Everyone loves mushrooms— they taste great in many dishes and are yummy even on its own. Mushrooms can be easily purchased at supermarkets but do you know how they are grown and cultivated? Mushrooms can be cultivated in a hydroponics system as fungi. A hydroponics system is an innovative way of farming that moves away from conventional soil-based planting techniques. Instead of planting plants and crops in soil, hydroponics plant the crops in a water solution or other growing mediums. Mushrooms cultivated under a hydroponic system grow quickly and are also yummy. Since mushrooms are easily available and widely used, they are highly sought after. Read on to find out how mushrooms are grown in a hydroponics system.
How mushrooms can grow hydroponically
Although hydroponics has been used to cultivate conventional rooted plants, it can also be used to grow mushrooms. Despite the fact that mushrooms do not have roots, they can still grow in a growing medium other than soil. In fact, hydroponics mushrooms can grow and be harvested faster than standard hydroponic crops or even conventionally cultivated mushrooms. Mushrooms do not require sunlight to thrive as they are fungi. Since they do not carry out photosynthesis, they do not require a specific amount of sunlight every day compared to conventional fruits and vegetables that are grown. Fungus feed on organic material and a small amount of light is sufficient to help it grow into a mushroom.
Compared to other standard hydroponic crops, mushrooms do not have roots. As such, they are grown as fungi instead of plants. Typically, plants grown under hydroponic conditions have their roots submerged in a water solution that is nutrient-enriched instead of soil. For mushrooms that are grown under hydroponic conditions, they are also able to absorb the nutrients and essential minerals, producing high quality and unique mushrooms that are tasty and fresh.
There are many mushroom types but the ones best suited for a hydroponic system include shiitake, oyster, nameko, button, enokitake, maitake. For the most ideal environment to cultivate mushrooms, the temperature should be between 24 to 27 degrees Celsius for germination while staying between 27 to 30 degrees for growth.
Benefits of mushrooms
Besides being delicious on its own, mushrooms can help add flavor to otherwise bland staple foods. For non-meat eaters, mushrooms are also a good substitute and contain comparable nutritional values to several types of vegetables. For developing countries, mushrooms also provide a different but valuable form of nutrition since their diets are mostly unbalanced and insufficient in nutrients. Mushrooms can be eaten fresh or dried in order to prolong their shelf life while retaining its flavor and nutrients. Both fresh and dried mushrooms contain vitamins B, C and D, and other forms of minerals like calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, copper, and magnesium, etc. Mushrooms contain no starch and are low in fat and fiber, making it a healthy food option. They are also a good source of quality protein. In fact, white button mushrooms contain more protein than kidney beans!
Advantages of hydroponics
As mentioned earlier, hydroponics refers to a farming practice where the plants and crops are cultivated in a water-based solution instead of the conventional soil. Since the plants are directly in contact with the solution, they are able to absorb the nutrients faster and more efficiently. Since there is control over what is absorbed by the crops, farmers can also moderate and vary the amount of nutrients present in the solution to achieve the best conditions for the plants’ growth. They can even control other conditions like the pH level of the solution, making the cultivation of the plants easier and more effective. For areas where arable land is scarce, hydroponics can be a good alternative since it does not require fertile land. Hydroponics is also space-saving and can be utilized in areas that are land-scarce as well.
How it works
Growing mushrooms using hydroponics generally falls under two methods. The first uses a pre-populated cake while the other populates a growing medium with spores. The easiest way to cultivate mushrooms hydroponically is to use a mushroom kit. A mushroom kit contains a block of straw-like material which is in fact materials containing mushroom spores. All you need to do is to submerge the blocks in water for a few hours, before moving it to a dark environment that has a low temperature. If you have prior experience with hydroponics, you most likely already have a temperature-controlled environment. If this is the case, you can grow the mushrooms from the blocks in this environment while ensuring that the space is dark. For the mushrooms to grow faster, they are best watered with cold water. If you are feeling adventurous and want to grow mushrooms hydroponically from scratch, you will need to grow a mycelium, the fine branching roots where fungus grow from. To get the mycelium, you will need to use a mushroom that has been cut up into pieces or a culture. Place the item on a petri dish and keep it in a dark place. Following this, thin thread-like roots will grow out and these are the mycelium. Transfer them to grains or seeds which will result in spores. Fungus will grow out from the spores within a few weeks and you will get your mushrooms. However, the entire process has to take place in a clean and sterile environment especially for the early stages as mycelium is vulnerable to bacteria.
Mushrooms grown under hydroponic systems are of high, fine quality and taste as good or even better than their soil-based counterparts. Since hydroponics have precise control over the growing conditions of mushrooms, the mushrooms can be cultivated in its best-growing conditions, resulting in quality products that are free of pests and diseases. Besides this, hydroponics is also space-efficient and allows more cultivation of mushrooms in a specific area compared to conventional farming. As such, if you love eating mushrooms and want to try your hand at growing some of your own at home, hydroponics is something you should definitely consider!