The Blue Meanie is an interesting fan favorite amongst many mushroom farmers and is often thought to be among the finest looking and most delicious edible mushrooms available. In my view it’s the Beta Pennetta that does it best, with the Beta Penicillium too having its fair share of devotees. It produces gorgeous shades of blue, from purplish blue through to a deep, nearly black, blue color. I have only ever seen this species growing in New Zealand, but one good friend did bring home his crop of Beta Pennetta, and before long it was turning purple and turning black – these are very similar symptoms of a Beta Pennetta infection. However it is still amazing to see how the individual spores can appear so different.
These beautiful mushrooms are produced by a unique fungus. The Blue Meanie fungus is extremely delicate and loves the dampness of its environment; this is why it grows best on mushrooms that have been stored carefully, like the Shrieking Spider or the Stoneware Apple. It will not grow on mushrooms that are cut directly from the mushrooms themselves; the dampness encourages a slower development process and allows the fungus to slowly break down the tissue to reveal the chlorophyll-rich inner layers. When you slice a fresh mushroom open, you will note that the interior has little visible signs of life: there are basically just fat caps of stems and tiny white ‘belly cells’ of spores. The exterior is completely smooth and shiny; it is the blue color of the spores that give the mushrooms their distinguishing blue color.
To grow the blue meanies, you must keep your container damp but not wet. This can be difficult if you’re trying to grow them in a Mushroom Proportional Box, which is recommended for larger groups of mushrooms because they need air circulation to prevent overcrowding. Some people recommend using a Tupperware container, which also limits overcrowding but keeps the moisture contained. If you’re growing the mushrooms in a bowl, be sure to remove the soil before you add any air, as it can dry out the soil quickly. The soil needs to be moist but not damp enough to encourage the formation of mold, and you should avoid putting wood chips or crushed stone in your compost pile.
When you buy mushrooms in bulk, you might find some with common names that you recognize from your favorite variety of mushrooms, such as the blue wigglers, black truffle, blue wiggler, blue star, golden shiner, or other names based on color. These are often mass-produced by companies that do little more than process the dung for the production of these common names. Dung is simply the waste left over from making a product, so it contains every trace of life that could exist in the forest where the mushrooms are grown. Some mushrooms may be easier to identify because of their common names; however, for all but the most common mushrooms, it’s a good idea to grow them yourself, if at all possible, to get a better, more consistent crop each time.
When you’re ready to start growing these mushrooms, you’ll need to know their recommended dosage and mature size. They should be planted in large containers so they have room to grow at their full growth level. The suggested dosage is about a third of the weight of a pound per plant, but it’s best to plan on a half of a pound for every plant. Young leaves will be required once they come out of their hardy stage, and they should be harvested regularly. The recommended dosage and mature size are determined by the manufacturer, and the rest of this guide is designed to help you understand how to care for them.
Like most psilocine mushrooms, the blue variety will require a lot of dark, indirect, well-ventilated room for successful growing. There are several different methods for drying blue mushrooms, and they include floating, hanging, air-drying, and curing. All are effective, and you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting a nice harvest from them if you follow the steps to grow them properly. Make sure to take advantage of fresh air as much as possible, and make sure the location has lots of sunlight and lots of moisture. If your climate gets a bit colder, you may want to consider simply freezing the mushrooms, which can dramatically increase their potency.