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Portobello, Shitake, White Cap, Oyster. These are just a few of the many species of mushrooms available in most markets and restaurants today. Of course, you can buy most species of mushrooms in the market but more and more of us are turning our passion for these foods into a hobby by growing them ourselves. Its actually quite simple as well, so lets take a look at how its done.

You might think that, looking at those strange little brown and white fungi, they would be too hard to grow, but actually you would be wrong. In fact growing your own mushrooms is easier than most people think. It all comes down to some simple techniques, getting the right environment for the species you are trying to cultivate and of course deciding on what kind of mushroom you want to grow.

Deciding on the kind of mushrooms you want to grow is actually a very important part of the process if you want to cultivate your own mushroom garden. The reason you need to know the type of mushroom is simply that each variety has different requirements. Some mushrooms are better grown as dowels and other need to be grown from spawn. But for beginners, I suggest that you use a mushroom growing kit to keep the whole process as simple as possible. It also makes growing your own mushrooms a small project that can be undertaken over autumn or spring.

Another important factor that you need to consider is the substrate where you are going to “plant” your mushroom spawns. Lets look at some of the most common choices.

Log Substrate

Some mushrooms are best planted on logs such as willow, oak or beech. These include oyster mushrooms and the popular Shitake mushroom. You do not plant directly onto the logs but, rather, you use dowels saturated with the mycelium, (that’s the part of the mushroom that we eat)  spring out. These dowels are then inserted into the log, sealed with some wax to prevent any contamination and stored in a dark and dry place until the mushrooms are ready to be harvested. The logs should be protected from direct sunlight and other environmental factors such as strong winds. So, its best to wrap them in a black polythene bag for extra protection. It then takes around a year and a half for the fungi to colonize the entire log.

Straw Substrate

One of the easiest substrates to deal with is straw. First, you need to sterilize the straw. Do this by pouring boiling water on  it and once the straw has cooled sprinkle the spawn, which is included in the mushroom kit. Make sure that you shake the bag with the straw and the spawn to spread the spawn evenly. Then, seal the bag and place it in a dark and moist place. The mushrooms can be harvested in about 6 weeks.

Growing Mushrooms Outdoors

This is one of the most traditional ways of growing mushrooms. You use grain spawn to inoculate the mushrooms into the manure or soil substrate.

So, as you can see. growing mushrooms is easy. All you need to have is patience to wait for it to grow- and pretty soon you will have a delicious crop of this versatile foodstuff to enjoy.