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Truffles have always been synonymous with luxury and opulence because of their amazing culinary qualities. However, they are very difficult to find in the wild, which is why these mushrooms have always had a very high price. For a long time it was believed that growing truffles at home was impossible, but numerous experiments have proved that this is not the case. Today it is quite possible to grow these mushrooms on your own, if you simulate the conditions necessary for this.
Is it possible to grow a truffle at home
Truffles belong to marsupial mushrooms, whose tuberous fruiting bodies develop underground. In total, there are about 40 different types of these mushrooms, but not all of them are edible, and even more delicious.
The most valuable are the following types of truffles:
- Perigord (Black).
- Piedmont (Italian).
Under natural conditions, these species grow in the south of France and Switzerland, as well as in northern Italy. In Russia, one of the types of truffles is found - summer. It grows in the Central region. Sometimes these mushrooms are found in other areas, for example, they are periodically found in the Krasnodar and Stavropol Territories, as well as in the Crimea.
In the wild, the truffle most often grows in deciduous forests, forming mycorrhiza with the roots of oak, beech, hornbeam. It is this property of mushrooms that was used to develop the principles of their artificial cultivation. The first successful attempts to cultivate truffles were made in France at the beginning of the 19th century. It is difficult to call this a full-fledged growing cycle, since the researchers simply simulated the natural environment in which the fungus mycelium grows.
The essence of the experiment was as follows. Acorns were collected from the trees under which mushrooms were found in the wild. They were germinated, and then saplings were planted in a separate oak grove. Subsequently, truffles were found under many of these oak trees. The method was recognized as successful, and by the end of the 19th century, the total area of such nursery groves was already more than 700 square meters. km.
Currently, the delicacy mushroom is cultivated in many countries. In addition to France, truffles are grown in Spain, Great Britain, and the USA. At the beginning of this century, China came out on top in the production of mushrooms. In Russia, truffle cultivation can be practiced only in southern regions with similar climatic conditions. Otherwise, it will be necessary to artificially simulate the microclimate, which will require large material costs.
Truffle growing technology
Home breeding of truffles is usually carried out in artificial nursery groves. The basis of the method is the inoculation of oak or hazel seedlings with mycelium of the fungus, followed by planting the latter in the prepared soil of special nurseries. In the following months, strict quarantine is carried out and plantings are monitored. After the mycelium has successfully taken root on the roots of the seedlings, they are planted in a prepared open area.
Cultivation of truffles can also be carried out indoors, in which the necessary microclimate parameters are artificially maintained. In this case, a special substrate of oak sawdust is used, on which the mycelium of the fungus develops. Under good conditions, mycorrhiza occurs, and fruiting bodies appear on the mycelium.
Conditions for growing truffles
Before planting oak or hazel seedlings inoculated with mycelium, the site must be prepared. Here are the basic requirements for the proper cultivation and development of mushrooms:
- Well-cultivated, loose soil.
- The presence of a sufficient amount of humus in the soil, increased calcium content.
- The acidity of the soil is not less than 7.5 (optimum pH = 7.9).
- The absence of any other fungi on the mycelium site.
- Relatively dry climate.
- The average summer temperature should be kept within + 18-22 ° С.
Important! During the first years of growing young trees, it is necessary to constantly weed, removing all weeds around the seedlings.
How to grow truffles at home
Unfortunately, the climatic conditions of most of Russia are very different from the weather conditions of Southern Europe, therefore, it is most likely that it will not be possible to grow a truffle from mycelium in the Moscow region using the method described above. And besides, not everyone has the opportunity to plant their own oak grove on the site. In this case, you can try to grow a truffle under a single tree, and in areas with unfavorable climates - in the basement of a house or a greenhouse.
How truffles are grown under trees
You can grow a truffle yourself under a tree. In regions with warm summers and mild winters, such an experiment may well end successfully. To do this, you will need to plant a seedling, into the roots of which the truffle mycelium has already been inoculated. Such planting material can be purchased online or in specialized stores.
Most often, suppliers offer Lebanese cedar, hornbeam, pedunculate oak, stone oak, Atlas cedar, Aleppo pine, bear hazel, European beech for cultivation as seedlings.
Young seedlings are sold, as a rule, in containers of various capacities (depending on their age). After purchase, the tree is planted in a prepared area. Under favorable conditions, the harvest of mushrooms can appear within the next 3-5 years.
Important! The garden area where truffles are grown must be completely secured from the access of domestic animals, especially rabbits and pigs.
How to grow truffles in a greenhouse
The greenhouse can be used to simulate weather conditions in regions where the climate does not allow growing truffles under trees. This will require significant financial costs for special equipment, arrangement of heating and air conditioning systems, as well as soil preparation. It needs to be cleaned of roots, stones, to ensure a normal level of acidity and the presence of necessary trace elements.
Sawdust of various deciduous tree species, primarily oak and beech, is used as a nutrient medium for growing mushrooms. They are infected with truffle mycelium and placed in a sterile environment until mycorrhiza forms. This can take up to 1 year. After the mycelium develops, it is planted in a greenhouse, in a prepared soil substrate.
Landing is carried out as follows:
- Depressions of the order of 0.5-0.6 m are made in the ground, placing them at a distance of 1-2 m from each other.
- The pits are spilled with water and a layer of humus is added to them.
- Sawdust with a truffle mycelium developed on them is laid out on the holes, about 1 handful for each hole.
- From above, the mycelium is covered with hay or sawdust.
Important! To reduce the time, you can purchase a ready-made substrate from sawdust with a developed mycelium for growing.
In the greenhouse, you constantly need to maintain conditions close to ideal. The ambient temperature should be about + 22 ° С, and the relative humidity of the air should be 55-60%. In winter, the soil should be mulched with peat for additional thermal insulation.
How to grow truffles in the basement in the country
Growing truffles at home all year round is possible when using, for example, the basement of the house. To do this, it must be equipped with the same systems as the greenhouse. Basements are more preferable for growing not only truffles, but any mushrooms in general, since they have much greater inertia. They keep the parameters of temperature and humidity more stable, in addition, there is no need to take measures to limit the excess of sunlight.
Important! Basements where mushrooms are grown must be equipped with ventilation systems and monitoring the level of carbon dioxide.
CO2 accumulating in the process of decomposition of organic residues is heavier than air, it can gradually fill the entire basement, and this can be life-threatening.
For the convenience of work, it is advisable to zone the inner space of the basement, that is, to divide the places where the mycelium is grown and the mushrooms ripen directly. Before starting work, the room is equipped with racks to accommodate containers with a substrate, and it is also disinfected.
In the first few years, the truffle yield is low. From the age of 4-5 years, the quantity and quality of mushrooms increases significantly. The best time to collect truffles is early autumn, first half of September. Fruit bodies ripen underground, this creates serious problems for finding them. Therefore, specially trained animals - dogs or pigs - are used to detect truffles. Their delicate sense of smell is perfect for detecting fungi even under a layer of soil.
Another sign of the presence of a truffle in the soil is the swarming of midges over its location. Insects pick up the mushroom smell and gather around in the hope of laying eggs in the fruiting body. These are the places you need to check first. The growing mushroom resembles a rounded or oblong, tuberous potato with a dense shell in shape.
The weight of one mature truffle usually ranges from 0.5 to 1.2 kg. Most of them are located at a depth of 0.15-0.2 m. After being removed from the ground, it is cleaned and placed on straw or a clean cloth.
Important! Mushrooms are dug out only by hand, with a special spatula. Any mechanical damage negatively affects the taste of the mushroom and reduces its cost.
Video about growing truffles at home:
Storage methods and periods
Truffles are consumed fresh. Harvested fruiting bodies quickly lose their aroma, and hence their value. You need to eat them as soon as possible, after 1-2 weeks the mushroom can completely deteriorate.
Rice is often used for storing truffles; this cereal removes excess moisture. Another way to store these mushrooms is to deep-freeze them. Before that, the peeled truffles are oiled, wrapped in foil and vacuum packed. In this state, mushrooms can be stored for up to six months. Before use, they are not defrosted, but grated.
Growing truffles as a business
High prices for truffles have always been a good incentive for entrepreneurs who dreamed of starting artificial cultivation of these miraculous mushrooms. Meanwhile, not all of their types are in high demand. Now the average price for 1 kg of truffle is about $ 250-300.
The most serious competitors in this market are China, which provides the most massive supply of mushrooms at a low price, as well as Australia and New Zealand, which relatively recently were able to establish artificial mushroom cultivation on their territories. It is thanks to the latter two countries located in the Southern Hemisphere that it was possible to significantly smooth out seasonal fluctuations in demand.
Artificial growing of truffles can be a good business, but only with the right approach and significant initial investment. The performance of a mushroom farm is an unpredictable value, therefore, when calculating it, it is difficult to focus on any payback period. The first harvest can be obtained no earlier than in 3 years, and not all merchants are ready to make such a long-term investment. Nevertheless, artificial cultivation of mushrooms can be a good addition to the work, for example, of a large agricultural holding as one of the directions of development.
In Russia, the demand for truffles has been stable over the past several decades. The average price of one dish made from these mushrooms in Moscow restaurants starts at 500 rubles. The wholesale price for mushrooms ranges from 500 to 2000 US dollars per 1 kg.
A short video on the development of a truffle growing business at home:
Growing truffles at home is possible, but it is associated with high costs and certain risks. But owning a mushroom farm can become quite a worthy business, providing income to its owner for many years. The yield from 1 ha of truffle oak grove can be 40-50 kg, and active fruiting continues for 30-35 years. It is easy to calculate that with high prices for truffles, the costs incurred in such a time will pay off many times over.