Interested in growing your own food? As a gardener, I have grown all sorts of fruits and vegetables in my backyard and have thoroughly enjoyed the joy it.
Recently, I had the chance to work with a friend of mine who was aiming to grow mushrooms inside his home instead of in his backyard. I know a lot about growing food out in the open, but growing mushrooms inside the house was definitely new for me.
Since our experiment was a success, my passion for mushroom-growing increased rapidly and now I’d like to impart my knowledge to all of you through this comprehensive guide on growing mushrooms from spores indoors.
All You Need to Know about Growing Mushrooms from Spores
Learning how to grow mushrooms inside your home is challenging. It’s all about maintaining the right environment. A mushroom is best grown in enclosed spaces than out in the open.
You need to start from the basics before you jump right into the procedure. This section will provide useful information about mushroom growing and present valuable data you must be aware of before beginning the cultivation process.
How Does a Mushroom Grow?
Unlike most plants that grow from seeds, mushrooms grow from spores that are minute reproductive units that are capable of producing new life without sexual fusion. It is impossible to see them with a naked eye.
Spores do not rely on soil. Instead, they depend on substances like manure, compost, grains, sawdust and wood chips to provide nourishment. Combining spores with nutritious substances gives birth to a mushroom spawn, which is the starter ingredient needed for mushroom growth.
The spawn then enables the growth of tiny, thread-like network of filaments called mycelium. Your main aim should be to ensure that the mycelium network grows and covers the entire growing substance before any mushroom heads begin to pop out.
The spawn itself can sprout a mushroom but your mushroom harvest will be much richer if you add spawn to a growing medium. You can use coffee grounds, corn cobs, cardboard, logs, wood chips, straw or cocoa seed hulls, depending on the type of mushroom you want to grow.
The Benefits of Growing Mushrooms Indoors
- You can save space: Growing mushrooms inside your home requires only a quarter of the space that is needed to grow mushrooms out in the open.
- Ideal conditions are possible: Mushrooms do not require direct sunlight or rain. They require a warm and dark place which is why growing them inside makes more sense than growing them outdoors.
- They are superior to store-bought ones: Mushrooms that are grown inside the house are much more superior to store-bought mushrooms. Since they don’t stay on the shelves before consumption, they are much larger, fresher and tastier.
- You have a recycling opportunity: Do you have a lot of cardboard, manure, compost or plastic containers that you wish to recycle? You can use these materials to grow mushrooms! Indoor growing truly gives a new dimension to home recycling.
- Mushrooms guarantee visual appeal: Mushrooms are beautiful to look at and can add visual appeal to any room. Pink and blue oysters and reishi mushrooms, in particular, are really eye-catching and can be a delight to look at, providing visual excitement.
Choosing Mushroom Varieties to Grow
Are you convinced to cultivate mushrooms inside your home yet? Well, allow me to shed light on the different mushroom varieties you can grow.
There are more than 14,000 different types of mushrooms. Some are extremely delicious and safe for consumption while others are poisonous and harmful to health. Below is a list of some popular mushroom varieties you can grow inside your home:
Known scientifically as PleurotusOstreatus, oyster mushrooms are common edible mushrooms. They have a mild and woody taste, much like seafood. Although there are 7 types of oyster mushrooms in total, the best tasting oyster mushroom is the Pearl Oyster that is popular all across North America. (source)
Oyster mushrooms are known to grow well in a bucket or box. They are not very abundant in the wild. Hence, they are popularly grown in homes. They prefer to grow on logs or dead trees, but you can easily replicate the environment at home by using hardwood log chips.
To grow oyster mushrooms, you should mix the mushroom spawn with straw, coffee grounds or sawdust and then leave the container in a cool and dark environment and voila! In a few weeks, you will have delicious mushrooms sprouting up without much effort.
Shiitake mushroom, also known as LentinulaEdodes, is another popular type of mushroom. It has a smoky taste and earthy flavor. In addition to being absolutely delicious, shiitake mushrooms have numerous health benefits. They help lower cholesterol levels and improve blood circulation. (source)
In supermarkets and grocery stores, you will normally find dried shiitake mushrooms but the real treat is eating them when they are fresh.
In the wild, shiitake mushrooms grow on logs. However, you can easily grow them inside your home by drilling holes into a hardwood log, impregnating them with mushroom spawn and then sealing them with wax so mycelium does not dry out.
For quick results, you can grow shiitake mushrooms in sterilized sawdust as well, but the quality of the harvest will not be as good as with the hardwood log.
White Button Mushrooms
White button or white cap mushrooms, scientifically called AgaricusBisporus are the easiest mushrooms you can grow inside your home. These mushrooms contribute to 90% of all mushrooms consumed in the United States. (source) They have smooth caps and small stems.
White button mushrooms have various stages of maturity. When they have just sprouted and are young and immature, they are known as white button mushrooms. If they are slightly brown in color, they are known as cremini mushrooms. When fully grown, they develop into Portobello mushrooms.
White button mushrooms grow best in compost. They prefer a mixture of wet straw and horse manure. Mix the two substances together and pack it down till the temperature of the manure rises.
After 2 to 3 weeks, when the mixture turns dark brown and starts to smell sweet, add it to a tray, inoculate it with spore and keep the tray in a moist and warm place. In 3 to 4 weeks, you will see the fruit!
Enoki mushrooms are very small and thin mushrooms with long stems. Also known scientifically as FlammulinaVelutipes, enoki mushrooms are sold in clusters. They are highly popular in East Asian cuisines and have a mild and delicate flavor with a slight crunch.
Enoki mushrooms are high in minerals and vitamins. They are packed with healthy amino acids and can be a great addition to your diet. Full of antioxidants, they are low in cholesterol and high in dietary fiber.
Enoki mushrooms are very compact and tiny so they do not require a lot of space. You can easily grow them in jars inside your house. They can grow in several organic substrates, but they prefer hardwood sawdust the most. However, you can also use garden compost or straw to grow them.
Maitake mushrooms, or Hen-of-the-Wood mushrooms, are scientifically known as GrifolaFrondosa. They are native to Europe, China and North America. They have a spicy woody and earthy flavor and ruffled feathers like that of a hen.
Maitake mushrooms contain nutrients that can help stimulate our immune system and fight tumors. They can lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels and improve cholesterol levels. They can also help you lose weight by reducing hunger pangs! (source)
As long as you follow proper sterilization methods, you can grow maitake mushrooms on any substrate in damp conditions. Coarse and fine sawdust from aged logs is ideal to grow maitake mushrooms.
Where to Grow Mushrooms Indoors at Home
Mushrooms grow best in a dark, humid and cool environment. An ideal place to grow mushrooms inside your home is inside your basement, attic or den, but you can also grow them under your kitchen sink.
Before you choose a spot to grow mushrooms, you must test its temperature. The ideal temperature to grow mushrooms is between 54 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit (with the exception of Enoki mushrooms that require a temperature of 45-degree Fahrenheit to grow).
You must ensure that the spot you select is not subjected to direct wind or heat drafts. Ideally, growing mushrooms inside your home is a great winter project because many enclosed spaces tend to get too warm during the summer.
The spot you choose must not get too much light since mushrooms grow the best in a dark environment. To ensure darkness, you can put your mushroom container in a cabinet or a closet.
The Step-By-Step Process of Growing Mushrooms at Home
When growing mushrooms at home, you must mimic the same lifecycle that they go through in the wild in their natural habitat. Below is a step-by-step guide on growing them inside your home:
Step # 1: Decide What Mushroom You Want to Grow
First, you must decide the type of mushroom you want to grow. Oyster, shiitake, maitake, white button and enoki mushrooms are all great choices.
The type of mushroom you will choose will determine the substrate you will need, so it’s important that you conduct ample research about each mushroom’s needs.
If you are a beginner and want to learn as you progress, start with white button mushrooms. They are the easiest to grow and delicious as well!
Step # 2: Purchase or Grown Mushroom Spawn
The next step is to purchase a mushroom spawn from a retailer or grow your own spawn.
If you’re saving time and buying it, it is essential that you purchase high quality spawn, preferably from Fungi Perfecti (source).
However, if you want to grow your own mushroom spawn, you will need a sterile environment and some grain seeds. Obtain the mushroom spore from the inside of a mushroom cap and add them to sterilized gelatin dishes.
When you witness mycelial growth, transfer the contents from the dishes into sterilized jars containing rye, millet or wheat. The mycelial culture will penetrate the seeds completely and can be used as mushroom spawn.
Step # 3: Choose a Mushroom-Growing Medium
There is no best growing medium for mushroom cultivation. You should choose a substrate that is best for the type of mushroom you are growing. For example, maitake mushrooms prefer wood-based substrates, whereas oysters will grow on almost any type of substrate.
Some common substrates used by mushroom enthusiasts include:
- Elm, beech, alder, ash, and cottonwood logs
- Sawdust enriched with a nitrogen supplement such as bran
- Cereal straws such as wheat, rye, and oat
- Non-toxic, undyed cardboard
- Used organic tea leaves/coffee grounds
You must ensure that your spawn matches your substrate.
For example, if you wish to cultivate on logs, a wood-based spawn, such as sawdust is best. The concept behind this idea is that since the mycelial culture is already familiar with the spawn material, colonization will take less time if the spawn and substrate are like one another.
Step # 4: Inoculate the Growing Medium
The next stage is to inoculate your growing medium, and that means it’s time for you to introduce your mushroom spawn to the substrate you have selected.
Before transferring spawn into the substrate, you must wash your hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap and water to ensure there’s no spread of bacteria. Break the substrate with your hands to ensure that the spawn is completely mixed into the substrate.
Step # 5: Provide Ideal Conditions for Mycelium to Grow
The 5th step is to incubate the spawn induced substrate and provide ideal conditions for mycelial growth. Place the substrate in a warm, dark and moist place for a few weeks. Keep misting after every few days to ensure moisture retention.
During this time, your mycelium will completely colonize your substrate and you will most likely witness a solid white mat of mycelium on the outside of your substrate at the end of the incubation phase.
Step # 6: Relocate the Substrate into Proper Environmental Conditions
Once mycelial growth is complete, you must create ideal conditions for fruiting. This step involves removing the container or bag from the enclosed space and keeping it in open air, perhaps near a window sill. Mist the substrate every day to prevent loss of moisture.
Step # 7: Harvest Mushrooms When Fully Grown
In a few days, you will witness that mushroom pinheads, known as primordia, have formed on the surface of your substrate. A pinhead will transform into a full-sized mushroom in a few days, after which you can harvest it.
Harvesting a mushroom mostly involves gently twisting or pulling the mushroom cap away from the substrate. If you are unable to pull away, use a sharp knife and cut it out gently. (video)
Step # 8: Prepare for Future Growing Spells
Some species of mushrooms will produce multiple waves called flushes. Your substrate will keep producing mushrooms till it exhausts all of its energy.
You can use your initial mycelium to inoculate different types of substrates for more mushrooms. The mycelium will finally deteriorate and lose its ability to grow and divide. Then, if you want more mushrooms, you will have to repeat the entire process, starting from step one.
Frequently-Asked Questions about Growing Mushrooms from Spores
Q1. How Long Does It Take to Grow Mushrooms from Spores?
A: Depending on the type of mushroom you are growing and the environmental conditions, it can take about 1 to 3 weeks, on average, for mushrooms to grow from spores. It takes about 1 week for the spores to grow mycelium and then another 10 to 15 days for mushrooms to sprout.
The time it takes is highly dependent on the species you choose to grow. Shiitake mushrooms, for example, can take around 6 to 12 months to grow indoors from spores, whereas oyster mushrooms only take around 14 to 28 days.
Q2. How Do You Get Mushroom Spores to Grow?
A: To grow mushroom spores, you need to introduce your mushroom spawn to the growing medium. After preparing your substrate from coffee grounds, straw, manure, compost, vermiculite, flour or any other growing medium, you must sterilize it and then introduce mushroom spores into it.
Next, you must place the substrate in a warm and dark place. This will start the fungal growth of mycelium and allow your spores to grow!
Q3. Is It Safe to Grow Mushrooms Indoors?
A: Yes. It is completely safe to grow mushrooms in an enclosed space. Cremini, enoki, Portobello, maitake, oyster, shiitake, and white button mushrooms can all be grown inside your home.
However, some people might be sensitive to mushroom spores, so if you have dust or pollen allergies, consult with your doctor before growing mushrooms in your home to rule out any chances of lung diseases, such as lung inflammation.
Ensure that you do not grow poisonous mushroom varieties indoors. It is hard to tell if a mushroom is poisonous, but there are some warning signs you should look out for (source).
Q4. How Do You Grow Button Mushrooms At Home?
A: You can easily grow button mushrooms at home by following the instructions given below:
- First, mix equal parts of manure and compost in a filling tray.
- Next, add mushroom spores over the surface.
- Place the filling tray in a warm and dark place and wait for the mycelium to form. It takes about 3 to 4 weeks for this to happen.
- Once the network of filaments has taken over the substrate in the tray, place the tray in ideal growing conditions and wait another 1 to 2 weeks.
- Harvest your white button mushroom and enjoy!
Final Thoughts on Growing Mushrooms from Spores
Growing mushrooms may seem like a challenging task but once you get the hang of it, it becomes fairly simple to produce multiple batches. Once you master the art, you can even partner up with your local grocery store or supermarket and start selling your freshly grown mushrooms! Remember:
- Create or purchase high quality spawn.
- Choose an appropriate mushroom substrate.
- Inoculate the substrate with spawn in a sterile environment.
- Place your container in a warm, dark and moist environment for proper growth.
If you have any questions, please comment and I will get back to you!