What’s more delicious than fresh pan-fried oyster mushrooms with garlic, butter, and Parmesan? For me, it’s nothing.
As someone who is fond of gardening and procuring their own vegetables and fruits from scratch, I was enticed by the idea of growing this fleshy edible fungus. Growing them at home means I can have pan-fried oyster mushrooms whenever I want!
Upon researching on them, I discovered that not only are mushrooms pretty simple to grow, but the oyster kind is perhaps the easiest of them all. What’s more is that in less than a month, you will get your own supply of these delicious and fresh vegetables, so you don’t even need to wait that long. This is when I stopped buying mushrooms altogether from the supermarket and have been growing them myself. And honestly, I don’t think I will ever be going back anytime soon.
There are many different ways to grow mushrooms, and the information on the internet can sometimes become too overwhelming for that reason. As complicated as the process might seem, it is actually quite simple. That is why I have compiled this comprehensive guide on oyster mushrooms, and what the easiest way to grow them is, what mistakes to avoid, and much more.
What Are White Oyster Mushrooms?
They are the pearl, grey, or ivory-colored mushrooms referred to with a multitude of other names. These vegetables mature into having a meaty, smooth, and big cap with a long stem. They are commonly grown in the wild on dead trees or fallen logs but are also considered the easiest type of mushroom to cultivate at home. Depending on the kind of oyster mushroom, some grow mostly during the summers, while others during the winters.
All You Need to Know About Growing Oyster Mushrooms
Growing mushrooms is not a complicated process; you just need to have the right materials and keep them in the ideal conditions to allow them to mature. But creating those conditions does require some effort, and you need to be careful with them because, without the proper environment, you will not get the harvest you want.
This is why there are some things you need to know about mushroom growing before getting right into the procedure. These include the health benefits of these types of mushrooms, the advantages of growing mushrooms at home, and the different types and substrates you can use. Read on to find out.
Health Benefits of Oyster Mushrooms
- Reduces the risk of certain diseases and boosts the immune system
- Research (source) shows that oyster mushrooms have a myriad of medicinal benefits; regular consumption of them reduces the risk of getting obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart diseases.
- Aid in weight loss
- The same research (source) also shows that since these mushrooms are low in sodium and calories and are fat-free, gluten-free, and cholesterol-free, they help those trying to lose weight.
- Reduce blood pressure
- Studies (source) show that the mushroom carries high nutrients and vitamins that help regulate blood pressure.
- Build stronger bones
- Besides calcium, bones also require vitamin D and magnesium to be healthier. Luckily, there are high amounts of both in oyster mushrooms that get stored in your body, helping you build stronger bones.
Why Grow Oyster Mushrooms At Home?
Now that you know what health benefits they carry, you might still be wondering why growing mushrooms at home is a better idea since they are readily available in the supermarket. Multiple benefits of homegrown mushrooms make them the superior choice over store-bought ones. These are:
- When grown at home, they are larger and have more flavor
- Compared with store-bought ones, they tend to be fresher since they did not have to sit on shelves for days
- In the long run, growing oyster mushrooms at home will save you costs
- It will help you recycle more efficiently as the spawn is generated from used coffee grounds, sawdust, cardboard, and more
- You will ultimately become more aware of your surrounding and have a newfound appreciation for the wild
How Does a Mushroom Grow?
The cultivating and growing process of a mushroom is quite unique from any other fruits and vegetables. It is much quicker and relatively easier compared to most crops. In fact, sometimes it even feels like a science project as you notice the fungus growing into something delicious. That is why mushroom growing is an excellent activity to do with kids, as it can be educational for them.
Typically, the mushrooms go through three main stages in the growth process that will be discussed further in detail later. These three stages include the inoculation, incubation, and fruiting stages. Here’s a short summary of each of them:
This step involves preparing the environment for the growth of the mushrooms. This is done by mixing in the mushroom spawn with the substrate materials and letting it sit for a few days in a warm and dark place.
The incubation process involves keeping the substrate and spawn in a warm place for a few days until the mushroom mycelium is grown from it, which then colonizes the spawn.
This is the last stage in the process of growing mushrooms. It involves the spawn being completely colonized, which ultimately triggers the mycelium to produce the mushrooms as it runs out of food.
Types of Oyster Mushrooms You Can Grow
Thousands of different types of mushrooms exist in the wild. Of them, only a couple of hundred is commercially grown for eating purposes. Within the classification of oyster mushrooms, you also have a choice. Generally, all of them are easier to grow. Some of the common types of oyster mushrooms that can be grown indoors are:
The Blue Oyster Mushroom
This is one of the fastest-growing mushrooms to be grown in this category. They generally prefer to be cultivated and grown in colder temperatures.
Phoenix Oyster Mushroom
This is also often referred to as the summer or Italian oyster mushroom because it is grown in warm climates. Depending on the strain can be white, brown, or tan.
Pearl Oyster Mushroom
This is the most common type of oyster mushrooms that you are likely to find at the superstores. They are often referred to as the grey oyster mushroom and they grow well in colder temperatures.
Golden Oyster Mushroom
This is also called the ‘yellow’ oyster mushroom. Due to its bright color, it easily stands out and is also often confused for the chanterelle mushroom. This grows in warmer climates.
Pink Oyster Mushroom
This bright and pretty mushroom easily stands out for its beautiful appearance. It is also one of the fast-growing mushrooms of this type, producing fruits in as early as 3-4 weeks. They prefer warmer climates to grow in.
King Oyster Mushroom
Also known as the Eryngii mushroom, king oyster mushroom is quite meaty and flavorful but is often difficult to cultivate. This is why it is not the recommended type of oyster mushrooms that beginners should begin growing.
Step-by-Step Guide to Growing Oyster Mushrooms
Now that you know about the different types of oyster mushrooms you can grow, the health benefits, and more, it is finally time to dive into the detailed procedure to grow these beautiful and delicious treats. This guide will help provide details on each step you need to take to ensure proper cultivation, harvest, and fruition of your oyster mushroom.
Materials You Need
- Oyster mushroom spawn
- Substrate material
- Growing bags/containers
- Gloves and mask
- Spray bottle
Step 1: Decide Which Substrate to Use
The substrate is the material that allows the mushroom mycelium to grow. The mycelium is the vegetative growth of the fungus and is a vital component if you want to grow oyster mushrooms. This is because it provides the mushroom’s roots and determines the successful cultivation of them.
The most common substrate that gardeners use for oyster mushrooms is straw. The other materials you can use include coffee grounds, cardboard, sawdust, and basically anything else that is an agricultural byproduct. This can also include sugarcane or cotton waste.
Other gardeners also like to use wooden pellets because they are readily available and come pasteurized. They are the ideal choice for beginners because of how easy to use they are and since all you have to do with them is soak them in water.
However, the choice of which substrate to use for growing oyster mushrooms largely depends on what is available to you and can be sourced easily. Any of these given options will work well to provide you with the results you want, so choose one that you can quickly get your hands on.
Step 2: Get Mushroom Spawn
Before you begin with mushroom cultivation, you should first arrange your oyster mushroom spawn. The best one to use is grain spawn as it provides larger yields. However, sawdust can work as well.
Step 3: Prepare the Substrate
The substrate provides the ideal nutrient-dense environment for the mushrooms to grow in. This is a vital step in the growing process that you need to do carefully to ensure proper mushroom cultivation. The substrate’s idea is to provide enough food for the mushrooms to help them grow while keeping other microorganisms out.
Here is a quick overview of how to prepare the substrate depending on which one you are using:
Sawdust and Wooden Pellets
As mentioned earlier, these pellets are already pasteurized, so there’s not much preparation work involved. All you will have to do is add equal amounts of water and soak it for half an hour.
This is another type of substrate that has already been pasteurized. Contrary to popular belief, you can easily use coffee grounds for mushroom cultivation; the trick is to use those grounds brewed at least 24 hours earlier. If you plan to make a bigger substrate though, you will have to mix the coffee grounds with some straw.
Straw and Cardboard
Straw is the most commonly used substrate for mushroom cultivation. It is cheap, easy to find, and provides all the nutrients that are required. To prepare the straw substrate, soak it in hot water for around two hours.
Step 4: Inoculation
This is the process wherein you mix the substrate with the mushroom spawn. Before you do this, put on a pair of gloves and wipe down the surface with bleach so that it is germ-free. Then, make sure that your substrate’s moisture content is correct; it should not be too wet or too dry. The right way to see whether the substrate has optimum moisture is by squeezing it with your hand. If it creates a ball, your substrate is ready.
Put the substrate and spawn in a container and mix the two thoroughly with your hands. As you mix, break up the piece of pellets or coffee grounds as you go. After this, you can transfer the mixture to your growing vessel, whether that is a bag or a container. Make sure there are some holes in them to allow the air to enter.
The inoculation process is the most crucial step when you grow mushrooms so ensure that all your surfaces are clean and you are carefully following the method so as to avoid mould.
Step 5: Incubation
This step is the most interesting one as this is essentially when the magic happens!
In the incubation process, the spawn begins to spread over the substrate, eventually colonizing it. However, for this to occur, you need to create the appropriate environment; this is easy as all you need to do is place the spawn and substrate mixture in a warm, dark and humid room in your house. Ensure that the mixture is out of direct sunlight and that the room temperature is between 68F to 75F.
To know when the spawn is colonizing the substrate, you can see whether there is any white growth on it, like a spiderweb. Once the bag or container is completely covered in these spiderweb-like strings, you can begin the fruiting process.
Some of the common problems you might encounter at this stage include blue or green mold formation. If that is the case, observe how much mold there. If there is a lot of this mold on the bag or container, you will likely have to compost the substrate and start anew. But if the formation is small, you can disregard it as the spawn will eventually take it over.
Step 6: Fruiting
This is the last phase to grow oyster mushrooms, and the moment you have been waiting for.
Mushrooms are grown as a stress response of the mushroom mycelium in the substrate. When the spawn begins to colonize it, the nutrients and food for the mycelium run out. As a result, it begins to produce mushrooms for survival.
For the mycelium in your container and bag to grow mushrooms, you will need to replicate the same environment in order to trigger the survival response. Here is how you can do that:
Direct sunlight is not recommended as it would ruin the crop; instead, you should provide them with indirect or shaded light to allow the fruit bodies to form. You can simply open the curtains to allow the light to enter as long as it does not directly hit the substrate mixture.
In the wild, oyster mushrooms grow on tree logs and branches as they have access to fresh oxygen air. That is why you should provide your mixture with fresh air by slightly opening the lid of the container or enlarging the hole in the bag. If you have a container, opening the top for a few hours every day will be enough to trigger the mycelium to begin fruiting.
Keep a spray bottle with clean water and spray it on the substrate mixture twice a day during fruiting to allow it to moisten. This will create a humid environment in the room and keep the substrate hydrated. Instead of drying out, the substrate will begin to grow mushrooms.
When you grow oyster mushrooms, the great thing is that you do not need to worry about the temperature as such. These mushrooms are not as fussy about the temperature as long as it is within the range of 50-85F.
Over the course of the week, the fruiting process will be initiated. Mushroom tops will start growing to become full-sized eventually. When they do, the mushrooms will begin to double in size each day. Don’t forget to keep spraying them twice a day to maintain the humidity in the room.
Some of the problems you might face during the fruiting process are:
Browning of the mushroom; if you encounter this problem, just spray the mushroom and substrate
The mushroom stems being too long and thin; this is an indicator of high carbon dioxide levels. To curb this problem, making bigger holes or keep the lids off for longer to allow greater airflow
Step 7: Harvesting
Now is the time that you begin to harvest your oyster mushrooms. When you notice their edges flattening and curling upwards, immediately harvest the mushrooms. If you don’t, then they will harden and become tough, and also lose their flavors. If it is dropping lots of spores, which are dust-like materials, that is an indicator that it is time to harvest a mushroom.
Here is how you can harvest an oyster mushroom:
- Twice the mushroom off the substrate and pull it out
- Alternatively, use a pair of sharp scissors to cut the stems
- Store the mushrooms in an airtight container in the refrigerator
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Grow Oyster Mushrooms?
Yes, you absolutely can!
Oyster mushrooms specifically are the easiest to grow. You can find materials for them, such as the spawn and substrate easily; in fact, you probably already have them in your house. There are also many growing kits available with all the materials you need to grow them at home. Moreover, an oyster mushroom grows very quickly so you can enjoy fresh, flavorful, and juicy ones in no time.
How Long Does It Take To Grow Oyster Mushrooms?
These types of mushrooms are the fastest-growing ones to exist. Normally, it takes them less than 20 days to grow, provided that you maintain the optimum conditions for them. It can also take up to a month depending on the type of mushroom and the nutrients in the substrates. If the substrate is nutrient-dense, it will take less time for the mushroom to grow. Otherwise, it will take longer. If you are simply fruiting the mushrooms from a growing kit, it will probably take them only ten days to grow out.
How Much Light Do Oyster Mushrooms Need to Grow?
Unlike most crops, the oyster mushrooms do not need sunlight to grow. However, having some light around them will help the mycelium to grow a mushroom. That is why it is recommended to open a curtain or lamp but not right under the substrate as the direct light will dry it out. Instead, provide the substrate with unshaded and indirect sunlight.
Final Thoughts on Growing White Oyster Mushrooms
By now, you must have a great about how to grow this particular type of mushroom. As you can probably tell it is not challenging, but relatively quite simple and straightforward. You can use the aid of a growing kit if the work seems like a lot to you. Though this procedure was written for oyster mushrooms, you can use it for other vegetable types.
- When you follow this step-by-step procedure, remember to:
- Gather all the materials before beginning the process
- Clean all the surfaces with bleach
- Wear gloves when mixing the substrate or with thoroughly cleaned hands
- Spray the substrate with water twice a day during the fruiting process
- Provide indirect light and fresh air to the substrate
We hope you found this guide useful and that it answered all the questions you had. If you have any other questions regarding the growing process or gardening, don’t hesitate to comment below and we will reach out to you and help you out. If you want to know more gardening tips, visit our blog. Happy gardening!