Curious About How to Grow Mushrooms?
Have you ever wondered how to grow mushrooms?
I know that was something that would cross my mind every so often when my wife and I would be out shopping.
It was something that I wouldn’t really take seriously though because when I was growing up my Dad put the fear of God in me about eating any mushroom that was growing wild out in the woods.
The reason he gave me was “there are a lot of poisonous mushrooms that look just like the edible ones, so unless you can tell the difference you just may end up killing yourself”.
Well, I have to tell that worked pretty darn well, because unless it came from a can, from the produce section of the grocery store or on my steak in a restaurant I wouldn’t ever consider growing them for myself.
These days I can say I have come a very long way! I grow my own mushrooms now, with a healthy respect for knowing what I am growing and eating.
I have my son to thank for educating me why it was ok to grow and eat mushrooms and for buying me my first mushroom kit. The rest is history, as they say.
How to Grow Mushrooms – Where to Start
There are basically two schools of thought when it comes to growing mushrooms sterilization or not. The method described below is using sterilization but not to the highest degree. For the most thorough sterilization you need a pressure cooker, but those are expensive, so for now we’ll use a regular pot.
What you will need:
Twelve Canning jars that are half-pint in size and wide mouthed
Vermiculite – you can substitute this with saw dust for mushrooms that prefer wood as their substrate)
Brown rice flour
Mixing bowls and measuring cups
Towels or paper towels
Cotton swabs or cotton balls
1/8 inch nail
Masking tape & aluminum foil
Large pot with a lid
Syringe with liquid mushroom culture
First you will need to prepare the jars by putting four holes in the lid; you’ll need your hammer and the 1/8 inch nail. It will be easier to put the holes in the lid if you loosely screw the lid onto the jar with the ring. Once you’ve got your holes in the lid, go ahead and wipe the inside of the lid down with some rubbing alcohol to clean off any impurities that might have been on the nail.
Get your mixing bowl and mix your substrate by combining the following:
6 cups of vermiculite or sawdust depending of the type of mushroom you are preparing the substrate for and 3 cups of water.
Once you have mixed these thoroughly add 3 cups of brown rice flour into your mixing bowl with the vermiculite and again mix thoroughly. You should have enough of the substrate to fill around 12 pint jars.
Take the lids off the jars if you had them there to punch the 4 holes through them and fill each jar with the substrate you just mixed. Fill them to the lowest ring on the threaded part of the jar, actually it’s the ring just below the threading. Make sure you don’t pack it down, leave it loose in the jar but tap the bottom of the jar if you need to level the substrate.
Put the lids on the jar and screw the ring band down, just hand tight. Now you want to cover the nail holes by using the masking tape. When you sterilize the jars the tape is going to want to get a little gooey, so to make it easier to remove, fold the end of the tape under a bit t make a sort of tab. That way you’ll have something to grab ahold of when you are ready to remove it.
Now that you have the lids on and the holes covered over with tape, go ahead and take some tin foil, 8 inches by 8 inches should be plenty big enough, to cover them proper. Let the foil go down past the ring and press on it to form the foil over the entire lid and ring set.
Sterilizing the Substrate
Put a raised rack, or something like a raised rack, in the bottom of your pot, you can see the rack to the right of the pot in the picture to the left, these are a component for canning to keep your jars off the bottom of the pot by 2 ½ or 3 inches. Now you want to fill your pot with some water to 2 inches in depth.
Put your jars on the rack, making sure that they are not sitting in the water, and put the lid onto the pot. Turn your flame on high and allow the jars to steam for one hour to one hour and a half. Once times up turn off your burner and allow the jars to cool to room temperature right where they are.
Inoculating the Substrate
You are ready to inoculate your substrate once your jars have cooled to room temperature. Take the tin foil off the lid of the jar. Get your syringe, put the needle on if it was detached, and next use your lighter to heat the needle of the syringe until it is red hot. Allow it to cool on its own or you can speed it up by wiping it with an alcohol cotton ball.
Pull one piece if tape back, but don’t remove it, shake your syringe to evenly distribute the spores in the fluid, and inject ¼ of a CC into the jar. Replace the tape over the hole you just injected and repeat for each hole on each jar.
Once you’ve inoculated all your jars it’s time to let them incubate. Put them in a warm, dry and dark location where ideally the temperature ought to be between 75 degree Fahrenheit and 85 degrees.
In as little as 72 hours you will see the spores begin to colonize and you will see mycelium start to develop. The jars will be fully colonized in 14 to 21 days.
An important note to make is the mycelium is white and that is the only color that it is, so any other color means you need to pitch the contents of that jar away from our remaining jars.
After you have a completely colonized substrate it is time to move them to a fruiting chamber.
Mushroom Fruiting Chamber
A fruiting chamber is any see through container, preferably plastic, that can be closed up with a lid. So what did I just describe? The answer to that is a clear plastic tote from almost any box store on the planet. Now you’ll want a quart jar and a fish tank aerator and some perlite.
First make sure you plastic tote is big enough to fit all the jars of colonized substrate you just finished incubating and the quart jar of water. You can stack the “cakes” from each jar one on top of each other, so six of the lids on the bottom several inches apart will indicate enough room.
Soak the perlite in water in a bowl for a half an hour or so then put 2 or 3 inches on the bottom of the tote. Now take your double stacked cakes and place them in the tote. Put a quart jar with water into the tote with an aerator stone in it connected to the aerator outside of the tote.
The reason for all of this is keep humidity levels high enough while the aerator will pump some fresh air into the tote. You want to use a spray bottle and mist the sides of the tote on the inside not spraying your mushrooms directly. You can keep the temperature 10 degrees Fahrenheit lower than the incubation temp.
Finally make sure that there is a source of light, which will vary from mushroom to mushroom how much light is needed as you go and as you learn how to grow mushrooms.
You should start to see mushrooms within the first week.