By Heather Rhoades
Many gardeners wonder if it is possible to grow mushrooms at home. These curious, but tasty, fungi are typically grown indoors rather than in the garden, but beyond this, it is certainly possible to grow mushrooms at home. You can purchase mushroom growing kits, but it is also possible to set up your own area for growing mushrooms. Let’s learn a little about how to grow mushrooms.
Choosing a Mushroom to Grow
Mushroom growing at home starts with choosing the kind of mushroom you will be growing. Some popular choices when growing mushrooms at home are:
- shiitake mushrooms (Lentinula edodes)
- oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus)
- white button mushrooms (Agricus bisporus)
You will need to buy spore or spawn of your chosen mushroom from a reputable dealer (many can be found online). For the purposes of mushroom growing at home, you can think of spores as seeds and spawn as seedlings. Spawn is easier to handle and grow mushrooms at home.
Different mushrooms have different growing mediums. Shitake mushrooms are normally grown on hardwoods or hardwood sawdust, oyster mushrooms on straw and white button mushrooms on composted manure.
How to Grow Edible Mushrooms at Home
After you have chosen which mushroom you will be growing and have gotten their preferred growing medium, the basic steps for growing mushrooms is the same. Mushroom growing at home requires a cool, dark, damp place. Typically, this will be in a basement, but an unused cabinet or closet will also work. Anywhere you can create near darkness and control temperature and humidity.
Place the growing medium in a pan and raise the temperature of the area to about 70 F. (a heating pad works well for this). Place the spawn on the growing medium. In about 3 weeks, the spawn will have “rooted”, meaning the filaments will have spread into the growing medium.
Once this occurs, drop the temperature to between 55 F. and 60 F. This is the best temperature for growing mushrooms. Then, cover the spawn with an inch or so of potting soil. Cover the soil and pan with a damp cloth and spray the cloth with water as it dries. Also, spritz the soil with water when it is dry to the touch.
In 3-4 weeks, you should see small mushrooms appear. Mushrooms will be ready for harvesting when their cap has fully opened and has separated from the stem.
Now that you know how to grow mushrooms at home, you can try this fun and worthwhile project for yourself. Many mushroom growers agree that mushroom growing at home produces a better flavored mushroom than what you will ever find at the store.