Maitake mushrooms or "Ram’s head" can be cultivated outdoors as well as indoors. Indoor cultivation takes less time than outdoor cultivation. Given below is the procedure to grow them indoors.
Maitake mushrooms (Grifola frondosa) are highly cultivated because of their medicinal value and edibleness. Wildly, this species of mushrooms is found to be growing at the base of oak and other trees. It is native to Northeast Japan and North America. However, it is cultivated in many other regions due to its usefulness. Growing maitake mushrooms outdoors takes longer time than growing them indoors. This is probably because all the essential requirements for growth can be maintained in an indoor setting. Indoor cultivation needs some amount of expertise, and someone who is taking up this task for the first time, will probably require a few sessions of practice before getting good at it.
Growing Maitake Mushrooms Indoors
You Will Need
- Maitake spawn
- Hardwood sawdust (fine and coarse)
- Wheat bran (coarse)
- Gypsum or lime
- Cultivation bag
- pH tester
Fine and coarse hardwood sawdust (3:1) + Coarse wheat bran + Calcium compound (gypsum or lime) + Sucrose = 75% + 23% + 1% + 1% = 100%
- Buy the spawn from a reliable store as many strains fail to produce fruit. Reliable stores test a strain thoroughly before selling it, to ensure cultivation.
- Maitake spawn is available in liquid, sawdust plug, wooden plug and grain form. As this method involves making the substrate, it is better to use liquid maitake spawn. Sawdust spawn or grain form can also be used for growing the mushrooms at home. Wooden plugs are generally used for outdoor cultivation.
- Take all the substrate ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Prepare the substrate formulation as mentioned above, maintaining stringent quantities of ingredients. Calcium compound like gypsum or lime is incorporated in the substrate to maintain the specific pH requirement for growth of mushrooms. Maitake mushrooms need a pH range of 5.5-6.5 for proper growth.
- Fill the substrate formulation in a cultivation bag. Indoor cultivation is done using vented burlap or plastic cultivation bags. Fill the bags with sufficient quantity of substrate and proceed to the next step.
- Add maitake spawn to the prepared substrate formulation and mix well using a sterile spoon, to uniformly distribute the mycelium all over the substrate.
- Use potting soil to form a casing of 1-2 inches over the substrate. You can also use soil gathered from hardwood forest to form the casing. This provides necessary support to the growing fungus.
- Place the prepared cultivation bags in a well-ventilated room. Maitake mushrooms require indirect sunlight for growth. In fact, light source is not required till mushroom bodies begin forming.
- Maintain temperatures between 60-70°F and relative humidity between 60-65% in the cultivation room. Use a mist spray to water the maitake daily to maintain moisture content in the substrate.
- It takes around 3-4 months for maitake mushrooms to mature indoors. When cultivated outdoors, the time required for maturation is around one year.
- Harvesting of fresh mushrooms can be done when they are large enough. Erect ones with fresh, earthy smell can be harvested. The ones which have fishy smell with drooping caps are not fit for consumption.
- When cutting, support the mushroom cap and cut the base with a sharp knife. Store the harvest in a refrigerator, which can be consumed within two weeks. To increase the shelf life of mushrooms, hang them upside-down and let them dry. After thorough drying, these can be packed in a plastic bag, sealed and stored in a dark place.
Maitake mushroom growing kits are available in the market, which can be a great option for beginners. They are fast and easy to set up. First-time users can really benefit out of these readily available kits. Their convenience can be illustrated by the fact that, even kids can use these kits to grow mushrooms as a fun activity. Used kits can later be used as spawns for outdoor cultivation of mushrooms.
Health benefits of maitake mushrooms include; inhibition of tumor growth, diabetes control, strengthening of the immune system, etc. These are some of the reasons why their cultivation is quite high. This species of mushrooms can grow to very large sizes. They can grow large enough to weigh more than 25 lbs. Cultivating these huge mushrooms at home can be quite interesting. Try this out to experience something new, which even your kids might love and appreciate.