Mushrooms have many health benefits. Their nutritional value is very high and they are more or less fat-free. Besides this, they enhance the taste of every dish they are added to. Cultivating mushrooms is a hobby taken up by many nature enthusiasts, as nurturing any kind of plant is a great way of connecting with nature. Here is how you grow mushrooms without spores.
Choose an appropriate place like a small room which is cool, dark, and can be closed from all sides. Sterilize everything, right from the place to all the instruments to be used. HEPA filters can be used to purify the air. A good way to sterilize the instruments is to use polypropylene autoclave bags. Simply follow the instructions written on the bags to make sure that everything is germ free.
Take a very small piece of a mushroom strain and put it on an agar plate. An agar plate is a sterile Petri dish containing a growth medium which facilitates the culture of microorganisms. Provide the mushroom with the proper temperature and keep it slightly damp. After around a fortnight, you will notice that the mushroom tissue culture―mycelium―has grown and filled the entire agar plate. For growing mushrooms without spores, mycelium is a good alternative.
Choice of Substrate
Substrate is the organic material on which mushrooms grow. Be very careful while choosing a substrate. Some types of edible mushroom varieties like Agaricus and button mushrooms grow on compost. While others like oyster mushrooms, Lion's Mane mushroom, and Maitake grow on woody materials, such as raffia, wood chips, sawdust or straw.
Preparation of Substrate for Harvesting
Understanding the correct procedure of preparing the substrate for harvesting is very essential. It is a very complicated process, and might take a couple of weeks. Compost is considered ready for harvesting only when it is full of white actinomycetes bacteria. Remember to sterilize the substrate before the spawn is introduced to it. For this, heat it up to a certain temperature, so that it removes the harmful bacteria and yet does not kill the beneficial microbes. Let it cool. Add calcium sulfate to it, and the compost is ready for harvesting. Woody materials take lesser time to mature. Simply provide them with a heat treatment like hot water steeping, which can be easily carried out at home, and the harmful organisms will be removed from the organic material.
Introduce the spawn containing mushroom mycelium to the chosen substrate. Make sure that the mycelium has grown into healthy, white filaments in the agar plate itself, before it is introduced to the substrate. Maintain the substrate at an ideal temperature of 60 - 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
For providing a proper growth environment to the mushrooms, sprinkle them with water now and then, so that humidity is maintained. Also, cover them with a layer of soil so that the moisture is conserved. It will take about 2 - 4 weeks for the mushrooms to colonize, depending on the type cultivated. When mushrooms are grown on woody material, they need to be maintained in controlled conditions of light and temperature, hence, it can prove to be quite difficult.
Growing mushrooms or in fact maintaining any kind of vegetable garden can be quite a challenge, especially if you are a beginner. It is recommended that you buy a mushroom kit from a commercial mushroom grower. The kit provides ready mushroom culture. Alternately, you can purchase the initial spawn from a professional and introduce the growing fungus to a substrate that you have prepared at home. Prepared substrates are also available in the market.