Updated: Sep 10
New Zealand is an ecologically unique place -- given it is a distant Island Nation -- the landmass cut off from the continent for about 100 million years. This leaves us with an interesting agriculture dynamic. Along with mammal and plant species, fungi spores have taken a ride over the years. Some have proliferated, while most don't make it. Nowadays, bio-security is very tight and extra precaution is taken at the border, even taking fungal spores into consideration. There are a handful of mushroom strains that have been approved to be grown in New Zealand on a home-garden and commercial level. Button, oyster and shiitake mushrooms are the most common. Most strains that are grown commercially have been bred so that they grow consistent fruit bodies, within a desired temperature range, and have higher yields. While some globally established strains are being considered to be allowed into New Zealand, here is a list of the strains we currently have and are able to grow.
The Commercial imported strains -
Pheonix Grey Oyster (Pleurotus Pulmonarius) - oyster mushrooms are abundant in the wild on most continents and were first thought to be cultivated during World War II. Grey oyster mushrooms are one of the easiest mushrooms to grow and can be grown on a variety of substrates using relatively low tech methods - and very quickly compared to other mushroom species. Oyster mushrooms are nutrient-dense, offer strong health and medicinal benefits and can be grown on agricultural waste products such as straw and wood chip. They grow in temperatures ranging from 5-25 Celsius, however the temperature will affect the speed of growth. The Grey Oyster mushroom has a great flavour, lower spore-load than most oyster mushrooms and produces bunches that can easily be separated. The shelf life is from 5-10 days at 1 Celcius, making it the top choice for the hobbyist to commercial grower. Grows well indoors and outdoors from spring to early winter.
Pink Oyster (Pleurotus Djamor) - pink oyster, a.k.a. flamingo mushrooms, grow in clusters similar to grey oyster mushrooms but prefer warmer temperatures and will abort growth at temperatures under 15C. As a subtropical species, pink oyster mushrooms tolerate higher heats and are bright pink in colour. Similar to grey oyster mushrooms, they can be grown with pasteurised substrate and relatively low tech equipment. This mushroom is a rapid coloniser and usually begins to pin on day 7-9, while fruit bodies develop quickly and are best to pick before they get too old for better shelf life. If harvesting is left too late, spore release begins and shelf life is shortened, only staying presentable for a few days. Pink colour turns orange as soon as it hits the hot pan. Firmer in texture than the grey oyster with a unique bacon-like flavour. This mushroom is extremely eye-catching and really gets some attention: certainly recommended to everyone to grow! Grows well indoors and outdoors from spring to autumn (South Island is more like late spring to end of summer).