How to Grow Mushrooms in your Garden
Want to grow mushrooms in your garden but not sure how to do it? In this article, we'll talk you through it step-by-step to make it really simple.
Want to grow your own mushrooms at home? More and more people are deciding to grow their own food at home, in an attempt to start eating more healthily. As well as mushrooms, you could also plant tomatoes, carrots, peppers or chard in your garden. Some other options are strawberries, thyme, basil, mint or ginger.
Plus, to make growing your own food even easier, you often don’t even need a garden. All you need is a balcony (regardless of the size) or terrace.
This is the best way to have fresh, organic produce at home. Plus, if you’re someone who recycles and cares about the environment, this is the ideal way to help protect it. Not to mention the benefits it will have for your health.
For all these reasons, more and more people are growing a vegetable patch in their own gardens. So why not give it a go yourself?
To make things simple, in this article, we’ll be focusing on how to grow mushrooms on bales of straw. Next, we’ll talk you through it step-by-step.
Firstly, you should be aware that mushrooms are generally grown on bales of straw. When you go to the store, don’t buy too many bales – one will be enough to grow plenty of mushrooms.
Straw bales don’t smell or make much mess, which is definitely a massive plus when it comes to growing your own food for the first time.
You should place your bales in a dark environment that gets plenty of fresh air. It doesn’t have to be an open space like a balcony or a garden – you can grow them in a garage or a cupboard.
The benefit of buying pre-inoculated bales is that they’re clean and it takes far less time to grow your mushrooms.
It’s better to buy mushroom bales at some times of year than others. We recommend that you buy your mushroom bales between September and March, due to the lower temperatures at that time of year.
Sowing your mushrooms
Mushrooms need a substrate to grow in. Fortunately, they’re not difficult to find.
However, you need to remember that different types of mushroom need different types of substrate. It should be made up of three layers:
- One-third straw, wheat or oats.
- The second layer, in this case, is turf or peat, which you should mix with sawdust.
- Fertilizer, usually horse manure.
You can buy your substrate or make it yourself at home.
Temperature and humidity
Don’t forget that to get a good crop of mushrooms, there are two things that you need to maintain at a constant level: the temperature and the humidity.
The temperature should not exceed 59°F (approximately). Ideally, it shouldn’t drop below 50°F, as your mushrooms will grow more slowly than usual. Conversely, if the temperature exceeds 64-68°F, your mushrooms might grow twisted and deformed.
That’s why it’s essential to keep your bales inside, or if they’re in your garden, to keep them in a shaded area. But, just because they cannot withstand sunlight, doesn’t mean that they can’t stand light at all. These are two completely different things.
Whether your bales are in specially designed boxes or bags, or in a mini greenhouse, the sun could still overheat them. This may ruin your entire crop, meaning you’d have to start over from scratch.
As for the humidity, it needs to be high, at around 70-80%. The mushrooms also need to have a good amount of ventilation, though not too much. But why is ventilation so important? Because, if too much carbon dioxide is allowed to build up, it could actually be harmful.
Watering your mushrooms is essential. You should water them twice a day. It’s important to remember to water the earth, and not the mushrooms themselves.
Plus, you need to note the quality of the water you’re giving your mushrooms. It’s ideal to use rainwater. If this isn’t possible, you should use mineral water.
One more thing: if you want complete control over the humidity levels, you could use a hygrometer or a hygrograph.
Harvesting is a quick and simple process: you need to pick your mushrooms carefully so you can harvest them without damaging the rest of the crop. Although it might be tempting, never cut them directly. This can be harmful, as it can cause your mushrooms to rot.
So how do you do it? Firstly, using your fingers, take the upper part of the mushroom (known as the pileus or cap), and gently twist it.
You need to take good care of your mushrooms, making sure you harvest them periodically. Once you’ve harvested them, it’s best not to wait too long before you cook them, so that they don’t spoil.
It’s easy to know when it’s time to harvest your mushrooms: they’re ripe when the stalk becomes soft and flexible.
As we’ve seen, growing mushrooms in your garden, or anywhere else in your house, is pretty easy. Plus, we’ve shown you the simplest way of all: using pre-inoculated straw bales.
Another option worth considering is using grain to grow mycelium. Mycelium is the vegetative part of a fungus and is responsible for the growth, reproduction, and death of the fungus. However, if you’re new to gardening, we’d recommend that you start off using pre-inoculated bales, and then start again later using mycelium.