A step by step guide to mushroom growing
Mushroom growing is very easy if you know exactly what you're doing, and it's not difficult to learn the different steps involved in the process. Now, the basics of preparing growth medium and containers has been covered elsewhere, but the actual basics of how to plant and care for mushrooms will be covered in detail in the course of this article.
You will most likely buy mushroom spores or spawn when you first learn to grow mushrooms, and before you learn to harvest the spores from mushroom caps for yourself. Now, there are two types of this spawn available. It is available in flakes, but it is also available in bricks as well. How you plant the spores or spawn depends on what sort that you buy. I would suggest, if you're thinking of planting mushrooms regularly, that you buy and plant both types, and see what works better for you.
If you buy and plant both types, there are very different methods of planting them. The bricks need to be broken into chunks, each about one inch in diameter. These chunks are put into the growing medium, spaced about half a food from each other. You need to make holes about an inch or two deep before you put these chunks in. Flakes are mixed right into the growth medium. Take about a quart of these flakes and spread them over fifteen square feet, and continue until you have the growth medium evenly covered. You need to mix these into the growth medium while doing this.
Make sure that the flakes are not visible on the surface of the growth medium. Whether you use chunks or flakes, the next steps to mushroom growing are the same. You spray a mist of water on to the mixture regularly, and keep it in the dark. Soon the mushroom spawn will begin to put out mycelia, which are the fungal version of roots. Once these are out, the mushrooms will really start to grow. As a matter of fact, in time you will see an intricate web of these pale white mycelia form.
Slightly increasing the temperature to about sixty five degrees Fahrenheit in this time will encourage growth. Remember to water daily. In a few weeks you should be able to see the mushrooms. You should not water in the period between when the mushrooms appear and the harvest. You can harvest mushrooms when they are either very small, or when they mature. Just use a sharp knife to harvest each mature mushroom, and there'll soon be another mushroom growing in its place.
If you have some spare area in an outhouse or even in your cellar or garage, you can utilize it for mushroom growing, which are tasty, nutritious and a great source of organic protein. Remember that food that you grow yourself will always be guaranteed to be free of harmful fertilizers and pesticides, as well as of all the subtle array of bio-chemicals that commercial food providing companies today use to maximize yields. If you're at all conscious of the food you eat, and if you want it to be healthful, then you could do worse than growing your own food.
Growing your own food ensures that not only will the food be healthful, but also that you can maximize yields by providing the best possible growth environment for the food you're growing. This is especially true with mushrooms. If you go in for mushroom growing and get the growth environment right, you can have enormous yields. Of course you can go in for commercial growth medium, but these things are best created yourself. And it's not difficult. So if you want to get started growing mushrooms, what would you need?
Well, first of all, to best use the space you have available, I would suggest that you get yourself some shelving. This can also be made oneself. Then you need a large number of flat trays in which you will actually plant the mushrooms. Of course the length and breadth of these trays will be based upon the space you have available, and the size of tray that will best make use of that space, but as a general rule, don't purchase any tray that might potentially be too hard to lift. The trays should also as a general rule not be any deeper than four inches. See if you can get a good deal on a larger number of trays at your usual gardening store - trays like these are often used for seedlings.
Once you have your trays, fill them with growth mixture and add in mushroom spore or spawn flakes, which are easily available in gardening stores, or on the internet. Water the mixture carefully, and the mushrooms will start putting out their mycelia, which is a sort of fungal root. Once this happens, keep watering at least twice a day, preferably with a mist-spray, until the young mushrooms start to appear. Once you reach this point, you need to stop watering while the mushrooms mature. Once they reach the size that you need, you can harvest them. This is all you need to know to go in for mushroom growing.
Commercial growth medium for mushroom growing
Mushroom growing needs growth medium. Commercial growth medium is easy enough to make, and can considerably cut your costs when growing mushrooms. However, creating it can be a reasonably lengthy process, and you need to think about whether you'll actually be growing mushrooms on that large a scale. If you are, then making your own growth medium is just about the best thing that you can do.
If, on the other hand, you're going to be growing a lot of mushrooms, but not necessarily on a commercial basis, then perhaps buying some growth medium when you need it is a better way to go. Remember that with mushrooms you can't just use soil, because mushrooms are rich in protein, and so use up a lot of nitrogen. Well, in case you decide you want to go in for commercial mushroom growing, here's how you go about preparing it. Firstly, mushroom growth medium consists of a roughly equal quantity of manure and straw.
These need to be mixed thoroughly in a large, flat container with holes in the bottom. As you mix these two ingredients, you need to keep adding a third in, which is gypsum. After the mixture is well mixed, all you need to do is to throw some burlap sacking over it. This sacking keeps the heat that the mixture generates inside. You need to check the temperature of this mixture at regular intervals - perhaps once every day.
The temperature will climb. When it touches about a hundred and sixty degrees Fahrenheit, you should remove the sacking and remix the pile thoroughly. Spray water on to the pile thoroughly while mixing it. Now you need to put the burlap sacking back on the pile and to wet it completely. Once again repeat the whole process, checking the temperature of the pile every day. When the temperature climbs as before, repeat the remixing process.
This process needs to be repeated at least four times. At some point the pile will not smell of ammonia any more. It will also take on a distinctive fluffy quality instead of looking sticky. Now it is almost ready to use. You now need to cover the manure with the burlap sacking and then wet the sacking thoroughly. After this, just leave it alone for a week. At this point the mushroom growing medium is ready, and just needs to be put into the containers for you to be able to plant your mushrooms in it.
Creating a nutrition mix for use in mushroom growing
If you're just going in for mushroom growing as a hobby, it's possible to grow them on a log. However, just as with any other organism, plant or animal, mushrooms will grow much better if you offer them the right nutritive mix. Just how to go about preparing that mix is what this article is all about.
There are several reasons why you might want to make your own nutritive mix. For one thing, there's the cost of buying readymade mixes. Making your own nutritive mix is fairly simple, and by doing so, you may avoid much of the cost normally connected with growing mushrooms yourself. Of course, making your own mix will take a little effort, but the results are well worth it. A good nutritive mix for mushrooms is usually made from cow or horse manure. This cannot be used directly, as you would when fertilizing plants, but must be prepared and matured by a special process if you want to use it successfully for mushroom growing.
You start by taking a large enough quantity of equal parts of straw and any good kind of manure. You need to mix these well, until they form a thoroughly homogeneous mix. While mixing them, you need to keep adding in sprinklings of gypsum. Keep mixing this for about half an hour, then take a piece of sacking and cover the mixture carefully. You will find that the mixture will exhibit a steady rise in temperature that you must carefully observe. Wait until it reaches a hundred and sixty degrees F before attempting anything further.
The moment the temperature reaches a hundred and sixty degrees F you can go to the next stage. It involves removing the sacking. Mix everything well and remember to spray on lots of water while doing it. This will cause an immediate fall in temperature. When everything is well mixed again put the sacking back on and wet it nicely.
The process I've just described might have to be repeated quite a few times before the manure is ready for use. How will you know that it's ready? At first the mixture will have a sticky appearance. But as you process it again and again, this sticky look will give way to a flaky appearance. When the pile looks this way, it means that the medium is ready for use. After this, it's just a question of placing the nutrient mix into the right kind of container. Something flat and wide would be ideal for mushroom growing.
Getting your mushrooms to bud can be the key to growing mushrooms
The simple fact is that mushroom growing is rather easy. All you have to do is follow a few simple tips and the mushrooms will virtually grow themselves. You just need to be careful of one or two things. Now two things that mushrooms need to grow exceptionally well are the right temperature and the right levels of temperature. But what many people don't know is that these levels of temperature may require changing at different stages of the mushroom growing process. That is to say, that mushrooms spores that are just putting out mycelia need a different range of temperature and humidity from mushrooms that have actually begun to grow. Why this is so is anyone's guess.
Mine would be that these changes in temperature actually in some way reflect the growing conditions that mushrooms experience in the wild. However, whatever the reasons for this, the simple fact is that by tweaking and carefully controlling levels of temperature and humidity, you can get your mushrooms to grow far more successfully than would otherwise be possible. Now, the first thing to remember is that higher levels of temperature and humidity will encourage your mushrooms to bud and to put out roots. This means that in the first three weeks after you plant your mushroom spawn (or spores) you need to maintain higher levels of temperature and humidity than you will maintain later on.
In these first crucial three weeks (crucial, because if the mushrooms don't bud and put out a good net of mycelia now they might turn out stunted later) you need to keep temperatures hovering around about sixty five degrees Fahrenheit, and to make sure that the temperature does not vary more than a few degrees from that setting. If you know anything about growing mushrooms, you know that this setting is actually nearly ten degrees higher than that recommended for growing mushrooms, but the fact is that at this stage of your mushrooms' development, these are the temperatures that suit them best.
While maintaining these temperatures, make sure that you spray the growth medium with water twice a day and mist the environment as well to keep levels of humidity high. Keep things this way until you can actually see the mushrooms, and then lower temperatures to around fifty five degrees, and mist the mushrooms just once a day. Do this and your mushroom growing will result in a crop of large, healthful mushrooms.
Growing mushrooms successfully enough to share with your friends and acquaintances
Mushroom growing on a small scale is relatively easy, as everyone knows. All you need is a little growth medium and some spores, and the mushrooms virtually grow themselves. These days you even have kits which allow you to grow mushrooms even more easily.
These kits provide you with everything that you could possibly need, and all you need to do is to water the mushrooms regularly and make sure they don't dry up. However, this sort of mushroom growing will provide the occasional mushroom meal for your family, but nothing more than that. If you want to grow enough mushrooms to share with your friends and acquaintances, you're going to have to go one better than this. You'll have to take a little trouble and prepare the containers for growing the mushrooms, and perhaps even the growth medium, yourself. However, if you succeed at this, you might even be able to go on to grow mushrooms commercially, or at least enough to sell them locally.
Now the first thing you need when you're considering growing mushrooms on a larger scale is space. After all, you can't grow anything unless you have the space to plant it in. You'll need some kind of garden shed or outhouse at the very least, but if you have this, growing mushrooms on a medium to large scale should be fairly easy.
Let's start with growing mushrooms on a medium scale first. The ideal growth container for mushrooms on this scale is a log or a thick piece of wood. Yes, mushrooms aren't plants, and they require very different conditions from plants to be grown successfully. For one thing, they do not use soil, nor are they usually grown in a flower pot. Instead, if you want to grow mushrooms on a medium scale, you would be well advised to get yourself a log. If you ever walked in a forest, you may have noticed how much mushrooms like logs.
If you get your mushrooms a large piece of wood, they will grow in it only too happily. You'll have to make a few minor modifications to the wood, like making some holes in its surface. The mushrooms spores, of course, go right into these holes. Plaster a little growth mixture on top and water it regularly and you should have mushrooms growing in just a little while. After that mushroom growing is only a question of watering them regularly before you can start harvesting them on a regular basis.
How long does mushroom growing take?
Just how much time should it take you to harvest mushrooms from your mushroom growing. Well, if you like large mushrooms, these can take up to three months to mature fully. This means that if you want to have a mushroom meal regularly, you're going to have to use a little strategy. The first strategy, of course, is to plant a great many mushrooms. The second strategy is to plant the spore or spawn in different areas of your mushroom beds at different times. Since the mushrooms in your mushroom beds will be sprouting and maturing at different times, you can be assured of a supply of mushrooms all through the month.
When you first plant your mushrooms, whether you use spores or the more manageable spawn that is sold these days, you're going to have to keep your mushroom beds wet for a about three weeks, and the temperatures stable around about fifty five degrees Fahrenheit or so. This stable temperature and the moisture is what encourages the mushrooms to bud. After about two weeks or so, you'll see a delicate white net meshed over the growth medium. This net consists of mycelia, and is the root system that each mushroom growing puts out, though the mushrooms themselves will not be in evidence yet.
Nevertheless, nutrients are moving inwards, and the spores are growing into budding mushrooms, which will become visible to you about three weeks from planting the spores or spawn. Of course these mushrooms will be too small to consume, but once they appear, the growing process is well on track. Then it's only a question of keeping them growing. To do this, you need to keep out all draughts, and also cut down on the moisture a little. Watering the mushroom beds is all important in the first stages, and this needs to be done at least twice a day, but once the mushrooms actually start to appear, this can be cut down to misting once or twice daily.
The mushrooms will take their nutrients directly from the nutrient-rich growth medium, and only need some gentle misting to prevent them from drying out. And that's all that you really need to do, to maintain the environment, and your mushrooms will grow. Keep the temperature in a steady range, don't let light touch your mushrooms, and keep out the draughts. As you can see, mushroom growing can be so simple.
How mushroom growing can benefit the health of your entire family
Mushroom growing may be more important to the health of your family than you may think. Our society is so heavily industrialized these days that the industrialization extends even to our food sources. That being that case, we find that a great many companies involved in industrial food production are concerned more with maximizing yields, rather than about the nutritive value of the foods that they are producing. So many crops are taken from a single area of land that the nutritive value of the food grown on that land can become seriously reduced.
There is also an indiscriminate use of pesticides and fertilizers in commercial mushroom growing, so much so that there is a positive long term threat to the health of your family inherent in these practices. One way to counter this is to grow your own food. While growing fruits and vegetables can be relatively easy, providing for good sources of protein can be much more difficult, especially if you don't want to keep animals, or are a vegetarian.
That's exactly where growing mushrooms comes in. Mushrooms are an excellent source of protein, and they can be grown fairly effortlessly, providing you with a reliable source of organic protein for your family. You might think that growing them is bound to be difficult, but if you learn a little more about the subject, you'll understand just how easy and simple it is to grow mushrooms. For those who are mainly interested in a source of organic protein, one of the many kits on the market provide an easy and fairly effortless approach to growing mushrooms that can let you get started on growing them virtually right away.
A kit of this sort is also a very good way of learning the basics of growing this wonderful food without too much risk of lost effort or failure. Once you gain in confidence after using these kits, you can go on to creating your own containers, making your own growth medium, and perhaps even harvesting spores from grown mushrooms to start a new generation of mushrooms. All this will come with time.
Don't be impatient, and focus upon your successes in growing organic food rather than upon costs in the beginning. Your costs will gradually reduce in time as you become more experienced, and your operation becomes consequently more efficient. As you gain experience and lower costs, you could conceivably even go commercial with your mushroom growing, selling your produce to stores or in the open market.
How to ensure that your mushroom growing is successful
A good many people think that mushroom growing must be something that is very difficult to do, and this is actually quite a serious misconception. Because the fact is that while growing mushrooms may not necessarily be easy, it's not really all that difficult either, at least if you know what you're doing. If you're here reading this article, you already realize that the internet is a wonderful resource and you can use it to learn the subtle skill that is mushroom growing. Once you know the basics you can go on to become an expert mushroom grower.
These days, even if something isn't easy, it can be made easy by the large amount of 'do-it-yourself' companies out there. With the prices of commercial goods rising, and increasing amount of companies base their products around the concept of 'do it yourself'. There are do it yourself laptop kits and do it yourself solar panel kits, and yes, mushroom growing isn't an exception, because there are some wonderful do it yourself kits out there, and buying one of these kits would be an excellent step towards learning mushroom growing.
I would suggest that you go for the smallest kits. This is because these small kits are usually self-contained, and contain everything that you can possibly need to grow mushrooms, and this includes a container to provide the growing mushrooms with humidity and darkness. This container can be kept anywhere in the house, or even mounted upon a wall. You will also get a supply of growth medium with the kit and a supply of what is known as spawn, which is, to put it more simply, a collection of mushroom spores, that give rise to new mushrooms.
There will be clear instructions on how to put things together, of course, but that's a simple job. And once you do, all it takes to ensure that the mushrooms grow is to water the growth medium regularly. Clear instructions on when and how to do this will also be provided with the kit, and you just have to follow them. Of course this is just a humble beginning - pretty soon you'll want to expand, and can then by supplies of growth medium and spawn at a local gardening store to set things up on a larger scale. That's all that it really takes to learn mushroom growing.
Ultimately you can even make your own growth medium and culture your own mushroom spawn to lower expenditure in your mushroom growing.
How to use a greenhouse for mushroom growing
Everyone knows that mushroom growing needs a dark, moist area. But many people don't realize that one can actually arrange an area that is sufficiently moist and dark in one's own greenhouse. The fact that people don't realize that they can potentially grow mushrooms right in their own greenhouse means that they often don't use this optimal place, even when they have it at their disposal.
It's true that a greenhouse may not seem like an optimal location in which to go about your mushroom growing at first sight. But this is a fallacy. A green house can easily be adapted to the task of growing mushrooms and doing so can involve something as simple as covering the greenhouse with a canopy of plastic. So long as you screen out the light your mushrooms should do perfectly well. Another thing that you're going to have to see to if you want to grow mushrooms in your greenhouse is ensuring that temperatures remain stable. Mushrooms don't like too much of a variation in temperature and so this is something that you must try to avoid. If you can keep the temperature above around fifty degrees F and below sixty degrees F or so, your mushrooms should do just fine.
Now, another thing that you need to know about mushrooms is that if you want them to grow reasonably well, or indeed even to grow at all, you can't begin by planting them in mud. This is because fungi, which is what mushrooms are, don't grow in soil. Their organism is essentially made up of quite different materials from those of plants, and this means that mushrooms will refuse to grow unless planted in a medium that is rich in nitrogen. Such a medium is called a growth medium, and it can either be produced yourself with some effort, or can be bought in a store. If you intend to create the growth medium yourself, bear in mind that this can take some effort and is hardly worthwhile unless you intend growing a fairly large quantity of edible mushrooms.
On the other hand, for those in the initial stages of mushroom growing or those without much experience I would recommend a readymade growth medium. This will be more than adequate to your needs until you gain more experience, or alternatively, wish to expand productivity. At that stage, you can always begin producing your own growth medium to reduce the costs of your mushroom growing.
Just how does one go about mushroom growing
That's an interesting question indeed, and you may well be stumped by it even if you happen to be an excellent gardener. Even if you've had your own well-kept lawns and garden for years, you may still find mushroom growing difficult, because the simple fact of the matter is that mushroom growing is a whole new ball game.
But why is this so? It's because mushrooms are not really plants, but fungi, and this changes all the rules. You can't use mud to grow them in, for one thing. The usual fertilizers and pesticides won't work - not that you'll want to use them if you're set on growing organic mushrooms for consumption. Anyway, the point that I want to make is that there are a lot of new things to learn, and the sooner you can get started learning them, the better you'll ultimately be at either providing your family with a regular mushroom diet, or at growing them commercially for sale.
Now, the first parameter when you're growing anything (not just mushrooms), is space. If you're just growing enough for the occasional mushroom meal for your family, then you could even grow mushrooms indoors, inside your house. But if you want to grow them on a larger scale, you're going to have to have a garden shed, at the very least. A greenhouse or a small barn would be even better. One nice thing about growing mushrooms is that you can use your space very efficiently. Simply fill the available space with shelving, with the shelves about a foot apart, and with space for you to move around (or in-between) the shelves, of course. After this it's a simple matter of acquiring a great many flat trays (each about three to four inches deep) and placing them on the shelves.
You may wonder how it's possible to grow mushrooms this way, and I'll remind you that these fungi don't need the presence of light in which to grow, and so can be grown in this way most efficiently. Then you need to buy some commercial mushroom growing medium, or you can make your own (it's not difficult) and fill the trays with it. Plant the mushroom 'seed' - the correct term to use here is spores or spawn, and not seed - and you'll have your mushrooms growing in no time at all. While this is a very cost effective approach, there are ways to make mushroom growing even more cost-effective by harvesting spores, but that's a subject for a separate article.
Just how easy is growing mushrooms?
Is mushroom growing as easy as it's made out to be? The answer is yes. This is because mushrooms are actually fairly simple organisms that require a very specific set of environmental conditions in which to grow. If they don't have this set of conditions, they don't grow. On the other hand, the good news is that if they do have that set of conditions, they grow almost without any maintenance at all. Another bit of good news is that these conditions are easy to provide. All you really need to grow mushrooms is dark and humidity.
You can provide dark by simply having an enclosed space, and humidity can be provided for by spraying the growing medium in which the mushrooms are planted with a water spray twice a day. Mushrooms are very productive, and you'll have a new harvest of mushrooms starting to grow even as you take out the grown ones. And they're very nutritious, and well worth the little effort it takes to grow them. If you're growing them just to provide the occasional mushroom meal for your family, you needn't bother to take too much trouble or effort over them.
Simply walk into your local gardening store and buy a complete mushroom kit. They are also available online, at even more competitive prices, and if you buy these kits online they'll be delivered right to your doorstep. These kits really make mushroom growing easy, because they contain just about everything that a person needs to get started. They usually come in a closed container that can be put up just about anywhere in the house that has the right temperature range. The container itself provides the mushrooms with dark, so you don't have to worry about that aspect of things.
The container will also contain mushroom spawn and a growth medium, and all that you actually have to do with this system is to spray the growth medium regularly - surely not much of a task. You see how, with a mushroom kit, your mushrooms are virtually guaranteed. If you feel up to the task at some later time, you can try growing mushrooms on a larger scale, perhaps in a shed in the garden or in an outhouse. But if you're just starting up and want to get the hang of the very basics of mushroom growing, then one of these starter kits is really your best bet.
Making the right growth medium needed for mushroom growing
Most people who go in for mushroom growing just go out and buy both the spores (or spawn) and the growth medium. They do this because this is the easiest way to grow mushrooms. But if you are thinking of growing mushrooms commercially, this can add massively to your costs. Or at least, it can add to your costs to an unacceptable extent. If this is the problem you're facing, this article will tell you how to cut down on those costs by making the growth medium yourself. It's not as hard as you think, and can go a long way towards making you a master of growing mushrooms.
Of course, no matter of knowledge is going to help you unless you have space in which to grow your mushrooms, so that's something that you need to think about well in advance. If you're thinking about mushroom growing on a commercial scale, you need to wonder where you'll put all those happily-growing and healthy mushrooms. Because it's possible to grow enough mushrooms for the occasional mushroom dinner right in the house, but if you want to go commercial, well, you're going to need a greenhouse area at least.
If you have the area, the next thing you're going to have to think of are planting containers. Remember that mushrooms are not plants, and they don't need a deep container in which to grow. Instead think large and flat, containers that are more shallow pans than real pots. Most stores that specialize in gardening supplies should be able to accommodate you. Once you've got everything arranged, the best thing you could do would be to begin with one pan. And this is about the time you need to prepare your mushroom growth medium.
It's easy to put together - you need cow or horse manure and straw. Mix them well in a shallow tub with holes in the bottom so that water can run off. You need to mix straw well into this. Add gypsum to the mix as you go about the mixing process. Now cover it with a sack and store it for a while. After some time mix the pile again and cover it again. Repeat this several times. Finally, your mixture should be ready, and you can go ahead and empty it into your boxes.
Then plant the mushroom spores in the mixture and cover it with more of the mixture, and you'll soon have your first mushroom growing.
Tips and tricks that can help you towards successful mushroom growing
How you go about mushroom growing can directly impact how successful (or not) you are at growing them, of course. If you go into this without sufficient information, you may end up with a lot of wasted effort. On the other hand, if you do a little research (something that's so easy to do with the internet as available as it is) you can easily make it a vast success. Because the simple fact of the matter is that it's extremely easy to grow mushrooms. You just have to do things right. To start with, it's best not to use mushroom spores directly.
While it's possible to buy mushroom spores, these spores are actually so tiny that they're microscopic. This means that they can be quite difficult to handle, at least until you get used to things. You can also harvest spores from mature mushrooms, simply by cutting the cap off and placing it on a large sheet of paper or on a sheet of glass. However, I would advise against using spores, not only because they are inconvenient to handle (a single breath of wind will scatter them all over the house or yard), but also because they're vulnerable to contamination, and if they contaminated with spores from wild, poisonous mushrooms, the consequences could be disastrous.
Preventing contamination is also the reason why it is recommended that you always go in for mushroom growing indoors. Indoor growing greatly reduces the chances that a few wild spores might come to rest in your mushroom beds, and grow up among your safe mushrooms. If the mushrooms that grow from the wild spores turn out to be poisonous, it could cause serious problems for anyone who eats them. And that's just one reason why you shouldn't grow mushrooms outdoors.
Another reason is that the growth medium is so rich that a lot of germs and unhealthy algae and fungi can start to grow in it if it's left in an open environment. In a closed environment, things are more controlled, and this means that your mushrooms can be relied upon to not only not be poisonous, but also not to carry any disease producing pathogens. Of course, you will wash the mushrooms before cooking them, but considering the growth medium that mushrooms grow in, it's better to be safe than sorry. These are just a few tips that you can use to help you with your mushroom growing.