Mushrooms are one of the most versatile natural foods on the planet. There are endless ways to prepare mushrooms, whether you want to enjoy them as a main course, a side, or even a snack.
The only problem? Some of the best mushroom recipes rely on rare or expensive species that many typical grocery stores don’t carry. How can you get your fix for a wide variety of mushrooms without having to travel to every specialty store in your city?
Believe it or not, growing mushrooms isn’t that difficult. As long as you have the right supplies and cultivate the proper environment, you can develop your very own mushroom farm.
Want to get started? Read on as we walk you through the process of growing mushrooms at home.
Supplies You’ll Need to Grow a Mushroom Farm
First, let’s talk about the supplies that you’ll need to purchase to start growing your mushroom farm. If you’re interested in growing your mushrooms on a specific vessel, like a log, we suggest starting out with a mushroom kit that comes with dowels or plugs of mushroom spores. If you want to follow along with our simple guide, you will need the following:
- boxes or planting trays with a depth of approximately 6 inches
- mushroom spores
- heating mats designed for seedlings
- mushroom-friendly compost and manure
- potting soil
- a soil thermometer
Keep in mind that there are different types of mushroom spores, and not all of them are meant for cooking. Pay close attention to what you purchase. If you want to grow multiple types of mushrooms, make sure to plant them in separate trays.
Growing Mushrooms Step by Step
Once you have your supplies, it’s time to get started. We’ll walk you through the step-by-step process so that you can learn how to grow mushrooms the right way. Keep in mind that issues like mold growth can still arise, and it may take some trial and error to find the best location for mushroom growth in your home.
Add Your Spores to Your Growing Medium
Mix together your mushroom-friendly compost and manure in your planting trays, leaving about an inch of free space between the mixture and the top of the tray. This mixture is sometimes referred to as substrate or a growing medium. Some people prefer other types of substrate, including straw or wood shavings, but we find that the compost and manure work best for beginners.
Once you have a well-mixed, even layer of your growing medium, spread the spores along the top. Make sure to keep your planting trays in a sterile environment, where they’re less likely to sprout mold.
Keep Your Growing Medium Moist 24/7
If you’ve ever seen mushrooms growing in the mild, you’ve probably noticed that they pop up in damp conditions. That’s because mushrooms require humidity to grow.
To create the ideal conditions for growth, keep the compost and manure mixture moist at all times. Use a mister to add water to the planting trays once or twice a day without disturbing the growing medium or the spores. If your planter is in a dry area, cover it with a damp paper towel.
Incubate Your Spores at 70 Degrees
At this point, you are in the incubation process. That means that you are encouraging the spores to start growing. To incubate mushroom spores, you will want to keep your planting trays at 70 degrees for about three weeks.
This is where your heating mats and soiler thermometer come in. Set your heating mat at 70 degrees but make sure to check the soil temperature often, adjusting the heating mat thermostat as needed.
Look for Mycelium Growth
What you want to see during the incubation process is mycelium growth. Mycelium is a complicated and magnificent substance, but the most important thing to understand as a mushroom farmer is that it is crucial to mushroom growth.
Mycelium looks sort of like a root or web system. It is white in color and, if your growing process is going well, it will take over the top layer of your planting tray. Make sure that you aren’t mistaking mycelium growth for mold growth or vice versa.
Drop the Temperature and Cover Your Mycelium
Once your tray is covered in a layer of mycelium, it’s time to change the environment for your future mushrooms. First, it’s time to drop the temperature from 70 degrees to somewhere between 55 and 60 degrees. This may require that you bring your mushroom farm to a different location in your home, such as a cold garage or basement.
Next, cover the mycelium with about an inch of potting soil. You don’t have to pack it tight, but you do want to make sure that the mycelium is well covered. After a few days, you’re going to start noticing actual mushroom growth.
Harvest Your Mushrooms
When your mushrooms will be ready for harvest will depend on the variety you’ve chosen to grow. The key is to check on your mushrooms often, looking for the size, color, and texture that variety should present.
When you harvest your mushrooms, use a clean, sharp knife to cut the stem. Don’t pluck your mushrooms out of the tray, or you could disturb the delicate mycelium network below. A successful mushroom farm becomes self-sustaining, as each round of mushrooms drops more spores into the soil.
Start Your Own Mushroom Farm
Growing mushrooms is a great way to make up for the lack of variety you may find at your local grocery store. With this guide, you can give mushroom farming a go in your own home.
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