Growing Mushrooms Underground

Have you ever visited a cave or disused mine and been told that it was once used for the growing of mushrooms? Well, having recently been perusing in a second-hand bookshop I found a copy of "The Cultivation of Mushrooms" by Bewley and Harnett - circa 1938, and was curious to see if any advice would be given on the use of caves and the like. I was pleased to find the following section, which I believe will be of interest to some of our readers. Of course I have had to include the volume in my collection!

"Caves and Tunnels:

These are admirable situations for mushroom work, provided they can be thoroughly cleaned after each crop and are capable of being ventilated efficiently.

Usually ventilation is inadequate with the result that the carbon-dioxide produced by the crops accumulates unduly and reduces the yield. Further, in large caves and tunnels fumigation is difficult because they require large quantities of gas and it is not easy to remove the poisonous vapours when they have done their work. Contamination of the floor is common and has been the cause of serious failures in the past.

With induced ventilation, the installation of suitable heating apparatus where necessary and the provision of at least one shelf, to lift the beds above the floor, successful mushroom cultivation is possible in these situations."

I wonder if anyone has thought of the effects of radon in caves on the long-term cultivation of mushrooms? Would high concentrations of Radon affect the compost or crop in any way? Certainly, as suggested, forced ventilation would appear to be recommended!

Chris Fry