How To Grow Shrooms
There are many types of mushrooms, and previous studies have explained the fact that they fruit excellently on straw, especially oysters. More explanation here in this post
If you plan on growing gourmet mushrooms, it's recommended that you do this on hardwood sawdust that has been nourished with nitrogen, this will help you get better yield. Understand that if you decide to grow your gourmet mushrooms using sawdust blocks then you’ll need more preparation than you’ll with straw. More equipment will be required for this work because these blocks must be sterilized first before any planting can be done on them at all. This isn't with straw, which only needs pasteurization.
However, sawdust blocks have a lot of good sides because the entire growing process won’t only be fast, but also, you’ll have little or no contaminants to deal with. Your choice of sawdust blocks also affords you the chance of getting large and healthy fruits at the end of the growth period. This is an amazing use of sawdust blocks!
The ingredients we use in growing our gourmet mushrooms include sawdust made from hardwood pellets, together with wheat bran mixed with water. We chose hardwood because we can easily get its pellets from any store or even online.
You must use hardwood and not softwood, this is because softwood doesn’t have the necessary ingredients and requirements that will support mushroom growth. Talking about wheat bran, this is used because it's a good source of nitrogen and can be accessed at any regular grocery, the only cons that wheat bran has is that it's very expensive to purchase. But this challenge can be surmounted by getting one from a farm store. Another alternative to wheat bran is oat bran, though of lower quality and effectiveness to wheat bran. Don’t be bothered about how much water to add, just a moderate amount is OK. The reason is that you don’t want to have a messy block, just add water in bits and when you reach the desired moisture level, you stop. Some great recipes can be used for your fruiting block (Every 5 lb size);
- Hardwood pellets (5 cups)
- Water (About 1.5L)
- Cup of wheat bran
Directions on how to successfully grow your mushrooms on sawdust fruiting blocks with supplements
Step 1: Take an accurate measurement of the components
A block that weighs about 4lb 4 oz will be produced from the recipe above. After adding 12 oz of grain spawn to the block, what you’ll end up with as the weight of the block should be about 5 lbs. You can get about 4 blocks sterilized all at a time so far the pressure sterilizer can hold.
Step 2: Introduce water to the sawdust pellets
This step involves a careful addition of water to your sawdust pellets. You start by getting a sizeable container big enough to generously contain your sawdust pellets. A large container is important so that you wouldn't have an issue with mixing. Add water to your hardwood pellets and mix adequately until you have a fine mixture, note that warm water enables the pellets to quickly break up. Ensure that you allow your sawdust pellets to be fully broken up before you introduce your mushroom, this helps your mushrooms to grow unhindered.
Step 3: Add wheat bran
When you’re sure that the sawdust pellets are completely broken up, then you can measure the correct amount of bran, and then add it to your culture. Be careful not to be too generous when adding the bran, because that could place your mushrooms at risk of contamination. So, do well to make certain your measurements are accurate. Another instruction here is that you should thoroughly mix the bran and sawdust.
Step 4. Introduce the mixture to the grow bags
Since your grow bag is ready all along, then add the mixture you’ve prepared before this step to the grow bags. Usually, 4 lbs 4 oz of the mixture is what I add to each grow bag, and altogether they make about 5 lb blocks after the spawn has been added. Grow bags are made from propylene, and they’re designed purposely for mushroom growth. This polymer enables them to stand the pressure of sterilization. They're also a filter patch that allows for breathing during the colonization of the substrate.
Step 5. Fold grow bags down
The grow bags have tops and these tops should be gusseted and folded in a way that the tops are down, having the filter placed in between the gussets. One advantage of this process is to protect the mushrooms from being contaminated when doing post sterilization cooling. In the course of cooling, air enters through the gussets, so the filter is in place to prevent dirty air from gaining entry into the entire system. The filter is very pivotal and should be set in place at any time before sterilization.
Step 6: Sterilize using pressure
Arrange your grow bags inside the pressure sterilizer. Before stacking them inside, use a lid or something that will shield the bags from touching the base of the pressure sterilizer. This helps prevent the bags from getting burnt. After this is done, fill up with water to the level before the top of the bag. There will be a need for an additional water supply because the sterilization process will belong. You must place a plate on top of the grow bags, this is advised to prevent the whole system from falling apart because the bags could clog up their weight and strain the relief valve of the pressure sterilizer cover.
When this precaution isn't taken, then there's pressure build-up in the cooker, which could be very harmful to the process. The whole process should be done in 2.5 hours. That’s the period it’ll take to arrive at successful decontamination.
Step 7: Cooling and inoculation
Cool down your fruiting blocks for 8 hours at least. It’s recommended that you do the sterilization at night so that you’ll leave the blocks to cool down overnight. Cool down the blocks to at least 37°C.
Inoculation of the fruiting blocks is best done using a laminar flow hood. This technique ensures that you don’t contaminate the blocks, but you could also do it in a glove box. Though a glove box doesn’t guarantee sterility. After introducing grain spawn to your sawdust block, quickly zip the mouth and place it on a shelf. Colonization of the grains begins, and a very important way to speed up this process is by shaking the bag so that the grains will distribute evenly.
Step 8: Allow To Colonize
The colonization period takes time, and how fast this crucial process lasts is determined by what type of mushroom and the quantity of spawn you’re working with. Averagely, it will take around 10-22 days before your mycelium fills your block. Do not shake the bag after the colonization has begun, instead let the process happen naturally. But this doesn’t stop you from doing a periodical check on your fruiting bag, you need to look out for contamination! Once you’ve discovered that a bag is already contaminated, what you do is throw it out of the grow room, do not open it!
Step 9: Fruit!
Once you’re sure that colonization of the bag is established, then fruiting is next in line. The requirements for this stage varies with individual mushrooms, but for most of our gourmet strains of mushrooms, what you do is to cut the top of the bag off and put it in the growing environment. Then, the process of fruiting begins. At this stage, close monitoring of the process is needful, so that you will be sure that humidity and temperature are within normal range.
Step 10: Harvest
Harvesting is next to fruiting, and that can be initiated the moment you sight your mushrooms to be of satisfactory size. You need to be very strategic when harvesting so that you don’t destroy the block. The reason is that you can still use that block some number of times before disposing of it finally. Understand that your block becomes more prone to contamination as it ages. So, bear this in mind and always be on the alert during subsequent mycelial growth.
Thanks for reading, and best wishes in your mushroom growth!