Fresh oyster mushrooms growing on your kitchen counter? Shiitake always at hand? Mushroom culture has never been easier than with a growing kit! The culture process varies slightly depending on the variety, but it is very simple: open the bag, soak the mycelium block (the “underground” form of the mushroom, of which we actually eat the reproductive organ), then spray water from time to time to conserve moisture and finally harvest your own mushrooms!
One culture kit can give up to 4 harvests, for a total of approximately 1.5 pound of mushrooms. You can then use the mycelium to sow your garden or a Smart Pot!
Good to know:
- The mycelium should not be left in stagnant water. Excess water should always be drain.
- Moisture can be controlled by placing the mushroom bag under a glass bell left ajar to let the air circulate. A plastic dome ajar or an aquarium or terrarium also work well. You can also use a damp brown paper near the mycelium for a better moisture conservation.
- For shiitake, you must remove the bag completely to soak the mycelium in water. Mushrooms will come out of the entire surface.
- For oyster mushrooms, if the mycelium is left in the bag, you have to punch the bag with a knife all over, to allow excess water to drain and allow to oxygenate the mycelium.
Mushrooms can be grown in Smart Pots, placing the substrate inoculated with mycelium in a donut shape all around the inside of the pot. Then fill with soil and grow plants the usual way. No special watering is required, but make sure to keep the soil moist. After a few weeks of development, mushrooms will pass through the membrane; you don’t need to make holes.
Substrate: You can use ramial chipped wood (RCW), sawdust, dry leaves or straw (for oyster mushroom only) to feed the mushroom in addition to the soil. Avoid wood from evergreens.
Mushrooms can also be grown directly in the garden, by placing mycelium pieces not too deep in the ground and covering them with ramial chipped wood. You can also grow mushrooms on logs (from leafy trees) or freshly cut stumps. You have to drill holes, distributed evenly throughout the log, then fill them with mycelium and seal them with beeswax.
Mushrooms can be grown with companion plants. Choose plants that are not demanding in fertilization: berries, herbs, lettuce, swiss chard, radish, cabbage, carrots, onions, etc. A soil too rich in compost, nitrogen fertilizer and soluble chemical fertilizer will be detrimental to the mushroom growth.
Elm oyster and blue oyster mushrooms are perennial. The mycelium survives the rigors of winter and produces as soon as the temperature and moisture conditions are favorable. Shiitake survives better in the winter when its mycelium is inserted in a leafy tree log at least one month prior to freeze.
Store your mycelium in the fridge until you are ready to start growing, unless it is already at room temperature when you buy it.
An open bag of mycelium can be stored in the fridge for up to two years, by putting it in a micro-perforated plastic bag (salad bag). Avoid temperature oscillations that could cause the mycelium to wake. To activate it, soak it for 12 h in lukewarm dechlorinated water (to dechlorinate it, just let your water sit in an open container for 24 h ; the chlorine will evaporate).
It doesn’t work?
If nothing happens, ensure that all culture parameters below are met. If necessary, place the kit in the fridge for 2 days, then soak the mycelium again.
If there is some blue mold on your mycelium, just cut the affected section with a knife. Mold spores are carried in the air and are favored by moisture. By removing the section affected by the mold, the mushroom will continue to produce.
If your mycelium extends in the air (white foam coming out of the mycelium block), it’s only that the environment is really humid and the mycelium took the opportunity to extend. If it continues to extend for more than a week, place the kit in the fridge and soak the mycelium again after two days.