How to (consciously) grow your own mushrooms at home (2023)

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How to (consciously) grow your own mushrooms at home (1)

As an avid gardener and (very) amateur cook, learning how to grow edible mushrooms at home seemed like a no-brainer.

He didn't know how little he knew.

I ordered the definitive book from mushroom guru Paul Stamets, "Cultivation of gourmet and medicinal mushrooms“, a thin volume with many photos and tips awaits. Instead, I got a volume as thick and detailed as a biology textbook.

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Books on growing mushrooms and bags of dried mushrooms made by Eric Mueller of Mueller's Mushrooms in Guatay, California.

(Alan Nakkash / Para The Times)

And there I learned my first crushing truth: mushrooms are not plants. In fact, they more closely resemble a fruit or flower, the reproductive part of a branching, root-like organism known as a mycelium.

sothat isnot the plant? Wrong again.

Mycelium, like yeast, mold, and fungi, are neither animals nor plants. In the 1960s, scientists decided that mycelium and its fruits are part of a kingdom of their own: the kingdom of fungi. -mainly because of the way they eat, said environmental biologist Rudy Diaz, a mycologist in residence inMycological Society of Los Angeles.

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“Animals obtain food by ingesting other organic and sometimes inorganic materials, and plants obtain food by photosynthesis; basically they make their own food," Diaz said. "But mushrooms are unique because they use an absorption diet."

Like plants and animals, fungi need oxygen, water and light to live. But they eat by secreting enzymes and acids that break down organic matter so they can get the nutrients they need, making them the planet's "primary recyclers," writes Stamets in his foreword.

How to (consciously) grow your own mushrooms at home (3)

Shiitake mushrooms grow at Mueller's Mushrooms in Guatay, California.

(Alan Nakkash / Para The Times)

“Fungi are essential for recycling organic waste and for efficiently returning nutrients to the ecosystem,” writes Stamets. “They are not only known for their importance to the environment, but also for their impact on evolution and human health. To date, however, the inherent biological power embodied in the fungal mycelial network remains largely a vast and untapped resource.

In fact, some researchers say that fungi are more closely related to animals than plants, but before you start embracing their inner mycelium, know that this family bond was severed millions of years ago when the two fungal animals were single. unicellular creatures. Diaz said.

"People took that information and ran in the wrong direction," Diaz said, "saying things like 'we came from fungi,' even though 'we' (humans and other animals) didn't exist yet."

How to (consciously) grow your own mushrooms at home (4)

Some researchers say that fungi are more closely related to animals than plants.

(Alan Nakkash / Para The Times)

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But that's part of the passionate, almost religious fervor that surrounds mushrooms today. It emerged during the pandemic, fueled by new research (and claims) about the culinary, medicinal and psychological benefits of some mushrooms and the ability of other fungi to clean and rebuild depleted and/or toxic soil.

Díaz, 25, said he was a memberMycological Society of Los AngelesSince joining the group in 2017, the number has more than doubled to around 600 people. "Interest has exploded over the last two or three years," he said.

"The 'Shroom Boom' is real," said Sam Shoemaker, a Los Angeles artist and member of the Los Angeles Mycological Society (LAMS), who grows and preserves a variety of sculptural mushrooms for use in hisunusual art.

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"I became interested in mushrooms in 2015 because it was an excuse not to be with art people all the time," Shoemaker said. "Eight years later, it has become my whole life. ... If you go to a vernissage, you don't hear people talking about art the way they talk about mushrooms at meetings of the Mycological Society.

Zapatero, 31, used to sell mushrooms but now focuses on his art andworkshopsin mushroom cultivation, which is currently out of stock (although he is offering some courses during the Mycological Society company)39. Wildpilzmesseat the South Coast Botanical Garden on February 5). It also produces and sells tinctures of lion's mane, a hairy brain-shaped mushroom, and reishi mushrooms, which grow as brightly colored half-plates on stems or as sucker-like horns. Many mushroom advocates claim that these two boost immunity and reduce inflammation (in the case of reishi) and fight depression and even dementia (in the case of lion's mane).

How to (consciously) grow your own mushrooms at home (6)

Eric Mueller of Mueller's Mushrooms with Red Reishi Mushrooms.

(Alan Nakkash / Para The Times)

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However, Shoemaker doesn't stop with these claims and says there's still a lot more research to be done. He's most excited about research using mushrooms to break up diesel-soaked soils and restore habitats ("It's very, very new territory") and finding ways to sustainably grow nutritious edible mushrooms in Los Angeles because there are few local growers in Los Angeles. Los Angeles region. . . Mushroom kits come in heavy blocks, he says, so the more you buy, the higher the shipping costs.

If you've been dying to grow mushrooms in Los Angeles, this is where it gets tough. Experts don't even seem to agree on how many species of fungi there are in the world, with numbers ranging from at least 10,000 to several million. Suffice it to say that mushrooms come in many shapes, colors and levels of digestibility and require different media or substrates to grow. It's not like you can buy a bag of potting soil and a packet of seeds. Some strains prefer to grow in manure, others like live trees, and still others thrive in rotten wood like oak logs.

Ofallowed forGo into the woods and find good edible mushrooms, collect their spores and try to grow mycelium at home, but this requires at least a minimal laboratory with sterile conditions and a pasteurized substrate to remove contaminants such as associated bacteria that would compete with mold growth.

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At left, a lanyard labeled "Mushroom" and leftover plastic bag tops at Mueller's Mushrooms.

(Alan Nakkash / Para The Times)

Or you can skip the lab and buy a mushroom "kit", typically a mycelium-enriched substrate such as crushed straw or wood pellets, packaged in a plastic bag.

Some kits grow right out of the box: all you have to do is open the box, poke a few holes in the bags, and keep spraying until the mushrooms appear a few weeks later.

Or you can take the kit and mix it with a pasteurized substrate to make multiple kits, a relatively easy way to get the most bang for your buck, said Eric Mueller, a mushroom grower in central San Diego County who grows and sells mushrooms. for over 20 years.

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How to (consciously) grow your own mushrooms at home (8)

Eric Mueller shows a handful of mushroom kit material: mycelium mixed with a substrate.

(Alan Nakkash / Para The Times)

müller mushroomis one of the few companies in Southern California that sells mushroom kits. include otherslong beach mushrooms,Pilz Talin Los Angeles youMini-Fonds, a New York-based company thatexpanded to Los Angelesin 2022. Other California-based companies includemushroom adventure, in Marysville, north of Sacramento;Wild West Mushrooms, in the San Francisco area;forest origins, in Windsor, north of San Francisco;gourmet mushroom productsin Sonoma County; ANDFungaia Farmnot Eureka.

Wherever you shop, Mueller recommends beginners start with blue oyster mushrooms because:

  1. They are delicious, but difficult to find in stores because they are brittle and wilt if handled too much.
  2. They cost around $4 to $5 a pound at farmers' markets.
  3. They grow faster than other varieties. For example, shiitake, another delicious mushroom, takes many months to "flow" (i.e. produce a crop), whereas you should get a burst of oyster mushrooms within two to three weeks, and at least one or two after. from that.
How to (consciously) grow your own mushrooms at home (9)

Eric Mueller holds a blue oyster mushroom grow kit.

(Alan Nakkash / Para The Times)

Müller, 41, was a budding entrepreneur and Alpine high school student when he hit on the idea of ​​selling locally grown mushrooms to local restaurants. He found wild oyster mushrooms growing in a creek near his home, so, with his family's encouragement and the help of Stamet's book, he built a small laboratory outside his home and began to cultivate it.

No,müller mushroomoperates out of a warehouse in Guatay, in the Cleveland National Forest. He grows many strains and still sells them at local farmers' markets, but his mainstays these days are making delicious jerky with dried shiitake and oyster mushrooms and medicinal tinctures of lion's mane and reishi. It also hopes to offerMushroom Cultivation Courseon primavera.

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How to (consciously) grow your own mushrooms at home (10)

Here are Mueller's recommendations for expanding your oyster mushroom kit to two or three homemade kits:

What do you need to grow mushrooms

  • Oyster mushroom "kit" (mixture of mycelium and some substrate i.e. growth medium such as straw) sold by various manufacturers
  • Disposable gloves (for handling and mixing the mushroom seed)
  • Clear or translucent plastic bathtub, at least 54 rooms
  • Spray bottle with a weak bleach mixture (a tablespoon of bleach mixed with a quart of water)
  • Paper towels (to dry the tub)
  • Pre-sterilized 10-pound ice packs (availableon-lineor at smart & final stores)
  • Twist the handles to close your bags (they may come with the bags)
  • Large bag (about 20 pounds) of freshly used coffee grounds, preferably used that day and discarded
  • Drawing pin Drawing pin to quickly pierce air holes in bags
  • Water spray bottle to spray your kits

Step 1: Gather all your materials.Speed ​​is important when it comes to creating mushroom kits. The longer your seeds are exposed to the air, the more likely they are to become contaminated with bacteria that will compete with your fungi for space and nutrients. It is best to stir as quickly as possible to mix and pack the seed with its substrate, in this case the coffee grounds.

Step 2: Put on the gloves.Gloves protect hands and mixture from possible contamination. It's easy to spray gloved hands with the bleach solution, Mueller said; It is not so comfortable to spray your bare hands with bleach or get nail fungus.

Step 3 - Clean your bathtubjGloves with bleach solution.Use paper towels to dry the tub and gloved hands.

Level 4: Start mixing.Dump the coffee grounds (about 20 pounds) into the sterilized tub and quickly begin mixing the mushroom seeds into the coffee seeds, adding a few handfuls of seeds at a time.

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Work quickly as you begin mixing the mushroom seeds and coffee grounds in the tub.

(Alan Nakkash / Para The Times)

Step 5: Quickly pack the mix bags.Start adding the well-mixed coffee grounds and mushroom seeds to the ice packs and pack the contents tightly into the bag. We filled about 2¾ bags with the mixture.

Step 6: Tie the bags together and poke holes for air.When the bags are full, squeeze out as much air as possible, twist the lids and close them with clamps. Then poke holes in the pocket with the thumbtack. Mueller drilled about four or five holes in a row on each of the four sides of the bag.

How to (consciously) grow your own mushrooms at home (12)

One method of growing mushrooms (left) is to pour the mixture into a plastic jar. The other method on the right uses plastic ice packs.

(Alan Nakkash / Para The Times)

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Step 7 - Find a place to store your kits and don't move them.If conditions are right, Mueller said, the mycelium should fruit (ie, produce mushrooms) within a few weeks. Proper conditions include filtered light, humidity, comfortable temperature (in the 60s or 70s), and airflow. It's best to store your kits in a translucent tub: place the tub on top of the lidless kits, or drill a hole in the tub and fill it with "teddy bear guts" (polyester fiber) for air. no impurities. And remember, once you've crafted your kits, the less you move them around, the faster they'll come to fruition. Mycelium is very sensitive to environmental changes. "Every time you move them, they have to be recalibrated," Diaz said.


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Step 8: Drill some holes once the kits start to lighten.If you see moldy white matter on the coffee grounds, be happy! This means that the mycelium is growing. Using a very sharp blade or knife, carefully cut 2-4 slices into the foil to allow the mushrooms to come out. The more cuts you make, the smaller the mushrooms will get, Mueller said, so take it easy. Replace the tub, make sure it stays hydrated, and wait for the fungus to set in.

Step 9 - Harvest when the top is flat but the edges are still slightly curled.Wait much longer and the fungus will sporulate. You can still eat them, Mueller said, but they get dirty.

Alternative method: Use an empty gallon of water.

  • If you're a regular coffee drinker, you can try a more humble technique, slowly filling an empty gallon of water with a handful of the mushroom kit, then the day's coffee beans, and storing the kit in a clean, dry place each day until the cup is full.
  • Mueller suggests cutting three-quarters of the lid off the jar so the lid swings back and you can easily get inside the jar.
  • Add a handful of the mushroom kit to the soil along with the cooled coffee grounds, then close the jar with plastic wrap (to prevent contamination) until you can add more soil and mycelium mix the next day.
  • Store unused mushroom kit in a cool, clean place between fills, and when the jar is full, close the hinged lid with waterproof tape and unscrew the jar cap to let air in (you can also use yours, use a thumbtack to poke a few holes in the plastic).
  • Cover the jar with its translucent container (you can place the jar on its side) and spray occasionally to keep the humidity high. When the mycelium starts to grow, remove the screw cap to allow the mushrooms to grow on top. In this way, subsequent plantings can also be easily created.
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Growing blue oyster mushrooms.

(Alan Nakkash / Para The Times)

Last Tip: Thinkabout your mushrooms, but don't worry about them, Mueller said. "Sing them songs about squirrels... or whatever," he said, laughing. "Think about it a lot, but don't think about it too much, because everything has an effect, and belief and intention are powerful things."

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