How to Grow Mushroom Spawn

Overview

For centuries, mushrooms have been used for culinary and medicinal reasons. Growing mushrooms from spores is a rewarding and challenging experience for an avid gardener or chef. During this process, you create mushroom spawn with a syringe and a substrate, which is one of the most common methods of growing mushrooms at home. When you grow mushrooms, you enrich your landscape and compost pile and save money in the long run. Keep in mind some key steps when growing mushroom spawn.

Step 1

Place the jars one at a time into the pressure cooker to sterilize them. Follow directions according to the type of pressure cooker you have. Let the jars cool for at least 11 hours.

Step 2

Fill the sterilized jars half full with the substrate (this is what the mushrooms will cultivate in). Ideal substrates include wild bird seed and ground corn.

Step 3

Poke four to five holes about 1/3 inch in diameter into each jar lid with the needle (use a hammer if necessary). Thread the polyfill into the holes with the needle. This will repel contaminants and bacteria.

Step 4

Screw the lids onto the jars tightly. Keep in a cool dry room out of direct sunlight.

Step 5

Sterilize the syringe needle by heating it with the lighter or matches for about 10 to 15 seconds. Then swab the needle with a cotton ball drenched in alcohol.

Step 6

Insert the needle into each poked hole in the lids, working one at a time. Poke the needle carefully through the polyfill until the needle hits the substrate. Inject 100 cc of the spore into the seed through each hole.

Step 7

Keep the completed spore jars in a dry storage place with a temperature that ranges between 85 and 90 degrees F. Observe the jars until you notice a white cobweb-like material, called mycelium, start to cover the substrate with growth. Only keep the white mycelium--for any other color, discard the jar completely.

Step 8

Let the mycelium mature until the substrate is completely covered in it and held together in a hamburger-patty shape.

Step 9

Layer one to two inches of perlite on the bottom of the plastic container. Gently angle the jar toward the container and slide the mycelium patty onto the perlite as smoothly as possible. For 10 days, open the jars three times a day to provide fresh air to the developing mushroom spawn. Within this time you should start to see small pinhead mushrooms.

Step 10

Continue to air out the jars daily until the mushrooms are at the size you desire. The first sign of this is when the cap separates from the stem.

Things You'll Need

  • Spore syringe
  • Canning jars
  • Wild bird seed
  • Pressure cooker
  • Polyfill (polyester fibers) found at craft stores
  • Lighter or matches
  • Cotton balls
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Plastic container
  • Perlite

References

  • Garden Asheville: Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms
  • Shroomery: Using a Pressure Cooker
  • MyoSource: Grow Your Own Mushrooms
Keywords: growing mushrooms, cultivating mushrooms, mushroom spawn

About this Author

Lauren Wise has more than eight years' experience as a writer, editor, copywriter and columnist. She specializes in food, wine, music and pop culture. Her writing has appeared in various magazines, including "Runway," "A2Z," "Scottsdale Luxury Living" and "True West." Wise holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Arizona State University.