How to grow mush­rooms at home

Ontario Gardener Magazine - - CON­TENTS - By Ta­nia Mof­fat

Grow­ing mush­rooms is un­like grow­ing any other veg­etable. Fungi grow from spores rather than seeds. These spores are so tiny that you can’t see them with the naked eye. Per­haps, this is what scares off would-be mush­room cul­ti­va­tors, but grow­ing mush­rooms has never been eas­ier. To­day, kits are even avail­able in some gro­cery stores.

The ba­sics

Crem­ini, enoki, maitake, por­to­bello, oys­ter, shi­itake and white but­ton are the most com­mon mush­room va­ri­eties grown at home. All you need to do is pick your favourite, do a lit­tle re­search on them and buy your sup­plies. You will need to know what type of spawn (mycelium in­oc­u­lated onto a grow­ing medium) you should pur­chase, grow­ing sup­plies and what your mush­room va­ri­ety needs to suc­ceed.

Mush­room grow­ing kits are widely avail­able and come with spawn and some­times even a sub­strate to grow the spawn on. Kits are the eas­i­est way to start if you're a new­bie and should pro­vide you with all your how-to in­for­ma­tion.

Al­ter­na­tively, you can or­der spawn on­line or from a lo­cal re­tailer. Ex­perts can make their own cul­tures and spawn, but this is a chal­leng­ing en­deavor which re­quires ster­ile con­di­tions and spe­cialty equip­ment.

Get­ting started

Mush­room spores rely on var­i­ous grow­ing medi­ums to de­velop into mycelium. When sev­eral mycelia join to­gether they form a fun­gal culture which is then able to de­velop into a fruit­ing body or mush­rooms. This grow­ing medium once in­oc­u­lated with mycelium is called mush­room spawn.

Spores rely on var­i­ous sub­stances such as saw­dust, grain, wooden plugs, straw, wood chips or liq­uid for nour­ish­ment. Mush­room spawn is the com­bi­na­tion of any of these in­gre­di­ents with mush­room spores.

Spawn is then used to trans­fer mycelium onto a grow­ing sub­strate. Mush­rooms can be grown di­rectly from the spawn, how­ever, as it is gen­er­ally not nu­tri­tion­ally dense, you will get fewer mush­rooms.

There­fore once the mycelium de­vel­ops the spawn is ap­plied to a sec­ond grow­ing medium. These in­clude sub­stances like straw, card­board, a log, wood chips, com­post, nitro­gen sup­ple­ments among others.

The best way to select a grow­ing medium is to match the mush­room species and the spawn with the sub­strate. Some types of mush­rooms

pre­fer cer­tain grow­ing medi­ums. Of­ten spawns do bet­ter when they are paired with a sub­strate of a sim­i­lar make up e.g. a wood chip spawn and a wood medium. This is where a lit­tle prior re­search can help.

Inoc­u­la­tion is easy, just spread the spawn over the grow­ing medium. Spawn does have a best be­fore date so pur­chase it when you plan to try grow­ing. It gen­er­ally lasts up to two months.

Prop­a­ga­tion and har­vest­ing

Once com­bined you will need a dark, cool, moist and hu­mid en­vi­ron­ment for them to grow. The base­ment or un­der­neath a sink is a good lo­ca­tion. You will need to care­fully mon­i­tor the tem­per­a­ture and mois­ture daily for a cou­ple of weeks; if it over­heats or dries out the spores will die. Ideal grow­ing tem­per­a­tures are gen­er­ally be­tween 13 and 16 C; how­ever, re­fer to the needs of the mush­room you are grow­ing. Mist the medium un­til it is moist but not wet. If your base­ment is too warm in the sum­mer, you can al­ways try grow­ing a win­ter crop.

Some peo­ple use ma­nure for prop­a­ga­tion, if you do use a 50/50 mix of ma­nure and vermiculite as it will main­tain mois­ture bet­ter. Do not spread it more than three inches in depth. Cover it with news­pa­per be­fore mist­ing.

Mush­rooms are ready for har­vest­ing when the caps open. Cut stalks with a sharp knife, this re­duces the chance of pulling up newly de­vel­op­ing mush­rooms. Once mush­rooms start pro­duc­ing you should be able to con­tinue har­vest­ing be­tween one day and one week con­tin­u­ously for sev­eral weeks depend­ing on the va­ri­ety and pro­vided you main­tain their re­quired grow­ing con­di­tions.

The most im­por­tant thing to re­mem­ber when grow­ing fungi is that you must be able to con­trol the grow­ing en­vi­ron­ment – tem­per­a­ture, air­flow, light and mois­ture. Share your pho­tos with us if you try or have tried grow­ing mush­rooms at home.

Mush­room fans it's time to do this!

Mycelium is a thread­like col­lec­tion of cells that ma­ture into fruit­ing bodies, mush­rooms.

To grow mush­rooms, you will need the right grow­ing con­di­tions (tem­per­a­ture and light), mush­room spawn and a grow­ing medium.

Shi­take mush­rooms grow­ing on a saw­dust and ce­real log.

Oys­ter mush­rooms nat­u­rally grow on wood, but mycelium can also grow on pa­per, card­board, straw and other medi­ums.

Mush­rooms are ready to har­vest when their caps open up.

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