Do you want to cultivate beautiful-looking and delicious mushrooms in your garden at home? Then you have come to the right place!
When I started growing mushrooms in 2005, I experimented with different methods to cultivate them in my backyard. I even produced my own spawn in laboratory conditions! When demand for my mushrooms rose in my local market, I was finding it hard to spend a lot of time preparing the mushroom substrate and inoculating it with mycelium while staying profitable. Hence, I started purchasing mushroom kits to make my life easier and haven’t looked back since.
In this blog, I will take you through all you need to know about mushroom kits, including how to use them correctly, before you go ahead and buy one. Let’s get started!
All You Need to Know About Mushroom Kits
What Exactly Is a Mushroom Grow Kit?
A grow kit is basically a fruiting block or a seed tray for mushrooms and consists of a growing medium called a substrate that has mycelium growing over it. The hardest parts in the growing process are producing the spawn for mycelium and inoculating the substrate with the spawn. When you purchase a mushroom kit, both of these steps are already done for you. Most people save a lot of time and costs by just buying kits rather than carrying out the growing process from scratch.
A mushroom kit, like magic mushroom kit, is a viable option for commercial mushroom growers that want to sell fresh mushrooms all year round but do not have enough time to carry out the myriad of steps involved in the mushroom growing process. A grow kit helps them save time and money, labor and equipment costs.
Since there are various substrates you can use to grow mushrooms, most mushroom kits contain the following growing mediums:
- Loose and crumbly sawdust
- Pieces of wood or logs
- Pasteurized straw
- Wood chips
- Block of sterilized sawdust
What Do I Look For in a Mushroom Growing Kit?
Other than the substrate and the fluffy white mycelium growing on top of it, a grow kit most often comes equipped with the following items:
- A container to grow the mushrooms in (jar, bag, tray or box)
- Hygiene supplies like latex gloves, face masks, alcohol swabs, propane lighters, face masks etc.
- Spores (seeds for mushrooms) – however, it may be illegal in some countries to add spores to the growing kit so you might have to buy them separately
- Step-by-step instructions on how to grow mushrooms using the kit
How Do Mushroom Growing Kits Work?
Most kits are very low maintenance. You do not have to worry about taking a lot of care and spending extra time in your garden. All you need to do is ensure that your kit is placed in the right environmental conditions with access to fresh air and water. You must keep the kit exposed to a cool temperature in a moist place and ensure that it always stays watered.
Most kits have a definite shelf life so you must use your kit as soon as you bring it home. If you keep your kit in the dark without water or air for a long time, the mycelium will most likely die and not produce any mushrooms.
Let’s take a look at how a magic mushroom grow kit with certain popular growing substrates works:
- A wooden piece/log substrate: When you buy a kit with wood as the substrate, remove the block from the packaging and submerge it into cold water for at least 24 hours. Make sure you keep your water dish in a corner with proper shade, either outdoors or indoors. Soak the log regularly every day. In a few weeks, you will notice pinheads sprouting from the piece of wood!
- Sawdust block substrate: Immerse your sawdust block into cool water and refrigerate it for 24 hours. The remove the block from the water dish and place it in a well-ventilated area with less light. Mist the block with water after every few days and cover with plastic to retain moisture. Mushrooms will start to fruit in a few weeks’ time.
- Loose sawdust substrate: If you have bought a kit with loose sawdust substrate, you might have to put in a bit more work. Loose sawdust needs to be mixed with another form of substrate before it can start fruiting mushrooms. You can mix it with pasteurized straw and wood chips. You can also add it to outdoor compost beds. The process is similar to inoculation where you add spores to the substrate.
After your mushroom kits have sprouted mushrooms, harvest them and add to your meals or sell ahead to your customers! Remember that most substrates can produce more than one mushroom flushes. Some can even produce mushrooms after every few weeks for up to a year! Keep watering the kit according to the instructions and utilize it till all the mycelium has been used up. (source)
Pros and Cons of Using a Kit for Growing Mushrooms
- Cost-effectiveness: In the long run, the money you spend on a kit will be much less than the profit you will earn after selling your mushrooms in the market. One kit can give you multiple flushes!
- Little to no effort required: It does not get any easier than this if you want to cultivate mushrooms at home. No heavy equipment, hard work, drilling, pasteurization or any such task is required. You simply need to follow the instructions on the package and ensure optimal conditions so your mushrooms can fruit.
- Safe: Mushrooms that grow in the wild can be poisonous. Rather than picking them from unknown locations, cultivate them at home! A mushroom kit is completely safe. Some are even certified as organic, making them safer than processed or packaged store-bought mushrooms.
- Poor quality: It is highly possible that a mushroom kit does not produce any mushrooms if it contains old, dead mycelium. You must do your research before purchasing a mushroom kit and only buy from high-rated brands.
- Limited number of mushrooms: Kits are small sized and even though they give ample flushes, they may not produce enough mushrooms to meet the demands of large-scale commercial growers.
- High initial costs: Even though kits will help you save money in the long run, you will have to incur a high initial cost. A mushroom kit usually costs round $15 to $35. Anything above $50 is way too expensive for a kit and you should consider other options to save some $$$!
Best Mushrooms You Can Grow Using Kits
- Magic Mushrooms: A magic mushroom, also known as Psilocybin cubensis, is a species of psychedelic mushrooms. They have wide caps and long-winding stems. Magic mushrooms grow mostly in meadows and the woods. They are easy to cultivate and are widely used in many parts of the world. A magic mushroom contains Psilocybin, a drug with hallucination properties. Hence, magic mushrooms have the potential to be misused. A Magic mushroom is often prepared by drying. It is eaten by mixing it with foods or drinks. However, some people prefer eating a freshly picked magic mushroom. If you are unsure of whether a bunch of mushrooms is magic mushrooms or not, please avoid consuming them.
- Pearl Oyster Mushrooms: Pearl oyster mushrooms are beautiful, pearly-toned mushrooms with a velvety rich texture that are typically eaten dried or cooked. They have flattened caps and resemble mollusks. A kit with oyster mushrooms can sprout 1 to 2 flushes when kept in moist conditions, giving you delectable treats!
- Portobello Mushrooms: Portobello mushrooms are thoroughly enjoyed all around the world. When picked earlier, they make delicious button and cremini mushrooms. They are a powerful source of Vitamin D and potassium. A growing kit for Portobello mushrooms will give fully-grown mushrooms in only 4 to 6 weeks! (source)
Frequently Asked Questions about Growing Kits
Q1. Are Mushroom Kits Worth It?
If you are trying a high-quality kit to cultivate mushrooms at home, then it is totally worth it! Mushrooms kits by different brands are available in a variety of species and colors. Conduct your research before buying a kit if you want to get the best produce out of it. Ensure that you buy a high-quality kit manufactured recently so as to ensure that the mycelium is alive.
Q2. Are Mushroom Grow Kits Legal In the US?
Yes, mushroom kits are legal in the US. However, these kits do not contain spores. You need to buy them separately from a trusted vendor, if required. However, the possession, sale, transport and cultivation of psilocybin psychedelic magic mushrooms is illegal in some states in the US.
Q3. How Long Do Mushroom Kits Last?
The maximum time you can store your kit for is 4 weeks from after its production date. After that, there is no guarantee that your kit will be effective in producing mushrooms. The mycelium in the kit hibernates and loses its strength as time passes.
Q4. Are Mushroom Grow Kits Reusable?
Most mushroom kits produce 2 to 3 flushes. However, some people have also reported up to 5 flushes from a single kit! The key is to keep the kit in optimal environmental conditions required for the mushrooms to grow. You can keep reusing them till they eventually stop producing mushrooms.
Final Thoughts on Mushroom Growing Kits
This brings me to the end of my blog on mushroom growing kits!
Growing kits are an excellent choice for beginners who want to cultivate mushrooms at home without putting in a lot of effort. You can use a kit to grow magic mushrooms, pearl oyster mushrooms, Portobello mushrooms and so many other delicious and beautiful looking types.
Remember these key things when using the kits:
- Follow the instructions mentioned on the kit.
- Use the kit within 4 weeks of production.
- Keep the kit in a moist, well-ventilated area.
- Provide optimal conditions so you can get a maximum number of flushes.
If you liked this blog, don’t forget to leave a comment down below telling me what you think! I would love to hear from you!