Mushroom growing is probably much easier to do than most people would think. Mushroom growing is becoming common as chefs in restaurants and homes invent more dishes that include them. The unique flavor mushrooms can give the dishes unique taste and texture. Mushrooms also offer a plethora of health benefits to the human body. Starting a mushroom growing business is quite easy once you acquire the right information and equipment.
There are numerous varieties of mushrooms and they may require different approaches to cultivation. Some like growing on logs hence a different surface is needed to ensure their growth. The nature of the soil is very important when it comes to ensuring the success of any mushroom growing operation. Substrate preparation must be done carefully and with the mushroom type to be grown in mind, since they depend on it for support and nutrition.
The soil needs to be very high in organic matter since mushrooms, like all fungi thrive on rotting vegetation. Typically, a two-inch layer of soil, high in organic matter, should be used on top of ordinary soil. If you happen to maintain some kind of compost pile at home, you can even prepare your own mushroom soil at home. Otherwise, there are stores from which you can purchase it.
A cool, dark environment is vital for the well-being of mushrooms. Unlike plants, mushrooms do not need the sun for photosynthesis and rely on the soil for nutrition. Ensure that the areas surrounding the mushrooms are full of material with high carbon content.
A good oxygen supply should also be provided along with water regularly. Mushrooms are a type of fungi rather than a plant and not all varieties are safe for human consumption. Unlike plants, where you would use cutting or seed to propagate them, you need to use spawn or plugs to cultivate mushrooms. These typically germinate when spores find the right environment for their growth.
The variety of spawn you select will determine the growing technology to be used. Miatake, Shiitake, Hen of the woods, Reishi and Hericium plugs would be selected if you are going log or stump inoculation technology. Once you have selected the variety, you have to choose the plug to use.
Plug spawn consists of wooden dowels grown through with mushrooms and hammered into logs. Cardboard spawn consists of organic material sandwiched between two layers providing ideal conditions for mushroom growth. Coffee spawn also works because coffee grounds are small and easy to sterilize and colonize.
There is special equipment used to make surface preparation, spawn development and harvesting easier. Since there is a wide variety of mushrooms each requiring special technology to grow it, wide ranges of equipment is available in growing supply stores. You have to choose the equipment the best suits the method of propagation you chose and your budget.
Mushrooms can be harvested at any of these three stages of development.
- Buttons – These are unopened mushrooms where the gills are yet to be exposed. Harvesting them at this stage typically yields less and the flavor is not yet fully developed. However, many people prefer them for their appearance.
- Cups – At this stage, the mushrooms have a rounded cap and many people prefer them to fully opened mushrooms.
- Fully opened mushrooms – Here, the gills are already exposed and the cap has a flat appearance. They are also much larger resulting in a bigger yield.
Mushrooms should be picked with a single upward twisting motion individually. Breaking them off at the casing surface or pulling them up with pieces of casing attached to the mushroom should be avoided.
Once picked, the mushrooms should be brushed to remove casing material and compost since they can discolor the cap if left for long. For fully opened mushrooms, timing is vital. Leaving them for even 5 more hours can be disastrous for the crop since they over mature very quickly.