Mushrooms Cultivation for Beginners

Mushroom is a form of plant life known as fungus. Fungi produce fruit bodies that are large enough to be considered as mushroom. In general, common populace refers the fruiting body of the macro fungi as mushroom. Mushrooms lack chlorophyll and can’t manufacture their own food in the presence of sunlight as similar to green plants. However, mushroom produced a wide range of enzymes that degrade the complex substrate on which they grow and absorb nutrition. They occurs in a vide variety of habitats ranging from polar to tropics and above soil to below soil

Chang and Hayes (1978) defined mushrooms as both epigeous and hypogeous fruiting bodies of macroscopic fungi. Mish (1988) defined mushroom as an enlarged complex aerial fleshy fruiting body of a fungus, (as of the class Basidiomycetes) that consisted typically of the stem, bearing a flattened cap. Chang and Miles (1992) gave the definition that is now universally accepted. They defined mushroom as a “macro fungus with a distinctive fruiting body which can be either epigeous or hypogenous and large enough to be seen with the naked eye and can be picked with hand.”

a) Gilled mushrooms The fruit body of the mushroom consists of a stipe that supports umbrella shaped cap called as pileus. There are gills or lamellae on the under side of pileus. In young stage, gills are enclosed by a membrane, which extends from pileus margin to stipe. This membrane is known as partial veil and usually tears around the margin of the pileus while expanding. In few mushrooms, it remains attached to the stipe where it forms a ring that is called as annulus. In some mushrooms, a membrane called universal veil or general veil covers the young buttons. When the cap expands, the veil in tern and the remnants at the base form volva and some of the fragments remain attached to the surface of pileus. It is not necessary that all gilled mushrooms should contain all these morphological features. Certain gilled mushrooms do not contain annulus, volva and others with them.

b) Other mushrooms Certain other mushrooms differ in morphology in comparision to the gilled mushrooms. Few of such mushrooms are listed below;

Cyphelloids mushrooms: These mushroom produces cup-shaped fruiting bodies

Gasteroids mushrooms: Fruit bodies of gasteroids are closed and bag-shaped. These are divided in to three kinds further as mentioned below; a. Earth star: At maturity, the exoperidium (outer layer) splits into four to five rays b. Puff balls: In this, matured fruit bodies looks like a ball c. bird's nest fungi : Fruit bodies resemble like a tiny egg-filled birds' nests.

Clavarioid mushrooms: It produces erect, simple or branched fruit bodies and are also called as club fungi and coral fungi.

The three types of mushrooms that are easiest to grow at home are oyster, white button, and Shiitake. The method for growing each mushroom is similar, but the ideal growing substrate differs.

Oyster mushrooms grow best in straw or coffee grounds (described later); Shiitakes grow best on hardwood sawdust; button mushrooms grow best in composted manure. These different substrates reflect the different nutritional needs of each species; however, each of these three species can be grown readily enough in sawdust or straw. Make sure that if you use sawdust it is from untreated wood.Choosing a type of mushroom to grow is a matter of taste. You should grow the type you most want to eat.

Mushroom spawn is sawdust permeated with mushroom mycelia — essentially the root structure of the fungus. It is used much like plant seedlings to facilitate growth.You can purchase high-quality mushroom spawn from several online retailers, some gardening supply stores, or some specialty organic living stores. Make sure to buy spawn rather than spores. Some retailers will also sell spores, which are more akin to the seeds of plants (rather than seedlings). Growing mushrooms from spores takes more time and practice, and is best suited for a seasoned mushroom grower.

If you are growing mushrooms in straw or sawdust, it will be necessary to sterilize these growing mediums before inoculating with the spawn. This is done to kill off any micro-organisms that could compete with the mycelia.To sterilize the substrate, place it in a microwave-safe bowl and add enough water to make the straw or sawdust damp. Place the bowl in the microwave and heat on high for two minutes, or until the water has boiled off.This kills off any microorganisms, leaving the substrate safe to receive the mushroom mycelia. You may need to work in batches in order to sterilize all of the straw or sawdust. .

The mycelia in your mushroom spawn need to spread into the substrate thoroughly before producing mushrooms. A warm temperature encourages this growth.After choosing the substrate best suited to your mushroom species, place a few handfuls of it into a baking pan. A shallow pan with a large surface area will provide the most room for your mushrooms to grow.Mix the spawn into the substrate with a sterilized utensil. Place the baking pan on a heating pad set to 70°F (21°C). This is the ideal temperature to encourage growth. You can also try simply placing the pan in a warm area of your home.Leave the setup in a dark environment, such as a cabinet, for about three weeks. This will allow the mushroom mycelia to permeate the substrate.

After two weeks, check the substrate to see if it has been fully colonized — the substrate should be entirely covered with what looks like white fuzz. This may take between two to four weeks. If the substrate is colonized, you can move the pan into an environment that is dark and cool (about 55°F or 13°C). A basement usually works well for this, but a cabinet or drawer in an unheated room will work in winter .


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