Looking to keep your gardening fix alive during the colder months? Consider growing mushrooms at home. Mushrooms can be grown indoors using simple ingredients and provide a fun gardening project for the colder months. Plus, they add a bit of intrigue to your decor. It’s actually not as difficult as you might think. With a little bit of patience and the right conditions, you can have fresh mushrooms growing in your own home in no time. Here’s what you need to know to get started. Ready to get started? Here’s what you need to know to get started.
How do mushrooms grow?
Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of fungi, and they reproduce by releasing spores (not seeds) into the air. These spores eventually settle on a suitable substrate, such as soil or dead leaves. The spores and nutrient sources combine to create spawn. The spawn then produces the white, root-like structure called mycelium. The resulting mycelium produces mushrooms we see above ground.
Choosing your mushroom type
The first step in growing mushrooms is deciding which type you want to grow. There are many different species of mushrooms that can be grown at home including shiitake, portobello, oyster, cremini, enoki, maitake, and white button mushrooms (sorry, no morels). Each with its own unique flavor, texture, and appearance. Do some research and decide which kind is right for you. Once you’ve made your decision, it’s time to get started!
What are the ideal growing conditions for mushrooms indoors?
The conditions for growing mushrooms at home are the same as in nature. A cool, dark, and damp location like your basement would be ideal, but even a spot under the sink could work. You’ll also want to make sure the temperature stays between 55°F and 60°F (45°F for Enoki mushrooms). They also need a nutrient-rich substrate that is not too acidic or alkaline. Some good choices for growing mushrooms include compost or sawdust. Once your substrate is ready, you can either purchase mushroom spawn from a gardening or agriculture store, or you can make your own using the spores from an existing mushroom.
How do you grow mushrooms at home?
There are a few different methods for growing mushrooms at home. One option is to create your own spawn and inoculate the substrate yourself with spores. You can also purchase the spawn itself and skip the spawning process. And lastly, you can purchase a mushroom growing kit. These kits come with a medium for the mushrooms to grow in, as well as spores that have already been incubated. Obviously, the kit is a great option for beginners to get a feeling of how mushrooms grow, but also a better gift idea.
If you decide to cultivate your own from scratch with substrate and spawn, you should read the instructions for potting and substrate mix for each type of mushroom. But generally, here is what you will need:
- Planting trays (approximately 14 x 16 inches with a 6-inch depth)
- Mushroom spores or spawn (you can order these online)
- Seedling heat mat (if you start with spores and not spawn)
- Plastic bags or top (to act as a greenhouse)
- Substrate (compost, wood chips, or potting soil)
- Potting soil
Step 1: Preparing your substrate
Fill the tray with your substrate, leaving an inch of space at the top of the tray. Then spread the spores or spawn on top leaving an inch of space at the top of the tray. This is best done in a sterile environment, so no other types of fungi are introduced to the substrate. So wash your hands (or use gloves) and sterilize your tools and workspace as best as you can. Keep the
Step 2: Incubate the spores (If you’re starting with spawn, jump to step 3)
Spray or mist the substrate once or twice each day and cover it with a wet towel. For the first three weeks, the temperature of the substrate needs to be generally between 65°F – 70°F. However, the ideal temperature depends on the type of mushroom. Anything higher than 70 could kill the spores. To be precise, you could purchase a soil thermometer or use a seedling heat mat.
Step 3: Cover with soil and set the soil temperature to 55°F and 60°F
Once you see the root-like mycelium forming from the spores or you add your spawn, you can add about an inch of potting soil. It’s also time to get the soil to about 55°F and 60°F (depending on the mushroom type) and cover it with a plastic bag or top to keep the substrate moist and humid.
Step 4: Harvest time!
A few days after implementing step three, you might see the start of little nodules called primordium. Depending on the type of mushroom, you might start to see your mushrooms reach full “bloom” within three to four weeks. They are ready to harvest once you see their caps open. Cut the stalks with a sharp knife. Be delicate here. If you uproot a mushroom, the delicate root system of surrounding fungi can get disturbed, causing long-term damage. Be sure to leave some behind so they can continue producing fruit bodies. Harvesting every day should result in a continuous crop for about six months.
Happy mushroom farming
If you’re feeling adventurous and looking for a unique winter gardening project, why not try growing your own mushrooms at home? With a variety of methods to choose from, it’s easy to get started. Whether you choose to begin with spores, spawn or a mushroom kit, make sure to follow the instructions carefully and take care to maintain a sterile environment. With the right conditions and proper care, you can enjoy fresh mushrooms throughout the season and potentially even longer with regular harvests. Good luck!