Cultivating Superb Mushrooms in Your Home
11 December 2021, written by Benedict Vanheems
Cultivating mushrooms is an absolute blast for an individual like myself who enjoys a good time! Are you suggesting that it's an overused cliché? When it comes to puns about mushrooms, the world is filled with endless possibilities. As a matter of fact, mushrooms make a delightful addition to breakfast – they are, in fact, the preferred morning meal of champignons. They truly are exceptional – that's the morel of the story! (My apologies for that spore tasteless joke.)
Putting dad jokes aside, mushrooms present a fantastic opportunity to engage and captivate the little ones due to their rapid growth – they can be ready to harvest in as little as two weeks from the preparation stage! While it is possible to grow many mushroom species indoors, certain types can transform old logs and stumps into a delectable feast. After all, fungi are nature's own recyclers.
Mushroom growing kits offer a diverse range of mushrooms for you to cultivate in the comfort of your own home. We have opted for an oyster mushroom kit, which we will grow in a two-gallon pot filled with straw. Additionally, we have a convenient ready-to-use kit that utilizes coffee grounds as its growing medium.
Growing Mushrooms on Straw
To cultivate our oyster mushrooms, we require a large pot with a capacity of approximately 10 liters (2.5 US gallons), or alternatively, two pots with a volume half as much as the aforementioned size. The growing medium consists of straw that has been compressed into pellets and is now ready to be rehydrated. In most kits, mushroom spawn (the equivalent of mushroom 'seeds') is inoculated into grains such as barley.
Start by cleaning the pot and sterilizing it with a diluted household bleach solution. Cover the drainage holes with a circular piece of cardboard that fits the base of the pot. Proceed to create three evenly-spaced holes, each with a diameter of approximately half an inch (1.5 cm), in the sides of the pot.
Prepare the substrate to prime your mushrooms for growth. Empty the straw pellets into the pot and crumble the packet of grain kernels, adding them to the straw pellets. Mix thoroughly to distribute the spawn evenly. Remember to ensure your hands are meticulously clean to avoid introducing any unwanted germs. It is advisable to carry out this step outdoors to minimize potential mess.
Gently trickle half a gallon of water over the spawn mix, taking your time. Allow the water to fully absorb, which typically takes around half an hour, before adding the same volume once more in a slow, steady manner. Once the straw pellets have fully rehydrated and filled the pot, push back the straw from the three holes to create a cavity. This will help maintain moisture and provide protection, ensuring the mushrooms can grow properly.
Next, fashion a lid to prevent excessive dryness. A simple method involves cutting out a round piece of sturdy cardboard that fits the pot, and then wrapping it with clear food wrap or clingfilm.
Once the entire substrate is covered in white mycelium, your mushrooms are ready to flourish!
Growing Mushrooms Indoors
Now that the growing medium is prepared, the key is to provide warm conditions for the mycelium (or mushroom 'roots') to thrive. Room temperature is ideal, but be sure to keep the pot away from direct sources of heat. If you are growing mushrooms during the summer, consider keeping the pot outdoors, preferably in a sheltered area that avoids direct sunlight.
Mist-spray the holes in your pot a couple of times a day. This will prevent the straw from becoming excessively dry and create the moist environment that mushrooms require.
After approximately five days, you should observe that the grain kernels have already begun to develop white mycelium. Following two weeks, the straw should be completely covered in white mycelium. At this point, your kit is prepared to produce its initial crop of mushrooms!
Continue to lightly spray the openings twice a day, and within one or two weeks, you should detect small clusters of primordia (the early stages of your mushrooms). It is crucial to continue misting during this stage to prevent them from drying out. These primordia will develop into fully grown mushrooms within about one week.
To avoid the release of spores, it is advisable to harvest your mushrooms before the caps flatten completely. The ideal time to harvest oyster mushrooms is when the caps are not completely flattened, as they tend to release a large amount of spores if they do. Remove the entire cluster at once by twisting it free – the mushrooms may vary in size, and that is perfectly fine – and remove any stalk with a sharp knife, cutting it back to the fresh straw. Continue misting the area, and you can anticipate new mushrooms to sprout from the harvested spot in due time. They should continue to produce crops every few weeks for approximately 10 weeks.
The Mushroom Kit Made from Coffee GroundsI strongly dislike waste, particularly when it comes to the leftover coffee grounds generated by my daily cup of joe. However, what if we could transform this waste into a source of sustenance? That is precisely what the coffee grounds mushroom kit accomplishes, utilizing coffee grounds combined with a small amount of straw to create the perfect growing medium for our mushrooms.
Simply remove the front of the box and cut a cross shape into the front of the bag. Submerge the bag in water overnight, allow it to drain, and then return it to the box. Mist the cut-open front of the box with water twice daily. Keep the kit on a windowsill or work surface away from direct sunlight and heat sources.
Around seven days after initiating the kit, you should witness the emergence of primordia. These grow rapidly, almost doubling in size every day! Within one week, it will be time to harvest. Once again, harvest the mushrooms when the caps have started to open but have not yet flattened. Mushrooms that have flattened out do not store well and lack the same firmness and flavor. Harvesting is as simple as twisting and pulling the mushrooms away by hand.
Mushrooms grow so rapidly that you can practically observe them expanding before your very eyes! This kit allows you to cultivate an additional crop of mushrooms as well. Allow the kit to rest for two days after harvesting, then soak the block in water just like when you initially started it. If needed, use weights to keep it submerged. Lift it out, let excess moisture drain off, and then place it back in the box. As before, continue misting regularly. The second crop should follow within a couple of weeks. And once you have harvested from that crop, repeat the process once more!
High-quality mushrooms can be quite pricey, but by growing your own, you can ensure you have perfect, fresh mushrooms – and for much less than what you would pay at the grocery store! Moreover, they offer tremendous health benefits, supporting the immune system and aiding in disease prevention. Have you grown mushrooms before, and what is your preferred variety? Join in the discussion below! Enjoy the process, everyone...
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