It’s strange to think that a fungus could be so popular, but many people consider mushrooms to be one of the yummiest foods – they’re a great addition to salads, casseroles and spaghetti bolognese, and make a delicious side for a big brekky.
The good news is they’re also a great source of Vitamin D and a number of other minerals that assist with brain function, healthy bones and blood cell production.
Unlike normal plants, mushrooms grow from spores so tiny they can’t be seen by the human eye. But mushrooms can be grown at home, using materials such as sawdust, grain, wooden plugs, straw, wood chips or liquid, depending on the type of mushroom.
A mixture of the spores and this material creates spawn, which is your starting ingredient to the perfect mushroom. The perfect habitat for growing mushrooms is dark, cool, moist and humid. This could be a basement area, under a raised house or even under the sink. In fact, it’s best to grow mushrooms inside, because it can take six months to three years to grow mushrooms in outdoor areas.
To find out what areas are suitable, you should check the temperature of the potential growing location. Most mushrooms grow best between temperatures of 12°C and 15°C (50 and 60°F), which means for Aussies, growing mushrooms is best to try in the winter months.
Popular mushrooms to grow in Australia at home include Swiss brown, king strapharia, oyster, shiitake and white button. Each type of mushroom will have different growing needs so it’s best to do a bit of research into what is required. As a rough guide, white button mushrooms require a compost base, shiitakes require a sawdust base and oyster mushrooms require a straw base.
An easy way to grow mushrooms at home is to buy a mushroom kit from your local hardware store or nursery. These kits will include a growing medium (your base) and plenty of mushroom spawn.These kits are a great way for beginners to try out mushroom growing.
You are also guaranteed to grow the correct type of mushroom. If you don’t use a kit, you need to carefully choose the substrate you grow the mushrooms on, as this determines the type of mushroom you will harvest.
To grow them without a kit, research the mushroom’s requirements and create the mushroom base using the recommended medium. For button mushrooms, place the compost mixture in a flat container, checking what width of compost you need, then innoculate the mixture with the mushroom spawn.
Make sure the temperature is 21°C (68°F) for around three weeks, until you begin seeing threadlike roots. At that point you can lower the temperature to 12°C-15°C (50 and 60°F) by moving the mixture to a cooler location. Cover the roots with a thin layer soil and spray with water from a spray bottle. Cover your mixture with a damp cloth to keep it humid.
The mushrooms will be ready to harvest in 3-4 weeks and, if you are vigilant, your mixture should provide you with a six month supply.
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