Notes to broadcasters
Content: Grow your own oil palm or paddy straw mushrooms. They are a delicious source of protein.
Tropical farmers in many parts of the world are learning about the benefits of growing mushrooms. Mushrooms do not take up much space, they taste good, and they are a good source of protein.
Here is a way to grow one type of mushroom:
Oil palm mushrooms, also known as paddy straw mushrooms (Volvariella volvacium) usually grow in rotten oil palm trunks. But you can grow them yourself.
In a shaded area, dig a pit about two metres in diameter and two ‑ thirds of a metre deep. Cover the sides and bottom of the pit with fresh plantain leaves or a perforated plastic sheet. You can also use dry banana or plantain leaves or rice straw, but if you use any of these you must soak them in water overnight first. Collect the leaves while they are still on the tree so that they are clean.
In the pit, make a heap of peelings from cocoyam and yam. Water the heap heavily with hot water to kill bacteria and insects. Now take a mature oil palm mushroom and mash it well in water. Sprinkle this mixture on the heap of peelings. What you are doing is seeding the heap with the spores of the mushroom. These spores are called spawn and the seeding process is also called spawning.
You can also get spawn from the trunk of rotting oil palms, or from a spawn laboratory.
Make sure your hands are clean when you touch the spawn. If your hands are not clean you may spread disease to the mushrooms and they will not grow properly.
Now water the heap and cover it with plantain leaves or plastic. Let it sit for five days. On the sixth or seventh day, water the heap gently. If it is the dry season, water the heap from then on once or twice a day, in the morning and evening. Stop watering when the mushrooms are the size of pinheads. Start watering again when the pinheads are the size of maize grains. But if it is the rainy season, do not water the heap any more at all. Instead, shield it so that the rain does not fall directly on it.
While the mushrooms are growing, remove any strange or different looking mushrooms, because they may infect the others.
You can harvest the mushrooms 14‑21 days after spawning. Pick them from the end of the stem: twist it and pull carefully. That way you will get the whole mushroom. It is important not to leave any pieces behind because they will rot and infect the heap.
This script was written by Peter Dabo, a Ghanaian participant in the Developing Countries Farm Radio Network. He works as a District Extension Officer for the Ministry of Agriculture.