Growing mushrooms from spores with a syringe and a substrate is one of the most common and simple ways to grow mushrooms for your garden or household. People have been growing them for centuries for medicinal and culinary purposes, and it requires less time and materials then people may think. Not only do they have practical use, but growing mushrooms can also enrich your landscape. Growing mushrooms will enrich your landscape, compost pile, produce and save you money in the long run. Keep in mind some key steps when growing mushroom spores.
Preparation for Mushroom Cultivation
Sterilize the mason jars with the pressure cooker, making sure to follow the directions exactly. Cool the jars for at least 10 hours.
Choose a substrate to cultivate the mushroom spores. Wild bird seed is an ideal substrate. Fill the jars half full with the bird seed.
Poke four holes into each mason jar lid, using the needle (give it a little more force with the hammer if necessary). The holes need to be about 1/3 inch in diameter, scattered evenly around the lid. Use the needle to stuff contaminant-repelling polyfill into each hole. Polyfill is polyester fibers, and can be found at craft stores.
Put the lids onto the jars. Keep them in a cool dry room, out of direct sun.
Use a lighter to heat up the syringe needle for about ten seconds, in order to sterilize it. Swab the length of the needle with a cotton ball soaked in the alcohol.
Insert the sterilized needle carefully into each poked hole in each lid. Pass it through the polyfill until the needle hits the bird seed. Inject 100 ccs of the spore into the seed, through each hole. Re-sterilize the needle after each injection.
Cultivating the Mushrooms
Place the completed spore jars back into the cool dry storage place. Make sure it the temperature stays between 85 and 89 degrees Fahrenheit. Watch the jars until you notice a white cobweb-like material, called mycelium, start to grow on the bird seed. If the color of the mycelium is anything but white, throw out the entire jar and start over.
Let the mycelium develop until it has completely overtaken the bird seed, molding it into a hamburger patty shape of white growth.
Bring a plastic container to the mason jars. Layer one inch of perlite in the bottom of it. Angle the mason jar towards the container, and slide it as smoothly as possible onto the perlite. Check on the spores around four times per day, opening the container to provide fresh air for the developing mushrooms. Within ten days you should notice pinhead mushrooms beginning to sprout.
Harvest the mushrooms once they reach the size you want. They usually reach mature growth once the cap separates from the stem.
About this Author
Lauren Wise is a journalism major from Arizona State University with over forty published magazine and media articles and over 400 Web site articles. Wise owns Midnight Publishing with over eight years experience as a writer, editor, copywriter and columnist. She specializes in food and wine, music and pop culture. Her writing has appeared in magazines including Runway, A2Z, Scottsdale Luxury Living and True West.