Mushrooms are great additions to cooking, and we use them to complement various dishes. Plus, they are great on their own as well. Mushrooms are easy to grow on your own, as they can be cultivated indoors since they do not require light. Growing your own mushrooms at home is also a fun and simple way to get some delicious additions to your recipes whenever you like. The best part about growing mushrooms is that they are extremely healthy—fat-free, low in calories while simultaneously being filled with antioxidants, vitamins and other nutrients that can even keep your brain healthy! Growing mushrooms in your own home can be simple, but the key is to establish the correct growing conditions and having the proper mushroom ‘seeds’ that can help to grow the mushrooms. Follow these simple steps and you too can grow portobellos, shiitakes, oyster mushrooms and many more in your own house!
Types of Mushrooms
Although there are many different kinds of mushrooms that grow in the wild, the good news is that you can grow most of them at home with the exception of morels since they only grow in nature. By growing your own mushrooms, you can be sure that you will be picking a safe to consume variety instead of facing the risk of picking a poisonous one. Every type of mushroom has its own specific growing needs. Most species can be grown indoors, like the common enoki, portobello, shiitake, oyster, white button, remini and maitake mushrooms. Shiitakes need to grow on hardwood sawdust or wood, oyster mushrooms on straw while white button mushrooms need to be cultivated on composted manure.
Where to Grow Them
Since mushrooms can be easily cultivated at home, the question is— where exactly do we plant them? Mushrooms require dark, humid and cool growing environments. When growing mushrooms at home, a good place to put the mushrooms to grow would be the basement where it is dark and humid. Otherwise, putting them under the sink can also work.
However, before you start, remember to check the temperature of the spot to see if it is between 55 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Mushrooms grow best under such conditions and be sure to keep them away from direct heat. Some mushroom species require even cooler conditions, like the enoki mushrooms which thrive in conditions of about 45 degrees Fahrenheit. In terms of seasons, winter will be the best time to start on your mushroom project since most basements will be too warm in summer, affecting the growing conditions.
Even though mushrooms can take some light, it is best to keep them away from light and remain in mostly dark or low-lit conditions. When putting them in your basement, you can consider leaving them in a closet where they will be left undisturbed in the dark. Although most mushroom varieties can be cultivated indoors, some species still grow best in outdoor conditions like prepared ground or logs. This will be a much longer process from six months to three years, compared to controlled conditions at home.
How to Do It
As mentioned earlier, one of the most important aspects of growing mushrooms is the mushroom ‘seeds.’ Mushrooms actually grow from spores and not seeds, and the spores are so small that they cannot be seen individually with the naked eye. Compared to plants that rely on soil, mushroom spores rely on materials like grain, straw, sawdust or wood chips for nutrients and nourishment. To grow mushrooms, you’ll need a blend of nutrients and spores, which is referred to as the spawn. Mushroom spawns ensure that the spores can grow into tiny, threadlike, white bodies named mycelium. Mycelium signifies the first growth before you can start to see anything that looks like a mushroom growing in the soil. Mushroom spawns can grow into mushrooms on their own, but they are better utilized when the spawns are added to growing mediums, resulting in better harvests. Growing mediums are things like straw, logs, cardboard, or compost with a blend of materials or wood chips. The best type of growing medium to use is dependent on the mushroom type.
The Process of Growing Mushrooms
There are a variety of options for materials to use when growing mushrooms indoors. To make things simpler, you can even purchase a mushroom growing kit that is already filled with mushroom spawn and growing medium. These kits are an excellent way to start growing mushrooms, especially if it is your first time as they provide everything you need. You can still grow mushrooms without a kit, but you will need to do more research and preparation work to find out what type of substrate to use, depending on the type of mushroom you are growing. Here are the steps on how to grow your own mushrooms at home:
- Start by filling 14×16 inch trays that are roughly about six inches deep with mushroom compost material. Sprinkle the mushroom spawn on top.
- Use a heating pad or other heating mediums to raise the soil temperature and environment to about 70 degrees Fahrenheit for at least three weeks, until you see some tiny, white thread-like growth. When you see this, lower the temperature to between 55 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Cover the growth with some potting soil.
- Make sure that the soil is kept damp and moisturized by sprinkling water and covering it with a damp cloth. Check on it frequently and ensure that the cloth is kept damp, adding water to it as it dries.
- You are at the final stage! Your mushrooms should appear within three to four weeks when you can see the caps open and the stalks can be cut from the stem. Do not pull the mushrooms from the root as you can damage the surrounding fungi that are still growing. If well-maintained, you can harvest every day and this can result in a crop that will last for about half a year.
Once you start, mushrooms are really easy to grow and maintain. After harvesting them, you can add them to your favorite recipes to give your dishes an additional depth and flavor, making them extra healthy and tasty!