Growing your own mushroom at home is easy and not as difficult as you think. Mushrooms can be a rewarding project because of the multitude usage of it. Generally, the common mushroom such as the Agaricus species can grow easily on compost, held in bags, trays, and boxes or raised beds. Here are the methods on how to grow your own mushrooms, making your own compost, casing and harvesting.
- Compost making
Choosing good quality of mushrooms compost can give a very big effect on the success of a crop. There are 3 stage operations which are normally used in making mushroom compost:
All the raw materials are mixed, moistened and allowed to undergo through some initial decomposition in a large heap. Usually, a mixture of straw and manure makes up the bulk of the compost. Make sure the compost is moist but not over wet during this stage. Add 1.5kg of gypsum and 1.2 kg of urea or ammonium sulphate. The center of the heap will become hot and its color will darken within two weeks.
Turn the heap every 2 to 3 days and to keep them moist, water when necessary.
Moved the compost indoors or into a shed after a further 2 to 4 weeks where the temperature and oxygen content are better controlled. Keep the temperature in the heap between 40 to 60 degrees centigrade. You can use a thermometer to check the temperature and turning the heap regularly. The compost will be uniformed, non greasy texture and dark brown. You will not smell any trace of ammonia which occurred earlier. Make sure to use the mushrooms compost as soon as possible after it has been prepared.
Spawn production is a very sophisticated scientific process, hence most mushroom grower do not produce their own spawn. Spawn varies in color which depends on age. If there is little or even no sign of white mycelium growth of the fungi, it is categorized as fresh spawn. If it\’s too dense then this may indicate that the spawn is too old. Always choose spawn in between these situations. You have to check whether there is a visible sign of non mushroom growth. Don\’t purchase if there are two different types of mycelia in the same spawn. If you chose to grow in spawn, the optimum of temperature for the mycelia is 25 Celsius. A cottony growth should appear around the grain after about three or four days depending on the conditions. After about 2 weeks, the mycelia should have thoroughly grown through the compost. Provide a ventilation or cooling system to take the temperature down. It is important as once the mycelia have grown to this point, it will generally increase heat in the compost.
To stimulate the mushrooms growth, a layer of material or casing will be put over the top of the compost. Usually the casing that can be used is usually high in organic material and should be free from any pests and diseases. You can sterilize the casing by drenching it in formaldehyde solution or by pasteurization at 60 Celsius for 3 hours. The casing should have an open mixture, non water repellent when dry and have a pH between 6.5 and 8. When applied to the compost, the depth should be of 3 to 50cm over the top of the compost. To test whether the casing is being applied evenly, test the depth at frequent intervals.
There are 3 stages in which the mushrooms may be harvested which are the buttons, where these are unopened with gills are not exposed and will remain unopened throughout until they are eaten. The harvest at this stage will not be as abundant, and the flavor is not as good as the developed fruits. For cups stage, the veil has opened or will probably open before it is used. These mushrooms, they have a rounded cap and are also preferred to the fully opened mushroom. While the fully opened mushrooms or flats, the gills are exposed and the cap has flattened. The mushrooms are larger and the gills go first pink and then slowly become dark brown as time goes on. To pick the mushrooms, pick each mushroom with an upward motion and break them off at the casing surface.