Is there anything better than delicious mushrooms on a raclette grill when you have friends over? Mushrooms have been a great deal when it comes to food for many many years. And you don’t have to be a vegetarian or even a vegan to know how tasty they are. It’s just a simple fact! For those of you who don’t like them… come on people! They are delicious!
The thing about them is that they’re not really a plant, even though we treat them like this. So when you’re thinking about growing your own, then things might be a little more complex. In reality, though, you can do it like a pro! All you need to do is follow the right steps. So, shall we have a look at them?
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Things You Need To Know About Mushrooms
Did you know that a mushroom is a fungus? Yes, it is the fruiting body of a fungus that typically grows above the soil. It consists of a small stem, a cap and gills under the cap. Apart from being an integral part of the diet, mushrooms are now increasingly used in beauty and skincare products and beverages.
Here are some interesting facts you need to know about mushrooms:
- Available in different varieties
There are different mushroom varieties like the White Button mushroom, Shiitake mushroom, oyster mushroom, Shimeji mushroom, lion’s mane mushroom and Porcini mushroom. Each of these mushrooms has its unique taste and nutritional value.
But one thing you should understand is that not all varieties are edible mushrooms. In fact, some are poisonous. For example, the Autumn skullcap is a variety that is not fit for consumption.
- Unique appearance
Though a majority of the mushrooms come with a smooth cap, not all of them have the same appearance. For example, Morel mushrooms do not have a cap. Instead, they have flesh that resembles a brain or a small tree. Similarly, the Enokitake mushroom used in Japanese cuisine looks like a bunch of straw. Each mushroom consists of a thin stem with a small cap. Mushrooms are also available in different colours like brown, white, cream and yellow.
- Similar DNA to humans
Since mushrooms grow in soil and wood, they closely resemble plants. But their genetic composition is not similar to plants at all. In fact, it comes close to human DNA. Crazy right? For example, the human skin, when exposed to sunlight, produces Vitamin D. Similarly, mushrooms also produce Vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. How cool is that?
- Various health benefits
Different types of mushrooms offer different health benefits. The Reishi mushroom found in China has an immunity building property. The Chaga mushrooms help boost the antioxidants in the body. So, if you’re looking for a certain value, then you need to do some research and cook the right type!
All You Need To Know Before Starting Your Mushroom Project
If you’re ready to grow your own mushrooms, you need to hold your horses! Just for one bit! Have a look at the following list and then you’ll be truly ready to give it a shot!
- Species of mushroom
Mushrooms are available in different species like the oyster mushroom (pleurotus ostreatus), portobello, lentinula edodes, and lion’s mane mushrooms. First, you should decide on the mushroom species to grow. Keep in mind that oyster mushroom is the best and easiest for a beginner who has just started mushroom cultivation.
- Making spawn
If you want to save some money while cultivating mushrooms, you can make spawn on your own with cardboard, straw, coffee grounds and wood pellets.
- Light and temperature
Mushrooms need the right amount of light and temperature for their growth. Direct light is not recommended. You should always provide shaded or indirect light through a window sill. You should maintain the temperature between 10 and 30 degrees Celsius for the healthy growth of the mushrooms.
- Labour intensive
Just like any other form of cultivation, mushroom cultivation is labour intensive. Even if you cultivate on a small scale, you will have a lot of work to do. Thus, it is always better to have a helping hand while growing your own mushrooms.
Step-by-step Guide To Grow Your Oyster Mushrooms
If you are wondering how to grow Oyster mushroom, here are the steps involved. Put on the right outfit and let’s get into it.
Step 1: Decide on the strain
There are different strains of Oyster mushrooms, like pearl, blue, phoenix and gold. Each of these mushrooms is distinct and unique in its appearance. You should first decide which one is the best for your project. If you intend on eating them, make sure to ask an expert about the variety to be extra safe that you’re dealing with an edible type.
Step 2: Decide on the substrate
A substrate is a growing medium that acts as the source of food for the growth of the mushroom mycelium. The most commonly used substrate for the cultivation of oyster mushrooms is straw. Besides, other agricultural by-products like hardwood sawdust, sugarcane, coffee grounds and cardboard can also be used as substrate. For growing mushrooms in your vegetable garden, straw and wood chip beds are your best option.
Step 3: Purchase all the required materials
Time to do some shopping! Go out there and get everything that you’re going to need.
- The oyster mushroom spawn
- The substrate material
- Grow bags or containers. You can also use plastic bags like zip lock bag for this purpose.
Mushroom spawns are available as grain spawns and sawdust spawns. It is best to go with grain spawns as they provide larger mushrooms.
Step 4: Prepare the substrate
Depending on the type of substrate you’re going to use, there’s a preparation process.
If a straw is used as the substrate, you should pasteurise it by soaking it in hot water for 1-2 hours or cold water for 12-18 hours.
Sawdust pellet should be soaked in water equivalent to the weight of the pellet for at least 30 minutes. If you are using coffee grounds, you should use them within 24 hours of the coffee brewing process.
Step 5: Inoculation
To inoculate means to add the mushroom spawns to the prepared substrate. Before adding the spawn, make sure that your hands and all surfaces are cleaned thoroughly. You should also check whether the substrate has enough moisture. The best way to check the moisture is through a squeeze test. If you squeeze the substrate, it should form a ball with a few drops of water dripping down. This is the correct moisture level. If the moisture content is more, you should dry it. Otherwise, you should add more water.
Once the moisture is set, you can mix the spawns with the substrate. Once mixed, you can fill your growing bags and close them with a rubber band. Poke holes on the bag for optimum circulation of fresh air.
Step 6: Incubation
This is the stage when the spawn starts growing and spreading across the substrate. You should provide the right environment for effective incubation. A dark place is ideal. The spawn makes use of the warm and humid condition inside the bag for growth. Once the bag turns completely white, it is time for fruiting.
Step 7: Fruiting
At this stage, the mycelium will run out of food and will start growing mushroom. All you have to do is to provide the right amount of light, temperature, humidity and fresh air for the mushrooms to grow. Indirect light is your best option. You can make a slit in the bag for fresh air and spray water for humidity. As for temperature, try to maintain it at 10-30 degrees Celsius.
Within a week, you can see small mushrooms growing. You can harvest mushrooms when the cap opens, and you can cut the stem with a knife. If you are a beginner in mushroom cultivation, start with a mushroom growing kit. This kit contains all the different materials required for successful oyster mushroom cultivation.
What Are The Health Benefits of Oyster Mushrooms?
- Oyster mushrooms are low in calorie and fat.
- It is a cholesterol-free and gluten-free food item.
- It is a rich source of protein and fibre.
- It contains vitamins like B1, B3, B5 and Vitamin D.
- It is rich in calcium and folic acid.
- It has anti-oxidant properties.
Whether you are a seasoned cultivator or just starting on mushroom cultivation as a hobby, you should understand that mistakes are likely to occur. Always keep in mind that patience is the key to success! Follow the steps above and we’re sure that you’re going to make it no matter what!