Want to know how to grow mushrooms at home? Then you have arrived at the right place. Homegrown mushrooms may sound like they are difficult to do. But in reality, they are not as complicated as you might think.
Are you planning to grow mushrooms as a hobby? Or are you planning to start a mushroom business? Whatever is your reason, this beginner’s guide is good for everyone. Once you learn the basics, you can grow your own mushroom as if it were any other plant.
Mushrooms do not need a lot of space. This is why people had been considering growing mushrooms at home. Believe it or not, some people had been growing mushrooms for centuries. And they did it all in just a small space at home.
The best thing about growing mushrooms at home is that it isn’t like the usual crops. You don’t need to deal with any messy soil. That is why mushrooms are the best for indoor farming. If this is what you want to do, then let us learn how to grow mushrooms at home.
Grow Mushrooms at Home: Obtaining A Spawn
Just like other plants, you’ll need a seedling or seed to grow your crop. That is also the case in growing mushrooms at home. With mushrooms, you’ll need a spawn or spores. Here are three ways you can obtain a spawn.
If this is your first time in the fungiculture world, you’ll need something easy to begin. The easiest way to grow mushrooms is by using a mushroom growing kit. This kit will help you get acquainted with fungi growing.
Mushroom Growing Kits are complete with both the spawn and the growing medium. All you need to do now is to reactivate the spawn. Make sure the spawn is getting enough moisture. Then, watch the mushroom grow.
Plus, mushroom kits are easy to obtain. You can buy them in stores near you. If these stores don’t have growing kits, you can buy them online on Amazon.
If you already tried growing mushrooms before, you can now start with mushroom spawn. Unlike a mushroom growing kit, the mushroom spawn is more sustainable. With this, you can constantly have mushrooms available nearby.
What is a Mushroom Spawn? It is any material that has been treated with mycelium to grow mushrooms. The materials could be sawdust, pegs, or grain. Take note that spawn is a living creature. It can die if it is mishandled or left alone without a growing medium. So before you get the spawn, make sure you have already prepared the substrate and the growing site.
How to get a Mushroom Spawn? Simple answer, you buy them. Just like the growing kit version, you can purchase them in stores or online.
Are you confident with your growing mushroom knowledge? Have you done mushroom growing a couple of times? Then, why not start with spore prints.
What are Mushroom Spores? Spores are microscopic reproductive cells where the mushroom life cycle begins. A single full-grown mushroom contains billions of spores. Thus, you won’t run out of them easily.
However, obtaining spores can be complicated. So if you are a newbie with mushrooms, don’t start with this. If you are already well-informed with fungiculture, then here is how to obtain and plant spore prints.
How To Collect Mushroom Spores
Prepare a fresh mushroom (any edible mushroom of choice), paper, sealed bag, and glass.
Remove the stem of the mushroom carefully
Remove any existing skirt that is protecting the gills in the mushroom head
Place the mushroom head with the gills facing down onto the paper.
Put a glass covering the mushroom and paper
Let it be for 24 hours
Remove the glass and gently lift the mushroom. On the paper, you’ll see a print of the mushroom’s gills. This is the spore print.
Place the spore print in a sealed bag. Keep the bag in a cool, dark, and dry place until it’s time to cultivate it.
How To Cultivate Mushroom Spores
Make sure that your cultivation area is bacteria-free so the spores won’t get contaminated.
Prepare a syringe. Sterilized it by putting its needle in a flame for a few seconds.
Prepare distilled water. Boil it two-three times to make sure it is sterile.
Use the syringe to draw cooled distilled water in its body.
Use the syringe needle to lightly scrape the spores from the spore print
Transfer the scraped spores in a clean sterilized glass
Draw out half of the water from the syringe to the glass
Draw the water back. Make sure the spores are in the syringe.
Now you have the spore water that you will use to inoculate the growing medium.
Grow Mushrooms at Home: Choosing a Substrate
A substrate is the growing medium of the mushrooms. In a mushroom growing kit, this is already included. But if you plan to use mushroom spores or spawns, you’ll need to get a substrate.
Choosing the right substrates depends on the type of mushroom you plan to grow. Want to know which substrate is the best for your edible mushrooms? Learn the type of substrates and pick the best one for your mushrooms.
Straw is the dry stalks of cereal plants after the grain and chaff have been removed. It is a perfect substrate for oyster mushrooms or king oyster mushroom spawns. This substrate is also compatible with the white button, cremini, and portobello spores.
Straws are very cheap. They are also easy to find. To use straws for growing mushrooms, you need to pasteurize it. You can do that by placing the straws in a bucket (5 gallon-sized). Add boiling water and maintain the temperature at 170°F for an hour.
You can place a blanket at the top of the bucket to keep the heat in. Regularly check the temperature. If needed, you can add more boiling water.
Another easy-to-find and easy-to-pasteurize substrate is Coco Coir. It is a natural fiber that is extracted for the outer part of the coconut husk. This is another perfect substrate for oyster mushrooms and king oyster mushrooms.
Coco Coir can be found in local grow stores. You can also find this in hydroponics and aquaponics since this is a common material there. It can also be bought online. Lastly, it can be pasteurized the same way as straws.
If you plan on growing Shiitake mushrooms, logs are the best substrate for this. This is also perfect for the all-around oyster mushrooms. In this case, you’ll need a plug spawn. You can either buy one or make your own.
To use the logs as a substrate, you’ll have to drill holes in them. Then, you have to hammer in the plug spawn. You’ll also need some wax to seal them shut.
The best thing about log substrates is that they are low maintenance. You also don’t need to regularly water it. All you have to do is store it in a shady location but has great ventilation.
However, it can take up to 18 months for the plug spawn to grow around the log. Which means it can take up to two years before you can harvest your mushrooms. So if you do not have the patience, try a different substrate.
Sawdust and Wood-chips
Shiitake Mushrooms is compatible with wood-based substrates like sawdust and wood-chips. Oyster mushrooms are also okay with this substrate. A pasteurized sawdust is a safe substrate to use indoors.
You can also use this for outdoor mushroom farming. This substrate can be used in growing semi-wild mushrooms like the wine cap. However, just make sure you know that you can identify mushrooms well. Wood chips can also get contaminated and might sprout poisonous mushrooms
Used Coffee Grounds
Another worthwhile substrate for the oyster mushrooms is the used coffee grounds. The best time to use coffee grounds is right after making the coffee. This is because it is still in a pasteurized state.
Manure and Compost
If you are aiming to grow the ever-so common button, cremini, and portobello mushrooms, manure and compost is the substrate you need. This substrate can be bought already pasteurized. You can also buy them ready-to-pasteurized. Or you can just make your own. Usually, you’ll need 50% Manure and 50% Compost to create the right substrate for them. They are also good for King Oyster Mushrooms.
Grow Mushrooms at Home: The Right Place
You can grow mushrooms anywhere in the comfort of your home. Just make sure that your mini mushroom farm is shaded and has enough ventilation.
If you are using a mushroom growing kit, you can grow them safely indoors. Just make sure that the mushroom bag is in a container or mushroom growing chamber. This is to avoid getting the mycelium contaminated.
When using spores and spawns, only a few substrates are suitable indoors. That is unless you have a built-in mushroom nursery at home. Taking your mushroom farm outside is also okay. Just make sure that you provide its needs.
Grow Mushrooms at Home: Germination
Mushroom germination process depends on what you used as a spawn.
Mushroom Growing Kit
If you use a mushroom growing kit, everything is set up for you. Usually, the kit will instruct you to punch a hole or cut a small “x” in the grow bag. Then, you’ll have to rough up and soak the bag in water. There will be a few more instructions but it will depend on what mushroom growing kit you got.
Mushroom Spawn and Spores
In germinating spawn and spores, you have to introduce them to the substrate. Usually, you’ll need to mix the spawn in the substrate. But still, the specific germinating procedure will depend on the mushroom species.
Grow Mushrooms at Home: Forced Fruiting
Unlike plants, mushrooms do not depend on the length of the days which is their cue to bloom and fruit. The natural way is unacceptable to wait for. That is why you need to force-fruit the mushrooms.
Force-Fruiting is giving the mycelium the cue to produce mushrooms. But before doing this, make sure the mycelium has completely covered its habitat. This is the first hint that the mycelium needs to begin sprouting mushrooms.
When the mycelium is growing in an unnatural spot (e.g. plastic containers), you’ll need to make adjustments. You might need to lower the carbon dioxide levels or increase the light levels. This will tell the mycelium that it is nearing the surface. Thus, it is time to send up mushrooms.
If your mushrooms depend on the humidity to grow, there’s nothing wrong with shifting the temperature of their surroundings. Put a humidifier beside your mushroom growing chamber. If you see some primordia (baby mushroom) on the mycelium, then you’ll need to lower the humidity a bit. This will initiate your mushrooms to develop well.
In case you used a log substrate, you should shock your log in cold water to force-fruit it. However, you can only do that once the mycelium completely conquered the log. That will still take around a year to a year and a half to happen.
Grow Mushrooms at Home: Harvesting
Now the moment you have been waiting for has arrived. The best part of growing mushrooms is finally getting to harvest them. But how do you know when it is time to harvest them?
If you used a mushroom growing kit, the instructions might have given you a specific time-frame. They could have said that you can harvest the mushrooms after 15 days. However, it is not always accurate. The best harvest time indicator is when the caps start to curl down.
Bonus Harvest Tips
Water the mushrooms often especially if they are growing in an unnatural habitat like boxes and plastic bags. This will prevent the mushrooms from drying out.
If you are leaving the house for a few days around the harvest time you estimated, better harvest them before you leave.
Once the caps curl, harvest them immediately. A day too late can make the mushrooms past their best state.
If your mushrooms happened to dry out before you were able to harvest them, there’s still hope. You can cook the mushrooms in water. This will not only rehydrate the mushrooms. But this will also add flavor to your meal.
To harvest the mushrooms, you just hold their cap and stem. Then you gently twist them. You can also cut them with a small knife. Cut them around where the stem and the base meet.
Grow Mushrooms at Home: Mushroom Propagation and Reproduction
Of course, you do not want to make mushroom a one-time hobby. You would want to have a consistent supply of these mushrooms. So once you harvest your mushrooms, what do you do next?
Mushrooms can reproduce both sexually and asexually depending on what type of species they are. In sexual reproduction, the fusing of the hyphae of two mushrooms will form a new mushroom to grow nearby. In asexual reproduction, mushrooms releases spores or a piece of themselves which will start the growth of new mushrooms.
To put it simply, these mushrooms can reproduce on their own. So, there’s nothing wrong with letting it be. However, natural growth has a high risk of contamination. If the mycelium is contaminated, the chances of it sprouting poisonous mushrooms are very likely. But if you can tell the difference between an edible fungus from a poisonous one, then you are good to go.
You can restart your mushroom farm by preserving the spores. I already mentioned earlier how you can collect spores. Just do the same process. When you’re ready to plant them again, you can start cultivating the preserved spores. Then, go over the germination process again.
When it comes to its reproduction time, keep in mind that wild mushrooms grow faster than those grown indoors. They can mature from spores within hours from when they left their parent-shroom. In the case with indoor grown mushrooms, they might take a few days to a few weeks to reproduce.
How to grow mushrooms at home? Now, you know the answer to that. Whether you are planning to start a mushroom farm or wanting to add them to your meals, this beginner’s growing guide will keep you well-informed.
However, this isn’t a guide for growing a specific mushroom species. Each fungus has a unique way of growing and cultivating. It is recommended that you researched the exact procedure in growing that type of mushroom.
There might be some disadvantages to growing mushrooms at home. This can also be a bit laborious. But never ignore the fact that the bountiful shroomy reward after everything is worth it.