Blewits are autumnal treasures of the forests and fields found throughout North America. There are two Blewit species that you can grow, and both respond to the same cultivation methods outlined below.
Wood Blewit (Clitocybe nuda) -
This mushroom has a slightly swollen stem at the base, cream, pink, or lavender-to-blue colored gills (lots of variation), flesh colored spore print, and a cap whose color ranges from flesh tones to blue. The mushroom is fairly dense and meaty with a pleasant, earthy flavor. This mushroom can be found in the wild across North America. The fruiting temperature range is typically 45-70°F, but needs the cooler temperatures to initiate fruiting.
Bleu Foot (Clitocybe sordida) -
This relative to the Wood Blewit has a more slender but sturdy stem and a smaller, thin cap with wider spaced gills. The cap often has a small knob at the top. While not as large as the Wood Blewit, Bleu Foot fruits quite a bit earlier in the late summer or fall, filling a nice niche while waiting for its larger relative to make an appearance. Fruiting temperature range is typically 55-70°F.
Creating a Blewit bed can be as easy as having a bag of spawn on hand while cleaning up garden waste. Follow the five easy steps below for planting your Wood Blewit or Bleu Foot bed.
1. Gather and prepare your substrate
Blewits grow on a variety of organic materials — including semi-composted yard waste, twigs, leaves, grass clippings, bark, hay, pine needles, finished compost, etc. The more materials you can find and use to build your bed, it seems, the better. You can collect these materials throughout the season until you build up enough substrate to constitute a bed.
2. Select a bed location
Shaded areas are best because beds will be less prone to drying out and require less watering. The bed should have a soil floor or mulched surface, free from weeds and sod. Along a tree line, under pines, and other shady locations are ideal.
3. Planting the bed
Layering is the key to Blewit cultivation. As you lay down the layers of organic material, add egg-sized chunks of Blewit spawn to the bed. Make sure not to break up the spawn too much, as it regrows faster when left more intact. Every third layer or so, add a thin layer of finished compost. Continue layering until you use up the spawn. The bed should be at least 4˝ deep. You may wish to mulch over the top of the bed with straw, wood chips, bark, or other materials to maintain moisture.
Time to plant:
After last frost in spring to mid-fall.
Time to fruiting:
The following fall, a full year after planting.
When they fruit:
Fall, when temperatures are 45-70°F.
Materials to grow on:
Diverse mix of organic material like semi composted yard waste, twigs, leaves, grass clippings, bark, straw, etc.
Up to 50 sq. ft. per 5.5 lb. bag of sawdust spawn or 25 sq. ft. per 2.5 lb. bag of sawdust spawn.
Lavender colored - see description below for more details on each.
Flavor and texture:
Earthy, dense and meaty.
4. Maintaining and monitoring
Mushrooms require moist conditions to grow and fruit. We recommend checking your bed regularly at first to ensure it is receiving enough natural rainfall. A well-made bed in an ideal location may need little to no maintenance. Dig down into the bed with your fingers — it should be damp, not wet. If it feels dry, then water with a sprinkler.
5. Mushroom harvest
Bleu Foot is faster to colonize than its larger relation, and is often ready for fruiting the first fall several months after planting. Wood Blewits typically fruit in the fall, a full year after planting. Keep an eye on your bed especially after a rainfall when the temperature dips down in the fall. Pay attention to the mushrooms as they develop and be sure to identify them*. The key characteristics of both the Blewit and the Bleu Foot are listed above. When they are ready to harvest, simply pluck them from the bed using your hands, cut the bottom of the stem off, and store the mushrooms in the refrigerator until you're ready to use them. It is recommended that both types be cooked before eating. Cook as you would any mushroom. The stem is edible, but requires a longer cook time.
*Always be sure to identify your mushrooms before you eat them. Please consult the website and additional resources for more information.