Today's Gardener (todaysgardener.com) participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.
Growing mushrooms indoors, I believe, is something that every person interested in growing their own food should try.
They are healthy, delicious, nutritious, and whatnot, but the fact is that many gardeners somewhat fret trying to grow mushrooms on their own.
And I don’t blame them, mushrooms are not that commonly grown indoors.
But still, there is nothing easier, I tell you. So let’s see how to do it!
How to Grow Mushrooms Indoor
1. Choose the type of mushrooms you want to grow
Of course, there are many types of mushrooms and they are all delicious!
Truth be told, whichever type of mushrooms you choose to grow, you will not make a mistake, and the process won’t differ that much.
But still, you should have some general idea of what you want to have in your own indoor garden.
Some of the most popular choices when it comes to growing mushrooms yourself are:
- white button mushrooms
- shiitake mushrooms
- oyster mushrooms
As I said, they are all delicious and the process might not differ that much, but there still are some differences.
For example, the surface on which they grow.
Actually, it is not that much a necessity as it is the thing of nutrition that the mushroom will get from each separate medium.
Let me illustrate this further with the types I’ve mentioned above:
- white button mushrooms normally grow on manure
- shiitake mushrooms grow best on hardwood or sawdust (however strange this may sound to you!)
- and oyster mushrooms thrive on straw or even coffee grounds
Truth be told, you don’t even have to choose!
You can try with all three types and see which one grows closest to your heart.
Note: If you want to grow your mushrooms in sawdust, please, do remember to use untreated and all-natural wood.
2. Buy the spores or spawn (better!)
If you are new to growing mushrooms indoors, you might not know what a mushroom spawn is.
Well, simply speaking, the mushroom spawn is a substance that has been “treated” with fungus vegetative growth or mycelium, as it is called.
Mycelium looks somewhat like tangled strings.
You know, when you are repotting your plants and you see those tangled roots? Well, something like that, just much much finer.
Anyway, this mycelium is the base for growing mushrooms.
You can’t grow a fig without a fig tree, right?
Well, you can’t grow a good mushroom without mycelium either!
If I am to compare the spawn with something of an ordinary plant, I would compare it to seedlings.
Now, some sellers will also offer spores.
But, as I said, the spawn is much better. And why so?
Well, if the spawn is seedlings, spores are seeds.
And we all know that it is much easier and more successful when you grow something from seedlings rather than from seed, right?
3. Sterilize the medium for your chosen mushroom type
Even though I said that you should always use untreated wood if you are growing your mushrooms on hardwood or on sawdust, I would still highly suggest that you sterilize it, even if it is untreated.
Everything has some small microorganisms in it, and sterilization will help remove them.
True, most of them would be completely harmless, but let’s remove the chance of those harmful ones.
Not harmful that they will treat your health, but they can compete and battle with mycelia (it is very delicate), and your mushrooms might not grow as well as they should.
- Put the straw or sawdust in a bowl that can stand the heat.
- Pour some water over it to make it damp.
- Place the bowl in a microwave or over high heat and heat it until the water has boiled off.
The heat will kill off all of the microorganisms and your medium will be ready to accept the mycelia and grow some mushrooms.
Of course, if you are planning on planting a lot of mushrooms and you have a lot of straw/sawdust, you might need to take some more time and repeat these 3 steps several times.
After all, better safe than sorry.
And it will be worth the extra time!
4. Warm the medium to spread mycelia
The mushroom spawn containing mycelia needs to spread nicely all over the growing medium before it starts growing some delicious mushrooms.
And I don’t just mean spread on the surface, but get well into the medium.
How to do so?
Well, there is no better way than heat!
The warm temperature will help the mycelia grow and spread and make a good base for growing those delicious mushrooms.
Here is how to do that:
- Take a baking tray and place a few handfuls of your base substrate in it.
It is always much smarter to use a shallow tray with a large surface because it is easier for mycelia to grow and spread like that.
- Now add the spawn into the baking tray and mix it well with the medium.
Please, don’t forget to sterilize your mixing tool before the process itself.
- When you have properly mixed the two, place your baking tray onto a heating pad and set the temperature to about 70°F (my European people, that is about 20-21°C). This is not that hot, but it is warm enough to produce the best growing conditions.
- Leave this setting of yours in a dark place for about a month.
A basement or a cabinet will do the trick and this will give the mycelia just enough time to grow and spread nicely.
5. Place the mycelia tray in the right environment
Sometimes, it takes somewhat less than a month for mycelia to colonize your medium completely.
Therefore, it is best to check the tray from time to time (ideally, every week) to see if the mycelia have colonized the medium properly.
It looks like white fuzz or something like moss, so if the whole tray is covered in it, it is ready.
Once it has been all covered in this moss-like fuzz, you can move it to a more suitable environment and remove the heating pad.
The ideal temperature would be around 50-55°F or 10-13°C and do not forget to place it somewhere dark.
Basement, a cupboard, or a drawer would be perfect.
However, if you are using a cupboard, a cabinet or a drawer, do check the room temperature beforehand. It is not good if it is too warm.
6. Provide proper conditions
Now, as I said, this mossy stuff should be white, completely white. And so if you happen to see any green or brown spots on it, remove them and throw them away.
Another thing that you should do is cover your substrate with a handful of soil and add some water over it.
Not too much to make it soaked, but enough to make it damp.
Mushrooms like when it is moist and dark, so to prevent the moisture loss, you can even place a damp cloth or a towel over this substrate that you have made.
Another good idea is to place a grow lamp somewhat above your tray. This will “act” as the sun and it will give your mushrooms some sense of orientation.
This way, they will always grow upwards and you will have no hard time picking them. No digging for those sweet mushrooms, just picking them up.
As easy as that!
You should never forget about the moisture as it is one of the most important things when it comes to growing mushrooms.
Check them from time to time and spray some water over the soil or the cloth/ towel to keep the conditions perfectly balanced.
Also, don’t forget that the temperature should be cool, so if you are keeping your mushroom tray in a drawer or a cupboard and it starts to get naturally hot in the room, consider moving the mushroom tray to a cooler place.
As long as the temperature doesn’t go well over 70°F or 21°C, they should be just fine.
7. Harvest the grown mushrooms
In about one month after the initial mycelia spreading, you should start to see small mushrooms emerging from the tray.
It means that you are doing everything perfectly and just continue to do as you do.
Of course, I don’t mean 30 days in a second, so if you don’t see the little mushroom heads after a month, do not panic.
Just wait a little longer and they will surely appear.
After all, it is not rocket science, and if you got the initial white fuzz and kept the environment cool and moist, they will surely appear.
Once you can clearly see the cap of the mushroom rising above the stem, you know that it is ready to be picked!
Now, I know that you are very excited at this moment and that you just can’t wait to pick and prepare your mushrooms, but let me tell you one more thing.
Picking mushrooms with your bare hands can hurt the other mushrooms growing beneath the one you are picking right now, so using a sharp knife to cut the mushroom at the base of the stem is a much smarter idea.
And now, you are all set and ready to prepare and enjoy your homegrown mushrooms!
As you can see, growing mushrooms indoors isn’t all that hard!
Actually, it is rather easy and it doesn’t require that much work or attention.
So, I hope that you will try out this technique and enjoy the mushrooms from your own little indoor garden.