Growing mushrooms is a great alternative for those without garden space or access to a community garden. But before growing your own mushrooms, its a good idea to understand some basics about mushrooms, fungi, and the mushroom life cycle.
Genetically fungi are closer to humans than plants are. Although we talk about ‘growing’ mushrooms as if they were a plant, they are really nothing alike.
Mushrooms are the fruiting body of a mature fungus. Dense colonies are formed, in various cellulose based substrates such as logs, paper, coffee grounds, etc, from vegetative mycellium. When the vegetative mycellia is mature enough, it is able to rapidly erect a fruiting body and produce spores.
With regards to cultivation. The Mushroom growing process is best segmented into 3 stages. 1 – Inoculation of a substrate. 2 – Colonization of a substrate. 3 – Fruiting.
In mushroom cultivation, mycellium is taken from the base of a fruiting body or started from spores. Either the spores or mycellia, are used to inoculate a sterile or pasteurized substrate. Sterile and lab type procedures are used to prevent unwanted fungal or bacterial infections.
The mycellium grows throughout a substrate. The substrate is allowed to completely colonize into a dense mass of substrate and white mycellium.
Following the complete colonization of a substrate, environmental changes such as lighting, humidity, gas exchange, and temperature, are manipulated to induce the the formation of fruiting bodies(mushrooms). 24-48 hours of a cold shock, and high relative humidity, usually spur on the formation of primordial pins(mini mushrooms).
A fresh supply of oxygen and gas exchange, controlled lighting, and humidity, will manipulate the size, shape, and density of mature mushrooms. A mushroom’s genetics will also play a significant role in size, shape, and quality.