Mushrooms have been grown for centuries for gourmet, culinary and medicinal uses. Growing mushrooms will enrich your landscape, compost pile, produce and save you money in the long run. The best way to grow mushrooms is with spore syringes and a substrate that is nutrient rich, such as bird seed. Keep in mind some key steps when growing mushroom spores.
Preparation for Cultivating Mushrooms
Use the pressure cooker to sterilize the mason jars, following the directions carefully. Let the jars cool for at least nine hours.
Fill the jars about halfway with the bird seed, which will act as the substrate in which the mushroom spores cultivate.
Use the needle, with a hammer if extra force is necessary, to poke four or five holes, about 1/3- to 1/2-inch wide, in the lids of the jars. Fill all of these holes with the polyfill, which is made up of polyester fibers such as the ones used to stuff pillows. Use the needle to poke the polyfill through to the other side of the lid. This polyfill will assist in repelling contaminants.
Place the lidded jars in a dry, cool room. Make sure the jars are out of direct sunlight.
Heat the needle on the spore syringe with a lighter for about 10 seconds to sterilize it. Soak a cotton ball in the alcohol and run it over the needle. Insert the sterilized needle into each hole in each lid, gently poking it through the polyfill as lightly as possible. Inject 100 ccs of the spore into the seed. Make sure to re-sterilize the needle after each injection.
Keep the spore jars in that same storage area, as long as it is no cooler than 85 degrees Fahrenheit but no warmer than 89 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep an eye on the jars until a cobwebby white material (mycelium) starts to form on the seed. Discard any jars completely if the material appears green, black or brown.
Developing mycelium will continue to grow until it creates a round, patty-like shape, similar to a hamburger meat patty. The bird seed should be completely covered by the mycelium.
Layer one inch of perlite in the bottom of a plastic container. Tilt the jar and slide the mushroom spore patty into this container. Open the container four or five times per day and fan the patty with the lid. Repeat this procedure until you notice mushroom pinheads growing, which will usually occur within 10 days.
Harvest the mushrooms once they reach the desired size, which is usually when the mushroom cap separates itself from the stem.
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.