Updated: Apr 11
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.