Everyone knows that mushrooms are one of the healthiest foods that one can consume. While being enjoyed by the vast majority of people not only for their taste but also for the nutrients they provide, the knowledge that people possess in terms of mushrooms is actually quite lacking. Most people think that they are a type of plant which is categorically wrong. In actuality, they are a type of fungi that grow best in a certain set of conditions. There are many people who are interested in growing mushrooms but don’t seem to have much of an idea regarding the methods that they need to employ in order to do that.
As previously mentioned, mushrooms are actually a type of fungi. Like all other fungi, they are grown from spores. A growing medium (tree logs or soil) when in interaction with fungi in damp conditions causes the growth of mycelium. In order to kick start this process, one can use mushroom spawns which is a substrate that already possesses growing mycelium.
Personally, I always view mushrooms as a rather cheerful element of nature. They are able to grow in places where nothing else can and have such colorful appearances that there really is no other alternative to them. Combine that with their immense nutritional value and their important place in medicine as well and you get the impression that mushrooms are quite underrated. In fact, the invention of mushroom grow kits such as blue oyster grow kits or lion's mane grow kits has made the process extremely easy. So, without further ado, let’s get into how mushrooms grow and how you can easily grow them in your home as well.
Best Conditions for Mushroom Growth
In general, mushrooms like cool and humid environments with the absence of light. The first image that comes into your mind with this description will certainly be your basement. One of the most important requirements is actually the temperature that mushrooms require to grow. It is generally between 55 degrees Fahrenheit and 60 degrees Fahrenheit where they will grow the best. Even more important is that Mushrooms are kept away from any kind of direct heat or wind blowing as that can severely affect the end product. Winter is a much more suitable time to grow mushrooms due to the lesser temperatures. Overall, if you make sure to get the conditions just right in your control environment, your mushrooms will grow really fast.
What Are the Different Types of Mushrooms?
There are distinct types of mushrooms that all require slightly different conditions for them to grow. Cremini, enoki, maitake, portobello, and oyster are all different types of mushrooms that are not poisonous but will also require different growing conditions as well. Even what you can grow them in variate with what type of mushroom you are trying to grow. Some require composted manure while others might require wood or straw.
Mushroom Grow Kits
Mushroom growing kits are often seen as a shortcut method that can alleviate a lot of the pain that might come with growing mushrooms. A mushroom grow kit is a “fruiting block” that has not yet been given the conditions that it requires in order to make mushrooms. There is a good analogy that I would like to make. Think of mushroom growing kits as the instant noodles of growing mushrooms. Instead of growing through the entire process of making noodles, you have to just put them in hot water, and voila! They are ready. They essentially bypass a lot of the stuff that generally causes people who grow mushrooms a decent bit of grief. The most popular choice for mushroom growing kits is oyster mushrooms, which make them a perfect choice because they are one of the most resilient types of mushrooms and can still grow in less-than-ideal conditions.
Growing Without a Kit
If you’re going to be growing without a kit, then you will first need to see which substrate you need to choose. This is generally determined by the type of mushroom that you want to grow. The most common method that people employ these days is that they take large plastic bags and fill them with sterilized sawdust and wood chips. The non-porous nature of plastic bags makes sure that there is no way for the moisture to go. Another way that has been employed more recently by people is called log growing. The name is quite self-explanatory actually, you take any type of hardwood log and inject them with mushroom mycelium and sawdust to create the colony where the mushrooms will grow. The sapwood’s moist character plays the most important role in making sure that the conditions for mushroom growth are satisfied. If you are working on a large scale, you can place the logs inside a tent of sorts that stops the sunlight from coming in. This tent system also allows good air ventilation which is an important aspect of mushroom growth. You can expect around 8 months to elapse before the fruiting starts to take place.
For your typical indoor mushroom growing operation, there are a few simple steps that you need to follow. First, you need to fill trays with compost material and add some spawn on top of them. These trays need to be at least 6 inches deep and must have a cross-section of over 224 cubic inches. The next thing that you need to apply is heat. Any regular heating pad that you will be easily able to find in any superstore will work. Essentially, the soil temperature needs to be at 70 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 days. By this point, you will start to see the mycelium. It is quite easy to spot as it resembles a spider’s web to some extent and is essentially a collection of white thread-like growths.
Beyond this point, you need to drop the temperature by 10 degrees Fahrenheit and cover the spawn with about an inch of soil. It is imperative that the soil must be kept damp throughout the process. Covering the soil with a damp cloth is a very effective way of achieving that. Make sure to spray the cloth with some water periodically after you have figured out a good time interval to keep doing that. If you do all of these steps with diligence, then you can expect to see small button mushrooms appear in about a month. You can cut the mushrooms with a knife from the stem (make sure not to yank them). You can keep harvesting these mushrooms until you need a fresh spawn to add to the colony. However, you must be extremely wary of one thing. In many ways, growing mushrooms is a bit like running a marathon. What you are being rewarded for is not heightened performance for a few seconds but consistent performance for the long run. If you keep sure that the requirements for a dark, humid and cold environment are satisfied, growing mushrooms just becomes a matter of letting nature take its course.
Mushroom Grow Kits Method
There is everything from oyster mushrooms to lion’s mane mushrooms in terms of the varieties that one can grow from a growth kid. You can also grow these mushrooms outdoors on indoors depending on the type that you are trying to grow. Oysters, lion’s mane and button mushrooms thrive indoors. Oysters especially are known for their resilience and can grow outside as well. You can expect the rate of growth to slow down significantly as the conditions available outdoors are not nearly as ideal. Wine caps and almost agaricus can only be grown outdoors.
Once you open the kit, the timer starts to tick. The substrate is exposed to fresh air and that encourages the growth of the primordia which will grow into mushrooms. Even the method of opening can depend on the type of mushroom. Side-fruiting varieties such as lion’s mane or oyster mushrooms can be opened by making a cut into the grow bad. On the other hand, top-fruiting varieties must be opened from the top and folding it with a clip to decrease airflow. The idea is that side-fruiting varieties need to be grown with a restricted source of air in order to maximize growth.
Storing a Mushroom Grow Kit
After opening, they must be stored in the requisite conditions. Again, the main principles of mushroom growth come into play here with humidity being a big factor. A great way of keeping up the humidity is to use a humidifier. Another alternative is to use indirect misting. Basically, as long as you can keep the humidity high through any means at all, it is good enough.
Fresh air exchange is also something that must be given particular attention. During the process, mushrooms exhale carbon dioxide. This means that the colony’s balance of fresh air will slowly decrease as time passes. Making sure that there is fresh air being introduced into the system regularly is an easy fix to this issue.
The fact that mushrooms require certain climatic conditions is one of the challenges of growing them. In nature, some areas have all the requisite conditions already present which make them an ideal place for mushrooms to grow. However, when we are talking about growing mushrooms in our homes, there must be a way to regulate and control the chamber. The best way of doing that is through a fruiting chamber. You can think of it as a sort of a greenhouse. In fact, you can go buy a min-greenhouse, spray the inside walls to increase humidity, or use a humidifier as well. The use of a humidifier is not as easy as it sounds. Combining a humidifier with a controller will help fix these issues. Add a USB fan to a mix and you have your own mini-fruiting chamber that will nurture your mushrooms for a long time.
Once you have put all the hard work in. It’s time to start reaping the rewards. Not too fast though as there is one step that’s left. Harvesting. Each type of mushroom has a unique way of showing that is ready to be harvested. Oyster mushrooms are ready when growth appears to slow down. The idea is to harvest them before their cap starts to turn upwards as once it does, the oyster will start shedding its spores and have a reduced shelf life. Lion’s mane mushrooms show that they are ready to be harvested after their spines have noticeably elongated. Reishi mushrooms can be harvested after the pale edge has disappeared and there is stagnancy in the growth of the mushroom itself. As you can already notice, the common theme is the slowing down of growth in these mushrooms. Once you can clearly see that growth has slowed down noticeably, it is time to harvest them. As long as you make sure to be gentle, harvesting is quite an easy thing to execute. Make sure not to yank them as that will affect the growth of the entire system.
So, this is a pretty comprehensive guide on how you can grow mushrooms. It goes through everything from log growing to mushroom growth kits. As a last note, I’d like to say that there is one ingredient that is essential for growing mushrooms regardless of which way you decide to grow them. That ingredient is patience. The course of nature, while gentle, is a slow process. It takes time for life to emerge in the many colors that it exists in. Whether that be the human baby that takes 9 months to come out of its mother or trees that requires years to grow. Growing mushrooms is nurturing life and it is your responsibility to keep on nurturing life once you have started that process.