Growing things in the (mushroom) cloud*

We’re getting quite excited about horticulture here at Pi Towers this year; Rachel’s got a desktop greenhouse growing interesting edible leaves with a high degree of Raspberry Pi involvement (we’ll have much more on that, and on how she’s scaling it into a bigger installation you’ll be able to visit, in a month or so). I’m waiting for a warm weekend to set up a new owl box, with Pi camera, in my garden; and there’s another Pi camera deployed in the direction of the plants on my desk so I can check that Clive doesn’t forget to water them again next time I have to go overseas.

(The best) part of Rachel's Pi garden setup.

(The best) part of Rachel’s Pi garden setup.

Green plants benefit from a spot of automated attention from a Raspberry Pi to their water levels, UV light levels and the length of their “day”, and temperature. Kyle Gabriel has been applying a similar process to mycology, automating the cultivation of mushrooms with a Raspberry Pi.

Mushrooms’ needs are not the same as those of Rachel’s salad vegetables; the Pi overseeing a mushroom farm needs to be paying attention to CO2 levels, temperature and humidity, among other things. (Fun mushroom-raising fact: if you’ve got a log prepped with shiitake spores, you’ll need to shock it to get it to start to fruit, either by hitting it hard with a hammer, or submerging it in really, really cold water for a couple of days.)

Kyle’s setup, which heats, humidifies and introduces filtered, sterile air into the mushrooms’ environment, outputs data on temperature, humidity, dew point and how long the setup has been running to a browser, creating handsome graphs to reassure the user that everything is tickety-boo inside the mushroom box.


The results don’t speak for themselves, because they’re mushrooms, and mushrooms are vocally challenged. But they look pretty darn tasty.


Kyle has made a full build diary and detailed explanation of what’s going on in the chamber available at his website. Thanks Kyle!

*A long argument has been going on this afternoon over whether we should have gone with this title, or changed it to “A Fun Guy to be with”. Please let us know your preference in the comments.