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Can You Grow Edible Mushrooms Without a Kit?

Can You Grow Edible Mushrooms Without a Kit?

Are you looking for ways to grow mushrooms? Do you not want to use a mushroom kit? If you answered yes to these questions, then you’re at the right place. In this article, we’re going to provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to grow edible mushrooms without a kit.

Although mushroom kits are great for beginners and make the process of growing mushrooms much simpler, the more advanced and keen gardeners have the desire to grow mushrooms successfully without the help of a kit. 

To help you in this challenging yet extremely rewarding endeavor, we have rounded up three different and easy ways that you can grow mushrooms without a kit. They are as follows:

  • Mushrooms on logs
  • Mushrooms with coffee grounds
  • Mushrooms on sawdust

Let’s explore each of these methods in further detail below!

1.     Grow Mushrooms on Logs

The first method of growing mushrooms without a kit is to grow them on logs. You’ll have to decide which type of wood to use for cultivating your mushrooms. For example, if you’re growing shiitakes, then oak would make an excellent choice. The other options include beech, sugar maple, ironwood, and muscle wood.

The time between the months of December and March is the best for cutting the logs. Make sure you store the stacks as close to the ground as possible and cover them with a tarp. If you’re storing the logs before inoculation, then try keeping them under a covered or shaded area, so they aren’t exposed to a lot of wind.

You should aim to keep the logs moisturized enough, so they do not dry out completely. Ideally, the logs should have no bark damage or visible signs of fungal or bacterial infections.  

Now, let’s take a look at the process of growing mushrooms on logs below:

  • Take all of the materials and tools, such as a sawdust or plug spawn, that you will need for growing mushrooms outdoors. If you decide to use sawdust spawn, we recommend getting a palm inoculation tool. The tool is especially useful when you’re inoculating multiple logs. If you decide to use a plug spawn, make sure you have a hammer at hand.
  • Now that you have everything that you need, start drilling holes in the logs, so the spawn has space to go in. Make sure the holes are 1 inch deep and 6 inches apart from each other and in a row. Rotate the log by 2 inches for starting a new row.     
  • Now, drill the log surface all the way around with 2 inches between each row and 6 inches between each hole in the row. Create a diamond pattern by keeping the rows offset.
  • Start filling the holes with the spawn. Make sure you hammer the dowel (if you’re using a spawn plug) in until it is completely flushed with the surface of the log.
  • If you’re using sawdust spawn, use spawn to fill the palm inoculator and create a dowel-like structure. Now, hit the inoculator to put it inside the hole. Make sure the sawdust spawn fills the hole completely.
  • When the holes are drilled and filled, wax over them. This will give the sawdust spawn a moisturized and enclosed place to grow. The log’s bark protects it from fungal infections and keeps the moisture in. The wax over the holes ensures that the log doesn’t dry out as it grows.
  • After waxing, stack all the logs under a shaded area. If you have to incubate the logs for the entire year, then consider using conifer. The logs inoculated in the month of April usually start their fruiting period in June.
  • Make sure you maintain the moisture around 45% throughout the incubation period. Plus, in the absence of rainfall, don’t forget to water the logs after every 2-3 weeks. Consider using a sprinkler for 5-8 hours for watering.                 

2. Grow Mushrooms with Coffee Grounds

This method is fairly simple and a good place to start growing your mushrooms at home. With this method, you can grow oyster mushrooms on coffee grounds. We recommend using blue oyster mushrooms because of their colonizing properties, but any other type of oyster mushrooms will also work just fine.  

What is best about this method is how easy it is to use coffee, a household item, for growing your oyster mushrooms. The process consists of only four simple steps. Before we get into the steps, make sure you have all the necessary materials with you. These include oyster mushroom spawn and a plastic container with a lid. Poke multiple holes in the bottom of the plastic container.

Now, take a look at the following four steps that you need to follow for growing mushrooms on coffee grounds: 

  • Start by brewing the coffee. When the boiling water has run over the grounds and the filter, take the grounds and place them in the plastic container.
  • Now, put the oyster spawn over the freshly brewed coffee along with the filter and close the lid.
  • Repeat this process throughout the day or days to layer the oyster mushrooms on top of coffee grounds. When the mushroom spawn is not in use, keep it in the fridge.
  • When the container is full, let it sit for 2-3 weeks. Make 4 to 5 holes on the side of the container and water it once daily. You’ll start seeing the mushrooms growing within the first week of watering.
  • This method is very effective for growing mushrooms like shiitakes, oyster mushrooms, and button mushrooms.

3. Grow Mushrooms on Sawdust

Growing mushrooms on sawdust is another great method of mushroom growing without a kit. Take a look at the steps involved below:

  • Take 50% hardwood sawdust and mix it in fuel pellets. Another option is to use raw dust from a mill and mix it with 50% soybean hulls. Now, keep the moisture content of the mixture to 55%. Pack the mixture into 5 to 6 lbs. of specialized autoclavable bags.
  • Now, fill the steaming unit with the packed bags and turn on the steam. Set the temperature to around 200 degrees Fahrenheit by using atmospheric and non-pressured steam for up to 18 hours.  
  • Load the steaming unit with bags and turn the steam on. Use non-pressurized, atmospheric steam and get temperatures up to about 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 18 hours. It usually takes 24-hours of cycling the steaming unit on and off.
  • Take the bags to a HEPA-filtered lab and let them cool for 24-hours before you inoculate them.
  • Now, inoculate each bag with a half cup of oyster mushroom grain spawn. Seal each bag and shake it thoroughly to even out the grains.
  • Put the inoculated bags on a shelf with palm-width spacing on all sides. Let the bag sit for 12 to 15 days until it is colonized fully.
  • Mark the board side of the bad and put it in the fruiting room. The process of fruiting usually happens within ten days. Harvest it and let the bag sit for 14 days. Repeat the cycle, and watch the mushrooms fruiting again.

What are the different types of mushrooms and their growing substrates?

Now that you know how to grow mushrooms without a kit let’s explore the different types of mushrooms and the substrates that suit their growth the most.

1. Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms are one of the most commonly grown types of mushrooms. They thrive the best on logs or sawdust acquired from untreated wood. We recommend hardwood sawdust for growing your shiitake mushrooms.

2. Oyster Mushrooms

Oyster mushrooms are another common mushroom type. They grow best on straw but can also be grown on sawdust, coffee grounds, and cardboard. Oyster mushrooms are the best choice for beginners who are experimenting without a kit because they are the most forgiving of all mushrooms.

3. Button & Portobello Mushrooms

Button and portobello mushrooms are the type that needs nutrient-rich composted manure for growth. For best results, use a straw after mixing it with horse manure. You can get horse manure from stables that are throwing out the horse bedding. Make sure to let the bedding sit outside to rot for up to three weeks. After it’s ready, move onto the pasteurization process.

Types of Mushroom Spawns and Spores

Choosing the right mushroom spawn or spores is another decision that you’ll have to make while growing mushrooms without a kit. We recommend buying spawn instead of spores because the spawn has a higher chance of success. The spores that a lot of practice and time in order to grow mushrooms properly. Therefore, spawns are better suited for beginners.     

You can find a good mushroom spawn online or at your local gardening store. Most mushroom spawns are sawdust inoculated with mushroom mycelia, the mushroom’s root structure.

What are the conditions needed for mushrooms to grow?

Growing mushrooms successfully depends largely on the conditions that you grow them in. Mushrooms have specific requirements in which they thrive. In this section, we are going to discuss all the important factors that make the right conditions for growing the mushrooms.

Let’s dive right in!  

1. Light

Growing mushrooms is a very intricate process and not like growing any regular plants. This is mostly because mushrooms do not contain chlorophyll, and hence, do not require sunlight for growth. That is why the right environment for mushrooms to thrive is away from light. They need to be in a place as dark as possible during the beginning phase of their growth.

Once the mushrooms start to fruit, they’ll require a couple of hours of dim light every day. Mushrooms mostly need dimmed, indirect, or filtered sunlight to grow. You can also consider investing in fluorescent lamps or LED lights for your mushrooms.      

Ideally, you should grow your mushrooms in the basement, as they have limited access to light and have an overall cooler environment.

2. Humidity

Mushrooms require highly humid environments to grow and thrive. They do not have skin, so moisture doesn’t stay on their bodies for long. That is why they require a continuous supply of humidity to avoid water loss and thrive. The mushrooms require their substrate to be moist all the time, but not as much that it drowns them. You can use sheets and plastic bags to retain the moisture in the substrate.

3. Temperature

The ideal temperature for mushrooms is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, as mushrooms prefer cooler environments. If you’re growing wild mushrooms, they can sustain a temperature as high as 90 degrees Fahrenheit, but they will need the temperature to be lowered to at least 70 degrees for fruiting.  

Mushrooms like portobello, oyster, and button all require around 70 degrees Fahrenheit to grow and will not thrive at a higher temperature. On the other hand, the shiitake mushrooms need a little warmer environment that is between 72 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure you keep track of the temperature with a thermometer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Now, let’s address some of the most frequently asked questions about growing mushrooms. Take a look below!

How long does it take to grow mushrooms?

This is a very common question asked by new gardening enthusiasts. The time that it takes for mushrooms to fully grow and be ready for harvest depends on the growing conditions. If you use a mushroom kit to grow them, then it will take them four weeks at most to fully grow.

On the other hand, if you use fresh substrate and spawn instead of spores for oyster mushrooms, it will take them only two to three weeks to fully grow. Shiitake mushrooms take a little longer than six weeks to grow, while elm oysters usually don’t take more than six weeks.     

If you can control the environment to ideal conditions for the mushrooms to grow, then they will fruit much faster than usual.  

Are mushrooms worth growing?

If you’re wondering whether you should get into the business of growing mushrooms, then we would definitely encourage you to do so. First of all, mushrooms are a type of healthy fungus that is filled with vitamins, fiber, antioxidants, and other healthy nutrients.  

Another great benefit of mushrooms is that they are completely fat-free and contain a very low concentration of calories. This makes them a delicious and healthy item for your meals that include salads, pizzas, stews, pasta, and other appetizers.

Mushrooms are also not very difficult to grow because they don’t need light or a dry environment. You can start growing them in your basement. Once you know what you’re doing, you’ll find the process of growing mushrooms very easy and rewarding.

Can I grow mushrooms from store-bought mushrooms?

The answer is yes, you can. The growing process of mushrooms becomes even faster with store-bought mushrooms. This is because you no longer have to wait for spores, and you can easily maximize the mycelium on your mushroom.

Can you grow button mushrooms at home?

The answer is again, yes, you can. It is also very simple. You can grow the mushrooms at home if you can prepare the mixture of manure and compost in equal quantities. Put the mixture in a tray and add spores. Now, wait for the mushrooms to sprout.

How do you grow mushrooms naturally?

If you want to grow mushrooms naturally, you’ll need to follow the following steps:

  • Place the sawdust in a pan and wet it with water
  • Now, add spores to it and cover the pan
  • Use a plastic bag to cover it, or place it into a plastic container
  • Continue misting the tray each day so that it retains the moisture

How hard is it to grow mushrooms at home?

Growing mushrooms at home can be quite challenging, especially if you’re doing it without a kit for the first time. It can become difficult to control the conditions at home. However, with some effort, you can make the conditions ideal for the mushrooms to thrive.

Final Thoughts

Growing your own mushrooms is fun and rewarding because you get to taste the fruit at the end (literally). By following our guide above, you can grow mushrooms even without a kit. Make sure you take extra care to provide the right conditions to your mushrooms. When you follow the steps properly, there is very little room for error, and you will have no problem growing the mushrooms without a kit.

If you have any questions or feedback, leave them in the comments below, and we’ll be sure to respond to them. Happy gardening!