You can start growing mushrooms at home, easily with a few simple steps:
Mushrooms are fun to grow at home and it need not be complex, difficult, or take up a lot of room. If you can provide a dark and slightly humid environment (like the kitchen pantry) then you could just buy a mushroom kit and you are set to go!
The mushroom we are most familiar with is a white topped Agaricus bisporus, also called the champignon, or white button mushroom. The Swiss Brown is variety of the same Agaricus bisporus species, but with a brown rather than white mushroom, and a stronger flavour.
Other than these two ones today you can buy mushroom growing kits to grow all sorts at home including: oyster and king oyster,shiitake, enoki and shemeji.
Kits will usually yield around 1.5kgs of mushrooms over about a 3 month period. Some suppliers even make kits to order – handy if you are looking to grow varieties that are not as easy to obtain through retailers.
Growing Without Kits
1. Buy spawn from a supplier (many are available online). This is the ‘seed’ that germinates and starts off your mushrooms. It will come in a sealed container.
2. Rather than making compost buy sealed bags of mushroom compost from hardware chains or a local nursery that you can use as the container too – just lie the bag flat and cut off the top plastic exposing the compost. And proceed to step 3 and skip step 5. Easy!
3. Break the spawn into 1cm diameter pieces and it about 2cm deep and 25cm apart. Keep moist, but not saturated. Light is not needed, but cool, dry, draught free and humid conditions are. The ideal temperature during spawning is 22 - 25°C. A cooler temperature during spawning slows growth.
4. Case the compost – cover the compost with a protective layer of moist material e.g. coir and vermiculite (60/40) with added hydrated lime at about 5%. The casing protects the substrate, holds in the moisture and induces fruiting. The casing is put on once the temperature inside the compost drops to about 15°C this may take a few days or several weeks.
Hint: Fresh air and evenness of temperature and humidity are important after casing. Running a low watt fan in the room is beneficial after casing.
5. Harvest! The first mushrooms should be ready to harvest between 6 and 10 weeks after planting. The crop appears in flushes harvested over 3 to 4 days. The bed is then left a couple of weeks, and a second flush will appear. Flushes may continue for weeks or even months depending on the conditions.
• Pick each mushroom with an upward twisting motion. Break them off at the casing surface. Do not pull with pieces of casing being lifted still attached to the mushroom.
• Following picking, there should be as few holes or stumps of mushrooms left in the bed, as is possible.
• Brushing mushrooms after picking, to remove peat or soil particles can cause bad discolouration of the cap.
If you would like to learn more about growing your own mushrooms at home, ACS Distance Education has recently published a new ebook, called Growing Mushrooms and is available from our online bookshop. We also have a Mushroom Growing course if you really want to producing mushrooms at home or commercially.