Cheapest Easiest Way to Grow Mushrooms


An increasing number people have been turning to gardening in an attempt to save money by growing their own produce. While growing mushrooms doesn't usually come to mind as an option, it is easier and cheaper than you might imagine. Here are tips on the four easiest mushrooms to grow: shiitake, oyster, portobello and wine cap mushrooms.

Materials And Conditions

Bear in mind that mushroom growth occurs in an opposite way to vegetable growth. As Paul Stamets, who sells mushroom cultivation kits, explains: "It's the reverse of photosynthesis...Mushrooms take in carbon and consume oxygen, while plants consume carbon dioxide, and create carbon and oxygen." Therefore, organic growing material that is loaded with carbon, such as low-density decaying wood or soil that contains decaying straw or sawdust, is what is necessary for home mushroom cultivation. It is important that the soil of your indoor operation or the tree on which you are growing mushroom is kept moist and in the shade. Unlike vegetables in your garden, mushrooms will not grow well--if at all--in direct sunlight.

Homemade Projects

For oyster mushrooms, a good way to start fruitings (which can eventually be transplanted to decaying trees outdoors) is to make a damp soil of sawdust, straw and coffee grounds. Place the soil in an empty milk carton punched full of holes, which in turn is placed inside a plastic bag. Keep the carton in an unlit part of your home, such as a closet or basement. Shiitake mushrooms tend to grow more efficiently on felled logs. The best logs for such endeavors are made of dense wood, such as oak. Drill shallow holes all over the top and sides of the felled log, spaced roughly 6 inches apart, and fill them with spawn, otherwise known as mushroom starter culture. Place the log in a shady area, and water it frequently so it remains damp. Wine cap mushrooms are unusual, in that they can be grown in a garden. It is best to start them indoors with a home kit before transplanting them outside. Portobello mushrooms require compost that is still in the process of decomposition, preferably midway to completly decomposed. Preparing the perfect compost for portobellos can take up to a month.

Home Kits

Home kits are arguably the best way to begin home mushroom cultivation. You will receive all the materials you need plus detailed instructions and growing tips. Kits sell for as little $26 and are available for shiitakes, oysters, wine caps, portobellos, morels, maitakes and cinnamon caps. What makes a home kit an even better investment is it's expansion capabilities; the mushrooms started indoors can be moved to larger growing bases outside. You can plant newly fruited shiitake mushroom cultures outside in a prepared log. Other newly fruited indoor mushrooms, such as portobellos, will flourish if transferred to a moist compost heap kept in a shady area.

Keywords: growing mushrooms, mushroom cultivation, mushroom kits

About this Author

Juan Ramirez has been a writer for the past 14 years and worked for two years as an assistant editor with an internationally circulated journal. Ramirez holds a Bachelor of Arts in English writing from Potsdam State University and a Master of Arts in individualized study from New York University.

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