Mushrooms are a great source of proteins and can easily replace meat products but you’ll need to choose the best mushroom growing kits if you plan on doing this indoors or if you have little experience with growing plants. Also, take into account that hundreds of poisonous and hallucinogenic mushrooms are not fit for human consumption, which means you first need to identify the right type of mushrooms to grow in your garden.
Here are the easiest ways and steps to easily grow mushrooms on your own, without having to go into the woods after a rainy day and figure which ones are edible and which ones are poisonous.
As opposed to most plants that have seeds and require them to grow and multiply, mushrooms have spores. Therefore, the entire process of growing mushrooms inside your house or in your garden differs from other gardening activities you might have done in the past.
The first step is to identify the species of mushroom you wish to cultivate. And, if you’re looking for species that require little maintenance and attention, these three types are the most popular: Shiitake, Oyster mushrooms, and white button mushrooms.
Oyster mushrooms are probably the most widely grown mushrooms by beginners. They are consumed less than other species, including button mushrooms in the West, but remain highly popular in Asian countries and their specific cuisine.
Since they grow on the side of the trees in nature, their appearance is different from that of other mushrooms, meaning they feature a large flat cap with little or no stem.
Button mushrooms, crimini, or Portobello mushrooms are all the same species but are given different names so that you can easily identify them by their size. The big, brown mushrooms you usually see in stores with dark gills underneath are called portobello.
Finally, Shiitake mushrooms have a more earthy flavor and texture, being similar to the portobello species. This type of mushroom is preferred by people who are looking for a healthier lifestyle as the fungus is known for lowering the level of cholesterol.
In nature, you’ll usually see Shiitake mushrooms growing on logs, which is why you can easily replicate their environment indoors or in the comfort of your garden.
Buy your spores/spawns
As we previously mentioned, to grow mushrooms you’ll first need spores or spawns, which you can find in regular seed stores or at your local growers. You can buy both spores and spawns from a dealer, as long as you know what type of mushrooms you want to grow.
Beginners can also opt for mushroom growing kits that feature all the necessary accessories to ensure easy growth, even for inexperienced farmers.
Choose the cultivation growing environment
Different mushrooms require different growing conditions, as well as environments, so what might suit one species may not be the best setup for another. This is why it is highly important to focus on growing only one-two types of mushrooms indoors and prepare suitable conditions for them to thrive.
Beginners can choose from these common mediums to help them grow most types of mushrooms.
Straw – straws are not only affordable but also effective when it comes to cultivating mushrooms. They are great for beginners who don’t mind producing a little less at the beginning, especially until they find the perfect combo for their mushrooms to thrive. The main downside of straws is that they are messy.
Wood chips, logs, and hardwood sawdust – hardwood logs are another easy solution for growing mushrooms. Just make sure you pick the right type of log for the species of mushroom you want. For instance, Shiitake species thrive on oak, beech, ash, and sweetgum, while Oyster mushrooms will do well with beech, birch, elm, maple, sweetgum, and oak.
Manure – although a common choice for professional growers, beginner farmers should stay away from this cultivation medium because it’s hard to prepare and manage.
Coffee grounds – finally, coffee grounds can also become a welcoming environment for some mushroom species to grow. Together with banana leaves, coffee grounds become nutritious substrates and can boost your mushrooms to grow faster and stronger.
Don’t forget that some substrates might require preparation before becoming the perfect grounds for you to grow your fungi. The most common processes to prepare the substrates include sterilization or pasteurization, but it might be best to ask a professional mushroom farmer to help you with them.
Inoculation and incubation
These next two steps are the most important ones. Inoculation is the process of planting the mushroom spores or spawns. Keep in mind that higher yields can be achieved in sterile environments, as opposed to regular environments that are also beneficial for moss, which may cause problems for your fungus.
The incubation phase starts right after the mushrooms are planted in their substrate. During this phase, mushrooms require a dark and warm location to thrive, where they should be kept for a few weeks or months. The chosen environment will stimulate the growth of mushroom mycelium, a part of the fungus that resembles trunks and branches in plants and trees.
Fruiting and harvesting
After the mycelium has grown and colonized the substrate, you should further encourage the colony to produce fruits, which, in this case, are the actual mushrooms. You can do that by exposing the substrate to fresh air and then adding water throughout the day (not too much, though), to keep it moist.
By repeating the process for a few days in a row, you will be able to notice primordia in about 5-6 days. Primordia or pinheads will grow into mushrooms within a few days, which means the entire fruiting process can last up to two weeks.
Finally, harvesting is the easiest and most pleasant stage of the growing mushroom plan, as you can see the results with your eyes. The mushroom caps are ready to be harvested if they are fully uncurled.
It’s important to remember that your first attempt at growing mushrooms might not lead to a rich harvest, especially if you didn’t start with a large surface. However, this shouldn’t discourage you. On the contrary, experimenting with different species of mushrooms, substrates, and environments, you will grow your culture every year and improve your farming skills.
Once all the mushrooms are harvested, it’s high time you prepared for the next growing cycle. Remove the mushrooms at the base, near the ground so they can be perfect for eating. Don’t forget to wash each item properly to remove all traces of dirt, debris, and other soil impurities.
Repeat the process starting with the spores, and wait for your new harvest to be ready. You might need to make small adjustments in the substrates and environment, depending on the types of mushrooms you want to grow.
As we previously said, you can always pick the easier way and order a mushroom cultivation kit, that will help you skip some of the most time and energy-consuming steps such as choosing the perfect medium, prepping it, and inoculating it. Each type of mushroom comes with the right soil and medium.
Why should you grow mushrooms?
Mushrooms are not only a good source of protein that can successfully replace meat but are also packed with vitamins and minerals that are good for your body.
Although further research is still in place, scientists have found a substance contained by mushrooms that can help fight various types of cancer. Apart from that, the fungi are known for boosting your immune system, managing cholesterol levels, and providing enough vitamins B and D for your body to function properly.
Of course, medicinal mushrooms have been harvested for centuries and are known for providing pain relief and helping people with various conditions, from glaucoma and arthritis to cancer.
Other medicinal purposes of mushrooms include aid in battling anxiety, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, as well as improving the overall sleep quality of patients. Boosting brain health and memory can be achieved with the help of three species of mushrooms – Lion’s Mane, Reishi, and Cordyceps.
However, consumption should be done under strict rules and carefully supervised by a specialist to not risk harmful side effects.