If you have considered growing mushrooms at home it should be pretty easy right? You sprinkle some spores into some dirt and turn out the lights and voila! Well a little research on the internet quickly dashes this hope. The initial inoculation of the spores requires a completely sterile environment and the use of many laboratory best practices, making this prospect a bit daunting for average person.
Fortunately there are folks that have done the laboratory work for us so we can sprinkle the spores in some dirt and shut off the lights (more or less). There are several companies that prepare all the materials for the home cultivation of mushrooms and combine them into a kit with simple instructions. This project is easy and would lend itself to parent/child joint exercise. The kit for this post came from Mushroom Adventures and has everything we need to successfully grow several crops of Mushrooms.
The mushroom growing kit contains all the necessary components to grow several crops of mushrooms over an 8 to 12 week period of time. The mushroom compost has already been prepared and inoculated with the white colored mushroom mycelium (A moldy looking fungus) at the mushroom farm.
In the box you will find a bag of dry peat moss called casing and a large bag of compost. The compost has the spores already mixed in. The quantity and size of the mushrooms will be directly impacted by the amount of water used in the casing preparation and the temperature of the growing environment.
The entire surface of the compost needs to be scratched to a depth of about ½” (13mm). Take approximately ½ to 1 Cup (120ml to 240ml) of this loosened casing and add to the bag of peat moss and add 40 oz (1.82 L) water and let it sit until thoroughly absorbed (15 min or so).
Spread the wetted casing/compost evenly over the compost. To finish the preparation, mist or sprinkle 1 Cup (240ml) of water onto the compost and scratch surface again to about ¾” (19 mm). This roughness creates a nice environment for the young mushrooms to form.
Place your kit, open, in a location away from direct sunlight that is between 60 and 74 deg F (15.5 to 23 Deg C) Optimum conditions vary by variety so consult your instructions for detail.
Lightly mist the compost daily with a spray bottle. The equivalent of morning dew is adequate. Do not allow the compost to dry out. In 7 to 14 days you will start to see little buttons develop.
In 17 to 21 days you are ready to harvest your first crop.
To pick your mushrooms rotate them a complete turn in place and slowly pull them out of the casing, trying not to disturb the adjacent mushrooms. Do not cut the mushrooms. You can expect 2 to 3 more crops over the coming weeks. Add ½ C (240 ml) of water after each harvest and continue to mist daily.
You can now enjoy the fruits of your labor. I like Sautéed Mushrooms, Onions and Peppers over Brown Rice. Once your kit is exhausted you can simply add it to your compost pile.