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Giant Puffball Cultivation

Edwin Hutton e.hutton at ic.ac.uk
Thu Sep 14 09:30:10 EST 2000

I have never cultivated any sort of mushrooms, so cannot provide any
solid advice. However I do gather Langermannia Gigantea from some
fairly regular sites, and I will stick my neck out and add some
comments to D. Wheeler's suggestions. (I do know he is quite an expert
on the Oregon varieties.)

First of all it is very unlikely that anyone has previously achieved
growing giant puffbals yet, otherwise the price of a cooked portion
in London would not be around 20 UKP and they would soon appear in
the shops.

Colin Davidson wrote:
> <truffler1635 at my-deja.com> wrote in message
> news:8pkj77$i0r$1 at nnrp1.deja.com...
> > This is just a thought, Colin. I have never found nor expect to find that
> > variety in my neck of the forest. But I do have some suggestings for
> > growing or attempting to grow them.
> >
> > First of all, carefully note where you found it growing. Can you identify
> > what it was growing from? Was there any nearby rotting organic material?
> > Is it possible to collect some of that material fresh to create a "bed"
> > to grow your puffballs? It may take a year or longer to see anything
> > production, so try to find someplace where you will be looking at the
> > site on a regular basis for the next year at least.
> >
> Ahh, now I've been lucky to find the giant puffball in a couple of different
> locations. Normally it's found on the edges of fields, sometimes also in
> grassy parts of woods. In the same patch I've also found field mushrooms,
> sometimes parasols. This last lot were from a muddy bank next to a lake. It
> seems to like slightly acid pH and fairly stable pasture.
> > Assemble fresh or dried organic debris similar to where you collected the
> > puffball.
It might be best to collect from just underneath where you found the
puffball. The fact that the puffball generates billions of spores
suggests that they don't 'germinate'(?) very easily, and you should
try to start with some mycelium in your sample.
> > Create a layer of 2-4 inches of the debris, then water it
> > thoroughly for at least 2 days. (another faster method is to completely
> > submerge it for 72 hours: this nearly sterilizes the medium, and allows
> > you a nearly pure run of mycelium: the growing portion of the puffball)
I hope this would not destroy any mycelium you gathered.
> >
> > After the bed is established and semi-sterilized material (substrate) is
> > placed, add a slurry of ripe puffball spores
First lot of patience - It takes a few weeks for the puffball to
mature to the totally inedible brown state where the spores are
mature enough to be blown about in the wind (I would probably want
to eat the puffball while white than hang around). Of course you
might be starting with a ripe inedible one anyway.
> > in 2 cups of water
David - How much puffball for two cups of water? They can grow to
several pounds in weight.
> > in a food
> > processor or blender. Blend on high for at least 10 minutes, or until the
> > sporemass is reduced to tiny particles. Pour this slurry (make more by
> > adding more water) over the substrate. Cover with another 2-3 inches of
> > substrate. Cover with a shadecloth that allows water in, but gives some
> > protection from direct sunlight.
> >
> > Now comes the hard part: wait.
> >
> > If giant puffballs only fruit once a year in your area, it may be next
> > year before you see any production. It could even be later. I don't know
> > anyone who has been successful in growing it. But that _doesn't_ mean you
> > should try!
> >
> Hmmm. Haven't come across that method. I'll try that one next time, if the
> current efforts to get it to grow on PDA and MYG fail. Hopefully, if I can
> get it into culture then I'll have an almost inexaustible supply of mycelium
> to play with:)
> I think that I might be able to get some more puffballs this weekend
> (FINGERS CROSSED!). If so, I'll have plenty of material to work with.
> Thanks,
> Colin.

Do please keep us posted on your progress. However if you _do_ manage
to find a way to cultivate giant puffballs there could be a lot
of money in it (they are regarded as one of the most desirable
edible fungi) so you should consider protecting your technique
with a patent or something.

Edwin Hutton

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