Mushrooms usually grow on dead and decaying pieces of wood. Of course, you can buy inoculating wooden logs with already infused mushroom spores. It’s easy and cheap, but you need a lot of space for them. Plus, such logs aren’t widely accessible.
The best way out is using the good old grow bags! There are special types catering to your mushroom needs; they don’t take a lot of space and are sterile. Such kits are usually plastic bags with a filter port for aeration. They may also contain the most suitable growing substrate for your mushroom, also sterile and sealed in the bag. However, you can go further and fill it yourself with the substrate of your choice.
So, in this guide, we’ll talk about the general steps of growing mushrooms in grow bags and see specifics about two particular types: lion’s mane and oyster mushrooms. They are fun to grow, and you can add them to hundreds of meals. Growing mushrooms yourself will ensure there are no harmful chemicals or diseases in them.
How to Grow Mushrooms in Bags: Step-by-Step Guide
Here’s what you will need for the mission:
- The kit;
- Substrate (if not in the kit);
- Protective gear;
- Heating device (like a pressure cooker);
- Mushroom spawn or liquid culture;
- Packing tape;
- Some clean water;
- Indirect or fluorescent light.
Step-by-Step Mushroom Growing Instructions
This is the guide we find very easy and convenient to use. However, there are kits that require different or additional steps. Make sure you read the user’s manual before using one. It’s also wise to find out what your mushrooms need in terms of temperature and light.
Here are the general steps:
- Wear your protective gear (a breathing mask and nitrile gloves) to avoid contamination. Mushroom grow bags are sterile, and we all know how easy it is to contaminate such a thing. Besides, you can go further, pick an air disinfectant of your choice and spray the area you’ll be working at. After you touch something, use alcohol to clean the gloves;
- In case your bag is already filled with substrate, just work with it. But if not, fill the bag with a sterile substrate suitable for the kind of mushrooms you’ll be cultivating.
- After that, pack the bag loosely and put it in a pressure cooker for about 3 hours on a low-temperature setting. This is done to heat the whole substrate and prepare the environment for your mushrooms;
- As the timer buzzes, keep the cooker closed and let it get to a convenient temperature for you to handle the bag without a problem;
- As soon as you take the bag out, seal it tightly to make sure no other organism gets into this small ecosystem you’re creating;
- Give the bag about 10-12 hours to cool down;
- After that, take a small piece of packing tape and stick it on the bag. The location should be on the other side of the air filter;
- Use a needle and a syringe with liquid culture or spawn and inject the growing bag with it. Puncture through the location with the packing tape and be sure the needle goes into the medium. To make sure the culture covers the whole substrate, inject it in several places;
- As soon as possible, cover the hole from the needle with tape;
- Prepare a room with fluorescent bulbs or any other source of indirect lighting and adjust the temperature according to the needs of your mushrooms. Put the bag in that room;
- Check on the bag daily to see if everything’s fine. Maybe you’ll need to adjust the temperature or add some water for the substrate to be moist all the time. It shouldn’t dry completely, but if it does, inject a little bit of clean water just like you did with the spawn. After that, seal the bag every time you pierce it;
- Keep monitoring until the mushrooms grow to their full size and harvest them.
You can harvest at any stage of mushroom growth. They are edible no matter how small. However, when the harvest is mature, make sure you take all the mushrooms out of the bag. Due to such specific conditions, they may rot in the substrate.
How to make sure your mushrooms have ripened? Their caps open fully, and in some places, the cover tears a little. Usually, you’ll see them in such a state in a couple of weeks up to several months, depending on the type you’re growing.
Tips on How to Grow Oyster Mushroom in Bags
Oyster mushrooms are very good for your health. They help reduce the risks of becoming obese, getting diabetes, etc. Here are several reference points:
- They need very high humidity, so when growing such mushrooms at home, you’ll have to spray water on the bags and inject it inside several times during the whole growth cycle. Keep the moisture at 95-100% for the best results;
- This type of mushroom grows very fast. You’ll see definitive units in only 7-14 days. Harvesting them immediately or waiting for them to get bigger is your decision;
- However, it’s recommended to harvest them when the caps are still a little bit curled. If you miss the moment and they are fully open, trim them as soon as possible.
Tips on How to Grow Lion’s Mane Mushroom in Bags
Lion’s mane mushrooms should definitely be in your meals. One such bag can produce a whole bundle of mushrooms, so one harvest can last for quite a long time. This type is very beneficial for your health and can become one of the substitutes for meat if you’re a vegetarian. So, here are some tips and facts about lion’s mane:
- The one drawback is that it’s difficult to find lion’s mane mushrooms in regular grocery shops. That’s why a lot of people choose to grow them at home.
- These mushrooms are sometimes hollow inside, and it’s fine. So, don’t worry if you harvest semi-hollow units. However, you should be very careful with them, meaning no spraying water right on them. It’s easy to bruise them, which may destroy the whole mushroom while it’s growing.
- Harvesting such mushrooms is easy and fun. Cut the cap that looks like a snowball or a tribble from Star Trek with a very sharp knife. Be very careful and try to do it with one cut. Don’t damage the spine if you want more mushrooms to grow there later;
- Store the mushrooms in your fridge, but move them very lightly, as even slight damage may lead to fast deteriorating;
- Don’t dump the bag after harvesting. Instead, leave the fruiting block in the bag and wait because new mushrooms will grow in the places where you’ve had the previous harvest;
- The incubation process for these mushrooms is up to 2 weeks. You should shake it often to make sure there are as many possibilities for mushroom growth as possible;
- The suitable temperature for lion’s mane is 15-20C;
- It’s best to keep humidity at around 90%.
Growing mushrooms is a lot of fun. Of course, it might not be so for a beginner, but once you get the first harvest, you’ll understand that all your efforts have paid off. With guides like this and other useful articles online, you can become a professional very quickly.
But before you go, tell us about your experience with growing mushrooms in grow bags! Which ones did you use? How difficult was it? Was your experience anything like what we’ve written about? Let us know in the comments!