How To Grow Mushrooms: The quick and the dirty to the whole enchilada.

This is such a huge topic that it will be broken down into individual articles in order to provide info for those who want instant gratification with no effort to those like me who want to grow mushrooms from the ground up, er should I say petri dish.

Update 11/23/15:  What I have decided to do in light of the fact that 1) I simply do not have the time to write articles on the proposed topics and 2) there are so many articles/websites out there that have already thoroughly addressed these topics, I am simply going to provide links to helpful sites/articles under each topic and only write articles where my experience/perspective necessitates that I do so.

Also, when I add new info, I will put an update date in that section so you will easily know if it is new info or not.

An outline of proposed topics:

Instant Gratification: Growing mushrooms from a kit (updated 11/23/15):

Just type in “mushroom kit” on Google and you will find a multitude of hits.  No link necessary.  On the other hand, you can purchase kits from individuals selling them on Facebook.  One such example is the Mycology & Botany Classifieds group.  You can even purchase kits in retailers such as Whole Foods.  When you purchase a kit, simply follow the instructions included.  My advice would be to purchase a kit from an individual on Facebook as opposed to an online retailer or chain store.  You are more likely to obtain a fresh kit that way.  Also, if purchasing from an individual on FB, look at what others have said about their product before purchasing.  People are very quick to state whether or not they had a positive experience.

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The Next Level: Growing from purchased spawn (updated 11/23/15):

What is mushroom spawn you ask?  Here is a wonderfully detailed article that will answer all of your burning questions and more: Using Mushroom Spawn to Grow Mushrooms.

Just like for purchasing a kit, there are retailers but also individuals selling on Facebook.  Some of the major companies that produce and sell spawn are:

Field & Forest

Aloha Medicinals

Mushroom Mountain

Personally, I prefer making my own spawn but that is because I have a lab with a laminar flow hood and I enjoy the entire process starting from the petri dish and ending with the (hopefully) bountiful harvest.  There is nothing wrong with utilizing purchased spawn and in fact many people, including commercial operations, grow mushrooms in this manner.  Purchased spawn would be the best way to start and then if you have an interest in making it later on you could do so.  I would not recommend insisting on making your own to start because there is definitely a learning curve with the  whole process and one could become discouraged quite easily.

Once you have spawn, whether it is purchased or you made it yourself, the next steps are determined by what type of grow you plan to do: indoor versus outdoor, what type of environment and substrate does your selected mushroom species require, large scale versus hobby grower….  I will state that although the info contained on this page can certainly apply to a larger scale, I am in no way gearing the article(s) towards those wishing to grow mushrooms for profit nor do I ever plan to supply any instruction on how to start a business growing mushrooms.  Do not get me wrong, I certainly do encourage those who wish to start a business growing and selling mushrooms to do so and I bid you much success but I just want to be clear that this article is not intended for that purpose. : )

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Making Your Own Spawn (updated 11/23/15):

Personally I use organic rye grain to make my own spawn, but there are numerous other substrates that can be used for this purpose including wild bird seed, sorghum, sawdust, coffee grounds, and even cardboard.  Personally I do not use coffee grounds or cardboard.  I do not care for coffee grounds because they contaminate so easily and I do not care for cardboard because it does not provide energy for growing mycelium like grain does.  Many use coffee and/or cardboard with great success.  Simply, play around and experiment and see what you prefer.  It’s extra cool to challenge yourself and see what recyclable and/or free resources are out there for use.

There is a comprehensive video collection available for purchase/download online that I think everyone who is starting out should purchase for quite the nominal fee ($8.99).  No, I in no way receive any compensation for endorsing this product.  In fact, I am sure the author of “Let’s Grow Mushrooms!” has no idea I am promoting his product, lol.  I suggest it based on the simple fact that it, in addition to belonging to the Mushroom Growing group on Facebook, is where I got most, if not all, of the info that constructed the foundation of my knowledge that enabled me to start successfully cultivating mushrooms.

In the video collection mentioned above, the author discusses how to prepare, sterilize, and inoculate grain in order to make spawn.  In the video he inoculates the grain in front of a laminar flow hood/LFH but starting out, you may not have that and need to use a Still Air Box/SAB (see sections below discussing  LFH and SAB).  The same principles of preventing contamination apply though.

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Let’s Grow Mushrooms: Basic supplies that you will need (updated 11/23/15 but still a work in progress):

Space/room:  first you need to decide where you are going to grow mushrooms and on what scale.  Are you going to grow them on a counter top or table?  Are you going to set up a small 3 shelf indoor grow house or a larger walk in grow house?  Are you planning on growing them in a bedroom or in a basement or garage?  Perhaps you have a storage shed you can use/convert.  Is the area in which you are going to set up your fruiting chamber (room/container in which you grow the mushrooms where light, temperature, fresh air versus CO2, and humidity is controlled to provide ideal growing conditions) safe for you to set it up?  Consider that inside your FC (fruiting chamber), the humidity will be high and the mushrooms will be constantly releasing volumes of spores.  Inhaling spores on a continual basis and/or in volume can lead to major respiratory issues.  You should not set up anything over carpet or hardwood flooring unless you place/construct a protective surface impermeable to water on top of the carpet that protects it from the humidity.  Additionally, you need to consider the humidity that may escape from your set up and how it may affect the room it is in.  Mold and mildew thrive in warm, humid conditions and that is what you will be creating: the ideal environment.  So unless you can ensure that your FC is a completely enclosed/contained environment, do not set up a larger FC in your living space.

Isopropyl Alcohol and Bleach for disinfection.  I use 70% isopropyl alcohol but you can use 91% if you choose.  I make a 400 ppm bleach solution that is effective for my purposes.  Here is a link on how to calculate the ratio of bleach to water to create the desired ppm solution.

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Where It All Begins: Growing from a petri dish

Low tek growing methods

  • SAB (Still Air Box): What is it and how do I make one?

Introducing the Laminar Flow Hood – stepping up your game and greatly reducing the chance of contamination

FC (Fruiting Chamber): Desires to go big or small, suggested solutions for them all.

Challenges met with growing indoors on a larger scale.

  • CO2 issues
  • Temperature control
  • Mold/mildew
  • Spore volume

Common contaminants and how to avoid them.

This is a work in progress so stay tuned……..

Update 9/1/16.  To be brutally honest, running this business is so time consuming that I have no time to add to this article.  Let this be pause for those that are considering starting your own business growing mushrooms.  It is VERY time consuming and a lot of hard work (physical labor and working 7 days a week).  Don’t let that deter you if it is your true passion but always go into starting any business with realistic expectations and your eyes wide open, VERY WIDE! : )

2 Comments

  1. when you get them all done, they will be hot linked, yes? looking forward to some of the more advanced stuff. we’ve done kits and plug and sawdust spawn.

    • Amy Fox

      September 25, 2015 at 12:58 pm

      Ahhhhh, if only I could just think and the words would pop up automatically as an article on this page. That would be so awesome, lol!!! I have so many ideas and topics about which I want to write but time, oh that precious time. I seem to have so little of it these days. I promise I will definitely post articles when time allows. Just for now, this business is keeping me hopping all day long. : )

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