Fridge Monitor in Chief
Job title: Fridge Monitor in Chief
Reports to: Chief Executive of Fungus Growing
As the Fridge Monitor in Chief, your job is to provide a cold environment for the fungus when required. You will need to source the fridge and ensure that it has enough space for your mycelium packet and later for the whole kit. You may also need to generate positive PR for your fungus, especially if you’re using a communal fridge.
Duties & responsibilities
- Take charge of the fungal mycelium as soon as the kit arrives; putting it in a cold place until it is required; making sure no one eats it or throws it away.
- Internal communication and public relations for the fungal mycelium and fungus kit; reassure anyone concerned about the word ‘fungal’ and its presence in a shared fridge.
- Once the mycelium has spent 4 weeks growing within the straw, you need to be ready to pop it in the fridge and keep it safe there for 2 days.
- Take an active and constructive role in the team. This could include: helping to name your fungus once the mushroom starts growing; sharing photos and thoughts online; picking up the slack if any team members need a helping hand.
The science bit
The fungal mycelium wants a warm environment to encourage growth, so by putting the packet in the fridge you are holding it back from trying to grow. If left out, the mycelium will put out enzymes to digest nutrients in its nearby environment and will eventually burst out of the small bag, unable to take advantage of the nutrient-rich environment of the straw to grow.
At the point where you put the fungus kit in the fridge, the mycelium has been enjoying living in the straw and could carry on until all nutrients have been used, after which the mycelium will eventually die without ever fruiting (i.e. growing a mushroom). Putting the fungus in the fridge mimics the change in seasons and forces the mycelium to react and start the process of fruiting, which is how fungi procreate.
In the wild
In the wild, oyster mushroom mycelium grows inside dead branches and tree trunks. Growth speeds up as temperatures increase in spring and summer. However, if it gets too hot the mycelium may dry out and die. Later in the year, the colder temperatures of autumn trigger the fungus to switch from growth as a mycelium to the production of mushrooms, and the release of millions of spores. Spores enable the fungus to spread to new sites.
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