The Art of Side Gardening: How to Grow Mushrooms
Different from other plants, mushrooms are not grown from seeds. It is mostly grown from spores and can grow on various surface or substrates. The success of growing mushrooms may depend on the climate of the area you live in because temperature plays an essential role.
While each species of mushrooms have a different season to grow, you can always learn how to grow mushroom indoors and maintain the right temperature. There are many species of mushrooms, and not all of them are edible. Before starting, let’s decide which species you would want to grow.
1. Choosing Edible Mushrooms to Grow in the House
As mentioned before, there are various species of mushrooms. One of the benefits of growing mushrooms is you will exactly know what mushroom you are eating, not to be worried if it’s poisonous or not. Not to mention that most of the edible mushrooms are high in protein, fibers, and nutrition. Below are some of the mushrooms species that are easy to cultivate:
- Spring Oyster Mushrooms
This mushrooms mainly fruit in spring. To successfully grow this type of mushroom, you need to start at the right season or adjust the temperature to imitate the spring season if you grow it indoors.
This type of mushroom usually grows on decomposing and dry material like dead wood, straw, cotton, or paper. They are also immune to nematode, thus making it easier to take care of.
- Shiitake Mushrooms
On its natural habitat, Shiitake mushrooms grow on tree limbs which are protected from direct sunlight and wind. If you are trying to cultivate it, sterilized sawdust block may be the best medium to use.
- Enoki Mushrooms
Enoki mushrooms have a long white stalk with small caps. It mainly fruits in winter and can grow on hardwood sawdust block. This type of mushroom tend to grow in cold temperature, so it’s best to use a refrigerator or an air-conditioned room.
- Portobello Mushrooms
Portobello is one of the easiest mushrooms you can grow at home. It has a big cap with a brownish color and white flesh inside. It is the kind of mushroom that you would find easily in restaurant menus. The perfect medium for Portobello mushrooms is moss mixed with decomposed compost.
- White Button Mushrooms
For those who are learning how to grow mushrooms indoors, white button is the best species for a starter. It is mainly because white button mushrooms don’t require sunlight to grow. Another note, this type of mushrooms grow perfectly on high nitrogen medium such as horse manure.
2. Starting to Plant Your Mushrooms from Spores
As you have decided your type of mushroom and knew which medium to use, the next step may be preparing for a sterile area to start growing mushrooms. Though various types of mushroom required different season in starting, you can always create the right temperature and amount of light indoors.
Mushrooms start on spores. Once you place the spores on the medium, you may wait for 3 to 4 weeks before starting to find the mycelium. Mycelium is the root of the mushroom which is usually white and has textures like small strings. Although there are plenty of cultivation kits that you can buy, you can always get creative about the mediums.
For example, Spring Oyster mushrooms and other from Pleurotus species may grow well on shredded, sterile newspaper or toilet paper. Another example is the Shiitake mushroom that can be cultivated on wood fuel pellets, oak logs, and hardwood sawdust. Some other medium that you may use is moss, animal bedding, and even kitty litter.
There is one thing to remember, most mushrooms like darkness and humidity. That is why you need to spray water onto the medium regularly to keep it moist. You may also need to control the sterilization of the medium and the room you are using.
3. Cultivation Kit, Buy One or Make One?
Some of the companies like such as Back to the Roots Organic Farm, Imaginary Farmer, and Fung Perfect may sell cultivation kits with specific species of mushroom that you can grow your own. These kits usually come in a package consists of the medium, mushrooms spawn, and growing mushrooms instruction.
However, you can actually make the cultivation kits using low-budget mediums by yourself. First, you have to put the mycelium in a sterile container and also prepare the medium. Then, the mycelium can be inoculated on to the medium in a closed container—you may use a glass jar so that you can see when the spawns are ready.
Once the spawns appear, you may use different cultures such as tray culture by pouring the spawn and the medium onto a deep tray, plugging it on holes in logs, or put it in a bag with premade holes in it.
4. Temperature Controlling and Harvesting Mushrooms
Most mushrooms grow naturally in fall. If you are growing mushrooms indoors, make sure that you gradually lower the temperature just as the weather would be in the season. Once the mushroom is cultivated on its medium, you may start to turn down the temperature from 23˚C to 17˚C gradually every four days.
With the right temperature, mushrooms will grow rapidly from pins to opened caps mushrooms. For some mushrooms with stems, it is best to cut the stem to harvest it. Don’t cut the stem too close with the mycelium or the roots. Otherwise, you are going to kill the mushrooms that are still in cultivating process. If you choose to harvest it by hands, pick the mushroom with a circular motion to release the cap from the stem.
5. Want to Make Business Out of It? Try Selling Home-Grown Mushrooms
Once you get a hold of it, growing mushrooms—though a bit different with other gardening techniques—can be done as a side gardening project especially in winter. Since one cycle of cultivation may produce a large number of mushrooms, you may try growing mushrooms for profit.
Selling fresh mushrooms can be the deal if you have a local market to distribute your homegrown mushrooms. Or, you can learn how to grow mushrooms and dry it to preserve its shelf life. Dried mushrooms stay longer, and it means you can sell more of it.
Temperature, mediums, and sterilization are the keys to grow mushrooms at home. With the right steps and care, you may do well after your first try in growing mushrooms.