoors, writes to me as follows:
"You ask me to give you my plan of growing mushrooms in the fields
during the summer. It is very simple. About the end of June, or as soon
as dry weather sets in, we remove the old beds from our mushroom house,
and if there should be any live spawn in the bottom of our beds we put
it in a wheelbarrow and take it to the field, where we plant it in the
open places, but never under trees. In planting, we lift a sod and put a
shovelful of the manure containing the spawn in the hole, then replace
the sod and beat it down firm; this we do at distances of twelve feet
apart. If we have no live spawn from our indoor beds we take the common
brick spawn, and put about a quarter of a brick into each hole,
returning and beating down the sod as already stated. This is all that
is done. If there comes a dry time after the spawn is put in the pasture
we are sure to have a good supply of mushrooms in the fall."

A few years ago Carter & Co., seedsmen, London, sent this to one of the
gardening periodicals: "The following mode of growing mushrooms in
meadows by one of our customers may be interesting to your readers: In
March (May would be soon enough here) he begins to collect droppings
from the stables. These, when enough have been gathered together, are
taken into the meadow, where holes dug here and there about one foot or
eighteen inches square are filled with them, the soil removed being
scattered over the surrounding grass. When all the holes have been
filled and made solid he then places two or three pieces of spawn about
one inch square in each hole, treads all down firmly, replaces the turf
and beats it tightly down. Under this system, in August and September
mushrooms appear without fail in abundance and without any further care.
The method is simple and the result certain. Therefore all who happen to
have a meadow, paddock, or grass field, and are fond of mushrooms,
should try the experiment.... In the case in question fresh holes were
spawned every year."



CHAPTER VII.

MANURE FOR MUSHROOM BEDS.


In order to grow mushrooms successfully and profitably a supply of fresh
horse manure is needed, and this should be the very best that is made,
either at home or bought from other stables. The questions of manure and
spawn are the most important that we have to deal with. Very few make
their own spawn, as it is bought and accepted upon its good
looks,--often rather deceptive,--but the manure business is entirely in
our own hands, and success with it depends absolutely upon ourselves. We
can not reasonably expect good results from poor manure nor from
ill-prepared manure. It is only from the very best of horse manure
prepared in the very best fashion that we can hope for the very best
crops of the best mushrooms.

=Horse Manure.=--There are various kinds of horse manure, differing
materially in their worth for mushroom beds. The kind of manure depends
upon the condition of the horses, how they are housed, fed, and bedded,
and how the manure is taken care of. But while the manure of all healthy
animals is useful for our purpose, there still is a great choice in
horse manure. If we are dependent upon our home supply we may use and
make the best of what we have, but if we have to buy the manure we
should be very particular to select the best kind of manure and accept
of no other.

The very best manure is that from strong, healthy, hard-worked,
well-kept animals that are liberally fed with hard food, as timothy hay
and grain, and bedded with straw. And if the bedding be pretty well
wetted with urine and trampled under the horses' feet, so much the
better; indeed, this is one reason why manure from farm and teamsters'
stables is better than that from stylish establishments, where
everything is kept so scrupulously dry and clean.

[Illustration: FIG. 19. PERSPECTIVE VIEW OF THE DOSORIS MUSHROOM
CELLAR.]

The fresher the manure is the better, still manure that is not perfectly
fresh may also be quite good. Stable manure may accumulate in a cellar
for a couple of months, and still be first rate. After our hotbed season
is over I stack our stable manure high in the yard, and from June until
August, as the manure is taken away from the stable each day, it is
piled on the top of this stack. My object is to keep it so dry that it
can neither heat nor rot. In August the stack is broken down and the
best manure shaken out to one side for mushrooms, and the long straw and
rotted parts thrown to the other side. This short manure, when moistened
with water and thrown into a heap, exposed to the sun for a day or two,
will heat up briskly. The beds illustrated in Fig. 19 were made from
manure prepared in this way in August.

In the case of quite fresh manure, let it accumulate for a few days, or
a fortnight, even, until there is enough of it to make up a bed, and
then prepare it. Be very particular to prevent, from the first, its
heating violently or "burning" while accumulating in the pile. Beds made
from very fresh manure respond quickly and generously. The crop comes in
heavily to begin with, and continues bearing largely while it lasts, but
its duration is usually shorter than in the case of a bed made up of
less fresh manure. But altogether it yields a better and heavier crop
than a bed that comes in more gradually and lasts longer, and the
mushrooms are of the finest quality.

Some growers use the droppings only, and reject all of the strawy part,
or as much of it as they can conveniently shake out. This gives them an
excellent manure and perhaps the very best for use on a small scale or
in small beds. When mushrooms are to be grown in boxes, narrow troughs,
half barrels, and other confined quarters, it is well to concentrate the
manure as much as possible--use all the droppings and as little straw as
you can. But droppings alone for large beds would take too much manure
and cost too much, and they would not be any better than with a rougher
manure.

Always preserve the wet, strawy part of the manure, along with the
droppings, and mix and ferment them together, and in this way not only
add largely to the bulk of the pile, but secure the benefits afforded by
the urine without reducing, in any way, the strength or fermenting
properties of the manure. Shake out all the rank, dry, strawy part of
the manure and lay it aside for other purposes. This may be of further
use as bedding in the stables, covering the mushroom beds after they
have been made up, or for hotbeds; if well wetted with stable drainings,
or even plain water, it forms a ready heating material.

Many a time when we have been short of home-made manure I have bought
some loads here and there from different stables in the village, and
mixed all together and made it into beds with excellent results.
Sometimes when the manure under preparation had been rather old and
cool, I have added a fifth or tenth part of fresh droppings to it, with
very quickening effect in heating and apparent benefit to the crop.

It is generally believed that the manure of entire horses is better for
mushrooms than that of other horses, but positive evidence in this
direction has never come under my observation. Some practical men assert
that there is no difference. Mr. John G. Gardner, at the Rancocas Farm,
who has had abundant opportunity to test this matter, tells me that he
has given it a fair trial and been unable to find any difference in the
quality or quantity of mushrooms raised from beds made from the manure
of entire horses and those raised from beds made from the manure of
other equally as well fed animals. But the Parisian growers insist that
there is a difference in favor of entire horses, especially in the case
of hard-worked animals such as are engaged in heavy carting.

Manure of horses that are largely fed with carrots is emphatically
condemned by most writers on the cultivation of mushrooms; indeed, it is
one of _the_ points in every book on mushrooms which I have read. Let us
look at a few practical facts: There are at Dosoris two shelf beds in
one cellar; each is thirty feet long, three feet wide, and nine inches
deep, and both are bearing a very thick crop of mushrooms. The material
in these beds consists of horse manure three parts and chopped sod loam
one part, which had been mixed and fermented together from the first
preparation. The manure was saved from the stables on the place in
November, '88, the materials prepared in December, the beds built Dec.
17, spawned Dec. 24, molded over Dec. 31, and first mushrooms gathered
Feb. 7, 1889. These beds bore well until the middle of April. The
mushrooms did not average as large as they did on the deeper beds upon
the floor of the cellar, but they ran about three-fourths to one ounce
apiece, and a good many were more than this. It is most always the case,
however, that the crop on thin shelf beds averages less than it does on
thick floor beds, and especially is this noticeable after the first
flush of the crop has been gathered, no matter what kind of fermenting
material had been used. At the time when the manure used for these beds
was being saved at the stable the horses were only very lightly worked,
and to each horse was fed, in addition to hay and some oats and bran,
about a third of a bushel of carrots a day. And this is the manure used
for the late mushroom beds, and yet good crops and good mushrooms are
produced. This is not only the experience of one year's practice but the
regular routine of many.

Perhaps some one would like to ask: Do you consider the manure of
carrot-fed horses as good as the manure of animals to which no carrots
or other root crops had been fed? My answer is--decidedly not. While
the manure of carrot-fed animals is not the best, at the same time it is
good, and any one having plenty of it can also have plenty of mushrooms.
The complete denunciation of the manure of carrot-fed horses so
emphatically stereotyped upon the minds and pens of horticultural
writers is not always founded on fact.

=Manure of Mules.=--This is regarded as being next in value to that of
entire horses, and some French growers go so far as to say that it is
quite as good. Mr. John G. Gardner tells me of an extraordinary crop of
mushrooms he once had which astonished that veteran, Samuel Henshaw, and
that it was from beds made of manure from mule stables. Certainly the
heaviest crop of mushrooms I ever did see was at Mr. Wilbur's place at
South Bethlehem, Pa., four years ago, and the beds were of clean mule
droppings from the coal mines. Mule manure can be had in quantity at our
mule stock yards, which are in nearly every large city in the Middle and
Southern States. Getting it from the mines costs more than it is worth,
except as a fancy article; the men will not collect and save it for any
reasonable price.

=Cellar Manure.=--Many stables have cellars under them into which the
manure and urine are dropped at every day's cleaning. These cellars are
not generally cleaned out before a good deal of manure has accumulated
in them, say a few weeks', or a few months', or a winter's gathering,
and it is commonly pretty well moistened by the urine. If this manure
has not become too dry and "fire-fanged" in the cellar it is splendid
for mushrooms. We buy a good deal of it, but are particular to reject
the very dry and white-burned parts. Sometimes the manure from the
cow-stables, as well as from the horse-stables, is dropped together into
the cellar; then I would give less for the manure, especially if the cow
manure predominated, because in the working it keeps too cold and wet
and pasty; but if there is not cow manure enough to give the mass a
pasty character it will make capital mushroom beds. Pigs often have the
run of the manure-cellar, as is generally the case in farmyards. I would
not use any part of this mixed pig manure. Mycelium evades hog manure;
besides it is impure and malodorous, and a propagating bed for noxious
insect vermin. It matters very little what kind of bedding is used, in
the case of cellar manure, but I would not buy it if sawdust or salt hay
had been used as bedding. Neither of these materials, in limited
quantity, is deleterious to the mushrooms; at the same time, they are
far less desirable than straw, field hay, German peat moss, or corn
stalks, and there are risks enough in mushroom-growing without courting
any that we can as well avoid.

=City Stable Manure.=--Around New York this can always be had in any
quantity at a reasonable rate, and it is first-rate manure for mushroom
beds. Market gardeners haul in a load of vegetables to market and bring
back a load of manure; others may buy and haul home manure in the same
way, or make arrangements with a teamster to do it for them. But the
whole matter of city manure is now so deftly handled by agents, who make
a special business of it, that we can get any quantity of manure, from a
500 lb bale to an unlimited number of loads, and of most any quality,
delivered near or far, inland or coastwise, at a fairly moderate price.
It is the city stable manure that nearly all our large market growers
use for their mushroom beds. When they get it at the stables and cart it
home themselves they know what they are handling, and should take only
fresh horse dung. In ordering it of an agent be particular to arrange
for the freshest and cleanest, pure horse manure. They will get it for
you. We get several hundreds of loads of this selected manure from them
every year for hotbeds, and find it excellent. We also get 1000 to 2000
loads of the common New York stable manure a year for our general
outdoor crops, and it also is capital manure in its way, but not so good
as the selected manure for mushrooms. It is mixed a little and smells
very rank, and in mushroom beds usually produces a good deal of spurious
fungi. Most all of our largest mushroom growers, Van Siclen of Jamaica,
Denton of Woodhaven, Connard of Hoboken, and others, live within easy
hauling distance of the city, and are able to select and get the very
choicest manure at a very cheap rate.

=Baled Manure.=--Within a year or two a good deal of our city horse
manure has been put up in bales and thus shipped and sold. Each bale
contains from 350 to nearly 500 lbs, and is made up, pressed and tied in
about the same way as baled hay. The principal advantages of the bales
are these: Only the cleanest horse manure is put up in this way; cow
manure, offal, spent hops, or other short or soft manures are not
included in the bales, nor, on account of shipping considerations, are
malodorous manures of any sort permitted in them. The railroads allow
baled manure to be put off on their platforms, and closer to their
stations than they would allow loose manure; and it often happens that
an agent will send a carload to a railroad station and dump it off there
so that the people around who have only small garden lots can have an
opportunity of buying one or more bales, just as they need it, and
without, as is generally the case, having to buy a whole load when they
need only half a load. These bales are quite a boon to people who would
like to have a small bed of mushrooms in their cellar and who have no
other manure. Bring home one or more bales, open them, spread out the
manure a little, and when it heats turn it a few times, and it will soon
be ready for use. Or if you do not wish to litter up the place, roll the
bales into the cellar, shed, or wherever else you wish to make use of
them, and mix about one-fourth of their bulk of loam with the manure
and make up the bed at once.

The Board of Health of New York city is very emphatic in its endeavors
to rid the city of any accumulation of manure and, a year ago, had under
consideration a plan to compel the manure agents, for sanitary reasons,
to bale the stable manure. And perhaps this is the reason why it is so
easily procured, to wit: A New York gentleman, desirous of engaging in
the mushroom-growing business, writes me: "I get my manure from the city
in bales. All it costs me is the freight to my place at White Plains."
Lucky gentleman! With any amount of the best kind of stable manure
gratis, no wonder he wishes to embark in the mushroom ship.

=Cow Manure.=--This is sometimes used with horse manure in forming the
materials for a mushroom bed, and several European writers are emphatic
in advocating its use. But I have tried it time and time again, and in
various ways, and am satisfied that it has no advantage whatever over
plain horse manure, if, indeed, it is as good. It is not used by the
market growers in this country.

The best kind of cow manure is said to be the dry chips gathered from
the open pastures; these are brought home, chopped up fine and mixed
with horse manure. The time and expense incurred in collecting and
chopping these "chips" completely overreach any advantages that might be
derived from them, no matter how desirable they may be. The next best
kind of cow manure is that of stall-fed cattle, to which dry food only,
as hay and grain, is fed. This is seldom obtainable except in winter,
and is then available for spring beds only. This I have used freely.
One-third of it to two-thirds of dry horse manure works up very well,
heats moderately, retains its warmth a long time, also its moisture
without any tendency to pastiness; the mycelium travels through it
beautifully, and it bears fine mushrooms. Still, it is no better than
plain horse manure. The poorest kind of cow manure is the fresh manure
of cattle fed with green grass, ensilage, and root crops; indeed, such
manure can not be used alone; it needs to be freely mixed with some
absorbent, as dry loam, German moss, dry horse droppings, and the like,
and even then I have utterly failed to perceive its advantages; it is a
dirty mass to work, and quite cold.

In the manufacture of spawn, however, cow manure is a requisite
ingredient, and here again the manure of dry fed animals is better than
that of those fed with green and other soft food. But my chief objection
to the use of cow manure in the mushroom beds is that it is a favorite
breeding and feeding place for hosts of pernicious bugs and grubs and
earth worms,--creatures that we had better repel from, rather than
encourage in, our mushroom beds.

=German Peat Moss Stable Manure for Mushroom Beds.=--Although I have not
yet had an opportunity of trying this material for mushroom beds, Mr.
Gardner, of Jobstown, has great faith in it; so, too, has that prince of
English mushroom growers, Richard Gilbert, of Burghley, who relates his
success with it in growing mushrooms in the English garden papers. This
peat moss is a comparatively new thing in this country, and is used in
place of straw for bedding horses. It is a great absorbent and soaks up
much of the urine that, were straw used instead, would be likely to pass
off into the drains. To this is ascribed its great virtue in mushroom
culture. It should be mixed with loam when used for mushroom beds.

[Illustration: FIG. 20. BALE OF GERMAN PEAT MOSS.]

=Sawdust Stable Manure for Mushroom Beds.=--This is the manure obtained
from stables where sawdust has been used for bedding for the horses. It
is a good absorbent and retains considerable of the stable wettings.
Such manure ferments well, makes up nicely into beds, the mycelium runs
well in it, and good mushrooms are produced from it. But if I could get
any other fairly good manure I wouldn't use it. I remember seeing it at
Mr. Henshaw's place some years ago. He had bought a quantity of fresh
stable manure from the Brighton coal yards, where sawdust had been used
for bedding for the horses, and this he used for his mushroom beds. I
went back again in a few months to see the bed in bearing, but it was
not a success. At the same time, some European growers record great
success with sawdust stable manure. George Bolas, Hopton, Wirkeworth,
England, sent specimens of mushrooms that he grew on sawdust manure beds
to the editor of the _Garden_, who pronounced them "in every way
excellent." Mr. Bolas says: "In making up the bed I mixed about
one-third of burnt earth with the sawdust, sand, and droppings. The
mushrooms were longer in coming up than usual, the bed being in a close
shed, without any heat whatever. They have, however, far exceeded my
expectations."

Richard Gilbert, of Burghley, also wrote to the _Garden_, April 25,
1885: "There is nothing new in growing mushrooms in sawdust. I have done
it here for years past; that is to say, after it had done service as a
bed for horses, and got intermixed with their droppings. I have never
been able to detect the least difference in size or quality between
mushrooms grown in sawdust and those produced in the ordinary way."

=Tree Leaves.=--Forest tree leaves are often used for mushroom beds,
sometimes alone, instead of manure, but more frequently mixed with horse
manure to increase the bulk of the fermenting material. Oak tree leaves
are the best; quick-rotting leaves, like those of the chestnut, maple,
or linden, are not so good, and those of coniferous trees are of no use
whatever. As the leaves must be in a condition to heat readily they
should be fresh; such are easily secured before winter sets in, but in
spring, after lying out under the winter's snow and rain, their
"vitality" is mostly gone. But we can secure a large lot of dry leaves
in the fall and pile them where they will keep dry until required for
use. As needed we can prepare a part of this pile by wetting the leaves,
taking them under cover to a warm south-facing shed, and otherwise
assisting fermentation just as if we were preparing for a hotbed. While
moistening the leaves with clean water will induce a good fermentation,
wetting them with liquid from the horse-stable urine tanks will cause a
brisk heat, and for mushrooms produce more genial conditions.

Mushroom beds composed in whole or part of fermenting tree leaves should
be much deeper than would be necessary were horse manure alone used; for
half leaves and half manure, say fifteen inches deep; for all leaves,
say twenty to thirty inches deep.

While mushroom spawn will run freely in leaf beds and we can get good
mushrooms from them, my experience has satisfied me that we do not get
as fine crops from these beds or any modification of them as from the
ordinary stable manure beds. And we can not wonder much at this,
considering that the wild mushroom is scarcely ever found in the
neighborhood of trees or where leaf mold deposits occur.

=Spent Hops.=--We can make good use of this in one way. If we are short
of good materials for a mushroom bed, we can first make up the beds
eight or ten inches deep with fermenting spent hops, and above this lay
a four or five inch layer of horse manure, or this and loam mixed. The
hops will keep up the warmth, and the manure affords a congenial home
for the mushroom spawn. But we should never use spent hops alone, nor
so near the surface of the beds that the spawn will have to travel
through it.

Spent hops can be had for nothing, and our city brewers even pay a
premium to the manure agents to take the hops away.



CHAPTER VIII.

PREPARATION OF THE MANURE.


Get as good a quality of fresh horse manure as you can, and in
sufficient quantity for the amount of bed or beds you wish to make. Next
get it into suitable condition for making up into beds. This can be done
out of doors or under cover of a shed, but preferably in the shed. Out
of doors the manure is under the drying influence of sun and wind, and
it is also liable to become over-wetted by rain, but under cover we have
full control of its condition. All the manure for beds between July and
the end of October is prepared out of doors on a dry piece of ground,
but what is used after the first of November, all through the winter, is
handled in a shed open to the south. During the autumn months we get
along very well with it out of doors; after every turning cover the heap
with strawy litter to save it from the drying influences of sun and
wind. Remove this covering when next turned, and lay light wooden
shutters on top of it as a precaution against rain. In the shed in
winter the manure is protected against rain and snow and we can always
work it conveniently; when the shed is open to the south--as wagon and
wood-sheds often are--we get the benefit of the warm sunshine in the
daytime in starting fermentation in the manure, but in the event of
dull, cold weather, cover up the pile quite snugly with straw and
shutters to start the heat in it. Altogether, a warm, close shed would
be better.

It seldom happens that one can get all the manure he wants at one time;
it accumulates by degrees. This is the case with the market grower who
uses many tons, and hauls it home from the city stables a little at a
time; also with the private grower, who uses only a few bushels or half
a cord, and has it accumulate for days or weeks from his own stable. As
the manure accumulates throw it into a pile, straw and all, but not into
such a big pile that it will heat violently; and particularly observe
that it shall not "fire-fang" or "burn" in the heap. If it shows any
tendency to do this, turn it over loosely, sprinkle it freely with
water, spread it out a little, and after a few hours, or when it has
cooled off nicely, throw it up into a pile again and tread it firmly to
keep it moist and from heating hastily.

When enough manure has accumulated for a bed, prepare it in the
following way: Turn it over, shaking it up loosely and mixing it all
well together. Throw aside the dry, strawy part, also any white "burnt"
manure that may be in it, and all extraneous matter, as sticks, stones,
old tins, bones, leather straps, rags, scraps of iron, or such other
trash as we usually find in manure heaps, but do not throw out any of
the wet straw; indeed, we should aim to retain all the straw that has
been well wetted in the stable. If the manure is too dry do not hesitate
to sprinkle it freely with water, and it will take a good deal of water
to well moisten a heap of dry manure. Then throw it into a compact
oblong pile about three or four feet high, and tread it down a little.
This is to prevent hasty and violent heating and "burning," for firmly
packed manure does not heat up so readily or whiten so quickly as does a
pile loosely thrown together. Leave it undisturbed until fermentation
has started briskly, which in early fall may be in two or three days,
or in winter in six to ten days, then turn it over again, shaking it up
thoroughly and loosely and keeping what was outside before inside now,
and what was inside before toward the outside now; and if there are any
unduly dry parts moisten them as you go along. Trim up the heap into the
same shape as you had before, and again tread it down firmly. This
compacting of the pile at every turning reduces the number of required
turnings. When hot manure is turned and thrown loosely into a pile it
regains its great heat so rapidly that it will need turning again within
twenty-four hours, in order to save it from burning, and all practical
men know that at every turning ammonia is wasted,--the most potent food
of the mushroom. We should therefore endeavor to get along with as few
turnings as possible; at the same time, never allow any part of the
manure to burn, even if we have to turn the heap every day. These
turnings should be continued until the manure has lost its tendency to
heat violently, and its hot, rank smell is gone,--usually in about three
weeks' time. If the manure, or any part of it, is too dry at any
turning, the dry part should be sprinkled with water and kept in the
middle of the heap. Plain water is what is generally used for moistening
the manure, but I sometimes use liquid from the stable tanks, which not
only answers the purpose of wetting the dry materials, but it also is a
powerful stimulant and welcome addition to the manure. But the greatest
vigilance should be observed to guard against overmoistening the manure;
far better fail on the side of dryness than on that of wetness.

If the manure is too wet to begin with it should be spread out thinly
and loosely and exposed to sun and wind, if practicable, to dry. Drying
by exposure in this way is not as enervating as "burning" in a hot
pile, and better have recourse to any method of drying the manure than
use it wet. If, on account of the weather or lack of convenience for
drying, the manure can not be dried enough, add dry loam, dry sand, dry
half-rotted leaves, dry peat moss, dry chaff, or dry finely cut hay or
straw, and mix together.

The proper condition of the manure, as regards dryness or moistness, can
readily be known by handling it. Take a handful of the manure and
squeeze it tight; it should be unctuous enough to hold together in a
lump, and so dry that you can not squeeze a drop of water out of it.

Some private gardeners in England lay particular stress upon collecting
the fresh droppings at the stables every day, and spreading them out
upon a shed or barn floor to dry, and in this way keeping them dry and
from heating until enough has accumulated for a bed, when the bed is
made up entirely of this material, or of part of this and part of loam.
But market gardeners, the ones whose bread and butter depend upon the
crops they raise, never practice this method, and that patriarch in the
business, Richard Gilbert, denounces the practice unstintedly.

Different growers have different ideas of preparing manure for mushroom
beds, but the aim of all is to get it into the best possible condition
with the least labor and expense, and to guard against depriving it of
any more ammonia than can be helped. See Mr. Gardner's method of
preparing manure, p. 22.

=Loam and Manure Mixed.=--Mushroom beds are often formed of loam and
manure mixed together, say one-third or one-fourth part of the whole
being loam, and the other two-thirds or three-fourths manure; if a
larger proportion of loam is used it will render the beds rather cold
unless they are made unusually deep. I am not prepared to affirm or deny
that this mixed material has any advantages over plain manure; I use it
considerably every year and with good results; at the same time, I get
as good crops from the plain manure beds. But it has many warm friends
who are excellent growers.

In preparing this mixed material I use fresh sod loam well chopped up,
and add it to the manure in this way: First select the manure and throw
it into a heap to ferment, as before explained; then after the first
turning cover the heap with a layer of this loam about three or four
inches thick, enough to arrest the steam; at the next turning mix this
casing of loam with the manure, and when the heap is squared off add
another coating of loam of the same thickness in the same way as before,
and so on at each turning until the whole mass is fit for use, and the
full complement of loam, say one-fourth the full bulk, has been added.
In this way much of the ammonia that otherwise would be evaporated from
the manure is arrested and retained.

Some growers, when they first shake out their fresh manure, add the full
complement of loam to it at once and mix them together. Others, again,
Mr. Denton, of Woodhaven, for instance, prepare the manure in the
ordinary way and when ready for use add the quota of loam. I use good
sod loam for two reasons, namely, because it is the very best that can
be used for the purpose, and, also, after being used in the mushroom
beds it is a capital material, and in fine condition for use in potting
soft-wooded plants. But the loam commonly used to mix with the manure is
ordinary field soil. If the loam is ordinarily moist to begin with, and
also the manure, there is very little likelihood of any of the material
getting too dry during the preparation. And much less preparation is
needed, for the presence of the loam lessens, considerably, the
probability of hasty, violent fermentation.

Mr. Withington, of South Amboy, N. J., uses rather a stinted amount of
loam in his manure. He writes me: "We made up our beds this year with a
proportion of loam in the manure, say one part loam to eight parts
manure, but have always used clear manure heretofore, and I think the
beds hold out longer than when only manure is used."



CHAPTER IX.

MAKING UP THE MUSHROOM BEDS.


The place in the cellar, shed, house, or elsewhere, where we intend to
grow the mushrooms, should be in readiness as soon as the manure has
been well prepared and is in proper condition for use. The bed or beds
should be made up at once. The thickness of the beds depends a good deal
upon circumstances, such as the quality of the manure,--whether it is
plain horse manure, or manure and loam mixed together,--or whether the
beds are to be made in heated or unheated buildings, and on the floor or
on shelves. Floor beds are generally nine to fifteen inches deep; about
nine inches in the case of manure alone, in warm quarters, and ten to
fourteen inches when manure and loam are used. In cool houses the beds
are made a few inches deeper than this so as to keep up a steady, mild
warmth for a long time. The beds may be made flat, or ridged, or like a
rounded bank against the wall; but the flat form is the commonest, and
the most convenient where shelves are also used in the same building.
Shelf beds are generally nine inches deep; that is, the depth of one
board.

In making up the beds, bring in the manure and shake it up loosely and
spread it evenly over the bed, beating it down firmly with the back of
the fork as you go along, and continue in this way until the desired
depth is attained. If it is a floor bed and there is no impediment, as
a shelf overhead, tread the manure down firmly and evenly; if the manure
is fairly dry and in good condition it will be pretty firm and still
springy, but if it is too moist and poorly prepared treading will pack
it together like wet rotten dung.

Now pierce a hole in the bed and insert a thermometer. There are
"ground" or "bottom-heat" thermometers, as gardeners call them, for this
purpose, but any common thermometer will do well enough; and after two
or three days examine this thermometer daily to see what is the
temperature of the manure in the bed. In roomy or airy structures or
where only a small bed has been made it may, in the meantime, be left in
this condition. But in a tight cellar I find that the warm moisture
arising from the bed condenses in the atmosphere and settles on the top
of the manure, making it perfectly wet. In order to counteract this, as
soon as the bed is made up I spread some straw or hay over it loosely;
the moisture settles on the covering and does not reach through to the
manure. Beware of overcovering, as such induces overheating inside the
bed. At spawning time remove this covering. The bed will then have
become so cool (80° or 90°) that there is very little evaporation from
it, consequently little danger of surface-wetting.

=The Proper Temperature.=--This, in mushroom beds, depends upon the
materials of which they are composed, their thickness, how they are
built, the situation they are in, and other circumstances. If the manure
was good and fresh to begin with, carefully prepared and used as soon as
ready, the bed in a few days will warm up to 125°, or a little more or
less, and this is very good. My best beds have always shown a maximum
heat of between 120° and 125°. Had the manure been used a few days too
soon the heat would rise higher, perhaps to 135°, but this is too warm;
in this case I would fork over the surface of the bed a few inches deep
to let the heat escape, and after a couple of days compact the bed
again. Boring holes all over the surface of the beds with a crowbar is
the common way of reducing a too high temperature, and when the heat has
subsided sufficiently fill up these holes with finely pulverized dry
loam. With loam we can fill them up perfectly, but we can not do this
with manure, and if left open they remain as wet sweat holes that are
very deleterious to the spreading spawn.

A too high temperature in the beds should be sedulously guarded against,
for it wastes the substance of the manure, dries up the interior of the
bed, and the mushroom crop must necessarily be starved and short.

Provided that the manure is fresh and good and has been well prepared,
if the beds, after being made up, do not indicate more than 100° or 110°
no alarm need be felt, for excellent crops will likely be produced by
these beds. The thicker the beds are the higher the heat will probably
rise in them. Firmly built beds warm up more slowly than do loosely
built ones, and they keep their heat longer. If the materials are quite
cool when built solidly into beds they are not apt to become very warm
afterward. But I always like to make up the beds with moderately warm
manure.

It sometimes happens that circumstances may prevent the making up of the
beds just as soon as the manure is in prime condition, and even after
they are made up the heat does not rise above 75° or 80°. In such a case
if the manure is otherwise in good condition and fresh, it is well
enough and a good crop may be expected. But if the manure, to begin
with, had been a little stale, rotten and inert, I certainly would not
hesitate to at once break up the bed, add some fresh horse droppings to
it, mix thoroughly, then make it up again. Or a fair heat may be started
in such a stale bed by sprinkling it over rather freely with urine from
the barnyard, then forking the surface over two or three inches deep and
afterward compacting it slightly with the back of the fork. Spread a
layer of hay, straw, or strawy stable litter a few inches deep over the
bed till the heat rises. If the manure had been moist enough this
sprinkling should not be resorted to, but the fresh droppings added
instead. When it is applied, however, great care should be taken to
prevent overheating; a lessening or entire removal of the strawy
covering, and again firmly compacting the surface of the bed will reduce
the temperature. Some saltpeter, or nitrate of soda, an ounce to three
gallons of liquid, will encourage the spread of the mycelium after the
spawn is inserted; a much stronger solution of these salts can now be
used than would be safe to apply after the mycelium is running in the
bed.

When loam and manure mixed together comprise the materials of which the
bed is made, the temperature is not likely to rise so high as when
manure alone is used, but this matters not so long as the materials of
which the bed is composed are sweet and fresh and not over-moist. But if
the materials are cold and stale treat as recommended for a manure bed,
always bearing in mind that it is better to have a cold bed that is
fairly dry than one that is wet, or, indeed, a warm one that is wet.

Mr. Withington, of South Amboy, has a good word to say for beds of a low
temperature. He writes me: "Our beds kept in good bearing two months,
though they have borne in a desultory way a month longer. Our best bed
this season was one that was kept at an even temperature. The manure
never rose above 75° when made up, and decreased to about 60° soon after
spawning. Kept the house at 55°."



CHAPTER X.

MUSHROOM SPAWN.


What is mushroom spawn? Is it a seed or a root? Do you plant it or sow
it, or how do you prepare it? are some of the questions asked me now and
again. To the general public there seems to be some great mystery
surrounding this spawn question; in fact, it appears to be the chief
enigma connected with mushroom-growing. Now, the truth is, there is no
mystery at all about the matter. What practical mushroom growers call
spawn, botanists term mycelium.

The spawn is the true mushroom plant and permeates the ground, manure,
or other material in which it may be growing; and what we know as
mushrooms is the fruit of the mushroom plant. The spawn is represented
by a delicate white mold-like network of whitish threads which traverse
the soil or manure. Under favorable circumstances it grows and spreads
rapidly, and in due time produces fruit, or mushrooms as we call them.
The mushrooms bear myriads of spores which are analogous to seeds, and
these spores become diffused in the atmosphere and fall upon the ground.
It is reasonable to suppose that they are the origin of the spawn which
produces the natural mushrooms in the fields, also the spawn we find in
manure heaps. But we never have been able to produce spawn artificially
from spores, or in other words, mushrooms have never been grown by man,
so far as I can find any authentic record, from "seed." How, then, do we
get the spawn? By propagation by division. We take the mushroom plant or
spawn, as we call it, and break it up into pieces, and plant these
pieces separately in a prepared bed of manure or other material, under
conditions favorable for their growth, and we find that these pieces of
spawn develop into vigorous plants that bear fruit (mushrooms) in about
two months from planting time. When the spawn has borne its full crop of
fruit it dies.

Well, then, if we can not produce spawn from spores, and the spawn in
the beds that have borne mushrooms has died out, how are we to get the
spawn for our future crops? is a question that may suggest itself to the
inexperienced. By securing it when it is in its most vigorous condition,
which is before it begins to show signs of forming mushrooms, and drying
it, and keeping it dry till required for use. But in order to secure the
spawn we need to take and keep with it the manure to which it adheres or
in which it is spreading. In this way it can be kept in good condition
for several years and without its vitality being perceptibly impaired.
Keeping it dry merely suspends its growth; as soon as it is again
submitted to favorable conditions of moisture and heat its pristine
activity returns.

Mushroom spawn can be obtained at any seed store. Our seedsmen always
keep it in stock, both the brick (English), and the flake (French)
spawn. It is retailed in quantities of one pound or more, and as the
article is perfectly dry it can be easily sent by mail in small
quantities.

The seedsmen import it from Europe every year along with their seeds. A
prominent Boston seedsman writes me: "We get our supply through the
London wholesale seedsmen, for the sake of convenience and cheaper ocean
freight, etc. Coming with a shipment of other goods and on same bill of
lading brings the freight charges down. The low price at which mushroom
spawn is sold in quantity can only be maintained with low freight
rates, as there is a duty here of 20% on the article."

[Illustration: FIG. 21. BRICK SPAWN.]

By direct inquiry of the leading importers in different cities I find
that we import about 4500 lbs of French or flake spawn, and 4000
bushels, or 64,000 lbs of English or brick spawn, and that fully a half
of this whole importation is handled by the seedsmen of New York city.
In New York one firm alone, who make a specialty of supplying market
gardeners, has in one year imported 1500 bushels of brick spawn. But the
vicinity of New York is the great mushroom-growing center of the
country, also the best market for mushrooms in the country. One gardener
at Jamaica, L. I., bought 1000 lbs of brick spawn at one time, and a
neighbor of his bought 400 lbs; this shows what a large quantity of
spawn market gardeners require. And the demand this year is
unprecedented; some of our leading importers had sold out their supply
before the first of November. And it is not private growers so much as
market growers who are the cause of this; the market men find there is
money in growing mushrooms and they are going into it.

Spawn comes in the form of dry, hard, solid manure bricks, and also in
the form of flakes of half rotted strawy manure. These bricks and flakes
are completely permeated with the mushroom mycelium.

The brick spawn is commonly known as English spawn, and what is imported
into this country is made in England, mostly about London. The bricks
made by the different manufacturers vary a little in size and weight; in
some cases ten bricks go to the bushel, in others fourteen, and in
others sixteen. This last is the commonest sized brick, and weighs
exactly a pound, and measures about eight and one-half inches long, five
and one-fourth inches wide, and one and one-fourth inches thick; it is
what the London spawn makers call a 9x6x2 inch brick, but it shrinks in
drying. In retailing brick spawn in this country it is sold by weight
and not by measure.

Mill-track mushroom spawn is advertised by some of our seedsmen, but
what they sell under this name is only the ordinary English brick spawn.
One of our prominent seed firms who advertise it write me: "Genuine
mill-track spawn used to be the best in England, but it has been
superseded, although European gardeners still call for English spawn
under the name of 'mill-track.'" The real mill-track spawn is the
natural spawn that has spread through the thoroughly amalgamated horse
droppings in mill-tracks or the cleanings from mill-tracks. It is
usually sold in large, irregular, somewhat soft lumps, and is much
esteemed by spawn makers for impregnating their bricks, but nowadays,
that horses have given place to steam as a motive power in mills, we
have no further supply of mill-track spawn for use in spawning our
mushroom beds. We do not feel this loss, however, as the spawn now
manufactured by our best makers will produce as good a crop of
mushrooms as the old mill-track natural spawn used to do.

The flake spawn is what is generally known as French spawn, and is
imported into this country from France. But the manufacture of "French"
spawn for sale, however, is not strictly confined to France. It is put
up in two ways, namely, nicely packed in thin wooden boxes, each
containing two or three pounds of spawn, and also loose in bulk when it
is sold by weight or measure.

[Illustration: FIG. 22. FLAKE OR FRENCH SPAWN.]

Virgin spawn is what we call natural spawn or wild spawn; that is, the
spawn that occurs naturally in the fields, in manure piles, or
elsewhere, and without any artificial aid. It is supposed to be produced
directly from the mushroom spores, and is not a new growth of surviving
parts of old spawn that may have lived over in the ground. It is far
more vigorous than "made" spawn, and spawn makers always endeavor to get
it to use in spawning the artificial spawn. It is seldom used for
spawning mushroom beds because not easy to obtain. Now and again we come
upon a lot of it in a manure pile; it looks like a netted mass of white
strings traversing the manure. As soon as discovered secure all you can
find, bring it indoors to a loft, shed, or room, and spread it out to
dry; after drying it thoroughly keep it dry and preserve and use it as
you would French spawn, for it is the best kind of flake spawn. In using
virgin spawn for spawning beds I have obtained larger and heavier
mushrooms than from "made" spawn, and the beds lasted longer in good
bearing, but the weight of the whole crop has not been more than from
artificial spawn.

=How to Keep Spawn.=--Spawn should be kept in a dry, airy place,
somewhat dark, if convenient, and in a temperature between 35° and 65°.
Wherever things will "must," as in a cellar, cupboard against a wall, or
in a close, damp building, is a very poor place for keeping spawn. If
the spawn is perfectly dry and kept in a dry, airy place, and not in
large bulk, and covered, it will bear a high temperature with apparent
impunity, but whenever dampness, even of the atmosphere, is coupled with
heat, the mycelium begins to grow, and this, in the storeroom, is
ruinous to the spawn. Judging from our natural mushroom crops, the spawn
for which must be alive in the ground in winter, one concludes that
frost should not be injurious to the artificial spawn, still my
experience is that hard frost destroys the vitality of both brick and
flake spawn. And this is one reason why I get our full supply of spawn
in the fall and keep it myself rather than submit it to the mercy of the
seed store.

=New Versus Old Spawn.=--How long spawn may be kept without its vitality
becoming impaired is an unsettled question, but there is no doubt, if
properly kept, it will remain good for several years. But I can not
impress too strongly upon the reader the importance of using fresh
spawn. Do not use any old spawn at any price; do not accept it gratis
and ruin your prospect of success by using it. It takes three months
from the time when the manure is gathered for the beds until the
mushrooms are harvested. Can you, therefore, afford to spend this time,
and undergo the care and trouble and expense, and court a failure by
using old spawn? We have risks enough with new spawn, let alone old
spawn. I do not use any more old spawn, but I have used it often and
long enough to be convinced of its general worthlessness, unless
preserved with the greatest care.

=How to Distinguish Good from Poor Spawn.=--This is a very difficult
matter, notwithstanding what people may say to the contrary. If we could
positively tell good from bad spawn, we would never use bad spawn, and,
therefore, with ordinary care, have very few failures in
mushroom-growing; for good spawn is the root of success in this
business. Spawn differs very much in its appearance; sometimes the
bricks show very little appearance of the presence of spawn, and still
are perfectly good; and again, we may get bricks that are pretty well
interlaced and clouded with bluish white mold or fine threads, and this,
too, is good. When the bricks are freely pervaded with pronounced white
threads this is no sign that the spawn is bad. Bricks dried as hard as a
board may be perfectly good; so, too, may be those that are
comparatively soft. Mushroom spawn should have a decided smell of
mushrooms, and whatever cobweb-like mold may be apparent should be of a
fresh bluish white color, and the fine threads clear white. Prominent
yellowish threads or veins are a sign that the mycelium had started to
grow and been killed. Distinct white mold patches on the surface of the
bricks indicate the presence of some other fungous parasite on the
mushroom mycelium; the absence of any mushroom smell in the spawn
indicates its worthlessness and that the mycelium is dead. One familiar
with mushroom spawn can tell with considerable certainty "very living"
spawn and "very dead" spawn, but I am far from convinced that any one
can decide unhesitatingly in the case of middling or weak spawn.

Mr. S. Henshaw, in Henderson's Handbook of Plants, tells us: "The
quality of the spawn may be very easily detected by the mushroom-like
smell, ... and I should have no hesitation in picking out good spawn in
the dark." Sanguine, surely, but I have tried it and found the test
wanting. M. Lachaume says that good spawn shows "an abundance of
bluish-white filaments well fitted together, and giving off a strongly
marked odor of mushrooms. All those portions which show traces of white
or yellow mold or have a floury appearance, should be rejected and
destroyed." Mr. Wright says: "A brick may be a mass of moldiness, and
yet be quite worthless; and if the mold has a spotted appearance, as if
fine white sand had been dredged on and through the mass, it is certain
there is no mushroom-growing power there.... If thick threads pass
through the mass and there are signs of miniature tubercles on them,
then the spawn may be regarded as too far gone.... Clusters of white
specks on the spawn denote sterility."

Mr. A. D. Cowan, of New York, who has the reputation of being an
excellent judge of mushroom spawn, writes me: "To correctly judge the
quality of brick spawn by its appearance requires experience in handling
it, and a trained eye which enables one quickly to detect good from bad,
fair to middling. As two lots seldom come exactly or nearly alike in
appearance, it is hardly possible to give precise rules to follow,
excepting the never-failing requisite which the spawn must possess to be
good, namely, the moldy appearance on the surface, the more the better,
without showing threads. Too many of these to a given space are a sure
indication of exhausted vitality, arising generally from the bricks
being heaped together when in process of manufacture, before they are
sufficiently dried. Healthy bricks are usually of a dusty brown color,
and of light weight. Black colored spawn is to be avoided, as a rule,
and when the black appearance is very prevalent in a cargo of bricks it
is a strong indication that the spawn has not run its course; and as it
is not expected to do so after it has reached the hands of the retailer
it is economy to cast it aside. Some persons break a brick into several
pieces to see how it looks inside. To the experienced eye this is not
necessary, or even to lay hands upon it, as the outward moldy appearance
is the best of all evidence of its healthy vitality, and this never
exists if the bricks have lost their germinating power, excepting, of
course, where they have been kept damp, and the spawn has spent its
power, which is detected by the white threads appearing in great
quantity."

=American-made Spawn.=--So far as I have been able to find out by
diligent inquiry, mushroom spawn is not made for sale in this country.
But I am informed that a few growers do save and use their own flake
spawn. Some of our principal growers, Van Siclen, Gardner, and Henshaw,
for instance, in time past attempted to make their own spawn, but with
only partial success, and now they confine themselves to the imported
article. But this state of affairs can not long continue. The demand
here for fresh mushrooms is so great, the industry of mushroom-growing
so important, the price of imported spawn so high, and the quantity of
foreign spawn imported annually into this country is so large, that,
before long, we hope some one will find it to his advantage to make a
specialty of growing mushroom spawn in this country to supply the
American market. There is no practical operation in connection with the
cultivation of mushrooms so little known or understood by the general
grower as the growing (or "making," as it is commonly called) and
preserving of mushroom spawn. General cultivators in England and France
(outside of the Paris caves) do not make their own spawn; it is a
distinct branch of the business, and carried on by specialists who grow
mushrooms for sale in winter, and spawn in summer.

The time and attention required to produce a small quantity of
first-class spawn are worth more than the cost of the spawn at the seed
store. In order to make spawn profitably we must make it in large
quantity, and we need not attempt to make it unless we have good
materials and conditions for its proper preparation, and will give it
every attention possible for its best development.

Because spawn may be made in America is no reason whatever why the
American people will buy it. We must produce, at least, as good an
article as the best in Europe before we can find countenance in our home
market. It is not the shape of the manure brick, its size, fine finish,
hardness, softness, or freshness, that counts in this case; it is the
fullness and vitality of the mass of mycelium or mushroom plant that is
contained within it.


HOW TO MAKE BRICK SPAWN.

As the making of brick spawn for sale is not yet an American industry,
but almost entirely confined to England, I think it best to restrict
myself to describing how it is made in England. Mr. John F. Barter, of
Lancefield street, London, is one of the most successful mushroom
growers and spawn makers in Great Britain. He writes me that he confines
himself entirely to the mushroom business; he makes his living by it. He
grows mushrooms in the winter months and makes spawn in the summer
months; he employs men for mushroom bed making from August until March,
then, to keep on the same hands during summer, he makes spawn for sale.
He grows for and sells in the London market about 21,000 pounds of
mushrooms a year, and in summer makes some 10,000 bushels, equal to
160,000 pounds, of brick spawn for sale. The amount of spawn made in a
year by this one manufacturer is about three times as much as the total
annual importation of mushroom spawn of all kinds into this country. And
he is only one maker among several. This fact alone must convince us
that mushroom-growing is carried on to a vastly greater extent in
European countries than it is here, where we have as good facilities as
they have, and an immensely better market.

The manner of making the spawn differs a little with the different
manufacturers, and no one can become proficient in it without practical
knowledge. I asked Mr. Barter if he thought spawn could be made
profitably in this country, paying, as we do, $1.50 a day for laborers,
and without any certainty of the same men staying with us permanently.
He writes me: "Uncertain labor would be of no use. Of course the wages
you pay would not affect it much, as I pay nearly as much as that for my
leading men. But to begin with, you must have a man that has had some
experience."

About the simplest and best way of making brick spawn that I find
described is the following from _The Gardeners' Assistant_. I may here
state that Robert Thompson, the author of this work, was for many years
the superintendent of the Royal Horticultural Society's gardens at
Chiswick, near London, and, in his day, was regarded as without a peer
in practical horticulture, and lived in the midst of the market gardens
of London and the principal mushroom-growing district.

"Fresh horse droppings, cow dung, and a little loam mixed and beaten up
with as much stable drainings as may be necessary to reduce the whole to
the consistence of mortar. It may then be spread on the floor of an open
shed, and when somewhat firm it may be cut into cakes of six inches
square. These should be placed on edge in a dry, airy place, and must
be frequently turned and protected from rain. When half dry make a hole
in the broadside of each, large enough to admit of about an inch square
of good old spawn being inserted so deep as to be a little below the
surface; close it with some moist material the same as used in making
the bricks. When the bricks are nearly dry make, on a dry bottom, a
layer nine inches thick of horse dung prepared as for a hotbed, and on
this pile the bricks rather openly. Cover with litter so that the steam
and heat of the layer of dung may circulate among the bricks. The
temperature, however, should not rise above 60°; therefore, if it is
likely to do so, the covering must be reduced accordingly. The spawn
will soon begin to run through the bricks, which should be frequently
examined whilst the process of spawning is going on, and when, on
breaking, the spawn appears throughout pretty abundantly, like a white
mold, the process has gone far enough. If allowed to proceed the spawn
would form threads and small tubercles, which is a stage too far
advanced for the retention of its vegetative powers. Therefore, when the
spawn is observed to pervade the bricks throughout like a white mold,
and before it assumes the thread-like form, it should be removed and
allowed to dry in order to arrest the further progress of vegetation
till required for use. It ought to be kept in a dark and perfectly dry
place." I would add, do not keep it where it is apt to become musty or
moldy in summer; also keep it in as cool a dry place as possible in
summer, and always above 35° in winter.

These other recipes are also given:

"1. Horse droppings one part, cow dung one-fourth, loam one twentieth.

"2. Fresh horse droppings mixed with short litter one part, cow dung
one-third, and a small portion of loam.

"3. Equal parts of horse dung, cow dung, and sheep's dung, with the
addition of some rotten leaves or old hotbed dung.

"4. Horse dung one part, cow dung two parts, sheep's dung one part.

"5. Horse droppings from the roads one part, cow dung two parts, mixed
with a little loam.

"6. Horse dung, cow dung, and loam, in equal parts."

From the above it appears that horse dung and cow dung are the
principals in spawn bricks; the loam is added for the purpose of making
the other materials hold together; it also absorbs the ammonia, which
otherwise would pass off.

=J. Burton's Method.= From _The Kitchen and Market Garden_.--Make the
spawn in early spring. As cow manure is the principal ingredient used in
making the bricks this should be secured before the animals get any
green food. Store it on the floor of an open, dry, airy shed, and turn
it every few days for a week or two. Then add an equal part of the
following: Fresh horse droppings, a little loam, and chopped straw,
mixed together. "The whole should then be worked well together and then
trodden down, after which it may be allowed to remain for a few days,
when it will be required to be turned two or three times a week. If the
weather be fine and dry the mass will soon be in a fit condition for
molding into bricks, which process can be performed by using a mold in
the same way as the brick makers, or, ... the manure may be spread
evenly on the floor to a thickness of six inches, and then be firmly
trodden and beaten down evenly with the back of the spade. It should
then be lined out to the required size of the bricks, and be cut with a
sharp spade or turfing iron. In a few days the bricks will be
sufficiently dry to handle, when they should be set up edgeways to dry
thoroughly, and if exposed to the sun for two or three days they will
be ready to receive the spawn. In introducing the spawn two holes large
enough to admit a piece of spawn as big as a pigeon's egg should be cut
in each brick at equal distances. This should be well beaten in and the
surface made even with a little manure. The bricks should then be
collected together in a heap and covered with enough short manure to
cause a gentle heat, being careful that there is no rank heat or steam
to kill the spawn. This must be carefully attended to until the spawn is
found to have penetrated through the whole of the bricks, after which
they should be stacked away in any convenient dry place."


HOW TO MAKE FRENCH (flake) SPAWN.

I can not do better than to let a practical Frenchman engaged in the
business tell this story. In Vol. XIII of the London _Garden_ I find an
English translation of M. Lachaume's book, "The Cave Mushroom," and this
comment by the editor: "The most complete account of the cave culture of
mushrooms which has been published by any cultivator on the spot well
acquainted with the subject is that recently published by M. Lachaume."

Lachaume says: "The best spawn to use is what is called 'virgin spawn';
that is to say, which has not yet produced mushrooms. In this country
this kind of spawn may be procured of any respectable nurseryman, under
the name of 'French spawn.' It differs from English spawn by being in
the form of small tufty cakes, instead of in compact blocks. Large
mushroom growers, however, always provide themselves with their own
spawn by taking it from a bed which is just about to produce its crop,
or which has already produced a few small mushrooms.... It is true that
by thus 'breeding in and in,' as it were, the mushrooms show a tendency
to deteriorate after a time; new spawn must therefore be obtained as
soon as any signs of deterioration begin to manifest themselves."

=Making French Virgin Spawn.=--Condensed from Lachaume's book on
mushrooms. Take five or six barrow loads of horse droppings that have
lain in a heap for some time, and lost their heat, and mix them with
one-fourth of their bulk of short stable litter. Then, in April, open a
trench two feet wide, twenty inches deep, and length to suit, at the
foot of, but eight inches distant from, a wall facing north. In the
bottom of the trench spread a layer three to four inches deep of chopped
straw, then an equally thick layer of the prepared manure, all pressed
firmly by treading it down. The two layers must now be gently watered,
and then another double layer of chopped straw and droppings must be
laid, trodden down and watered, and so on until the top of the trench is
reached. The bed ought to rise above the level of the ground and be
rounded off like the top of a trunk. To prevent excessive dampness from
heavy rain cover the mound with a thick layer of stable litter. Three
months after filling the trench it should be opened at the side or end.
If the pieces of manure are well covered with masses of bluish-white
filaments, giving off the odor of mushrooms, the operation has
succeeded, and the spawn is fit for use or for drying to preserve for
future use. But if the threads are only sparingly scattered through the
mass, the trench should be covered up again and left for another month.
In saving the spawn the flakes of manure containing the largest amount
of spawn filaments should be retained, and those showing a brown
appearance rejected. In order to facilitate the drying of the spawn the
flakes should be broken into pieces, weighing from one to two pounds;
they are then placed in a well ventilated shed, but they must not be
piled upon each other. Properly prepared and dried this spawn keeps good
for ten years.

=A Second Method= (by Lachaume). "This is generally adopted by mushroom
growers. The formation of the spawn is accelerated by adding pieces of
old spawn here and there.... At the beginning of April we must choose a
piece of ground situated at the foot of a wall facing north.... The soil
ought to be very open and light rather than heavy, so as to avoid
dampness. Taking advantage of a fine day, we open a trench sixteen
inches wide and at about eight inches from the foot of the wall, and of
a length adapted to the quantity of spawn we desire to produce. The
earth is thrown out on the side opposite the wall. Manure which has been
prepared for a mushroom bed, and has just come into condition is then
filled into the trench, leaving, however, a space at one end of it about
two feet and six inches in length for the formation of a mushroom bed,
which is made by tossing the manure about and shaking it up with the
hands, after which it is pressed down with the hands and knees. As soon
as the layer of manure reaches six inches in thickness we place along
the edge a number of lumps of spawn at about one foot apart. These lumps
are placed level with the manure on the edge facing the wall. This
portion of the surface of the manure ought to be raised vertically, and
should lean against the earthen wall of the trench. The other half of
the surface ought to slope gently toward the wall, leaving a space of
three or four inches between it and the side of the trench, so that it
may be trimmed. The lumps of spawn on this surface should be placed a
little backward, so that they may not be broken when the bed is trimmed.
The bed is then covered with more manure, until the first lumps of spawn
are buried three or four inches deep. A second row of lumps of spawn is
then inserted, as described in the directions for making the first row,
and the bed is filled up level with the surface of the soil. It is
finished by covering it up with a layer of fine, dry soil three or four
inches thick. The spawn ought to be very dry, otherwise we shall get a
premature crop of mushrooms instead of fresh spawn. At the end of six
weeks or a couple of months the new spawn ought to make its appearance,
a fact which we may learn by opening the bed. One sign, which will save
us the trouble of opening up the beds, is the appearance of young
mushrooms on the surface. The layer of earth is first removed, and then
the cakes of spawn are treated as described in the directions given for
the first method of making spawn."

=Third Method= (by Lachaume). "By filling in a trench like that
described in the first method, by a series of layers of one-third of
pigeon or fowl guano, and two-thirds of short manure, containing a large
proportion of spent horse droppings, treading it down firmly, watering
it if it is too dry, and finishing up with a layer of soil, as described
already, we may, at the end of a couple of months, or even a little
longer, procure a supply of well-formed cakes of spawn of excellent
quality, which may be used in the ordinary manner."

From Mr. Robinson's "Mushroom Culture." "This (French) spawn is obtained
by preparing a little bed, as if for mushrooms, in the ordinary way, and
spawning it with morsels of virgin spawn, if that is obtainable; and
then when the spawn has spread through it, the bed is broken up and used
for spawning beds in the caves, or dried and preserved for sale."

From Mr. Wright's book on mushrooms. "French spawn ... is contained in
flakes of manure. Neither is it virgin spawn, nor derived immediately
from it, ... but is spawn taken from one bed for impregnating another."

=Relative Merits of Flake and Brick Spawn.=--The flake or French spawn
costs about three times as much as the brick or English spawn, and, as
it is so much whiter with mycelium than is the brick spawn, many
believe that it is more potent and well worth the additional cost. In
spawning the beds I use two pounds of flake spawn to plant the same
space for which I would use five pounds of brick spawn, and this gives a
capital crop, with number of mushrooms a little in favor of the flake
spawn, but on account of the larger size of the mushrooms the weight of
crop is considerably in favor of the brick spawn. And I find more
certainty of a crop in the case of the brick spawn than in the other.

Regarding the respective merits of brick and flake spawn, Mr. Barter, in
response to my inquiry, writes me: "I have tried them both, and know
brick spawn to be far the best. You see, I do nothing but this mushroom
business for a living, so, of course, would use the best kind of spawn
for my crop. Generally the French spawn produces one-third less
mushrooms than does the brick spawn from the same length of bed,
besides, those from the brick spawn are by far the heaviest and
fleshiest."

I would here observe that Mr. Barter's remarks apply more to ridge beds
out of doors than beds in the cellar or mushroom house. And it is odd,
but true, that the flake spawn does not produce as good results in
outdoor beds as it does in those under cover.



CHAPTER XI.

SPAWNING THE BEDS.


After the mushroom bed is made up it should, within a few days, warm to
a temperature of 110° to 120°. Carefully observe this, and never spawn a
bed when the heat is rising, or when it is warmer than 100°, but always
when it is on the decline and under 90°. In this there is perfect
safety. Have a ground thermometer and keep it plunged in the bed; by
pulling it out and looking at it one can know exactly the temperature of
the bed. Have a few straight, smooth stakes, like short walking canes,
and stick the end of these into the bed, twelve to twenty feet apart; by
pulling them out and feeling them with the hand one can tell pretty
closely what the temperature of the bed is.

All practical mushroom growers know that if the temperature of a twelve
inch thick bed at seven inches from the surface is 100°, that within an
inch of the surface of the bed will only be about 95° indoors, and 85°
to 90° out of doors. Also, that when the heat of the manure is on the
decline it falls quite rapidly, five, often ten degrees, a day, till it
reaches about 75°, and between that and 65° it may rest for weeks.

Some years ago I gave considerable attention to this matter of spawning
beds at different temperatures. Spawn planted as soon as the bed was
made (five days after spawning the heat in interior of bed ran up to
123°) yielded no mushrooms, the mycelium being killed. The same was the
case in all beds where the spawn had been planted before the heat in the
beds had attained its maximum (120° or over). Where the heat in the
middle of the bed never reached 115°, the spawn put in when the bed was
made, and molded over the same day, yielded a small crop of mushrooms. A
bed in which the heat was declining was spawned at 110°; this bore a
very good crop, and at 100° and under to 65° good crops in every case
were secured, with several days' delay in bearing in the case of the
lowest temperatures. But notwithstanding these facts, my advice to all
beginners in mushroom growing is, wait until the heat of the bed is on
the decline and fallen to at least 90°, before inserting the spawn.

Writing to me about spawning his beds, Mr. Withington, of New Jersey,
says: "I believe a bed spawned at 60° to 70°, and kept at 55° after the
mushrooms appear, will give better results than one spawned at a higher
temperature, say 90°."

[Illustration: FIG. 23. BRICK SPAWN CUT IN PIECES FOR PLANTING.]

=Preparing the Spawn.=--If brick spawn is used cut up the bricks
(standard size) into ten or twelve pieces with a sharp hatchet, and
avoid, as much as possible, making many crumbs, as is the case generally
when a hammer or mallet is used in breaking the bricks. Extra large
pieces of spawn are apt to produce large clumps of mushrooms, but this
is not always an advantage, as when many mushrooms grow together in a
clump they are apt to be somewhat undersized, and in gathering we can
not pluck them all out clean enough so as not to leave a part of the
"root" in the ground to poison the balance of the clump, in cases where
several or many of them spring from one common base.

=Inserting the Spawn.=--When brick spawn is used plant the lumps about
an inch deep under the surface of the manure, and about ten inches apart
each way. If the spawn looks very good, and the lumps are large do not
plant them quite so close as when the spawn shows less mycelium in it,
and the lumps are small. Never use a dibber in planting spawn; simply
make a hole in the manure with the fingers, insert the lump and cover it
over at once, and as soon as the bed has been planted firm it well all
over. Although the lumps are buried only an inch deep under the manure,
we have to make a hole three or four inches deep to push the lump into
to get it buried.

French or flake spawn is inserted in much the same way and at about the
same distance, only, instead of cutting it up into lumps, we merely
break it into flaky pieces about three inches long by an inch thick, and
in planting it in the beds, in place of pushing it into the hole, lay in
the flake on its flat side and at once cover it.

Many growers plant spawn a good deal deeper than I do, but I have never
found any advantage in deep planting. In moderately warm beds, or beds
that are likely to retain their heat for a considerable time, I am
satisfied that shallow planting is better than deep planting. When we
want to mold over our beds soon after spawning them, shallow planting is
to be recommended. But if the beds are only 75° to 78°, before being
spawned; then I think deep planting is better than shallow planting,
because the genial temperature gives the mycelium a better start in life
than would the cooler manure nearer the surface.

If there is any likelihood of the surface manure getting wet from the
condensed moisture of the atmosphere, I would again cover over the beds
with some hay or straw, and let it remain on until molding time. And if
the bed is a little sluggish,--that is, cool,--this covering will help
in keeping it warm. Outside beds should be molded over in three or four
days after spawning; inside beds in eight to ten days.

=Steeped Spawn.=--As brick spawn is so hard and dry I have tried the
effect of steeping it in tepid water before planting; some pieces were
merely dipped in the water, and others allowed to soak in the pails
one-half, one, five, and ten hours. The effect was prejudicial in every
instance and ruinous in the case of the long-soaked pieces.

=Flake Spawn.=--"This is produced by breaking up the brick spawn into
pieces about two inches square and mixing them in a heap of manure that
is fermenting gently. After lying in this heap about three weeks it will
be found one mass of spawn, and just in the right condition for running
vigorously all through the bed in a very short time.... When flake spawn
is used the appearance of the crop is from two to three weeks earlier
than when brick spawn is used."--Mr. Henshaw, in first edition of
"Henderson's Handbook of Plants." I have tried this method and given it
careful attention, but the results were inferior to those obtained where
plain, common brick spawn had been used at once.

In all my practice I have found that any disturbance of the spawn when
in active growth which would cause a breaking, exposing, or arresting of
the threads of the mycelium has always had a weakening influence upon
it. I have transplanted pieces of working spawn from one bed to another,
as the French growers do, but am satisfied that I get better crops and
larger mushrooms from beds spawned with dry spawn than from beds planted
with working spawn from any other beds.



CHAPTER XII.

LOAM FOR THE BEDS.


In growing mushrooms we need loam for casing the beds after they are
spawned, topdressing the bearing beds when they first show signs of
exhaustion, filling up the cavities in the surface of the beds caused by
the removal of the mushroom stumps, and for mixing with manure to form
the beds. The selection of soil depends a good deal on what kind of soil
we have at hand, or can readily obtain.

The best kind of loam for every purpose in connection with
mushroom-growing is rich, fresh, mellow soil, such as florists eagerly
seek for potting and other greenhouse purposes. In early fall I get
together a pile of fresh sod loam, that is, the top spit from a pasture
field, but do not add any manure to it. Of course, while this contains a
good deal of grassy sod there is much fine soil among it, and this is
what I use for mushrooms. Before using it I break up the sods with a
spade or fork, throw aside the very toughest parts of them, and use the
finer earthy portion, but always in its rough state, and never sifted.
The green, soddy parts that are not too rough are allowed to remain in
the soil, for they do no harm whatever, either in arresting the mycelium
or checking the mushrooms, and there is no danger that the grass would
grow up and smother the mushrooms.

Common loam from an open, well-drained fallow field is good, and, if the
soil is naturally rich, excellent for any purpose. But do not take it
from the wet parts of the fields. Reject all stones, rough clods,
tussocks, and the like. Such loam may be used at once.

Ordinary garden soil is used more frequently than any other sort, and
altogether with highly satisfactory results. The greatest objection I
have to it is the amount of insects it is apt to contain on account of
its often repeated heavy manurings.

Roadside dirt, whether loamy or gritty, may also be used with good
results. If free from weeds, sticks, stones and rough drift, it may be
used at once, but it is much better to stack it in a pile to rot for a
few months before using.

Sandy soil, such as occurs in the water-shed drifts along the roads and
where it has been washed into the fields, is much inferior to stiffer
and more fibrous earth.

I have used the rich dark colored soil from slopes and dry hollows in
woods, and, odd though it may appear, as mushrooms do not naturally grow
in woods, with success. But it is not as good as loam from the open
field.

Peat soil or swamp muck that has been composted for two or three years
has failed to give me good returns. The mushrooms will come up through
it all right, but they do not take kindly to it.

Heavy, clayey loam is, in one way, excellent, in another, not so good.
So long as we can keep it equably moist without making it muddy it is
all right, but if we let it get a little too dry it cracks, and in this
way breaks the threads of the spawn and ruins the mushrooms that were
fed through them.

=Loam Containing Old Manure.=--Loam in which there is a good deal of
old, undecomposed manure, such as the rich soil of our vegetable
gardens, is unqualifiedly condemned by some writers because of the
quantity of spurious and noxious fungi it is supposed to produce when
used in mushroom beds. But I can not join in this denunciation because
my experience does not justify it. This earth is the only kind used by
many market gardeners, as they have no other, and certainly without
apparent injurious effect. When I was connected with the London market
gardens, some twenty years ago, Steele, Bagley, Broadbent, and the other
large mushroom growers in the Fulham Fields cased all of their beds with
the common garden soil--perhaps the most manure-filled soil on the face
of the earth--and spurious fungi never troubled them. Indeed, I can not
understand why it should produce baneful crops of toadstools when used
in mushroom beds, and no toadstools when used for other horticultural
purposes, as on our carnation benches in greenhouses, in our lettuce or
cucumber beds, or in the case of potted plants. True, spurious fungi may
appear in the earth on our greenhouse benches or frame beds or mushroom
beds at any time and in more or less quantity, but I am convinced that
the rich earth of the vegetable garden has no more to do with producing
toadstools than has any other good soil, and old manure has far less to
do with it than has fresh manure.

All practical gardeners know how apt hotbeds, in spring when their heat
is on the decline, are to produce a number of toadstools; and, also,
that when the bed is "spent," that is, when the heat is altogether gone,
the tendency to bear toadstools has gone too. This peculiarity is more
apparent in spring than in fall. All mushroom growers know that spurious
fungi, when they appear at all, are most numerous three to two weeks
before it is time for the mushrooms to come in sight. The same growth
appears in the manure piles out in the yard; a few weeks after the
strong heat of the manure has gone lots of toadstools may be observed on
and about the heaps, but on the piles of well-rotted cold manure we
seldom find toadstools at all.

The fresh, clean stable manure used in mushroom-growing is not apt to be
charged with the spores of pernicious toadstools; their presence is
always most marked in the case of mixed manures.

And there is a current idea that mushrooms will not thrive in beds in
which old manure abounds, either in the loam or fermenting material;
that it kills the mycelium. This, too, I must refute. I have seen heavy
crops of spontaneous mushrooms come up in violet and carnation beds in
winter, and where the soil consisted of at least one-fourth of rotted
manure well mixed with the earth. In cucumber and lettuce beds the same
thing has taken place. And in similar beds that have been planted
artificially with spawn, good crops of mushrooms have also been raised,
and the mycelium, instead of evading the lumps of old manure in the soil
often forms a white web right through them.



CHAPTER XIII.

EARTHING OVER THE BEDS.


This is an important operation in mushroom-growing, and the one for
which loam is indispensable. It consists in covering the manure beds,
after they have been spawned, with a coating, or casing as it is more
commonly called, of loam. The spawn spreads in the manure and rises up
into the casing, where most of the young mushrooms develop, and all find
a firm foothold. The loam also contributes to their sustenance. And it
protects the manure, hence the spawn, from sudden fluctuations of
temperature, and preserves it from undue wetting or drying.

The best soil to use for this purpose is rich, fibrous, mellow loam,
such as is described, page 100.

If the manure is fresh and in good condition and the beds are in a snug
cellar or closed mushroom house, I would not case them until the second
week after spawning, say about the eighth or tenth day; but were these
same beds in an open, airy shed or other building I would case them over
some days earlier, say the fourth or fifth day. A fear is often
expressed that when beds are cased within three or four days after being
spawned the close exclusion of the manure from the air is apt to raise
the heat of the manure in the bed, and thereby destroy the spawn; but I
have never known of any truth in this theory, and with well-prepared
manure I am satisfied no brisk reheating takes place, at least the
thermometer does not indicate it. The great danger of early casing is in
killing the spawn by burying it too deep in damp material and before it
has begun to run through the manure.

I have conducted several experiments in order to satisfy myself
regarding when is the proper time to case the beds, and have found no
difference in results between beds that were cased over as soon as they
were spawned and others that were not cased over until the fourth,
seventh, tenth, or fourteenth day after spawning. The good or bad
results in the time of casing depend on the condition of the manure in
the beds, the depth at which the spawn has been inserted, the openness
or closeness of the place in which the beds are situated, and other
cultural conditions. But to delay casing as late as the fifteenth or
sixteenth day after spawning is injurious to the crop, because in
applying the covering of soil we are sure to break many of the mycelium
threads that have by this time so freely permeated the surface of the
manure. After the fourth week little white knots may be observed here
and there on the spawn threads; these are forming mushrooms, and to
delay casing the bed until this time would smother these little
pinheads, and greatly mar our prospects of a good crop.

Peter Henderson, in his invaluable work, "Gardening for Profit," has
given rise to a deep seated prejudice against molding over mushroom
beds as soon as they are spawned by telling us that in his first attempt
at mushroom-growing he had labored for two years without being able to
produce a single mushroom, and all because he molded over his beds with
a two-inch casing of loam just as soon as he had spawned them. Then he
changed his tactics, and did not mold over the beds until the tenth or
twelfth day after spawning, and was rewarded with good crops of
mushrooms. Now, notwithstanding Mr. Henderson's experience, it is a fact
that many excellent growers spawn and mold their beds the same day, and
with success. But Mr. H. has done much good in displaying a rock against
which many might be wrecked, so much depends upon other cultural
conditions. The old practice of inserting the spawn three or more inches
deep into the manure bed and then molding it at once with two inches
deep of loam was enough to destroy the most potent spawn; nowadays we
barely cover the spawn with the manure, and this is how molding over at
once is so successful.

All the preparation necessary is to have the loam in medium dry, mellow
condition, well broken up with the spade or digging fork, and freed from
sticks, stones, big roots, clods, chunks of old manure, and the like.

Sifting the soil for casing the beds is labor lost. Sifted soil has no
advantage over unsifted earth, except when it is to be used for
topdressing the bearing beds or filling up the holes in their surface.

The condition of the soil should be mellow but inclined to moist. If wet
it can only be used clumsily and spread with difficulty; if dry it can
be spread easily but not made firm, and on ridge beds can not be put on
evenly. But when moderately moist it can be spread easily and evenly on
flat or rounded surfaces, and made firm and smooth.

How deep the mold shall be put upon the bed is also an unsettled
question. Some growers recommend three-fourths of an inch, others one,
one and one-half, two, or two and one-half inches, and some of our best
growers of fifty or seventy-five years ago were emphatic in asserting
three inches as the proper depth, but among recent writers I do not find
any who go beyond two and one-half inches. My own experience is in favor
of a heavy covering, say one and one-half to two inches. In the case of
a thin covering the mushrooms come up all right but their texture is not
as solid as it is in the case of a heavy covering, nor do the beds
continue as long in bearing; besides, "fogging off" is much more
prevalent under thinly covered than under heavily covered beds; also,
when the coating of loam is heavy a great many more of the "pinheads"
develop into full sized mushrooms than in the case of thinly molded
beds.

Opinions differ as to firming the soil. I am in favor of packing the
soil quite firm, and have never seen good mushrooms that could not come
through a well firmed casing of loam, and I never knew of an instance
where firm casing stopped or checked the spreading of the mycelium or
the development of the mushrooms. In the case of flat beds,--for
instance, those made on shelves and floors,--a slightly compacted
coating (and this is all Mr. J. G. Gardner uses) may be all right, but
in the case of alongside-of-walls, ridge, and other rounded beds I much
prefer and always use solidly compacted casings.

Mr. Henshaw has for several years used green sods about two inches
thick, put all over the bed, grass side down, and beaten firmly. The
advantage of using sods instead of soil, he thinks, is that the young
clusters of mushrooms never damp or "fogg off" as they are apt to do
when soil is used.

I have given this green sods method repeated and careful trials, and am
satisfied that it has no advantages, in any way, over common fibrous
loam; indeed, it is not as good. No matter how firmly a sod, having its
green side down, may be beaten on to a bed of manure, there is barely
any union between the two; the sod merely rests upon the dung, but so
closely that the mycelium enters it freely. A slight movement or
displacement of the sod after the spawn enters it will break the threads
of mycelium between the manure and the sod, and this will destroy the
immature mushrooms forming in the sod. This gave me a good deal of
trouble. Stepping on the sod would disturb it. A clump of strong
mushrooms formed under it sometimes displaces it in forcing their way to
the surface.

Sods are only fit for use on flat beds where they can lie solid; on
rounded or ridge beds they are too liable to be disturbed. And the
trouble and expense of procuring sods are too great to warrant their
use, even if they had any advantages.



CHAPTER XIV.

TOPDRESSING WITH LOAM.


In beds that are in full bearing or a little past their best we often
find multitudes of very small or what we call "pinhead" mushrooms, that
seem to be sitting right on the top of the loam, or clumps that have
been raised a little above the surface by growing in bunches, or what we
term "rocks"; now a topdressing of finely sifted fresh loam, about
one-fourth to one-half inch thick, spread all over the bed, will help
these mushrooms materially without doing any of them harm. But while
this topdressing assists all mushrooms that are visible above ground, no
matter how small they may be when the dressing is applied, I am not
convinced that it induces greater fertility in the spawn, or, in other
words, induces the spawn to spread further and produce more mushrooms
than it would were no topdressing applied. I know that this is contrary
to the opinions and writings of many, at the same time it is according
to my own observation.

Go over the bed very carefully and pick out every soft or "fogged-off"
mushroom, no matter how small it may be, and root out every bit of old
mushroom stem or tough spongy material formed by it, and in this way get
the bed thoroughly cleaned. Then fill up all the holes caused by pulling
the mushrooms or rooting out the old stumps, and when the whole surface
is level apply the topdressing evenly all over the face of the bed,
avoiding, as much as possible, burying the well advanced mushrooms.
While it would be very well to pack the dressing smoothly over the bed,
it is impracticable; we may press it gently with the back of the hand on
the bare spots between the mushrooms, but we should not even do this
over the mushrooms, no matter how tiny they may be, else many of the
"pinheads" will be injured and cause "fogging off."

But we can firm the dressing to the bed by watering it, which may be
done over the whole surface of the bed, and without sparing the
mushrooms, large or small. Use clear water and apply it gently through a
water-pot rose. I always do this, and have never known it to injure the
young mushrooms.

In the case of mushroom beds in which black spot has appeared in the
crop, I have found that a topdressing of fine, fresh earth applied
evenly all over the bed acts, to a certain extent, as a preventive of
further attack, but of course has no effect upon any of the already
affected mushrooms, large or small.



CHAPTER XV.

THE PROPER TEMPERATURE.


The best temperature at which to keep the mushroom house or cellar is
55° to 57°. But much depends upon the method of growing the esculent;
the construction of the house or cellar, and other circumstances.
Mushrooms can be successfully grown in buildings in which the
temperature may be as low as 20° or as high as 65°. By covering the beds
well with hay or other protecting material they can be kept warm, even
in sharp frosty weather, as the London market gardeners do with their
outdoor beds in winter; but when the temperature in the structure in
which the mushrooms are grown averages as high as 70° we can not hope
for success; indeed, 65° is too high.

A high temperature in a close house or cellar is injurious; it hurries
in the crop and forces up the mushrooms weak and thin-fleshed and with
ungainly, long stems; it soon exhausts the bed. The time when its evil
effects are least visible is early in the fall and late in spring when
the outside temperature is high, and when the beds are in somewhat airy
rather than close quarters. In the Dosoris cellars there is a steady
difference of about 5° in the temperature between the end next the
boiler, which is kept at 60° precisely, and that of the farther end,
which registers 55° steadily. There is very little difference in the
weight of crop produced on the beds at either end of these cellars, but
what little there is is in favor of the cooler end. At 60° the crop
begins to come in in six to seven weeks after spawning, lasts for three
to four weeks in heavy bearing and a week or more longer in light
bearing, and then it gradually dwindles.

In a temperature of 55° it may be seven weeks after spawning before the
mushrooms appear. In a temperature of 50° they may take a few days
longer in appearing, but, as a rule, they are firm, heavy,
short-stemmed, and perhaps a little furry on top and clammy to the
touch, and the beds last in good bearing for two months; indeed, often a
whole winter long. But I have failed to find that the whole crop from a
bed in a 45° to 50° temperature was any greater than that of a like bed
in a 55° to 57° temperature; it is merely a case of getting in six weeks
from the warmer house what it takes ten weeks to get from the cooler
one.

In a temperature of 50° it is not necessary to cover the beds to
increase their warmth, nor is it needful even in one of 45°, if there is
a fair warmth in the body of the bed to keep the spawn working; but if
the warmth of the interior of the bed falls under 57°, and the
atmospheric temperature under 45°, the bed should be kept warm by
covering with hay, straw, matting, or other material, or better still by
boxing it over and laying this covering on the outside of the boxing.
When cold thicken the covering, when warm lessen it.



CHAPTER XVI.

WATERING MUSHROOM BEDS.


If the beds get dry they should be watered, for mushrooms will not grow
well in dry beds or in a dry atmosphere. Watering is an operation
requiring much care. In properly-made beds the manure should remain
moist enough from first to last, and whatever dryness is evident should
be in the loam casing of the beds and the atmosphere. In all
artificially heated mushroom houses the beds and atmosphere are apt to
get too dry at one time or another; in underground houses or cellars
this is less apparent than in above-ground structures; in shaded
north-facing houses dryness is less troublesome than in houses more
openly placed.

Endeavor by all fair means to lessen the necessity for watering the
beds, but when water is needed never hesitate to give it freely.
Mulching the beds and maintaining a moist atmosphere are the best
preventives. After the beds are spawned and molded it is a good plan to
cover them with a light coating of strawy litter or hay to prevent
drying, but this mulching should be removed when it is near time for the
young mushrooms to appear. A light sprinkling of water over this
mulching every few days, but never enough to reach the soil, assists in
preserving enough moisture in the bed under the mulch and also in the
atmosphere of the house.

Clean, soft water at a temperature of 80° or 90°; a little warmer or a
little colder will not hurt, but do not use water higher than 110°, as
it might injure the little pinheads, nor lower than the average
temperature of the house, as it would chill the bed, and this should
always be avoided.

Use a small or medium-sized watering pot with a long spout and a fine
rose sprinkler. Apply the water in a gentle shower over the bed,
mushrooms and all, but never use enough to allow it to settle in pools
or run off in little streams. Clean water sprinkled over the mushrooms
does not appear to hurt them, but they should never be touched with
manure water, as it stains them. Just as soon as the surface of the bed
shows signs of dryness give it water, the quantity depending upon the
condition of the bed. Never let a bed get very dry before watering it.
To thoroughly moisten a very dry bed requires a heavy watering; so much,
indeed, that the sudden change might injuriously affect the young
mushrooms and spawn. Give enough water at a time to moderately moisten
the soil, not to soak it, but never sufficient to pass through the soil
into the manure. Clean water only should be used until the beds come
into bearing, but after that time manure water may be employed with
advantage; however, this is not at all imperative; indeed, excellent
crops can be and are continually being produced without the aid of
manure water at all.

In the case of beds in full bearing, manure water is beneficial to the
crop. Apply it from a small watering pot with a long narrow spout but no
rose, and pour the liquid on gently over the surface of the bed, running
it freely between the clumps but never touching any of the mushrooms.
For this reason a rose should not be used.

I have always used manure water for mushrooms more or less, but during
the past two seasons--'87-'88 and '88-'89--I have experimented with it
continuously and very carefully, using it in some form or other on part
of every bed, and am satisfied that manure water made from fresh horse
droppings is the best, and the dark colored liquid, the drainings from
manure piles, is the poorest; in fact, this latter is not as good as
plain water, for it seems to have a deadening rather than quickening
effect upon the beds. Cow manure and sheep manure make a good liquid
manure, but still I prefer the horse manure, and although having given
hen and pigeon manure and guano fair tests I am not satisfied that they
have benefited the crop, and there is always a risk in their use. Liquid
manure made from the contents of the barnyard tank has not done much
good, but fresh urine from the horse and cow stables diluted twelve to
fifteen times its bulk has given favorable results.

Mushrooms not only bear with impunity but appear to enjoy a stronger
liquid manure more than do any other cultivated plants, and I am
satisfied that the weak liquids usually recommended for pot and garden
plants would be barely more efficacious than plain water for mushrooms.

The manure water that has given me most satisfaction is prepared as
follows: Dump two bushels of fresh horse droppings into a forty-five
gallon barrel and fill up with water; stir it up well and let it settle
over night. Drain off the liquid the next day and add a pound of
saltpeter to it. For use, to a pailful of this liquid add a pailful of
warm water. Water of about 80° to 90° is best for mushroom beds.
Saltpeter is an excellent fertilizer for mushrooms. I use it in two
ways, namely: First, powdered and mixed in the soil for casing the beds,
at the rate of two ounces of saltpeter to the bushel of earth. Second,
dissolved in water at the rate of two ounces of saltpeter to eight
gallons of water, and sprinkled over the beds.

Common salt I use as an insecticide and also as a fertilizer, and am
satisfied that it proves beneficial in both ways. Sometimes I sprinkle
it broadcast on the surface of the beds, always on the bare places,
never touching the mushrooms, and leave it there for a day or two, then
with a fine, gentle sprinkling of water wash it into the soil. This is
to help destroy the anguillulæ. As a fertilizer only dissolve four
ounces of salt in ten gallons of water, and with this sprinkle the beds.

A too dry atmosphere can be remedied by sprinkling the floors, walls, or
litter coverings on the beds with water, not heavily or copiously, but
gently and only enough to wet the surfaces; better moisten in this way
frequently than drench the place at any one time. But I very much
dislike sprinkling the beds in order to moisten the atmosphere. An
experienced man can tell in a moment whether or not the atmosphere of
the mushroom house is too dry. The air in the mushroom house should
always feel moist, at the same time not raw or chilly, and the floor and
wall surfaces should present a slow tendency to dry up, and the earth on
the beds should retain its dark, moist appearance. The least tendency to
dryness should at once be relieved by damping the wall and floor
surfaces.

In houses heated by smoke flues, or still more by ordinary stoves and
sheet iron pipes, it may be necessary to dampen the floors and walls
once or several times a day to maintain a sufficiently moist atmosphere,
but where hot water pipes are used and the houses are tight enough to
require but little artificial heat, such frequent sprinkling will not be
necessary. In the case of beds in unheated structures the ordinary
atmosphere is generally moist enough.

=Manure Steam for Moistening the Atmosphere.=--The late James Barnes, of
England, a grand old gardener, writing in the London _Garden_, Vol. III,
page 486, describes his method of growing mushrooms sixty years ago, and
says: "In winter a nice moist heat was maintained by placing hot stable
manure inside, and often turning it over." Mr. John G. Gardner, of
Jobstown, N. J., is one of Mr. Barnes's old pupils and a most successful
mushroom grower, and he now practices this same method of moistening the
atmosphere by hot manure steam. See page 21.

In damping the floors of the mushroom house, as well as the beds, I use
a medium-sized watering pot and fine rose; but in sprinkling the walls
and other parts not readily accessible by the watering pot I use a
common garden syringe.



CHAPTER XVII.

GATHERING AND MARKETING MUSHROOMS.


This is an important point in the cultivation of this esculent, and
should be attended to with painstaking discretion.

When mushrooms are fit to pick depends upon several conditions; for
instance, whether for market or for home use, and if for the latter,
whether they are wanted for soups or stews. For fresh and attractive
appearance and best appreciation in the market, pick them when they are
plump and fresh and just before the frill connecting the cap with the
stem breaks apart. The French mushrooms should always be gathered before
the frill bursts; the English mushrooms also look best when gathered at
this time, but they are admissible if gathered when the frill begins to
burst and before the cap has opened out flat. If the mushrooms display a
tendency to produce long stems pick them somewhat earlier, soon enough
to get them with short shanks, for long stems are disliked in market;
so, too, are dark or discolored or old mushrooms of any sort. Sometimes
we may not have enough mushrooms ready at one gathering to make it
worth while sending them to market, and are tempted to let them stay
ungathered until to-morrow, when they have grown larger and many more
shall have grown big enough to gather. This should never be done. It
will give an unfavored, unequal lot, some big, some little, some old,
some young. Far better pick every one the moment it is ready to gather,
and keep all safe in a cool place and covered until some more are ready
for use, and in this way have a uniform appearing lot of young produce.

Mushrooms for soups should always be gathered before they burst their
gills; indeed, they are mostly gathered when in a button state; that is,
when they are about the size of marbles. In this condition, when cooked,
they retain their white appearance and do not discolor the soup.
Immature mushrooms are deficient in flavor.

For home use, for baking, stewing, broiling, or for cooking in any way
in which the tenderness of the flesh and the delicious aroma of the
mushrooms are desirable in their finest condition, let the mushrooms
attain their full size and burst their frills, as seen in Fig. 24, and
gather them before the caps open out flat, or the gills lose any of
their bright pink color. If you let them get old enough for the gills to
turn brown before gathering, the mushrooms will become leathery in
texture, and lose in flavor and darken sadly in cooking.

[Illustration: FIG. 24. A PERFECT MUSHROOM.]

In picking, always pull the mushrooms out by the root, and never, if
practicable to avoid it, cut them over with a knife. In gathering, take
hold of the mushrooms and give them a sharp but gentle twist, pressing
them down at the same time, and they generally part from the bed without
any trouble; then place them in the baskets, root-end down, so as to
keep them perfectly clean and free from grit. Sometimes when several
mushrooms are joined together in one root-stock and it is impossible to
remove one without disturbing the whole, cut it over rather than pull it
out. In the case of clumps of young mushrooms, where one can not be
pulled out without displacing some of the others also, cut it out rather
than pull it. There is a knack in pulling mushrooms, easily attained by
practice. And even when they come up in thick bunches and it would
appear impossible to pull out the full-grown ones without disturbing the
others, a practiced hand will give them a twitch and a pull--they often
part from the bed by the gentlest touch--and get them out without
unfastening any of the multitude of small buttons that may be growing
around them.

The advantages of pulling over cutting are several: It benefits the bed.
If we cut over a mushroom and leave its stump in the ground, in a few
days decay sets in and a fluffy or spongy substance grows around the old
butt, which destroys many of the little mushrooms around it, as well as
every thread of mycelium that comes in contact with it. One should be
particular to scoop out these stumps with a knife before this condition
takes place, and go over the beds every few days to fill up the holes,
made in scooping out the old stumps, with fresh loam.

Pulled mushrooms always keep fresh longer than do those that have been
cut. In the interest of the market grower they have another advantage.
Mushrooms are bought and sold by weight, and as the stems are always
retained to the caps all are weighed together; if part of the stems had
been cut off the weight would have been reduced, and, in like
proportion, the price; but if the stems are retained entire not only are
the mushrooms benefited, but the weight, and with it the price, is also
increased.

=Gathering Field or Wild Mushrooms.=--Go in search of them in the
morning before the sunshine gets warm and they become too open or old.
If you wish to gather and preserve them in their most perfect condition
pull them up by the "roots," carefully remove any soil from them, and
then lay them orderly in the basket, the root end down; and by spreading
a stout sheet of paper over the layer, another may be arranged above it
in the same way, and so on until the basket is full. But if you are not
so particular and wish them for immediate use, or for ketchup or drying,
the common way of cutting them off and carrying them home in bulk will
answer well enough.

=Marketing Mushrooms.=--Most market growers who live immediately around
New York City sell direct, and deliver their mushrooms to hotels,
restaurants, and fancy fruiterers. But some of them, also most of those
who live at a considerable distance from the city, sell their mushrooms
through commission merchants in New York; they, in turn, sell in
quantities to suit customers.

Mushrooms are sold by the pound, and come into market in boxes made of
strong undressed paper. Some growers have light wooden boxes made that
hold from one to four pounds of mushrooms each, and these make
convenient and strong packages for shipping by express. They may be sent
singly, or, as is the case with the paper boxes, several packed together
in crates or boxes. In sending directly to hotels, cheap baskets,
holding one or several pounds--Mr. Gardner's baskets hold twelve
pounds--are often used, but in sending to commission merchants, who
have to deal them out in quantities to suit customers, mushrooms should
always be packed in one, two, three or four pound boxes or baskets,
preferably one pound. Mushrooms are not like potatoes or apples, that
can be handled, remeasured, and repacked without damaging them. Each
rehandling will certainly discolor and perhaps break a good many of
them, rendering them unsalable, if not worthless.

The utmost care in gathering and packing of mushrooms for shipping is of
primary importance. Gather them the moment they are in best condition,
no matter whether or not they are to be packed and shipped the same day;
never let them blow open before gathering them; and never cut off short
stems. Long stems have to be shortened, but not until everything is
ready to pack them. With a very soft hair brush dust off any earth that
may stick to the cap of the mushroom, and with a harder brush or the
back of a knife rub the earth off of the root end of the stem. Then sort
the mushrooms,--the big ones by themselves, the middle-sized by
themselves, the small or button-sized ones by themselves, and pack each
kind by itself. Pack very firmly without bruising, and so as to show the
pretty caps to the best advantage. Never pack mushrooms more than two
deep without using plenty of soft paper between the layers, and never
put a heavy bulk of them into one box or basket. They discolor so easily
that, all things considered, about a pound is enough in a box, if we
wish them to carry safely and retain their bright, fresh skin without
tarnishing.

Mr. Barter, of London, writes me: "The punnets we use for marketing our
mushrooms in are the same that are used for strawberries or peaches.
These hold just one pound, but it is becoming more customary now to have
little boxes made holding from three to five pounds, as these are better
for packing in larger cases for long journeys."



CHAPTER XVIII.

RE-INVIGORATING OLD BEDS.


There is a wide-spread impression among horticulturists that worn out
beds which have ceased to bear may, by means of watering and certain
stimulants and warming up again, be so re-invigorated as to start into
full bearing, and yield a second and a good crop. I have given this
question much painstaking and practical consideration, and have
absolutely failed to revive a "dead" bed. I have not been able to do it
myself, and any instance of its having been done has never come under my
observation. This may appear heresy anent the multitudinous writings to
the contrary.

A mushroom bed may keep on bearing in a desultory way for many months,
and now and again show spurts of increased fertility; but this is no
second crop; it is merely a prolonged dribbling of the first crop. A
bed, by reason of cold or dryness, may, as it were, stand still or
partially stop bearing, and soon after it is remoistened, warmed, and
otherwise submitted to congenial conditions, will display renewed
energy; but this is no second crop; it is merely a spurt of the first
crop caused by extra favorable cultural conditions. But to show how
vaguely this question which is so much written about is regarded, let me
quote from a letter to me by Mr. J. Barter, who grows 21,000 lbs of
mushrooms a year for the London market: "You ask me, 'Do you ever get a
second crop?' My beds last in bearing, on an average, each three months,
and that I reckon to be three crops. But whether it be three or six
months, the weight of mushrooms is about the same. As there is in, say
a ton of manure, only so much mushroom-producing power, if you force it
to produce that weight in two months you are a gainer, as you thereby
save in labor; but when that producing-power is exhausted it will
produce no more mushrooms."

A spent mushroom bed is one that has been kept in bearing condition
under the most favorable circumstances at our command, and it has borne
a good crop, lasted some two months in bearing, and now it has stopped
bearing (except in a meagerly, desultory way) because the spawn or
mycelium has exhausted itself and is dead. Then, without living spawn in
the bed how are we to get mushrooms? Some bits of mycelium are still
alive and yield the desultory few, but every mushroom that they yield is
preying on their vitality, and after a time they too shall die and the
bed be completely barren, for the mycelium is altogether dead, and
without mycelium mushrooms are an impossibility. We can keep mushroom
mycelium in active growth the year round, and year after year, providing
we never let it bear mushrooms. This is done by taking the mycelium,
just before it begins bearing, from one manure bed and plant it in
another, and so on from bed to bed. At every fresh transplanting the
mycelium exerts itself into renewed growth, for it must become a strong
plant before it has strength enough to produce and support a mushroom.
Our utmost efforts have never rendered mycelium in a mushroom-bearing
condition perennial.



CHAPTER XIX.

INSECT AND OTHER ENEMIES.


The mushroom grower has his full share of insects to contend with, and
in order to overcome them one should acquaint himself with them, and
know what they are, what they do, whence they came, and how to destroy
them. One should study the diseases and mishaps of his crop and endeavor
to know their cause. If we know the cause of failing health in plants,
even in mushrooms, we can probably stop or devise a remedy for the
disease or means to prevent its recurrence, and if we can not benefit
the present subject we are forewarned against future attacks. But there
is a deal of mysterious trouble in this direction in mushroom-growing.
We are likely to know something about the depredations committed by
insects or parasitic molds above ground, but I am sure there is a good
deal of mischief going on under ground of which we know very little, if
anything. The ills to which the mycelium is subject are not at all fully
understood.

="Maggots."=--This is the common name among practical mushroom growers
for the larvæ of a species of fly (Diptera) which from April on through
the warm summer months renders mushroom-growing unprofitable. It is
unavoidable, and so far has proved invincible. It attacks the mushrooms
in deep cellars, above-ground houses, greenhouses, or frames, and is
often quite common in early appearing crops in the open fields. We
sometimes read that it does not occur in unheated cellars, but this is a
mistake, for in our unheated tunnel cellars, where the temperature in
April does not exceed 55°, maggots always appear about the end of this
month. But it is true that in the case of cool houses and where the beds
are covered over with hay or straw maggots do not appear as early in the
season as they do in warm houses and open beds. While rigid cleanliness,
and care in keeping the house or cellar closed, no doubt have much to do
in lessening the trouble, I have never been able to overcome it, and
know of no one who has. We simply stop growing mushrooms in summer.

The maggots or larvæ are about three-sixteenths to four-sixteenths of an
inch long, white with black head, and appear in all parts of the
mushroom, but mostly in the cap and at the base of the stem, and
perforate hither and thither leaving behind them a disgusting network of
burrows. The tiny buttons, about as soon as they appear at the surface
of the ground, are infested, but this does not check their growth, and
when they become mushrooms large enough for gathering, unless it be for
a dark looking puncture or tracing now and then visible on the outside
of the caps and stems, there are but few signs to indicate to the
inexperienced eye the presence of maggots. And this is why maggoty
mushrooms are so often found exposed for sale in summer. But in large or
full-grown mushrooms, and especially the white-skinned varieties, their
presence is visible enough. Although very repugnant, however, and
utterly unfit for food, maggoty mushrooms are not poisonous.

But all the mushrooms of summer crops are not maggoty, only a large
proportion of them; the evil begins in April, and increases as the
summer advances, until August, when it decreases, and in October
completely stops--at least this is my experience.

A solution of salt, saltpeter, or ammonia sprinkled over the surface of
the beds does not, in this case, do any good as an insecticide,
pyrethrum powder diffused through the atmosphere, and tobacco smoke,
have been ineffectual. Burning a lamp set in a basin of water with a
little kerosene floating on the surface is a most doubtful operation.
Multitudes of flies are destroyed by this lamp trap, but they are the
poor little innocent "manure flies," and the atmosphere of the house is
vitiated and rendered unhealthy for the crop. I have tried these lamp
traps season after season, and never knew of their doing any good; that
is, the maggots seemed just as numerous in the lamp-trapped cellar as in
the other cellar in which no lamp trap had been used.

Regarding this "maggots" question, Mr. J. F. Barter, of London, writes
me: "During the summer months the outdoor mushrooms get maggoty before
they are big enough to gather, but of course they can be grown in cool
cellars all the year round.... I know of no sure cure for them (the
maggots); of course a slight sprinkling of salt with manure or mold does
prevent, to a certain extent, but it must be used very carefully." Now
my experience is, as I have already said, that it is impossible to grow
mushrooms here in summer, even in cool cellars, without having them more
or less maggoty. As regards the salt and loam preventive, I have tried
it lightly and heavily, but without any apparent good effect.

=Black Spot.=--All mushroom growers are familiar with this disease, but
unless it appears in pronounced form very little notice is taken of it,
even by market men, for we see spotted mushrooms continually exposed for
sale. It appears as dark brown spots, streaks, or freckles, on the top
of the mushroom caps, and increases in distinctness and breadth with
age. Fig. 25. It is caused by eel worms (_Anguillulæ_). These minute
creatures enter the mushrooms when the latter are in their tiniest pin
form and before they emerge from the ground. If a button arises clean it
remains clean, if diseased it continues to be diseased, and it is a
fact that if one mushroom in a clump has black spot we usually find that
every mushroom in the clump has it. But mushrooms growing from the same
bit of spawn and that come up an inch or two away from the spotted ones
may be perfectly clean. Black spot has never occurred with me in new
beds, and seldom in those in vigorous bearing, but it generally appears
in beds that have been in bearing condition for some weeks or are
declining. It does not confine itself to any particular spot or part of
the bed, and sometimes it is much more plentiful than at others. Between
October and March we have very little black spot, but as the spring
opens this disease increases. During the winter season, with careful
attention, perhaps not so much as one per cent will show black spot, but
as the warm weather sets in the per centage increases until in May, when
as many as twenty per cent may be affected by it.

[Illustration: FIG. 25. MUSHROOM AFFECTED WITH BLACK SPOT.]

Black spot is a disease, however, that can be controlled. Keep
everything in and about the mushroom houses rigidly clean, and as soon
as a bed has ceased to bear a crop worth picking clear it out, lime-wash
the place it occupied, and make up another bed. Carefully observe that
no old loam or manure is allowed to accumulate anywhere, or green scum
forms upon the boards, paths, or walls; boiling water impregnated with
alum poured over the boards, walls, and other scum-covered surfaces,
will kill the eel worms, but it should not be allowed to touch the
mushroom beds that are in bearing or coming into bearing. Much can be
done to protect the bearing beds from the ravages of this pest: In
gathering the mushrooms remove every vestige of old stump and fogged-off
mushrooms, keep the holes filled up with fresh loam, and when the bed
has been in bearing condition for a fortnight sprinkle it over with a
solution of salt, and next day topdress with a half-inch coating of
finely sifted fresh loam; firm it to the bed with the back of the hand,
for it can not be pressed on with a spade on account of the growing
mushrooms.

Is black spot unwholesome? I do not think so. I have never known any ill
effects from eating it. The spotted parts are merely flavorless and
tasteless. But it is a very disgusting disease, and no one, I am sure,
would care to eat eel worms with their mushrooms. Until quite recently I
used to regard the black spot as the mark of some parasitic fungus, and,
acting under this impression, sent affected mushrooms to Dr. W. G.
Farlow, Prof. of Cryptogamic Botany at Harvard University, for his
opinion. He wrote me: "I find that the trouble is due to _Anguillulæ_,
and I find an abundance of these animals in the brown spots." He advised
me to submit them to an expert in "worms." I then sent samples to my
kind friend, Mr. William Saunders, of Washington, D. C., who submitted
them, for me, to Dr. Thomas Taylor, the microscopist to the U. S.
Department of Agriculture, and who replied: "I recommend that you use a
sprinkling of scalding water thoroughly over the entire surface of the
bed, especially the portion next to the boxing. The scalding water
should be applied before the buttons appear, but not penetrate more than
one-eighth of an inch below the surface. Anguillulæ abound wherever
decaying vegetable matter exists.... The green algæ on the outside of
flower pots abounds in the anguillulæ."

=Manure Flies.=--This is the name we give to the little flies (a species
of _Sciara_) that appear in large numbers in spring and summer in our
mushroom houses, or, indeed, in hotbeds or structures of any sort where
manure is used, as well as about the manure heaps in the yard. On
account of their habits they are regarded with much ill-favor. They hop
about the house and are continually running over the mushrooms, beds,
and walls, in the most suspicious manner. But, notwithstanding this, I
am inclined to regard them as perfectly harmless so far as injuring the
mushroom crop is concerned, except the fact that they soil the mushrooms
somewhat by their traveling over them with their muddy feet.

In attempting to get rid of the maggot fly I have destroyed large
numbers of these little innocents, but without any apparent diminution
in their numbers. Lachaume recommends: "These flies may be destroyed by
placing about a number of pans filled with water to which a few drops of
oil of turpentine have been added. The flies are attracted by the odor
and drown themselves. They may also be caught with a floating light, in
which they will burn their wings and fall into the water." I have found
that pure buhach powder dusted into the air or burned on a hot shovel in
the mushroom house has been more effective in destroying these flies
than either the lamp or drowning process.

=Slugs.=--These are serious pests in the mushroom house, especially in
above-ground structures, and they also occur in annoying numbers in
cellars. Wherever hay or straw is used in covering the beds, or there is
much woodwork about the house, slugs appear to be most numerous. They
are very fond of mushrooms and attack them in all stages, from the tiny
button just emerging from the ground to the fully developed plant. In
the case of the buttons or small mushrooms they usually eat out a piece
on the top or side of the cap, and as the mushroom advances in growth
these wounds spread open and display an ugly scar or disfigurement. They
also bite into the stems. But in the case of fresh, full grown mushrooms
they seem to have a particular liking for the gills, and eat patches
out of them here and there.

="Bullet" or "Shot" Holes.=--My attention was first called to these by
Mr. A. H. Withington, of New Jersey. They are little holes cut clear
through the mushroom caps, as if perforated by a buckshot, and are
evidently the work of some insect. He had, before then, submitted some
of these perforated mushrooms to Prof. S. Lockwood, who sent them to
Prof. C. V. Riley for his opinion. Prof. Riley replied that: "It is
quite likely that the damage was done by some myriapod, possibly a
Julus, or some of its allies. Only observation on the spot will
determine this point." As I never had any trouble with myriapods
attacking mushrooms and had seen nothing of this "bullet hole" work in
our own beds I was much interested in the question and determined to
look out for it, so I marked off a part of a bed and left that uncared
for. I soon found out the trouble. These holes are the work of slugs
which I have found and watched in the act of eating out the holes. To
find the slugs at work, one has to take his lantern and go out and look
for them at night. And to find out about plant parasites--be they
fungus, or insect--one has to let them alone and watch them. Had we kept
up our unsparing hunt for slugs, probably we should not yet have known
what caused these "bullet holes," for no slug would have been left alive
long enough to eat a hole through a mushroom cap.

Slugs must be caught and killed. We can find them at night by hunting
for them by lamp-light; their slimy track glistens and reveals their
presence. A few small bits of slate or half rotten boards with a pinch
of bran on them laid here and there about the beds are handy traps; the
slugs gather to eat the bran, hide beneath the rotten wood, and can then
be caught and killed. Fresh lettuce leaves make a capital trap, but
lettuces in January or February are about as scarce as mushrooms
themselves. A dressing of salt is distasteful to slugs, and not
injurious to mushrooms. Strong, fresh lime water may be freely sprinkled
over woodwork, pathways, walls, or elsewhere where slugs might gather
and hide themselves; but this solution should not be used upon the
mushroom beds. Rigid cleanliness, however, about the mushroom house, and
an ever-alert eye for slugs, should keep them under.

=Wood Lice.=--These are sure to be more or less abundant in every
mushroom house, even in the cellars. They crawl in through doors,
ventilators, or other interstices, and are brought in with the manure,
and find shelter about the woodwork, manure, or any bits of dry litter
that may be around. They attack the pinhead and small button mushrooms
by biting out little patches in their tops and sides; and although these
patches are small to begin with, the blemish spreads as the mushroom
grows, and is an objectionable feature. Trapping and killing the insects
is the chief remedy. Put part of a half boiled potato (for which no salt
had been used) into a little pasteboard box, and cover the potato with
some very dry swamp moss, lay the box on its side, and open at the end
on the bed. The wood lice will gather to eat the potato, and remain
after feasting because the dry moss affords them a cozy hiding place.
Several of these little boxes can be used. Go through the house in the
morning, lift the little traps quickly, and shake out any wood lice that
may be in them into a tin pail (an old lard pail will do), which should
contain a little water and kerosene. These traps may be used for any
length of time, merely observing to change the potato now and again to
have it in appetizing condition. Hot water or strong kerosene emulsion
may be poured about the woodwork, walls, and pathways, to destroy the
wood lice, but should not be allowed to touch the beds. Poisoned sweet
apples, potatoes, and parsnips have been recommended as baits for these
pests, but I must discourage using poisons of any sort in the mushroom
house. Six or eight inch square pieces of half rotten very dry boards
laid in pairs, one above the other, also make capital traps; the wood
lice gather there to hide themselves; these traps should be examined
frequently and the insects shaken into the pail containing water and
kerosene.

=Mites.=--Two kinds of mites are very common about mushrooms in spring
and summer; one is whitish and smaller than a "red spider" (one of the
commonest insect pests among garden plants), and the other is yellowish
and as large as or larger than a "red spider." But I do not think that
either of these mites is worth considering as a mushroom pest. The
yellow mite (probably _Lyroglyphus infestans_) is extremely common in
strawy litter on the surface of hotbeds, and I have no doubt finds its
way into the mushroom house as manure vermin rather than a mushroom
parasite. They are the effect and not the cause of injury to the crop.
When mushrooms are wounded or cracked, particularly about the stem, the
crevices often become abundantly inhabited with these mites, but they do
no material damage.

=Mice and Rats.=--These rodents are very fond of mushrooms, and where
they have access to the beds are troublesome and destructive. Both the
common house mouse and the white-bellied fence mouse are mushroom
destroyers, but, so far, the nimble but timid field mouse (among garden,
open air, and frame crops generally) has never yet troubled our
mushrooms, but I can not believe that this immunity is voluntary on its
part. The mice bite a little piece here and there out of the caps of the
young mushrooms, and these bite-marks, as the mushrooms advance in
growth, spread open and become unsightly disfigurements. In the case of
open mushrooms, however, the mice, like slugs, prefer the gills to the
fleshy caps. Rats are far more destructive than mice. Trapping is the
only remedy I use, and would not use poison in the mushroom houses for
these creatures for obvious reasons. But we should make our houses
secure against their inroads.

=Toads.=--These are recommended as good insect traps to be used in
mushroom houses, but I do not want them there; the cure is as bad as the
disease. The mushroom bed is a little paradise for the toad. He gets
upon it and burrows or elbows out a snug little hole for himself
wherever he wishes, and many of them, too, and cares nothing about
whether, in his efforts to make himself comfortable, he has heaved out
the finest clumps of young mushrooms in the beds.

=Fogging Off.=--This is one of the commonest ailments peculiar to
cultivated mushrooms. It consists in the softening, shriveling, and
perishing of part of the young mushrooms, which also usually assume a
brownish color. These withered mushrooms do not occur singly here and
there over the face of the bed, but in patches; generally all or nearly
all of the very small mushrooms in a clump will turn brown and soft, and
there is no help for them; they never will recover their plumpness. Some
writers attribute fogging off to unfavorable atmospheric
conditions,--the temperature may be too cold, or too hot, or the
atmosphere too moist, or too dry. I am convinced that fogging off is due
to the destruction of the mycelium threads that supported these
mushrooms; it is a disease of the "root," to use this expression; the
"roots" having been killed, the tops must necessarily perish. If it were
caused by unfavorable conditions above ground we should expect all of
the crop to be more or less injuriously affected; but this does not
occur; the mushrooms in one clump may be withered, and contiguous clumps
perfectly healthy.

Anything that will kill the spawn or mycelium threads will cause
fogging off to overtake every little mushroom that had been attached to
these mycelium threads. Keeping the bed or part of it continuously wet
or dry will cause fogging off, so will drip; watering with very cold
water is also said to cause it, but this I have not found to be the
case. Unfastening the ground by abruptly pulling up the large mushrooms
will destroy many of the small mushrooms and pinheads attached to the
same clump; and when large mushrooms push up through the soil and
displace some of the earth, all the small mushrooms so displaced will
probably waste away, as the threads of mycelium to which they were
attached for support have been severed. A common reason of fogging off
is caused by cutting off the mushrooms in gathering them and leaving the
stumps in the ground; in a few days' time these stumps develop a white
fluff or flecky substance, which seems to poison every thread of
mycelium leading to it, and all the mushrooms, present and to come, that
are attached to this arrested web of mycelium are affected by the poison
of the decaying old mushroom stump, and fogg off. Any impure matter in
the bed with which the mycelium comes in contact will destroy the spawn
and fogg off the young mushrooms. Lachaume complains about the larvæ of
two beetles, namely _Aphodius fimetarius_ and _Dermestes tessellatus_,
which "cause great damage by eating the spawn, thereby breaking up the
reproductive filaments." Damage of this sort by these or any other
insect vermin will cause fogging off. But I have not noticed either of
the above beetles or their larvæ about our beds.

=Flock.=--This is the worst of all mushroom diseases and common wherever
mushrooms are grown artificially. It is not a new disease; I have known
it for twenty-five years, and it was as common then as it is now, and
practical gardeners have always called it _Flock_. I say "worst of all
diseases" because _I know_ that mushrooms affected by it are both
unwholesome and indigestible, and I can readily believe that in
aggravated cases they are poisonous. It is caused by other fungi which
infest the gills and frills of the mushrooms, and render them a hard,
flocky mass; sometimes the affected mushrooms preserve their white skin,
color, and normal form, at other times the cap becomes more or less
distorted. The illustration, Fig. 26, is from life, and a good average
of a flock-infested mushroom. In gathering mushrooms the growers should
insist that every flock-infested mushroom be discarded, and consumers of
mushrooms should familiarize themselves with this disease so as to know
and reject every mushroom showing a trace of it.

[Illustration: FIG. 26. A FLOCK-DISEASED MUSHROOM.]

Flock does not affect all the mushrooms in a bed at any time, and I do
not believe it spreads in the bed, or, to use the expression, becomes
contagious. If one spot of mildew appears upon a cucumber, rose, or
grape vine indoors, and is not checked, it soon becomes general all over
the plant or plants, and if one spot of mold occurs in a propagating bed
and is not checked at once it soon spreads over a large space and
destroys every cutting or seedling within its reach, but this is not the
case with flock in a mushroom bed. If one mushroom is affected with
flock every mushroom produced from that piece of spawn is affected, but
not one mushroom produced from the pieces of spawn inserted next to this
one is affected by it; not even if the mycelium from the several lumps
of spawn forms an interlacing web. If the flock is confined to the
mushrooms produced from a certain bit of spawn some may ask, will the
other pieces of spawn broken from the same brick produce flock-infested
mushrooms? No. I have given this point particular attention, have kept
the pieces of each brick close together, and where flock has appeared I
have failed to find that the other pieces of spawn from that brick are
more liable to produce flock-infested mushrooms than are the pieces of
the bricks that, as yet, have not shown any sign of diseased produce.

How general is this disease? In a bed say three feet wide by thirty feet
long and of two months' bearing one may get as few as five or as many as
fifty flocky mushrooms; one or two may occur to-day, and we may not find
another for a week or two, when we may get a whole clump of them, and so
on. It is not the large number of them that makes them dangerous, for
they never appear in quantity. They sometimes appear among the earliest
mushrooms in the bed, but generally not until after the bed has been in
bearing condition for a week or two.

What conditions are most favorable or unfavorable to the growth of this
disease I do not know; but it is certainly not caused by debility in the
mushroom itself, as the parasite attacks healthy, robust mushrooms and
debilitated ones indiscriminately. This flocky condition is caused by
one or more saprophytic and parasitic fungi of lowly origin, whose
various parts are reduced to mere threads, simple or branched, and
divided into tubular cells at intervals, or else they are long,
continuous microscopic tubes without any partitions, except at those
occasional points where a branch, destined to produce spores, is given
off. Generally two or more species of these thread-fungi are present at
the same time on the mushroom host, and by the multiplied crossing and
interweaving of their threads and branches produce, through their great
numbers, the whitish, felted mass of "flock"; while as individuals the
threads are so minute as to be scarcely or not at all visible to the
naked eye. Similar thread-fungi may often be found in the woods among
damp leaves, under rotten logs, and on those porous fungi which
project, shelf-like, from the trunks of trees. At present there is no
way known for destroying the "flock," except to take up and destroy
every clump of mushrooms attacked by it. Fortunately the disease is not
very serious if proper precautions are observed; for, in our own
cellars, where mushrooms have been grown year after year for the past
eleven years, we get but few flocky mushrooms in any bed's bearing. The
disease is not more common to-day than it was in any former year. But we
give our cellars a thorough cleaning every summer.

=Cleaning the Mushroom Houses.=--After the season's cropping is finished
the mushroom houses and cellars should be thoroughly cleaned. Clear out
the old beds, and bring outside all the movable floor and shelf boards,
scrape up every bit of loose litter or dirt in the place and throw it
out, broom down the walls and whatever boarding is left. Whitewash the
walls with hot lime wash, and paint every bit of woodwork liberally with
crude oil or kerosene. This is to destroy anguillulæ and other insect
and fungus parasites. If you wish to use again the boards brought
outside, broom them over and paint them copiously with kerosene. And if
your cellar or house has a dirt floor, a heavy sprinkling of very
caustic lime water all over it will do good in ridding it of vermin.



CHAPTER XX.

GROWING MUSHROOMS IN RIDGES OUT OF DOORS AROUND LONDON.


In the preface to _Kitchen and Market Gardening_ (London) is the
following:

"Mr. W. Falconer and Mr. C. W. Shaw made, in connection with the London
_Garden_, what we believe to be the first attempt at long and systematic
observation of the best culture as it is in London market gardens." This
is mentioned to indicate that the writer speaks on this subject from
experience. And although it is now seventeen years since I became
disconnected with the London market gardens, by revisiting them a few
years ago, and by correspondence and the horticultural press, I have
endeavored to keep informed of all changes of methods and improvements
in culture as practiced there. At that time Steele, Bagley, Broadbent,
Dancer, Pocock and Myatt were among the largest and best gardeners
around London, and since then several of these grand old gentlemen have
passed away and their fields have been cut up and built upon. At that
time mushrooms were one of the general crops, as were snap beans or
cauliflower, and in their season were planted as a matter of course.
To-day they have become a specialty, and some gardeners devote their
whole energy to mushroom-growing alone, and make from $2000 to $5000 a
year clear profit from one acre of mushrooms, and that, too, from ridges
in the open field! There is no other field crop that yields such a large
profit. There they get twenty-four to forty-eight cents a pound for
their fresh mushrooms, here we get fifty cents to a dollar a pound for
ours. But as mushroom-growing there is confined to fall, winter and
spring, those gardeners who restrict themselves to mushrooms only devote
the summer months to making mushroom spawn for their own use, and also
for sale.

Mr. John F. Barter, of Lancefield street, London, the king of London
mushroom growers, writes me under date of Dec. 10, 1888: "I employ men
for mushroom bed-making from August to March; then, in order to keep on
the same staff, I get about 10,000 bushels of brick spawn made up for
sale.... By the sale of spawn I make just half of my living." Now let us
see: 10,000 bushels = 160,000 bricks, and each brick weighs a pound,
thus we have 160,000 pounds. At ten cents a pound (retail price) the
total is $16,000; at five cents a pound (supposed wholesale price)
$8000, or at three and a half cents a pound (supposed manufacturer's
price) $5600.

The manure is obtained from the city stables and hauled home by the
gardeners on their return trips from market. The manure collected after
midsummer is used for mushrooms, and an effort is made to save the very
best horse manure for this purpose. When enough has accumulated for a
bed the manure is turned and well shaken, removing only the rougher part
of the straw, and thrown into a large pyramidal pile to heat; this shape
is adopted as being better than the flat form for keeping out rain. In
three or four days the manure is again turned, shaken out and piled up
as before; after this it is turned every second day, unless it rains,
until it has been turned six or seven times in all. It should then be
ready for making into ridges.

The site for the beds should be a warm, well-sheltered piece of ground,
either in the open field or orchard; much pains should be exercised to
protect it from cold winds. Although a great many mushroom ridges are
made under the partial shade of apple and pear trees, I always preferred
making them in the open ground. The land should be dry and of a slightly
elevated or sloping nature, so that no pools of water can possibly
collect on the surface. Having the ground cleared, leveled, and ready,
mark it off into strips two feet wide and six feet wide alternately. The
two feet wide space is for the mushroom bed, the six feet wide one for
the space between the beds; but after the ridges are built, earthed over
and covered with straw, they are almost six feet wide at the base. The
common sizes of ridges are two feet wide by two feet high, and two and
one-half feet wide by two and one-half feet high, and taper to six or
eight inches wide at top.

The manure being ready and the site for the beds lined off, the manure
is carted to the place and wheeled upon the beds. In making the bed
shake out the manure well and evenly to cause it to hold together, tamp
it with the back of the fork as you go along, and two or three times
before the ridges are completed walk upon and tread the manure down
solidly with the feet, and trim down the sides to turn the rain water.
Two days after the bed is made up some holes should be bored from the
top to nearly the bottom with a small iron bar to let the heat off and
prevent the inside of the bed from becoming too dry. Make them about
nine inches apart all along the center of the bed. The old gardeners did
not use the crowbar. They were very particular not to build their ridges
before the chances of overheating were considered past; but
notwithstanding all their care some of their beds would get overwarm,
when, without a moment's hesitation, they tossed them over, part to the
right and part to the left, and left the manure thus exposed for a day
or two to cool, and then make up the beds again on the same site.

Brick spawn is always used. Some of those who make a specialty of
mushrooms also make spawn for sale as well as for their own use; but the
majority of the gardeners prefer to buy rather than make their own
spawn.

When the heat has fallen to between 80° and 90° the ridges are spawned,
the pieces inserted in three rows along each side, leaving about nine
inches between the pieces. A dibber should not be used on any account.
The spawn is put in tightly with the hand and the manure pressed down.
It should be put in level with the face of the bed, so that the mold may
just touch it when the bed is cased. In the event of cold or wet
weather, just as soon as the beds are spawned a slight covering of rank
litter is laid over them. After a few days this is removed and the beds
are molded over with mold from ground to which manure has not been
applied for some time. But the general market gardeners do not make this
distinction; they use the earth from between the ridges, which has been
manured regularly every year for a couple of hundred years or more. The
mold is put on evenly with the spade and is about two inches thick at
the base of the ridge and one inch thick at top, and well firmed by
beating with the back of the spade; indeed, the ridges are now commonly
watered through a water-pot rose, again beaten very firmly and the
surface left smooth and even. This smooth surface readily sheds rain
water, but I question if it has any advantage over a well-firmed
unglazed surface. After molding the beds are covered with litter, that
is, the rankest straw that had been shaken out of the manure, to a depth
of four, six, eight, or ten inches, according to the state of the bed
and weather; if the bed is inclined to be cool or if the weather is
cold, thicken the covering.

Drenching or long drizzling rains are more injurious to the beds than is
cold, and in order to ward them off old Russia mats and any other sort
of cloth or carpet covering obtainable is laid over the litter on the
beds and weighted down with poles, boards, stones, or anything else that
is convenient. Do not disturb this covering for about four weeks, and
then on a dry day strip it off and shake up the litter loosely so as to
dry it. If there is any white mold on the surface of the soil take a
handful of straw and rub it off. If the bed is rather cold put a layer
of clean, dry hay next the bed, and on top of this replace the littery
covering.

[Illustration: FIG. 27. THE COVERED RIDGES.]

The first beds are made in August, and one or more every month after
till March, just as time, convenience and material permit. Summer beds
are not attempted unless in exceptional cases. The bulk of the beds are
generally put in in September and October. In early fall, also in
spring, beds yield mushrooms in about six weeks after spawning; in
winter they take eight or nine weeks or more, much depending on the
weather.

In cold weather the mushrooms are gathered at noon-day; if the weather
is windy and it is possible to postpone gathering for another day this
is done, as the litter can not be replaced satisfactorily in windy
weather. In gathering the mushrooms one man carefully pulls the straw
down from the top of the bed, rolling it toward him; another gathers the
mushrooms (pulling them out by the roots, never cutting them) into
baskets, and a third man covers up the bed. In this way the three men go
up one side of the ridge and down the other, and the work is done
expeditiously and well, without exposing any part of the bed more than a
minute or two at a time. It is necessary that the uncovering be done by
rolling the straw down from the top of the ridge; if it were rolled up
the covering on the other side of the ridge would be sure to slip down a
little, and break off many small mushrooms. The mushrooms as gathered
are of three grades; the large or wide-spread ones are called
"broilers," the full-sized ones whose neck frill is merely broken about
half an inch wide are "cups," and the small white ones whose frills are
not broken at all are termed "buttons." All of these are kept separate.
They are marketed in different ways, but the growers who make mushrooms
a specialty assort and pack them in chip baskets, boxes, or otherwise,
as the metropolitan and provincial markets demand or suggest. Mr. John
F. Barter, writing to me from London, says: "As to punnetts, we use the
same as for strawberries or peaches" (the abundance of peaches we have
in America is unknown over there), "they hold just one pound. But it is
getting more general now to have little boxes made to hold say three to
five pounds each; these are better for packing in larger cases for long
journeys."

The first cutting is a light one. After this the bed is cut twice a week
for three weeks in mild weather, or once a week in inclement weather.
The last two or three pickings are thin and only secured once a week.
Altogether ten or eleven good pickings are gathered from each bed.

I never knew of a single instance in which any attempt was made to
renovate an old or worn-out bed. But when the beds become so dry as to
need watering a small handful of salt is dissolved in a large pailful of
water and with this solution the beds are freely watered over the straw
covering, but never, to my knowledge, under it.

My old friends, George Steele and Mr. Bagley, of Fulham Fields, used to
run part of their beds east and west, not only for convenience sake so
far as the beds themselves were concerned, but with the view of growing
early tomatoes against the south side of these beds in summer, and here
they got their finest and earliest crops, for the London gardeners can
not grow tomatoes out of doors in the open fields as we can in America.
Other gardeners clear away the manure for use elsewhere in their fields,
and as it is so well rotted it is in capital condition for cauliflower,
lettuces, snap beans, and other crops. But as the mushroom growers who
restrict themselves entirely to mushrooms, and who, after the mushroom
beds have finished bearing, have no further use for the manure in the
spent beds, are always able to dispose of it at one-half the cost price.
It is excellent for garden crops and as a topdressing for lawns, on
account of its fineness and freedom from all rubbish as sticks, stones,
old bottles, old shoes, and the like, is in much demand.



CHAPTER XXI.

MUSHROOM GROWING IN THE PARIS CAVES.


In caves and subterranean passages underneath the city of Paris and its
environs, thousands of tons of mushrooms are artificially produced every
year. These underground caves and tunnels are abandoned quarries from
which white building stone and plaster have been excavated, and as the
veins of stone permeated through the bowels of the earth, 40 to 125 feet
deep, so were they quarried, and the blocks brought to the surface
through vertical shafts. It is these tunnels, varying in height and
width as the veins of stone varied, that are now used for
mushroom-growing. M. Lachaume, in his book, _The Cave Mushroom_, tells
us: "In the Department of the Seine there are 3000 quarries; those which
have been abandoned and which are situated close to Paris at Montrouge,
Bagneux, Vaugirard, Méry, Châtillon, Vitry, Honilles, and St. Denis, are
used by the 250 mushroom-growers of the Department. There are several of
these quarries with horizontal galleries driven into the calcareous rock
from the level of the road, which are mostly large enough to accommodate
a good sized cart, but the majority can only be entered, like many coal
mines, by vertical shafts 100 to 125 feet deep, down which everything
has to pass. The laborers climb up and down a ladder, and the fresh
manure is shoveled down the shaft from above, the waste stuff and
mushrooms being hauled up in baskets from beneath by means of a
windlass."

The manure used is obtained from the Paris stables and furnished by
contractors, with whom the mushroom growers make special bargains
because they are very particular about the kind and quality of the
manure they use. Some of these growers use as much as 2000 to 3500 tons
of manure each a year for their mushroom beds. To the caves in the
immediate neighborhood of Paris the manure is hauled out in carts, but
to Méry and other places too far distant to be within easy carting
distance it is sent by rail. The mushroom growers consider that the
manure from animals that are worked hard and abundantly fed on dry, good
food is the best; the droppings from these are always dry and rich in
ammonia, nitrogen and phosphates. The manure from entire horses that are
worked hard they regard as the best, and, next in value, that from
mules. The manure from horses kept for pleasure, such as carriage and
riding horses, is regarded as poor, notwithstanding the high feeding of
these animals, and the manure from horses fed on grass or roots, also
that of cows, as worthless. Stress is laid on the importance of having a
good deal of urine-soaked straw in the manure, and this is another
reason why manure from draught horses is preferred to that from animals
kept for pleasure, as the bedding of the former is not apt to be kept so
clean as that in aristocratic stables.

The preparation of the manure is conducted near the mouth of the caves
or shafts on a level, dry piece of ground, and altogether out of doors.
As soon as sufficient manure for a pile is obtained it is forked over,
thoroughly shaken up and intermixed, divested of all extraneous matter
such as sticks, stones, bottles, scrap iron, old shoes, and the like we
find in city stable manure, and any dry straw is moistened with water.
It is then squared off into a heap forty inches high and trodden down to
thirty inches high. In this state it is left for about six days, when it
is turned, shaken up loosely, the outside turned to the inside, and all
dry parts watered; the same shallow square form is retained, and it is
again trodden down firm. In about six days more it is again turned,
shaken up, watered, squared off, and trodden as before. In about three
days after this it should be fit for use and may be turned, shaken up
loosely, and dumped down the shaft into the cave and carried to the spot
where the beds are to be formed. Of course these operations must be
modified according to circumstances and the condition of the manure.

In making the beds the ground is first marked off. The first bed is made
alongside of the wall, and rounded to the front; the other beds run
parallel with this and may be straight, crooked, or wavy, as the
interior of the cave may suggest. The beds are all ridge-shaped,
eighteen to twenty inches wide at the base, eighteen to twenty inches
high in the middle, six inches wide at top, and the sides sloping.
Pathways twelve inches wide run between the beds. The workmen build the
beds by piece-work and receive one-half cent per running foot. A good
workman can make 240 feet a day (_Lachaume_). The beds are built neatly
and firmly and with much nicety as regards size and proportions. But the
workmen do not use a fork or any other tool in the construction of the
beds; they lift, shake up, spread and build the manure with their naked
hands and pack it firm with their knees.

The spawn is obtained from the working beds and is what the mushroom
growers there call "virgin" spawn, though not at all what we know by
that term. As a succession of beds is kept up all the year round it is
an easy matter for the growers to get their spawn at any time. The best
time to get the spawn is when the young mushrooms are first appearing. A
bed or part of a bed in capital working order is selected and broken up
and the cakes of manure thoroughly matted up with the active mycelium
are selected for spawning the fresh beds. It is asserted that from this
active spawn crops of mushrooms appear in twenty days' less time than if
dry spawn were used.

The French spawn is used. Somewhere between the seventh and fourteenth
day after making the bed it will be in condition for spawning. Break the
spawn into pieces between two and three inches long, two inches wide,
and three-fourths of an inch thick, and insert these pieces in two rows
along the sides of the ridges; the first row eight inches above the
ground, the second row eight inches above the first, and the pieces put
in quincunx fashion eight inches apart in the row. The manure is firmly
packed in upon the spawn, the surface left smooth and even and without
being further disturbed until earthing time.

Much stress is laid upon stratifying the spawn before using, when dry
spawn is employed. About eight days before a bed is to be spawned the
dry spawn is spread out in a row on the floor of the cave or cellar so
that it may absorb moisture and the mycelium begin to run. At spawning
time these cakes or flakes are broken up and used in the ordinary way,
and, it is claimed, with a week's difference in favor of the early
appearing of the mushrooms. But no more spawn than is necessary for
immediate use should be stratified, for it will not bear being dried and
damped again.

The chips and powder of the stone which has been taken out of the quarry
and which can be had in abundance on the floor of the quarry or on the
surface of the ground around the shaft, are sifted, and the finer part
saved and mixed with earth in the proportion of three parts of stone
dust to one of earth, and with this the beds are molded over. The
powdered stone is strongly impregnated with salts, so advantageous to
the mushrooms.

In seven to nine days after spawning, the beds are ready for earthing
over. This depends upon the condition of the spawn and how well it has
run in the manure. Before being earthed over the outside surface of the
beds should be covered with white filaments radiating in all directions
which give to the beds a bluish appearance. When the bed is in the
proper state for being covered with earth the mold is laid on equally
and firmly over the surface about three-fourths of an inch deep. It is
then thoroughly watered through a fine-rosed watering pot and allowed to
settle until the next day, when it is beaten solid by the back of a
wooden shovel. The bed now needs no further care until the young
mushrooms appear, except a light occasional watering should it get dry.

[Illustration: FIG. 28. IN THE MUSHROOM CAVES OF PARIS.]

In spacious, high-roofed caves the mean temperature is about 52° F.,
while in narrow, low-roofed ones it is about 68°. Of course this makes a
wide difference in the time of bearing and duration of the beds made in
the different caves; those in the warm caves come into bearing sooner
and stop bearing quicker than do those in the high-roofed caves. On an
average the first mushrooms appear in about forty days after the beds
are spawned, and the beds continue bearing for forty or sixty days, but
toward the end of that time the yield diminishes very rapidly.

They are gathered once a day, usually about midnight, so that they may
reach the Paris market early in the morning. In size the mushrooms range
from three-fourths to one and five-eighths inches in diameter of top,
and are pure white in color. The workmen always gather the mushrooms by
plucking them out by the roots, and never by cutting them; the gatherers
have two baskets, carried knapsack fashion on their back; one is to
receive the mushrooms as they are picked, the other contains mold with
which to fill in the little holes made by pulling the mushrooms out of
the bed. In some caves one man gathers the mushrooms and leaves them in
little piles on the bed as he goes along, a woman comes after him and
places them in a basket, and a man follows her and fills up the holes
with earth. Before bringing the mushrooms up out of the caves they are
covered over with a cloth to avoid contact with the outer air, which is
apt to turn them brown. They are then placed in baskets that contain
twenty-three to twenty-five pounds and sent to market, where they are
sold at auction as they arrive. Or they may be sent to
preserved-vegetable manufacturers, who contract for them at an all round
price.

[Illustration: FIG. 29. GATHERING MUSHROOMS IN THE PARIS CAVES FOR
MARKET.]

Proper ventilation is regarded as being of great importance, not only
for the sake of the workmen, but also for the mushrooms, which will not
thrive in an impure atmosphere. Ventilation is afforded by means of
narrow shafts surmounted by tall wooden chimneys whose upper ends are
cut at an angle so that the beveled side faces north. In order to avoid
sudden changes of temperature and strong draughts, fires, trap doors,
and other means employed in assisting the ventilation of coal mines
are adopted. To stop strong draughts, too, in the passages, tall,
straw-thatched hurdles are set up. In narrow caves the breath of the
workmen, the gases given off by fermentation, and the products of
combustion of the lamps would soon so vitiate the atmosphere as to
render the caves uninhabitable were they not properly ventilated.
Indeed, it frequently occurs that caves in which mushrooms have been
grown continuously for some years have to be abandoned for a year or two
because the crop has ceased to prosper in them. But after they have been
thoroughly cleared of all beds and the surface soil that would have been
likely to be touched or affected by the manure, and ventilated and
rested for a year or two, mushrooms can again be grown in them
successfully.



CHAPTER XXII.

COOKING MUSHROOMS.


Fresh mushrooms, well cooked and well served, are one of the most
delicious of all vegetables. If we grow our own mushrooms we can gather
them in their finest form, cook them as we please, and enjoy them in
their most delightful condition. If we are dependent upon the fields we
should be careful to gather only such mushrooms as are young, plump, and
fresh, and reject all that are old or discolored, or betray any signs of
the presence of disease or insects. And in the case of store mushrooms,
that is, the ones we get at the fruiterer's or other provision store, we
should examine them critically before using them to see that they are
perfectly free from "flock," "black spot," "maggots," or other ailment,
and discard all that have any symptoms of disease.

The small, short-stemmed, white-skinned mushrooms offered for sale are
of the variety known as French mushrooms, and on account of their white
appearance are preferred by many; the longer-stemmed, broader-headed,
and darker-colored kind that we also find offered for sale is what is
known as the English mushroom. The French mushrooms are the most
attractive in appearance and preferred in the market, but the English
variety is the best flavored and generally the most liked for home use.

As soon as the frill around the neck breaks apart the mushroom is fit to
gather; keeping it longer may add to its size a little, but surely will
detract from its tenderness. The gills of the mushrooms will retain
their pink tinge for a day after the frill breaks open, but they soon
grow browner and blacker, until in a few days they are unfit for food.
In gathering, the mushrooms should be pulled and never cut, and kept in
this way until ready to prepare them for cooking. By retaining the stem
uncut the mushroom holds its freshness and plumpness much longer than it
would were the stems removed. Keep them in a cool, dark place, and in an
earthenware vessel with a cover or a thick, damp cloth thrown over it;
this will preserve their plumpness. If the frill is broken wide apart
when the mushrooms are gathered, the caps are apt to open out flat in a
day or two, and the gills darken and spread their spores, just as if the
mushrooms were still unsevered from the ground.

Carefully inspect the mushrooms before cooking them. If the gills are
black and the mushrooms are too old do not use them; if the cap is
perforated by insects discard it, as it is very likely there are maggots
inside; or if there are dark brown spots ("black spot") on the top of
the caps throw the mushrooms away. Old mushrooms are tough, ill-looking,
bad-tasting and indigestible, and those infested by insects, although
not poisonous, are very repugnant, and should not be used. But the
dangerous mushroom is the one affected by "Flock."

Mushrooms should be gathered free from grit; if at all gritty they
require washing, which spoils them. All large mushrooms should be peeled
before they are cooked; the skin of the cap parts freely from the flesh,
but the skin of the stem must be rubbed or scraped off. The gills should
not be removed as they are the most delicate meat of the mushroom, but
if the mushrooms are old and intended for soup the gills should be
scraped out with the view of getting rid of their darkening influence in
the soup. In the case of small button mushrooms, which can not be
readily skinned, they should be rubbed over with a soft cloth dipped in
vinegar, so as to remove the outer part of the skin. While the stems may
be retained with the buttons, they should always be removed from the
full-grown mushrooms.

Mushrooms should always be served hot, and they should be eaten as soon
as cooked. In the case of baked mushrooms and others prepared in a
somewhat similar way they should be covered in the oven by an inverted
dish, soup plate, basin, or the like, and if possible brought to the
table in this way and without the cover removed. Set the tin upon a mat
or cold plate upon the table, then uncover and serve on hot plates. By
this means the delicious aroma is preserved.

=Baked Mushrooms.=--Peel and stem the mushrooms, rub and sprinkle a
little salt on the gills, and lay the mushrooms, gills up, on a shallow
baking tin and put a small piece of butter on each mushroom. Place an
inverted saucer or deep plate over them in the tin, and put them into a
brisk oven for about twenty minutes. Then take them out and serve upon a
hot plate, without spilling any of the juice that has collected in the
middle of each mushroom. Send to table and eat at once. This is the
common way of cooking mushrooms, and by it is secured the true mushroom
aroma and taste in their perfection.

=Stewed Mushrooms.=--Peel and stem the mushrooms. Take an enameled
saucepan, put a lump of butter in it and melt it, then put in the
mushrooms, and season with salt and pepper and a small piece of pounded
mace (if you like it), then cover the saucepan tightly and stew the
mushrooms gently until they are tender, which will be in about half an
hour. Have ready some toast, either dry or fried in butter, as
preferred; spread out upon a hot dish, place the mushrooms upon the
toast, with the gills uppermost, pour the juice over them, and serve
hot. Button mushrooms are the ones usually selected for stewing, but
while nicer and whiter they are not so finely flavored as the full sized
ones.

Another way of preparing stewed mushrooms is to stem and peel them; dip
in water containing lemon juice (this is to prevent their becoming
dark-colored in cooking, or giving a dark color to the stew), and drain
them dry. Put them into a stewpan, with a good-sized lump of butter and
some nice gravy, and let them stew for about ten minutes. Take a little
stock or cream, beat up some flour in it quite smooth, and add a little
lemon juice and grated nutmeg. Add this to the mushrooms and cook
briskly for about ten minutes longer, or until tender.

=Soyer's Breakfast Mushrooms.=--Place some freshly-made toast, divided,
on a dish, and put the mushrooms, stemmed and peeled, gills upward upon
it; add a little pepper and salt and put a small bit of butter in the
middle of each mushroom. Pour a teaspoonful of cream over each, and add
one clove for the whole dish. Put an inverted basin over the whole. Bake
for twenty or twenty-five minutes, and do not remove the basin until the
dish is brought to the table, so as to preserve the grateful aroma. A
delightful dish.

=Mushrooms à la Crême.=--Peel and stem the mushrooms, roll a lump of
butter in flour and put it into the saucepan, then add the mushrooms and
some salt, white pepper, a little sugar and finely chopped parsley. Stew
for ten minutes. Take the yolks of two eggs beaten up with two large
spoonfuls of cream, and add the mixture gradually to the stew; cook for
a few minutes longer, and serve hot. This is a delicious dish, but the
fine mushroom flavor is not as pronounced in it as it is in the plain
bake or stew.

=Curried Mushrooms.=--Peel and stem a pound of mushrooms, sprinkle with
salt, add a little butter, and stew gently for fifteen or twenty minutes
in a little good stock or gravy. Then add four tablespoonfuls of cream
and one teaspoonful of good curry powder previously well mixed with two
teaspoonfuls of wheat flour. Mix carefully and cook for five or ten
minutes longer, and serve on hot toast on hot plates. A capital dish
much enjoyed by those who like curry.

=Broiled Mushrooms.=--Select large, open, fresh mushrooms, stem and peel
them. Put them on the gridiron, stem side down, over a bright but not
very hot fire, and cook for three minutes. Then turn them and put a
small piece of butter in the middle of each, and broil for about ten
minutes longer. Put them in hot plates, gills upward, and place another
small piece of butter on each mushroom, together with a little pepper
and salt, and flavor with lemon juice or Chili vinegar, and put them
into the oven for a minute or two. Then send them to table.

=Mushroom Soup.=--Take a quantity of fresh young mushrooms, and peel and
stem them. Stew them with a little butter, pepper and salt, and some
good stock, till tender; take them out and chop them up quite small;
prepare a good stock, as for any other soup, and add it to the mushrooms
and the liquor they have been stewed in. Boil all together, and serve.
If white soup is required use white button mushrooms and a good veal
stock, adding a spoonful of cream or a little milk as the color may
require. This is a nice soup and tastes good. If the mushrooms are very
young they have but little flavor; if they are full grown they darken
the soup, and if they are brown in the gills when used the soup will be
disagreeably dark. If, after preparing, but before cooking the
mushrooms, you pour some boiling water over them and into this drop a
little vinegar or lemon juice, then drain them off through a colander,
you can prevent, to a great extent, their darkening influence on the
soup, but always at the expense of their flavor.

=Mushroom Stems.=--The stems of young, fresh mushrooms are excellent to
eat, but those of old or stale mushrooms are unfit for food. In the case
of plump, fresh, full-sized mushrooms, the upper part of the stem, that
is, the portion between the frill and the socket in the cap, is used,
but the portion below the frill, that is, the "root" end, is discarded.
Any part of the stem that is discolored or tough or woody should be
rejected, and only the portion that is succulent and brittle and of a
clean white color at any time used. The stems are nearly always retained
in "button" mushrooms when they are cooked, and the upper or succulent
parts of the stems of plump, fresh, full-grown mushrooms are often
cooked along with the caps, but when cooking full-grown mushrooms we
prefer, in all cases, to completely remove the stems from the mushrooms,
and cook both separately. The stems are not so tender or deliciously
flavored as are the caps, but are excellent for ketchup, or flavoring,
or a sauce for eating with boiled fowl. In cooking the stems they should
be peeled by scraping, for they can not be skinned like the caps.

=Potted Mushrooms.=--Select nice button or unopen mushrooms, and to a
quart of these add three ounces of fresh butter, and stew gently in an
enameled saucepan, shaking them frequently to prevent burning. After a
few minutes dust a little finely powdered salt, a little spice, and a
few grains of cayenne over them, and stew until tender. When cooked turn
them into a colander standing in a basin, and leave them there until
cold; then press them into small potting-jars, and fill up the jars with
warm clarified butter, and cover with paper tied down and brushed over
with melted suet to exclude the air. Keep in a cool, dry place. The
gravy should be retained for flavoring other gravies, sauces, etc.

=Gilbert's Breakfast Mushrooms.=--Get half grown mushrooms, peel them
and lay them, gills-side upward, on a plate; put to each a small piece
of butter, but only one layer thick; pepper and salt to taste; add two
tablespoonfuls of ketchup and one of water; press round the rim of the
plate a strip of paste, get another plate of the same size pressed
firmly in the paste; put the whole in a brisk oven for twenty-five
minutes. The top plate should be left on until served.

=Baked Mushrooms.=--(A breakfast, luncheon, or supper dish.)
Ingredients: Sixteen or twenty mushroom flaps, butter, pepper to taste.
Mode. For this mode of cooking the mushroom flaps are better than the
buttons, and should not be too large. Cut off a portion of stalk, peel
the top, and wipe the mushrooms carefully with a piece of flannel and a
little fine salt. Put them into a tin baking dish, with a very small
piece of butter placed on each mushroom; sprinkle over a little pepper,
and let them bake for about twenty minutes, or longer should the
mushrooms be very large. Have ready a very hot dish, pile the mushrooms
high in the center, pour the gravy round, and send them to table quickly
on very hot plates.

=Broiled Mushrooms.=--(A breakfast, luncheon, or supper dish.)
Ingredients: Mushrooms, pepper and salt to taste, butter, lemon juice.
Mode. Cleanse the mushrooms by wiping them with a piece of flannel and a
little salt; cut off a portion of the stalk and peel the tops; broil
them over a clear fire, turning them once, and arrange them on a very
hot dish. Put a small piece of butter on each mushroom, season with
pepper and salt and squeeze over them a few drops of lemon juice. Place
the dish before the fire, and when the butter is melted serve very hot
and quickly. Moderate sized flaps are better suited to this mode of
cooking than the buttons; the latter are better in stews.

=Mushrooms à la Casse, Tout.=--Ingredients: Mushrooms, toast, two ounces
of butter, pepper and salt. Mode. Cut a round of bread one-half an inch
thick, and toast it nicely; butter both sides and place it in a clean
baking sheet or tin; cleanse the mushrooms as in preceding recipe, and
place them on the toast, head downwards, lightly pepper and salt them,
and place a piece of butter the size of a nut on each mushroom; cover
them with a finger glass and let them cook close to the fire for ten or
twelve minutes. Slip the toast into a hot dish, but do not remove the
glass cover until they are on the table. All the aroma and flavor of the
mushrooms are preserved by this method. The name of this excellent
recipe need not deter the careful housekeeper from trying it. With
moderate care the glass cover will not crack. In winter it should be
rinsed in warm water before using.

=Stewed Mushrooms.=--Ingredients. One pint mushroom buttons, three
ounces of fresh butter, white pepper and salt to taste, lemon juice, one
teaspoonful of flour, cream or milk, one-fourth teaspoonful of grated
nutmeg. Mode. Cut off the ends of the stalks and pare neatly a pint of
mushroom buttons; put them into a basin of water with a little lemon
juice as they are done. When all are prepared take them from the water
with the hands, to avoid the sediment, and put them into a stewpan with
the fresh butter, white pepper, salt, and the juice of one-half a lemon;
cover the pan closely and let the mushrooms stew gently from twenty to
twenty-five minutes, then thicken the butter with the above proportion
of flour, add gradually sufficient cream, or cream and milk, to make the
sauce of a proper consistency, and put in the grated nutmeg. If the
mushrooms are not perfectly tender stew them for five minutes longer,
remove every particle of butter which may be floating on the top, and
serve.

=Broiled Beefsteak and Mushrooms.=--Ingredients: Two or three dozen
small button mushrooms, one ounce of butter, salt and cayenne to taste,
one tablespoonful of mushroom ketchup. Mode. Wipe the mushrooms free
from grit with a piece of flannel, and salt; put them in a stewpan with
the butter, seasoning, and ketchup; stir over the fire until the
mushrooms are quite done. Have the steak nicely broiled, and pour over.
The above is very good with either broiled or stewed steak.

=To Preserve Mushrooms.=--Ingredients: To each quart of mushrooms allow
three ounces of butter, pepper and salt to taste, the juice of one
lemon, clarified butter. Mode. Peel the mushrooms, put them into cold
water, with a little lemon juice; take them out and dry them very
carefully in a cloth. Put the butter into a stewpan capable of holding
the mushrooms; when it is melted add the mushrooms, lemon juice, and a
seasoning of pepper and salt; draw them down over a slow fire, and let
them remain until their liquor is boiled away and they have become quite
dry, but be careful in not allowing them to stick to the bottom of the
stewpan. When done put them into pots and pour over the top clarified
butter. If wanted for immediate use they will keep good a few days
without being covered over. To rewarm them put the mushrooms into a
stewpan, strain the butter from them, and they will be ready for use.

=Mushroom Powder.=--(A valuable addition to sauces and gravies when
fresh mushrooms are not obtainable.) Ingredients: One-half peck of large
mushrooms, two onions, twelve cloves, one-fourth ounce of pounded mace,
two teaspoonfuls of white pepper. Mode. Peel the mushrooms, wipe them
perfectly free from grit and dirt, remove the black fur, and reject all
those that are at all worm-eaten; put them into a stewpan with the above
ingredients, but without water; shake them over a clear fire till all
the liquor is dried up, and be careful not to let them burn; arrange
them on tins and dry them in a slow oven; pound them to a fine powder,
which put into small dry bottles; cork well, seal the corks, and keep it
in a dry place. In using this powder, add it to the gravy just before
serving, when it will require one boil up. The flavor imparted by this
means to the gravy ought to be exceedingly good. This should be made in
September, or at the beginning of October, and if the mushroom powder
bottle in which it is stored away is not perfectly dry it will speedily
deteriorate.

=Mushroom Powder.=--This is for use as a condiment. The finest
full-grown mushrooms--which are the best flavored--should be selected
and prepared for drying, and dried as stated under the heading of "Dried
Mushrooms," except that it is better to dry them in an oven or drying
machine so that they may be dried quickly and become brittle. Grate or
otherwise reduce them to a fine powder, and preserve this in
tightly-corked bottles.

=To Dry Mushrooms.=--Wipe them clean, take away the brown part and peel
off the skin; lay them on sheets of paper to dry, in a cool oven, when
they will shrivel considerably. Keep them in paper bags, which hang in
a dry place. When wanted for use put them into cold gravy, bring them
gradually to simmer, and it will be found that they will regain nearly
their usual size.

=Dried Mushrooms.=--In the flush of the pasture-mushroom season gather a
large number of mushrooms of all sizes and see that they are thoroughly
clean; remove and discard the stems and peel the caps. Stir them around
for a few minutes in boiling water to which a little lemon juice or
vinegar has been added to prevent them from turning dark colored. Some
people use plain cold water, or cold water with lemon juice or vinegar
in it. But never use salt in preparing mushrooms for drying, or else the
salted mushrooms will absorb moisture from the atmosphere and spoil.
Take the mushrooms out of the water and drain them on a sieve, then
string them and hang them up to dry and season in an open, airy shed, as
one would strings of drying fruit. They may also be dried in a drying
machine or oven as one would do with apples or peaches. They are used as
a substitute for fresh mushrooms when the latter can not be obtained. In
preparing dried mushrooms for use steep them in tepid water or milk
until they become quite soft and plump, then drain them dry and cook
them in the same way as fresh mushrooms. While they are a good
substitute for the fresh article they are deficient in flavor.

=Mushroom Ketchup.=--To each peck of mushrooms add one-half pound of
salt; to each quart of mushroom liquor one-half ounce of allspice,
one-half ounce of ginger, two blades of pounded mace, one-fourth ounce
of cayenne.

Choose full-grown mushroom flaps, and be careful that they are perfectly
fresh-gathered when the weather is tolerably dry; for if they are picked
during rain the ketchup made from them is liable to get musty, and will
not keep long. Put a layer of them in a deep pan, sprinkle salt over
them, then another layer of mushrooms and so on alternately. Let them
remain for a few hours, and break them up with the hand; put them in a
cool place for three days, occasionally stirring and mashing them well
to extract from them as much juice as possible. Measure the quantity
without straining, and to each quart allow the above proportion of
spices, etc. Put all into a stone jar, cover it up very closely, put it
in a saucepan of boiling water, set it over the fire and let it boil for
three hours. Have ready a clean stewpan; turn into it the contents of
the jar, and let the whole simmer very gently for half an hour; pour it
into a pitcher, where it should stand in a cool place until the next
day; then pour it off into another pitcher and strain it into very dry
clean bottles, and do not squeeze the mushrooms. To each pint of ketchup
add a few drops of brandy. Be careful not to shake the contents, but
leave all the sediment behind in the pitcher; cork well, and either seal
or rosin the cork, so as to exclude the air perfectly. When a very
clear, bright ketchup is wanted the liquor must be strained through a
very fine hair sieve or flannel bag after it has been very gently poured
off; if the operation is not successful it must be repeated until you
have quite a clear liquor. It should be examined occasionally, and if it
is spoiling should be reboiled with a few peppercorns. Seasonable from
the beginning of September to the middle of October, when this ketchup
should be made.

=Mushroom Ketchup.=--This flavoring ingredient, if genuine and well
prepared, is one of the most useful store sauces to the experienced
cook, and no trouble should be spared in its preparation. Double ketchup
is made by reducing the liquor to half the quantity; for example, one
quart must be boiled down to one pint. This goes further than ordinary
ketchup, as so little is required to flavor a good quantity of gravy.
The sediment may also be bottled for immediate use, and will be found
to answer for flavoring thick soups or gravies.

=Mushroom Ketchup.=--In making ketchup use the very best mushrooms, full
grown but young and fresh, as it is highly important to secure fine
flavor, and this we can not get from inferior mushrooms. Take a measure
of fine fresh mushrooms and see that they are clean and free from grit;
stem and peel them; cut them into very thin slices and place a layer of
these on the bottom of a deep dish or tureen; sprinkle this layer with
fine salt, then put in another layer and sprinkle with salt as before,
and so on until the dish is full. The white succulent part of the stems
may also be used in the ketchup, but never any discolored, tough or
stringy part. On the top of all strew a layer of fresh walnut rind cut
into small pieces. Place the dish in a cool cellar for four or five
days, to allow the contents to macerate. When the whole mass has become
nearly liquid pass it through a colander. Then boil down the strained
liquor to half of its bulk and add its own weight of calf's-foot jelly;
season with allspice or white pepper and boil down to the consistence of
jelly. Pour into stoneware jars and keep in a cool place.

=Pickled Mushrooms.=--Use sufficient vinegar to cover the mushrooms; to
each quart of mushrooms two blades of pounded mace, one ounce of ground
pepper, salt to taste. Choose young button mushrooms for pickling, and
rub off the skin with a piece of flannel and salt, and cut off the
stalks; if very large take out the red gills and reject the black ones,
as they are too old. Put them in a stewpan, sprinkle salt over them,
with pounded mace and pepper in the above proportion; shake them well
over a clear fire until the liquor flows, and keep them there until it
is all dried up again; then add as much vinegar as will cover them; let
it simmer for one minute, and store it away in stone jars for use. When
cold tie down with bladder and keep in a dry place; they will remain
good for a long time, and are generally considered delicious. Make this
the same time as ketchup, from the beginning of September to the middle
of October. [The above recipes are furnished by Mrs. George Amberley, of
New York City.]



INDEX.


Ammonia Arising, 54

Anguillulæ, 124
  In Decaying Vegetation, 126
  Scalding Water to Kill, 126
  To Destroy, 114

Apparatus, Hot Water, 33

Atmosphere, Manure Steam for Moistening, 114
  Remedying a too Dry, 114


Barn Cellars, 10

Bedding, Wetted with Urine, 58

Beds, 16
  Alongside of Wall, 18
  Banked Against a Wall, 53
  Bearing in November, 25
  Black Spot in the, 108
  Boring Holes in, to Reduce Temperature, 76
  Bottom of, 17
  Box, 17
  Casing, after Spawning, 100
  Casing the, 104
  Earthing Over the, 103
  Experiments as to Proper Time to Case, 104
  Fifteen Inches Thick, 22
  Firmly Built, 76
  Flat, 50
  Flat, Sods fit only for, 107
  Floor, 19
  Flooring for the, 28
  Green Sods, Method of Casing, 106
  Killing the Mycelium in, 96
  Loam for, 100
  Manure, 20
  Maximum Heat of Best, 75
  Midwinter, 39
  Mulching, 23
  Mushroom, 12
  Never Spawn, when Heat is Rising, 96
  Odorless, in Dwelling House Cellars, 21
  Of Low Temperature, 77
  On the Floor, 13
  Outside, 12
  Parching Effect Visible on, 26
  Picking "Fogged-off" Mushrooms from, 108
  Rack, 13
  Re-Invigorating Old, 120
  Renovating Old, in England, 142
  Ridge, 17
  Second Crop from, 120
  Shelf, 16, 29
  Spawned at 66° to 70°, 97
  Spawning and Molding, 14
  Spawning the, 96
  Spent Mushroom, 121
  Stale, 76
  Tamping Surface of, 23
  Temperature of a Twelve Inch Thick Bed, 96
  Ten or Twelve Inches Deep, 19
  Tending the, 17
  Three Feet Deep, 25
  To Keep, Warm, 109
  Topdressed, 23
  Under Greenhouse Benches, To make, 53
  Watering, 24
  Watering the, 108
  Watering Mushroom, 111
  When Dry to be Watered, 111
  Wide, With Pathway Above,* 44
  Worn Out, 120

Beetles, Larvæ of Two, Destroying Mycelium, 132

Benches Covered, 40

Black Spot, 124
  A Disease, 125
  In Beds in Vigorous Bearing, 125
  In New Beds, 125
  Is Unwholesome, 126
  To Prevent, 125

Boards, Stepping, 17

Boiler and Pipes, 32

Boilers, Hitching's Base-burner, 31

Boxing, 19
  Lid for, 19
  Old Carpet or Matting Over, 19

"Bullet" or "Shot" Holes in Mushrooms, 128

Bugs, Mealy, 12


Calico, 18

Caves, 17

Caves of Paris, In the,* 147
  Paris, Description of, 143
  French Spawn Used in, 146
  Gathering Mushrooms for Market in the, 149
  Making Beds in the, 145
  Manure Used in the, 144
  Material Used for and Method of Earthing Over in, 146
  Methods of Regulating Draughts in the, 150
  Preparation of Manure for the, 144
  Paris, Spawn Used in the, and How Obtained, 145
  Stratifying Spawn Before Using in the, 146
  Temperature in Spacious, High Roofed, 147
  Ventilation in the, 148
  When and How Mushrooms are Gathered in the, 148

Ceiling, Flat, 37
  Sloping, 36
  Wet, 18

Cellar, Barn, 13
  Cleanliness in the Mushroom, 26
  Cool, 19
  Cross-section of the Dosoris Mushroom,* 27
  Dosoris Mushroom, 27
  Divided, 30
  Ground Plan of the Dosoris,* 28
  Height of, 17
  House, 13
  Interior Arrangements of, 16
  Mushroom, Under a Barn,* 16
  Of Dwelling House, 18
  Ordinary, 21
  Outhouse, 18
  Pent-up, 17
  Unheated, 17
  Vegetable, 12
  Warm, 19
  Wholly Devoted to Mushroom Growing, 15

Cellars, 10
  Artificial Heating, 17
  Cool, Airy, 20
  Flat Roofed Mushroom, 18
  Mushrooms in, 25
  Potato, 18
  Underground, 15, 27

Cistern, Large Underground, 18

Coal, Nut and Stove, 33

Cold and Vermin, 19

Cooking Mushrooms, 150

Crop, Common Average, 30
  Gathering the, 17
  Marketing the, 14
  Yielding, 31

Crops, Capital, 17

Cut Flower Season, 11


Dirt, Roadside, 101

Doors, Double, 16
  Outside, 35
  Single, 16

Drip, Cold, Falling upon Beds, 36
  Crop Suffering From, 51
  From Benches, the Effects of, 51
  In Commercial Greenhouses, 52
  Plan for Warding off, 52

Dust and Noxious Gas, 17


Entrance, 16

Entrance Pits, 30

Economy, False, 37


Families, Private, 18

Farmers, 13

Flies, Manure, 126
  Manure, Ill-favor of, 126
  Manure Perfectly Harmless, 127

Fire, Danger of, 33

Flock, 132
  How General is, 134
  The Cause of, 133
  The Habits and Manner of Growth of, 133
  The Worst Mushroom Disease, 132
  What it Looks Like, 134
  What is, 133

Floor, A Dry, Necessary, 47
  Common Earth, 47
  Dry, 35, 39
  Earthen, 21

Flooring, 29

Fogging Off, 106, 131
  Favorable Conditions for, 132
  The Cause of, 131

Florists, 11

Florists' Greenhouses, 10

Frame, Boxed-up with Straw Covering,* 19
  Covered with Calico, 20
  Covered with Oiled Paper, 20
  Common Hotbed Box, 45
  Preparing Beds in the, 46
  Shading the, 47
  Spawning in, 46

Frost, Hoar, 35
  To Exclude, 40

Fruit Room, 12

Furnace, Boxed off, 17


Gardens, Private, 37

Grapery, Beds and Frames Inside the, 13

Greenhouse Bench, Boxed Mushroom Bed Under,* 41

Greenhouse Benches, Among Other Plants on, 48

Greenhouse Benches, On, 42

Greenhouse Benches, Under, 47

Greenhouses, Beds in Open, Airy, 53
  Cool, 41
  Growing Mushrooms in, 41
  In Frames in, 44
  Steam-heated, 48

Growers, Parisian, 60


Heat, Artificial not Absolutely Necessary, 17
  Fire, 17
  Parching, 17

Heater, Base-burning Water,* 32
  Vertical Section,* 32

Heating Apparatus, 28

Hoe, Angular-pointed, 23

Hops, Spent, 68
  Spent, Cost Nothing, 69

Horses, Those who Keep, 13

Hotbed Frames, 44

House, A Mushroom, 34
  Cow, 13
  Ground Plan of Mrs. Osborne's Mushroom,* 36
  In Dwelling, 18
  Interior Arrangement of Mushroom, 37
  Interior View of Mr. Henshaw's Mushroom,* 33
  Mr. Samuel Henshaw's, 37
  Mushroom, Built Against North-facing Wall,* 34
  Section of Mrs. Osborne's,* 35

Houses, Fruit-forcing, 12
  Growing Mushrooms in Rose, 49
  Lettuce, Mushrooms in, 50
  Tomato-forcing, Mushrooms in, 49
  Well-sheltered in Winter, 34


Insecticide, Common Salt as an, 113


Leaves, Condition of, to Heat, 68
  Fermenting, Beds Composed of, 68
  Oak, the Best, 67
  Quick-rotting, 67
  Tree, 67

Lettuce House, Moisture of, 10

Lice, Wood, 129

Loam and Manure, 11
  Mixed, 72
  Mixed, Temperature of, 77
  Mixed, To Prepare, 73

Loam, Coating, 20
  Common, for Casing, 100
  Containing Old Manure, 101
  Fibrous, Mellow, Best for Earthing Over, 103
  Fresh Sod, 100
  Heavy, Clayey, 101
  Ordinary Field Soil, 26
  Sod, Reasons for Use of, 73
  Topdressing with, 107

Lot, Village or Suburban, 13


Manure, 13
  Baled, 64
  Cellar, 62
  City Stable, 63
  Common Horse, 21
  Cow, 65
  Cow, Necessary in Manufacture of Spawn, 66
  Drying by Exposure, 71
  Fermenting Fresh Horse, 24
  "Fire-fanged," 62
  Firmly Packed, 70
  Flies, 124, 126
  Fresh, 12
  Fresher the Better, 58
  From City Stables, 26
  German Peat Moss Stable, 66
  Handling, 35
  Homemade, 60
  Horse, 57
  Hog, Mycelium Evades, 63
  Liquid, 113
  Liquid, Cow and Sheep, 113
  Of Entire Horses, 60
  Of Horses fed with Carrots, 61
  Of Mules, 62
  Preparation of the, 69
  Preserve the Wet and Strawy Part, 60
  Proper Condition of, 72
  Sawdust Stable, 66
  Selected, 63
  Steaming Hot, 24
  The Best, 57
  To Prevent "fire-fang" in, 70
  Turning the, 14, 71
  Warm, 13
  Well-rotted, 14
  Without Preparatory Treatment, 22

Market, A Good, 25
  Gardener, 9, 15
  Gardening near New York, 9

Markets, Brooklyn, 26
  In Winter, 10

Materials, Exhausted, 16
  For Beds, Fresh, 16
  Waste of, 17

Method, Mr. Denton's, 25
  Mr. Gardner's, 21
  Mr. Van Siclen's, 27

Methods, Avoiding Complicated, 21

Mice and Rats, 130
  Different Kinds of, 130
  Fond of Mushrooms, 130

Mice, How they Disfigure Mushrooms, 130

Mites not a Mushroom Pest, 130
  The Home of, 130
  Two Kinds of, Common, 130

Moisture, Condensation of, 46

Mold on Beds, How Deep to Put, 105

Money, Pin- 14

Mushroom, A Perfect,* 116
  Affected with Black Spot,* 125
  Bed Built Flat on the Ground,* 52
  Bed Five Feet Wide, Profit from, 12
  Bed, Rigid,* 53
  Beds, 11
  Beds in England, How made, 137
  Beds, Making up the, 74
  Beds, Manure-fatted Loam in, 26
  Beds, Manure for, 57
  Beds, Mr. Wilson's,* 51
  Beds on Greenhouse Benches, Objection to, 42
  Beds, Sites for Around London, 137
  Cellar, Perspective View of the Dosoris,* 58
  Crop, 13
  Flock-Diseased,* 133
  Food, 24
  Growing in the Paris Caves, 143
  Growing Out of Doors a Specialty, 136
  Growing, Profit of, Around London, 136
  Growing, Success in, 12
  House, A Regular, 12
  House, Best Kind of, 11
  House, Cellar Everybody's, 15
  House, Damping Floors of, 115
  Houses, Cleaning the, 135
  Houses, Growing Mushrooms in, 34
  Houses, Ideal, 15
  Houses, Whitewashing, 135
  Season Closed, 31
  Spawn, 78
  The "Horse," 48
  A Winter Crop, 14
  Advantages of Pulling over Cutting, 117
  After a Dry Summer, 55
  And Grapevines, 13
  Black Spot in, 124
  Cause of Black Spot in, 124
  English, 115
  Filling Stump Holes with Fresh Loam, 117
  Five Inch Diameter before Expanding, 47
  For Family Use, 13
  For Soups, When to Pick, 116
  Fresh, 12
  From Natural Spawn, 48
  From October Until May, 30
  Gathering and Marketing, 115
  Gathering Field and Wild, 118
  Gathering in Cold Weather, 140
  Good, 19
  Growing in Cellars, 15
  Growing in Fields, 54
  Growing, in Narrow Troughs, 59
  Growing in Ridges Around London, 136
  Growing in Sawdust, 67
  Grown on Greenhouse Benches,* 43
  Growth of from Spawning under Different Temperatures, 110
  Head Room, 19
  Importance of Care in Gathering and Packing for Shipment, 119
  In August and September, 56
  In Crates and Baskets, 118
  In the Fields, Plan of Growing, 55
  Insect and Other Enemies of, 122
  Knack in Pulling, 117
  Maggots in, 122, 124
  "Maggots" in, appear in April, 123
  Maggots, Size of, in, 123
  Marketed in Paper Boxes, 118
  Marketing, 118
  Not a Bulky Crop, 11
  On Greenhouse Bench Under Tomatoes, 45
  Packed in Punnets for London Market, 119
  Picking so as not to Disturb Buttons, 117
  "Pin-Head," 107
  Profit on, Clear Gain, 51
  Proper Manner of Picking, 116
  Pulled, Keeping Qualities of, 117
  Scooping Out the Stumps, 117
  Sold by the Pound, 118
  Sorting and Packing for Market, in England, 141
  Summer Crops of, 123
  Under the Benches, 11
  When Fit to Pick, 115
  Who Should Grow, 9
  Wild, 55

Mulching, When to Remove, 42

Mycelium, Liquid to Encourage Spread of, 77


Odor, Bad, 20

Outbuildings, 12


Paper, Building, 52
  Oiled, 18

Passage-ways, 18

Pathways, 16

Peat Moss, Bale of German, 66

Pipes, Heating, 17
  Hot, Injury from, 48
  Hot Water, 23
  Sheet Iron, 27
  Smoke, 33

Private Gardeners, 12


Rats, More Destructive than Mice, 131

Recipes for Cooking and Preserving Mushrooms, 150
  A la Casse, Tout, 157
  A la Crême, 154
  Baked, 152, 156
  Broiled, 154, 156
  Broiled Beefsteak and, 158
  Cooked, General Directions for Serving, 152
  Cooking, 150
  Cooking, General Preparation of, for, 151
  Curried, 154
  Dried, 160
  Gilbert's Breakfast, 156
  Ketchup, 160, 161, 162
  Kind of, to Select for, 150
  Pickled, 162
  Potted, 155
  Powder, 159
  Soup, 154
  Soyer's Breakfast, 153
  Stems, 155
  Stewed, 153, 157
  To Dry, 159
  To Preserve, 158

Ridges, 17
  Casing the, 139
  Covering the, 140
  Covering with Litter, 139
  Drenching Rains Injurious to, 139
  First made in August, 140
  For Growing Mushrooms in Open Field, 138
  Method of Gathering Mushrooms from, 141
  Smoothing the, 139
  The Covered,* 140
  Watering the, 139

Roof, 35

Roofs water-tight, 39
  Of Tin, 38
  With Coating of Salt Hay, 38


Salad Plants, 10

Sashes, 46

Secret, No, 14

Shading on Sunny Days, 42

Shaft, Chimney-like, 16

Shaft, Tall, Wooden, 28

Shed, Open on South Side, 39
  Potting, 12
  Warm Potting, 40
  The Term Applied, 40
  Tool, 12
  Wood, 12

Sheds, Growing Mushrooms in, 39
  Unheated, 40

Shelves, Temporary Structures, 25

Shutters, Light Wooden, 53

Slugs, 127
  Attack Mushrooms in all Stages, 127
  Biting into Stems of Mushrooms, 127
  Fond of Mushrooms, 127
  How to Catch and Kill, 128
  Salt Distasteful to, 128
  The Cause of "Bullet" or "Shot" Holes, 128

Soil, Conditions of for Casing, 105
  Firming the, 106
  From Slopes and Dry Hollows in Woods, 101
  Ordinary Garden, 101
  Peat, or Swamp Muck, 101
  Sandy, 101
  Sifting, for Casing, 105

Southern States, 10

Spawn, 13
  American-made, 86
  Amount of Imported, 80
  Another Method by Lachaume, 94
  Black Colored to be Avoided, 86
  Breaking, 23
  Brick,* 80
  Brick, Cut in Pieces for Planting,* 97
  Brick, How to Make, 87
  Brick, the Best, 95
  Depth to Plant, 98
  Effect of Heat and Moisture Upon, 83
  Effect of Severe Frost Upon, 83
  English, 81
  English Brick, 23
  Flake, 82, 99
  Flake, Does Best under Cover, 95
  Flake or French,* 82
  French, 82
  French Flake, 24
  Homemade Around London, 137
  How to Distinguish Good from Poor, 84
  How to Get, 79
  How to Keep, 83
  How to make French (Flake), 91
  Imported from Europe, 79
  In Leaf Beds, 68
  In Manure, Do not Bury, 10
  Inserting French or Flake, 98
  Inserting more than Three Inches Deep, 105
  Insuring Development of, 49
  Lachaume's Method of Making, 93
  Making, Distinct Branch, 87
  Making French Virgin, 92
  Mill-track, 81
  Mr. J. Burton's Method of Making, 90
  Natural, 81
  New Versus Old, 83
  Never use Dibber in Planting, 98
  Other Recipes for Making, 89
  Planting of in Open Fields, 54
  Preparing the, 97
  Principal American Growers of, 86
  Relative Merits of Flake and Brick, 94
  Signs of Sterility in, 85
  Simplest Way of Making, 88
  Steeped, 99
  The Way in which it Comes, 81
  To tell Quality by Smell of, 85
  Transplanting Pieces of Working, 99
  "Very Dead," 84
  "Very Living," 84
  Virgin, 82, 91
  What is Mushroom, 78
  Where Obtained, 79

Spiders, Red, 12

Spores, Myriads of, 78

Spurious Fungi, 102

Stable, Empty Stall in Horse, 13

Staging, Erecting Temporary, 46

Stairway, 16
  In Pit, 32

Standard Crop, 9

Stoke-hole, 12

Stove, Common Iron, 26

Straw, Rye, 47

Sunlight, Protection from, 10


Temperature, 10
  At Night, 41
  About 57° Suitable, 23
  Fluctuations of, 15
  From 50° to 60°, 18
  High, 19
  In Dosoris Cellars, 109
  In Midwinter, 33
  Low, 15
  Proper, 75, 109
  Sudden Changes to be Avoided, 47
  Too High, Guard Against, 76
  Winter, 60° Necessary, 38

Thrips, 12

Toads, 131
  Not to be Recommended, 131
  Upheaving Clumps of Mushrooms, 131

Toadstools, 102
  On Hotbeds, 102
  On Manure Piles, 102

Trapping Rats and Mice, 131

Traps for Wood Lice, 129

Tunnel, Subterranean, 27


Ventilation, Assisting, 17

Ventilator, Chimney-like, 22

Ventilators, 16, 28
  Side Window, 35
  Window and Doors, 21

Village People and Suburban Residents, 13


Wall, Cold, not Injurious 30

Walls 35

Warmth, Artificial, 17
  Steady, 17

Water, Manure, for Beds in Full Bearing, 112
  Space and Double Casing, 32

Watering, Endeavor to Lessen Necessity of, 111
  For, use Clean, Soft Water, 111
  Over Mulching, 111
  Pot, Size to use, 112

Wife, Farmer's, 14

Windows, 16

Winds, Piercing, and Draughts, 39

Women Searching for Remunerative Employment, 14

Wood Lice, 129
  Abundant in Mushroom Houses, 129
  Eating Potato, 129
  How to Trap, 129

Work, Clean, 14



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Transcriber's Notes:

1. Changed Page 1 to Page 9 in Table of Contents Chapter I.

2. Asterisks are used in the index to refer to illustrations.





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