Gardeners aiming to grow their own food must have tried growing mushrooms at onetime or other. The best thing about mushrooms is that they have low count of fat and calories while being high in selenium, potassium and fibre. Such attributes make it an extremely healthy addition to our daily diet.
It is best to grow mushroom indoors where you can exercise greater control over the light conditions and temperature. Today we are going to discuss with you the means of growing mushrooms if you have a serious space constraint.
Oyster, white button and Shiitake are the best varieties of mushrooms which are well suited for growing indoors. The growing method is similar for each of the three varieties. However, the difference lies in the ideal growing substrate.
While oyster mushrooms thrive best in coffee grounds or straw, buttons grow best in composed manure. Shiitakes on the other hand grow best on hardwood sawdust. The different substrates cater to the individual nutritional requirements of each species. Let us now take a look at the steps of growing mushroom in limited space:
#1 Primarily, you will have to purchase mushroom spawn. This is basically sawdust infused with mushroom mycelia. You can use it to facilitate growth of the mushroom plants.
#2 Premium grade mushroom spawn can be purchased from gardening supply stores, online retailers and even organic living stores. Herein, it becomes imperative to purchase spawn rather than spores.
#3 The latter is similar to plant seeds rather than seedlings. It thus takes more time to grow mushroom from spores. This is well suited for seasoned cultivators and is not ideal for amateur gardeners.
#4 Next you will have to sterilize the growing substrate especially if you are growing it using sawdust or straw. This needs to be done prior to inoculating with the spawn for killing off harmful micro-organisms.
#5 You can sterilize the substrate by placing it in a microwavable container. Next you need to add in sufficient quantity of water and heat it for two minutes. Doing this kills all the harmful microorganisms.
#6 You are thus left with the substrate which can properly receive the mushroom mycelia. It might be easier to work in batches if you wish to sterilize the entire sawdust or straw.
#7 In the third step, you need to heat the substrate to help with effective spreading of the mycelia. This needs to be ensured before mushroom production. Heating helps in the process as warm temperature is conductive for its proper growth.
Once you have selected the substrate which is best suited with your mushroom species, you need to place some in a baking pan.
#8 For this purpose, it is best to opt for a shallow pan having large surface area. This offers optimum room so that the mushrooms can grow properly.
#9 You can now use a sterilized utensil for mixing the spawn with the substrate. The baking pan needs to be placed on a heating pad with temperature of 21°C. Doing this helps a lot in fostering growth of mushroom plants.
#10 If you don’t have a heating pad, then you can place it in a warm region of your house. Once you are done with this, you can transfer the setup to a dark environment.
For this, you can choose a cabinet and keep the plant there for about three weeks. Doing this helps mushroom mycelia in permeating the substrate.
#11 After the passage of two weeks, you need to check whether the substrate gets fully colonized. This happens when it becomes coated with white fuzz like substances. Usually it takes between two to four weeks for reaching this stage.
#12 Once the substrate gets colonized, you can move the entire pan into a dark and cool environment. Your basement having temperature of around 13°C is best-suited for this.
#13 During winter months, you can also place the plate in a drawer or cabinet. Areas developing brown or green spots need to be removed immediately from the substrate. You can use a handful of potting soil for covering up the substrate.
#14 The entire mixture will now have to be sprayed with adequate water to dampen the same. You can even prevent moisture loss by covering the pan with a damp towel. It is advisable to place a low heat lamp in close proximity to the pan.
#15 Doing this can stimulate the growth of mushrooms in a vertical direction for helping in its harvesting. You should keep the mix cool and moist as the mushrooms grow. It needs to be checked on periodically and also sprayed with water if required.
#16 You can spot the appearance of small mushrooms within a span of three weeks. The environment also needs to be kept cool, moist and dark for encouraging its growth.
Mushrooms usually become ready to harvest once their caps separate completely from the stems.
Mushrooms can be plucked with bare fingers. But this makes it vulnerable to damaging the beneficial fungi growing underneath the surface. This is why it is advised to opt for a sharp knife for cutting the base of its stem.
Mushrooms should also be properly rinsed prior to cooking or consumption. You can store harvested mushroom for about a week in the refrigerator.