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How to Grow Mushrooms from Spores?

Mushrooms are fungus and don’t produce seeds. Instead, they reproduce through spores. Mushrooms are non-vascular, and they form underground strands referred to as mycelium. Mycelium helps in collecting food for the fungus and can live for years.

To grow mushrooms from spores, you must germinate the spores in a sterile environment with a substrate that the mycelia can break down and absorb nutrients. The mycelia will expand, moving along the life cycle until it fruits, producing mushrooms.

A single mushroom can release billions of microscopic spores. However, not all mushrooms release healthy spores. Only a few of these spores germinate as mushroom spores require unique conditions to grow.

How To Collect/ Harvest Mushroom Spores 

If you don’t have ready mushrooms in your home, you can buy a variety of choices from the store. You can easily collect mushroom spores from a mature mushroom by making a spore print. A mature mushroom has apparent gills on the underside of the cap. It would help if you also had a piece of white paper, black paper, and a glass container.

Steps:

The mushroom print has distinctive color and shape, often used to identify the variety without using a microscope.

How To Create A Spore Syringe From Spore Print

A spore print of a portobello mushroom
  • To grow mushrooms from spores, you need to first dehydrate the spores on the print.
  • Take a portion of the spore print and mix it with sterilized or distilled water.
  • Use a syringe to suck up the water spore mixture.
  • You can store the mixture refrigerated for a period of four months to over a year. Some studies have also shown that spores can remain in the refrigerator for up to 18 years.

Different Methods of Growing Mushrooms

An infographic about the methods of growing mushrooms

We need to understand that mushrooms grow on organic matter containing lignin, cellulose, starch, and sugar. They also require plenty of nitrogen like any other plant. Since they cannot manufacture these nutrients independently, they have an advanced root system resembling a white thread network.

This root system establishes in the soil before any growth appears above the ground.

There are different ways of growing mushrooms. The choice of a growing technique depends on the substrate available, the variety of mushrooms you are growing, and if you are cultivating them from spores or growing kits.

How Do You Grow Mushrooms From Spores?

The process of growing mushrooms from spores involves two spores coming together and fertilizing to start a mycelium. It consists of the use of spore prints or spore syringes.

Mushrooms do not process food from light and, therefore, do not require sunlight to grow. Instead, mushrooms obtain their food from organic matter, where they grow. Similarly, mushrooms spores do not require the presence of light to germinate.

Mushrooms grow on a range of matter, including compost, wood, and straw, among others. The medium of growth is also determined by the mushroom variety you are growing. For this reason, when growing mushrooms, you need to identify the suitable medium for the type you choose to grow.

The combination of spores and growing medium is known as spawn. Upon germination, the spawn forms a white mycelium which is often made up of white thread-like material. Upon fruiting, the mycelium grows into mushrooms with the stem and cap.

Growing mushrooms involves the following steps:

  • Preparation
  • Inoculation
  • Sterilization
  • Incubation
  • Fruiting

Also, you need to sterilize every item you need to use in the growing process. Sterilization is critical as it prevents the growth of mold and bacteria, which compete with the mycelium and, in other cases, contaminate the mushrooms.

Items required to grow mushrooms from spores syringe include:

  • Plastic container
  • vermiculite (a mineral gravel used in potting plants)
  • brown rice flour
  • canning jars and lids with 2cm holes pierced on top
  • canner or a pressure cooker

Process:

  1. Mix the brown rice flour with vermiculite and water to make a fluffy-like cake like mixture. This is the nutrient packed growth medium for your mushroom spores.
  2. Place this substrate cake in canning jars and cover with the lids
  3. Sterilize these jars in a pressure cooker or canner
  4. Let the jars cool
  5. Inoculate the cooled jars by injecting with the spore syringe through the holes on the lid
  6. Incubate the jars at temperatures of 23 degrees Celsius or 75Fahrenheit.
  7. The spores should start germinating within a week slowly covering the jar with white thread like material (mycelium).
  8. Don’t feel discouraged if this doesn’t happen, and instead of growing mushroom you start growing mold. The growth of mold occurs from improper sanitization of the equipment and contamination.
  9. If mold starts to grow, discard the whole thing and start over
  10. When the cake is wholly covered in mycelium, transfer it into the plastic container for fruiting.
  11. You can now expose the cake to indirect light and high humidity.
  12. The mushrooms should start growing after a seven to fourteen days.
  13. Mushrooms grow very fast and they should be ready for harvesting within days.
  14. Harvest the mushrooms when the caps begin to flatten
  15. To harvest, use a sharp knife to cut off the mushroom stalk near the cap
  16. You can refrigerate or dry the mushrooms from rotting

A single cake can produce mushroom flushes for a month, each flush with dozens of mushrooms. Keep harvesting the mushrooms until the mycelium becomes unproductive, then discard it and create a new one.

Growing Mushrooms On Wood Logs

Mushrooms grow naturally on logs in the wild, and they have been used for a long time to grow mushrooms. Some of the trees known for growing mushrooms include oak, ash, sweetgum, beech, and sugar maple.

To grow mushrooms on logs, you require mushroom spawn, which you can buy in the form of dowels. These are living tissues of the fungi, which you will inject into the logs.

You also need to cut the wood during winter when all the sugars are in the wood, as mushrooms need these sugars to thrive.  

As you handle mushroom growing logs, be careful not to damage the bark, which helps retain moisture and prevent interference by wild fungus. The ideal diameter for these logs should be between four and eight inches and a length of three to four inches.

Let the logs sit for a few weeks to let dry out the antifungal sap. Keep in mind that if you leave them too long, you risk them developing other unwanted growths.

Before you inoculate, let the logs sit in a dark and damp place for up to four weeks. The wood logs need to stay moist, and you will have to keep them in water for some time to acquire the necessary moisture.

The next step involves drilling holes around the log. Tap the dowels in as you drill the holes, making them six inches apart. Use heated cheese wax to seal the holes. The cheese wax helps retain moisture and reduces the risk of growing competing fungi.

Store these logs in a shady, damp place and keep checking they don’t dry out. It would be best if you also watched out for slugs that can damage your mushrooms. Your mushrooms will then start appearing on the log after eight months.

You might want to read this detailed post on How to grow mushrooms on logs

Also, watch this video I prepared to guide you through the process

Growing Mushrooms On Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds also make a suitable medium for growing mushrooms. You can easily find them at your local café for free. Additionally, they contain all the nutrients your mushrooms require to grow. Coffee particles are also well ventilated, allowing for the penetration of mushroom mycelium as it grows through.

A few items are required to grow mushrooms in coffee grounds. They include a transparent jar, container, or a growing bag; another medium to break the compact coffee grounds such as sawdust, straw, or cardboard; freshly used coffee grounds and mushroom mycelium. The containers you get need to have lids on which you can drill 2cm diameter holes. If you can, get these containers, but cellophane to cover them.

The first step is sterilization of the equipment you are going to use, including your hands. To sterilize the sawdust, you can use boiling water. You can dip the containers in boiling water or rub them in alcohol-based sanitizer and then dry them.

The next step involves inoculation. You should ensure that the items you use are well cooled before mixing in the mycelium as they might die from high temperatures. Use sawdust to break the mushroom spawn, ensure even distribution in the container, and mix them further with the coffee grounds. The ratio of coffee grounds to sawdust to mycelium should be 1:10:5.

To incubate, moisten this mixture and cover it well, then store it in a dark place at temperatures of 25°C. Wait until the mixture is completely covered in white mycelium before bringing it to fruiting conditions.

The fruiting conditions are usually humid, with temperatures of 20°C away from direct sunlight. Remove the lid to water once or twice a day. The mushrooms should start to develop within one to two weeks.

Growing Mushrooms On Coco Coir And Vermiculite

Coco coir

Vermiculite is a yellowish material widely used to help retain moisture, while coco coir is made of ground coconut shells and husks. You can find both materials in garden stores. The mixture is a suitable medium for growing a variety of mushrooms and should be created in the ratio of 1:1.

You should also add water equal to the volume of the mixture. As you add water, keep in mind that the material will expand five to seven times once water is added. For this reason, the container you choose should be able to accommodate the mixture.

Let the mixture soak in for one hour, then mix them up, then cover them adequately. Allow it to cool down for at least five hours before inoculating.

Also, read this detailed post I wrote on Is coco coir a natural alternative to peat moss?

Growing Mushrooms On Wood Pallets

Mushrooms do well on wood pallets from hardwoods such as oak, maple, and beech. You can buy these pallets at a meager cost from hardwood stores. For every 10 cups of hardwood pallets, add 2.8litres of water.

You also need to add nutrients by adding other components such as bran. To achieve a highly nutritious mixture for your mushrooms, use two and a half cups of wheat or oat bran. Alternatively, you can use soybean hulls.

You don’t need to sterilize the pallets as they are already sterilized during processing. However, the presence of bran sterilization is critical.

Growing Mushrooms On Cardboard

Most beginners find cardboard a suitable substrate for growing mushrooms because it is readily available. Additionally, it retains moisture and also allows for air to flow. Cardboard does not have the necessary nutrient for growing mushrooms, and for this reason, you need to add other substrates such as coffee grounds.

It is essential to remember that cardboard is appropriate for certain mushrooms considered aggressive growers, such as oyster mushrooms.

Collect the amount of cardboard you need to grow mushrooms and then soak them in boiling water. Let these components cool down squeeze out the before layering them with mycelium.

Fresh Straw And Horse Manure Medium

If you live on a farm, you might consider the immediately available growing medium, and horse manure offers an excellent medium for mushroom mycelium. You will also be required to use fresh straws for this process, and the horse manure should be dark brown and well composted. Before use, ensure that the manure is well cured and allowed to sweat out for a week. Check to see if all the ammonia smell is gone, and if not, allow it more time.

First, mix about 100 pounds of finely ground corn cobs or corn fodder and the same volume of straw. Once properly mixed, water the mixture properly and allow it to stand for a few days. Include 20 pounds each of either greensand or granite dust, tankage and leaf mold or peat moss, and 30 pounds of sand. For quicker decomposition, you can also add well-rotted compost. 

Water the mixture properly and allow it to sit for one week, then turn. Turn it again after another seven days.

The temperatures should rise to 70 to 75 Degrees Celsius, which eliminates any other competitor microorganism present. Upon cooling, the substrate is now ready for the introduction of mushroom spawn. Place the mixture in trays and introduce the spawn, then start the incubation process.

FAQ’s About Mushrooms

Conclusion

As we saw in this post, mushrooms are very sensitive, and you will get better with experience. There are different methods of growing mushrooms, and as you choose among them, you need to keep in mind the variety of mushrooms you intend to grow. Always keep in mind the growing conditions for incubation and fruiting, as they will determine the quality and quantity of mushrooms you harvest.

I hope this article has answered that question for you. If you found value in this article, then consider subscribing below or entering a subject in the search bar above for another article.