What You Need To Know About Growing Mushrooms

A short diagram on the different stages of mushroom growth.Cultivating mushrooms at home has become fairly popular in recent years because of the wide availability of the supplies needed to grow fungi variants that produce edible mushrooms.

The methods employed for growing edible mushrooms have not changed a lot these past few decades. The methods haven't changed because the whole process of growing mushrooms has always been straightforward and effective. As the old adage goes, if something isn't broken, why fix it?

Step 1: Pure Culture

Modern mushroom cultivation actually begins in the confines of your basement or home mushroom workshop. Before you can begin growing mushrooms in plastic bags, you need to obtain and multiply pure culture. Pure culture is really just the mycelium of the target species of fungi.

Mycelium is like the seed that will later produce the edible mushrooms that you're after. Mushrooms are just the fruiting bodies of fungi species. They are produced when conditions are right so as a mushroom grower, it would be your job to ensure that the right number of favorable conditions is present when you start bagging the substrate and the grain spawn.

In the first phase of the process, you need to obtain some culture of the target species. This culture will then be grown in petri dishes with agar. Agar is just the medium that will hold the mycelium. Molasses and other nutrient-rich items can be mixed with the agar to ensure maximum mycelium growth.

Step 2: Create Grain Spawn

When the mycelium has grown, it can be stored for months until you are ready to create the grain spawn. Grain spawn is needed to inoculate big batches of substrate. You can create grain spawn by adding pure culture to rye grains.

It takes about ten days for the rye grain to be ready. After this spawn run you need to use the rye grain immediately while it is still viable. Otherwise, the rye grain might end up being unusable because the mycelium will grow nonstop inside the sterile jars.

Of course, you would want to inoculate more than a few bags of substrate. You will need more than one batch of viable grain spawn. You can increase the amount of grain spawn by adding small amounts of viable grain spawn to sterilized rye grains.

One jar of viable grain spawn can give rise to ten more jars of grain spawn. If you produce ten jars of grain spawn from pure culture, you can definitely produce up to a hundred more jars of grain spawn by carefully measuring and distributing the contents of the first generation jars.

Final Step: Inoculate Substrate

The final step is inoculating your chosen substrate. The two most popular choices when it comes to growing common edible mushrooms are wood chips and wheat straw. If you have been able to obtain freshly cut wood chips you won't have to sterilize it anymore. Wheat straw is another story.

You need to sterilize it before adding the grain spawn. If you want to inoculate wood chips, you will need a rake so you can distribute the grain spawn evenly throughout each batch of substrate. If you are planning to use wheat straw, you need uniformly-sized polyethylene bags.