Why grow mushrooms without spores? This is the first question that I need to answer. Those who are regular mushroom growers will tell you that growing them with spores doesn’t make a mushroom have the same genetic strain. Thus it won’t necessarily be identical to the mushroom you desire.
So, how do you grow mushrooms at home without spores?
Growing mushrooms without spores is possible through the tissue culture technique. The method ensures that the mushroom strain is genetically identical. Here are the steps that you should follow for successful growing of mushrooms at home without spores:
Start by sterilization
In this step, you first need to identify an area which is dark, cool, and which you can close from all sides. A small room at your home can do the trick. After identifying an appropriate place, start the sterilization process. Sterilization should involve everything, that is, all the instruments you plan on using to the room which the mushrooms will grow.
You can use filters that ensure the air is purified. For tools, you can use isopropyl alcohol. Make sure it’s 70% like this one. 70% alcohol is better at killing bacteria than 90% or more.
Production of Mycelium
After you are done with the sterilization process, the next step involves spawn production. In this step, you need an agar plate and a small piece of mushroom strain from the store. An agar plate is a petri dish that has been sterilized. Agar is a growing medium that facilitates microorganisms’ culture.
Mushroom strain + Petri dish + Agar = Mycelium
So, what do you do next? Take the mushroom strain (remember you just need a very small piece) and place it on the agar plate. Ensure proper temperature (around 210C or 70F). Leave the mushroom in a dark environment such as a closed cabinet and then let mother nature take care of the rest.
After around two weeks, mycelium (which is the mushroom tissue culture) will have grown and filled the whole agar plate. The mycelium is the one that you will use to grow your mushroom without spores.
After you have successfully made mycelium, you need to add it to a spawn substrate. The purpose of spawn is to increase the size of the mycelium.
A spawn substrate is basically an organic material in which mushrooms grow. It is important for you to be careful when choosing a substrate. The reason being, different types of mushrooms grow best in different types of substrate.
The most used spawn substrate is barley. Fill a mason jar to 3/4 with barley that you have soaked overnight. Sterilize it in a pressure cooker. Then cut the agar from the petri dish and use a few cuttings in each jar. Each piece of agar mycelium should be one square inch.
Place the jars in a dark environment and let the mycelium grow bigger inside the jars. Make sure the mycelium is able to breathe. You do this by making a hole in the lid and putting a medical sponge in the lid in order to the mycelium to breather but not be contaminated by outside bacteria.
Adding Spawn to Substrate
When the mycelium has overtaken the whole jar, it’s time to transfer it one last time to the bulk substrate.
Here, you are required to introduce the spawn that has the mushroom mycelium to the substrate that you have chosen.
The temperature of the substrate should be maintained at an ideal level which is normally 60 to 70°F (15-21°C).
Adding a specific substrate to another has shown to have better mushroom production rate. For example, adding substrate barley to bulk substrate of straw works pretty well. The additional ingredients supplement the nutritional needs of your mushrooms.
For transferring barley to straw, the substrate receipts should be added in the ratio of 5% barley to 95% straw. You will then, if possible, chop the straw into 5 inch pieces. You will then soak the material in water. Note, you do not necessarily need to weigh the material unless you want to know the exact substrate weight. After acquiring the right substrate mixture, you are required to go through the normal process of disinfection.
After you have pasteurized the bulk substrate, you can add the barley spawn into the bigger bag. When the mycelium takes over this bag, it is time to puncture holes in the areas where small mushrooms are starting to develop. The mushrooms will grow out of these holes and give you the final harvest.
It is this part that will ensure that you reap what you sore. It is thus important that I give you some tips that will ensure you smile from your efforts on that mushroom garden at your home.
First, can’t insist this enough times, your mushrooms require a proper growth environment. Humidity is one of the factors that provide that proper growth environment. Sprinkle your mushrooms with water from time to time so as to maintain the humidity.
Also, it is important that you cover the mushrooms with a layer of soil so as to conserve the moisture. Depending on the type of cultivation, the mushrooms may take an approximate of 2 to 4 weeks to colonize.
Additionally, if the mushrooms are grown with woody material as the substrate, they may require being in controlled conditions of temperature and light. It can sometimes prove to be a difficult task for a beginner in such instances. However, you can purchase a mushroom kit from a store of a commercial mushroom grower. The kit normally contains ready mushroom culture.
Alternatively, you can buy the first spawn from a professional and all you have to do is introduce them to a substrate that you’ve already prepared at home. Also, prepared substrates can readily found in the market.