Not every garden needs sun: learn how to grow mushrooms

Did you know that you can grow mushrooms at home ? With the mycological garden you get a large quantity of mushrooms in a very short time and with hardly any effort.

The back room, the storage room, the cellar, the basement … Do you have a dark and quiet place? Well, there you have your home mushroom growing space .

Discover here everything you need to know to put into practice this curious, educational and delicious hobby.

It will surprise you.


The mini theory you should know about the characteristics of mushrooms    

As you know, autumn , winter and spring are the ideal seasons to consume mushrooms (and to grow them).

But you may not know that fungi are not plants. Fungi are fungi, plants are plants, and animals are animals.

Its physiognomy, germination, needs and development are particular. That is what makes it possible to have a mycological garden in the most unexpected place in the house.

To understand their cultivation, you must first know what they are like.


What are mushrooms like and how do they reproduce?

It is estimated that there are between two and four million species of fungi.

A few tens of thousands of these species produce mushrooms.

Some of all those mushrooms are edible.

And a few of those are arable.

You see, edible mushrooms represent a tiny percentage of the total, but they are a very prominent food in gastronomy and culture around the world. Its variety surprises any fan.

They can be very different from each other, both in shape and in taste, smell and nutritional properties. But they all share common characteristics to a greater or lesser extent.

You must identify:

  • Pie or ask for it . It is that stem that supports the mushroom. It is more woody and can be more or less thick and long depending on the species of mushroom and its cultivation method.
  • Hat . It stands on its foot and is the meatiest and most interesting part in the kitchen. Its shape, texture, size and color are very varied. In its lower part you will see the hymenium , a tissue with a lamellar, spongy, tubular or pleated structure. In these spaces the millions of microscopic spores of the fungus are formed.


How do mushrooms reproduce?

You are interested in knowing this if you want to grow mushrooms at home.

Spores are like the seeds of plants. New fungi will be born from the released spores which, later on, will develop mushrooms.

Look at that: mushrooms are the fruitful part of the mushroom , not the mushroom itself. The fungus is in the ground and, when it is time to reproduce, it develops the mushroom.

In other words, the mushroom is to the fungus what the fruit is to the tree.

When spores land on a suitable substrate, they germinate and form a branching filament called a hypha .

As the millions of hyphae grow, they form a tangle of threads, the mycelium .


What is mycelium?

The mycelium acts as the root of the mushroom. From it, when the time comes, the body of the mushroom will sprout, which is what interests us.

What is the conclusion? For growing mushrooms at home , the seed from your organic garden can be spores or mycelia.


What types of mushrooms can you grow at home?

We like mushrooms and there are many varieties and ways to enjoy them. With a few exceptions, it is possible to grow the main varieties of mushrooms on a small scale.

These are the most used mushrooms:

  • Paris mushroom ( Agaricus bisporus )

The healthy champignon the best known mushroom. With a rounded, flattened white hat and a short foot, it is very commonly used in the kitchen. It is fast growing and easy to grow.

The white mushroom is the most widely cultivated mushroom variety in Spain. Have you ever wondered where it comes from? In this video they explain it very well:


  • Portobello mushroom ( Agaricus brunnescens )

This species of mushroom has the same shape as the one in Paris, but a light brown color. It is considered somewhat more select than the previous one and has a more delicate, particular and sweet taste and a meatier texture.

  • Oyster mushroom or common mushroom ( Pleurotus ostreautus )

The second most consumed mushroom grows in clusters on tree trunks and stumps, from which it emerges with the foot in a lateral position.

It is light brown or gray in color and its flesh is firm and has a mild but very characteristic flavor.

how to grow mushrooms

  • Thistle mushroom ( Pleurotis eryngii )

It has a thick, tall, bell-shaped foot and a flat, round brown hat. Its meat, dense and tender and with a delicate and slightly sweet flavor, gains power as it cooks.

  • Poplar mushroom ( Agrocybe aegerita )

It is an easy-to-grow mushroom that grows in nature on tree trunks, in clusters. Its foot is long and the rounded and flattened hat is cream-colored. It has an intense flavor, with a fruity touch.

  • Shiitake ( Lentinula edodes )

The famous and increasingly desired shiitake comes from East Asia (China, Japan). But you can grow shiitake mushrooms in your urban mycological garden.

The stem is fibrous and tough. The hat is rounded, somewhat flattened and brown in color. Its flavor is very intense, so it is used in small quantities and therefore you will not need to create a “big” crop to have enough mushrooms.

  • Enoki or enokitake ( Flammulina volutipes )

Pretty, delicate-looking, the Asian enoki has been introduced into our kitchen through oriental dishes.

It grows in dense clusters with a very long and thin stem. The hat is small, almost a button at the end of the stem. The entire mushroom is snow-white in color, if it is grown in total darkness.

Its flavor is delicate, with a touch of nuts.


how to grow mushrooms

Perhaps you will miss the chanterelle or robellón ( Lactarius deliciosus ) and the pumpkin mushroom ( Boletus edulis ) in this list . They are two of the most appreciated wild mushrooms in Spain.

Can chanterelles and Boletus edulis be grown ? The truth is that it does, but it is not a very efficient form of fungiculture. You need to have a garden with mature trees or a plot of forest and arm yourself with patience.

So much patience to wait several years for the mushrooms to sprout.

And here we intend to explain how to have a quick and easy mushroom cultivation in your own home, garage, basement or cellar. Let’s see it.



What does it take to grow mushrooms?

The cultivation of mushrooms is the most widespread among fans of small-scale fungiculture. Therefore, we will focus on explaining how to grow mushrooms in the cellar, cellar or at home .

The basic guidelines are the same or similar for most common mushrooms, although times, humidity and temperature needs, as well as the characteristics of the substrate may change.


What do you need for home mushroom cultivation?

Mushroom cultivation is undemanding on material or utensils.

The good thing about the most common edible mushrooms is that they grow quite fast and in dark places that could not be used to grow vegetables.

That is to say, if you regret not being able to have an urban garden because it lacks a bright space, you are in luck. You can enable a basement, a cave, a garage or even a dark room that you have free.

Do you need a lot of space?

The truth is that no.

Like plants, you can grow mushrooms in spaces the size of a pot, a box (even cardboard), or a wooden grow table . Productivity can be quite high, making it a very efficient crop.

how to grow mushrooms

Plants need light to photosynthesize and create organic matter from elements in the soil.

This is not the case with mushrooms.

Mushrooms feed on organic matter , they don’t make it. That is why they do not need light and appear in dark places without major problem.

This means that a nutritious substrate is required , which is usually some form of manure, compost, cereal straw, sawdust or decaying wood.

Be that as it may, the important thing is that this substrate is 100% ecological and natural .

The mushrooms will feed on it and we want the mushrooms to be organic and healthy.

There are mushroom grow kits on the market at home that include everything you need. These kits can appear in the form of boxes or bullets of soil with the mushroom seed, which you just have to plant according to the instructions that they suggest.

From each of these bales you can get several crops of several kilos, depending on the size of the kit.

As you can see, it is a very profitable and productive crop .


Where to get the mushroom mycelium? 

If you are going to use a mushroom grow kit, it will include the mycelium in grain or in a similar format. It is what you need to grow.

Another option is to buy the mushroom mycelium separately to plant in your own substrate.

And one more alternative is inoculating spores . These can be found in the market or you can try to get them from other mushrooms.

However, culture by means of spore inocula is less safe, slower and its results less reliable.



How to grow mushrooms step by step

If you are going to use a grow kit, it will be easier for you. Just follow the instructions it includes.

But if you want to learn how to make your own mycological garden, keep reading.


1. Get a good grow box

It is preferable that the garden is contained in a box or table for organic cultivation, made with wood from sustainable forests .

These boxes are not treated with polluting chemicals that could get into the substrate. They withstand moisture better than cardboard and allow breathability better than plastic.


2. Maximize hygiene

Any spores of fungi other than the mushroom could contaminate the substrate . Any intruder could colonize the substrate and compete with the mushroom, make it sick or destroy it.

Therefore, in fungiculture it is very important to maintain proper hygiene.

Before growing, wash your hands well and clean your utensils , including the box.

You can use an ecological soap, alcohol or some natural disinfectant.


3. Prepare the mushroom substrate

For the mushrooms, you should create a suitable mixture of straw, peat, sawdust, and manure or chicken manure.

Start with a first layer of wheat straw (preferable), barley or oatmeal. It’s a good idea to boil it before use to avoid contamination with other mushrooms.

Distribute it evenly over the bottom of the grow box occupying a third of its height.

Add a second layer of peat moss mixed with some sawdust .

Finally, cover the last third with chicken manure or well-shredded manure .

how to grow mushrooms

4. Sow the mycelium in mushroom kernels

You just have to crush the grain mycelium that you have bought or obtained from the surface of the manure.

Next, cover with a little peat and water .

The substrate should be damp , but not waterlogged. Mushrooms appreciate moisture, but not “being wet.” And we don’t want intrusive molds to grow under any circumstances.


5. Take care of the mushroom cultivation

Once the planting is ready, be sure to leave the box covered in a dark or dimly lit place. The ideal is to grow mushrooms in a cellar or basement , but you can also take advantage of a free and dark room.

If it is the latter case, make sure that the sun does not heat the walls of that room.

You must water regularly . It is better to do it with a spray gun or a watering can than with a stream of water. Do not water on the mushrooms, but on the ground.

The ideal humidity for this crop is 75-80% . One is also necessary ventilation and a temperature of between 10 and 30 ° C. The ideal is around 17-18ºC .

About a week after planting, you will see a white hair on the surface of the peat. That’s the developing mycelium, which has come to the surface.

Good news then.

how to grow mushrooms

6. Harvest the mushrooms

In about three weeks the mushrooms will have sprouted and grown to a diameter suitable for consumption (between 5 and 8 cm).

Don’t cut them. To harvest them, gently twist the bodies until they detach from the substrate.

And what happens next? The mycelia that remain in the soil continue to develop at different times, so the harvest continues. If all goes well, you can collect organic mushrooms every 7-10 days , until the substrate has depleted its nutrients.

Shall we start over?


Homegrown mushrooms and mushrooms, could it be easier?

With this simple growing system you can have organic mushrooms without worrying about sunlight or complex care.

It’s easy, it’s fast, and it’s very efficient. In a very short time you can enjoy the fruit of the earth in large quantities and periodically .

With the grow kits you will have a productive home garden with which to get a healthy and nutritious food throughout the fall, winter and spring.

Can you tell us your recipes with mushrooms? With the mushroom garden you can try them and repeat them all.

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