Growing your own mushroom may be a bit intimidating because it is not as straightforward as regular plants, which means there is a different process involved.
This is your step-by-step guide on how to grow mushrooms from spores.
All You Need to Know About Mushrooms
Just to be clear, we are talking about mushroom, the fungus that you eat, not the one that gets you high!
A mushroom is actually the fruit of a fungus, which is neither a plant or an animal, but a kingdom on its own.
This is why
The mushrooms have their own growth system. Instead of growing from seeds like plants, mushrooms grow from spores, which they also produce.
If you’re wondering why you can see mushrooms growing on logs and other moist surfaces, that’s because of the spores.
Here’s the deal
The spores are located under the mushroom cap. There are millions of them in just one mushroom as they are microscopic in size.
The wind usually blows the spores away, and that’s basically how mushrooms are spread. That’s why you see them on logs and trees, and sometimes just about anywhere.
You can also cultivate mushrooms. That’s usually the mushrooms that we eat.
There are around thousands of different types of mushrooms. A lot of them are edible while some are poisonous.
Here are some of the most popular mushrooms:
This is probably the most common type of mushroom. It is also a popular culinary ingredient. It has an earthy taste.
Also known as baby portobellos, this type of mushroom has a mild flavor.
This is a popular ingredient in French cuisine. It looks like a honeycomb. As for the taste, it’s earthy and nutty.
It’s named after the popular seafood. This has a sweet taste to it.
This type of mushroom has a nutty flavor. It is popular in Italy.
This is a popular Asian mushroom that has a savory taste to it.
Reasons to Grow Mushrooms
Now that you know mushrooms are not grown like a plant, is it worth it?
There are actually so many good reasons to grow mushrooms.
Mushrooms are 92% water. It also has carbohydrates, protein, and less than 1% fat. A 100-gram mushroom only has 22 calories, which means it’s also good for people trying to lose weight.
It is rich in vitamin B, which includes riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid. There is also phosphorus, potassium, and zinc in it.
In some cases
The mushroom may also carry vitamin D. But this part usually depends on how the mushroom is harvested as vitamin D is created when the produce is exposed to sunlight.
The mushroom’s ergosterol is converted to vitamin D following UV ray exposure.
In general, mushrooms have muted flavors. But when you add it with other ingredients, it could make a great dish.
Different mushrooms have different tastes. Each type of mushroom could enhance the flavor of any type of dish.
Mushroom, for example, is a popular pizza topping. It has been used in soups, risottos, and pastas, among others.
Fresh mushrooms are so much more delicious than the store-bought ones.
3. You can save money
If you grow your own mushrooms then you don’t have to buy them in the groceries. Therefore, you can save money.
4. You become self-sustainable
You are basically growing your own food here. In a way, you are being self-sufficient.
The good thing is that there are so many ways to cook mushrooms. You will never get tired of eating them.
You don’t need to go to restaurants to enjoy fancy food since the mushroom is a versatile culinary ingredient.
5. It’s fun!
Okay, it may not be fun for everybody.
Garden enthusiasts, though, will feel a similar kind of satisfaction when they see the mushrooms grow just as they will experience enjoyment when they see their plants flourish.
6. They are also beautiful
Yep! Depending on which kind you plan to grow, mushrooms are actually pleasant to look at. The button ones may be plain but when growing in a bunch, they could be glorious to look at.
Morels and oysters are quite gorgeous, too.
So, are you convinced yet?
Those six reasons ought to make you want to grow your own mushrooms already. Next up, the steps…
How to Grow Mushrooms from Spores
In growing plants, you will need soil and seeds. In growing mushrooms, you will need compost and the spores.
The spores should be mixed with materials they could feed on like grain, sawdust, straw, and wood chips. When you mix the store with the said materials, you make what is called a spawn.
Mushrooms prefer the dark. When it comes to the atmosphere, mushrooms prefer a cool yet humid environment.
So, at home, you could grow mushrooms in the basement. Under the sink works, too. If people frequent the basement, make sure that the mushrooms are in a closet where they are not exposed to light.
Good rule of thumb:
Between 55℉ and 60℉ should be a good temperature.
Now, the following steps are generic steps to grow mushrooms. You can also grow mushrooms based on the instruction for specific types.
But generally, the following steps will do:
1. Create your spawn
This is going to be quite complex. The easiest way is to just buy the spawn or a mushroom kit. If not, here are the steps:
- Cut up cardboard into small pieces.
- Pour boiling water on the pieces of cardboard.
- Drain and dry the cardboard bits.
- Get a container with a lid and poke some holes on it.
- Put your cardboard in the container and make it compact.
- Cut the stalk / stem butts of the fresh mushrooms and put them on top of your cardboard pieces.
- Cover with another layer of the moist cardboard pieces.
- Wait for colonization.
You will have spawn in less than two weeks. You will know when you have the spawn because the entire cardboard has been colonized by the spawn–the color will change.
2. Prepare your materials
- Tray or box with depth of at least seven inches
- Mushroom compost
- Heating pad
- A little soil
3. Fill box
Put six-inch compost in the box. Then, you can sprinkle the spawn on top.
4. Heat the box
Put a heating pad under the box so that the compost will have a temperature of around 70℉. You can do this for around three weeks or until you see something growing.
What you will see is called mycelium. It’s a white thread-like structure.
5. Cover with soil
Top the material with an inch of potting soil. Buy a potting soil from the store because this has nutrients in them. You don’t want the mushrooms to be contaminated.
You may now adjust the heat to around 55℉ and 60℉.
6. Keep soil moist
Don’t water the box like you do with plants. You can just spray it with water.
There should be mushrooms sprouting about in a month or less.
There is a proper procedure for harvesting. Don’t pull them out or you will damage the fungus that could still provide new mushrooms.
What to do?
Instead, you can cut the stalk with a sharp knife.
This box will just keep on giving. You can almost harvest every day. Fresh mushrooms are the best!
Mushrooms are healthy and low in calories. They are also really delicious. What more, fresh mushrooms are more delicious than store-bought ones. You should really grow mushrooms at home.
So, how to grow mushrooms from spores? They are quite easy actually. The hard part is creating the spawn, but this is something that you can just buy. Once you have all the elements of growing mushrooms, you can harvest within a month.
Mushrooms are one of the most versatile culinary ingredients in the world. You can make a soup out of it or use it as a topping for pizza. There are also different kinds of mushrooms and you can easily choose the one with the flavor that suits your dish best.