an oyster mushroom ready to be cultivated

Oyster mushroom cultivation at home can be rewarding, easy, economically beneficial and not as difficult as you might think. Learning how to cultivate oyster mushrooms is something that interest many people, but most do not know where to begin.

There is no reason why anyone who wants to start growing their mushrooms at home cannot begin this process once it is understood. Let’s begin to discuss the mushroom itself as well as its life cycle.

The mushroom itself is made up of several different parts which include:

1) The Cap.

This is the upper part of the mushroom that spreads out as the mushroom grows.

2) The Cup.

This is a cup-like structure found at the bottom of the stem and is the first growth that appears on the structure.

3) The Gills.

These are a series of radial flat surfaces where the spores are produced and this is how the mushroom reproduces.

4) Mycelial Threads.

These parts are responsible to anchor the bottom of the stem into the substrate that the mushroom is grown on.

5) Ring or Veil.

A thin tissue which connects the stem and the cape prior to the mushroom reaching maturity, thereafter the gills are exposed and the reproductive process begins.

6) The Stem.

This is the support for the mushroom and holds the cap located on top of the stem.

Once the mushroom has reached maturity, the veil connecting the stem and the cap is broken, and exposes the gills and thereafter the spores are released that have been developing.

Under normal and natural circumstances the wind would sweep these spores off into the air, but with the process of home mushroom cultivation, these spores will be collected and a spore print will be made from them.

The spore print is the collection of spores which is derived from the underside of the cap and placed on an appropriate flat surface, such as aluminum foil. These spore prints are then used to create syringes filled with a spore solution, combined with distilled water.

As soon as the spores are introduced to the medium or substrate it will begin to colonize it with a network of mycelium. After completion of this process and the substrate is introduced to suitable conditions and environment, it begins fruiting or developing mushrooms and is also known as fruit-bodies.

It can take a few weeks for these fruit bodies to reach maturity. At maturity the veil will tear and the spores will be released from the gills.  This may sound easy, however along the way we may be faced with difficulties such as contamination.

Just like the spores thrive in certain type of environment, many other bacteria and mold spores also develop under the same conditions. We need to take extra care to avoid contaminants as much as possible for growing mushrooms at home.

Just as their name implies, oyster mushrooms look, taste, and even smell like real oysters. This is because they naturally grow on trees all over North America and have long been considered one of the best mushrooms for cooking.

They are not difficult to find in grocery stores. However, many gardening and culinary aficionados have discovered that oyster mushrooms taste even better when they are grown at home.

Oyster mushroom cultivation may sound like a complicated task, but it does not have to be. There are actually several methods of oyster mushroom cultivation, so anyone who is interested in growing this type of mushroom can find a way to do so.

Potential oyster mushroom cultivators simply need to explore their options and decide which form of cultivation is right for them.

(1) The Wood Chip Formula

This is arguably the easiest form of oyster mushroom cultivation. To grow oyster mushrooms using this method, the cultivator must first buy a bag of mycelium. Mycelium is a fungal matter that comes mixed with wood chips and sawdust from deciduous trees.

It is a good idea to add wood chips from an oak, cottonwood, maple, or other deciduous tree to the existing wood chips before moving forward with the cultivation process.

The cultivator should then heat all of the wood chips to about 180 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure that they are pasteurized and will not end up harboring poisonous mushrooms.

Once pasteurization is complete and the chips have been wetted with water, the cultivator can spread the mycelium and wood chips in a shaded outdoor area.

He or she may also put the mycelium and wood chips together in a punctured bag to begin the growth process indoors. From this point, oyster mushrooms should sprout freely on their own.

(2) The Log Formula

This form of oyster mushroom cultivation is also relatively straightforward, although it requires more effort than the wood chip method does. The log method definitely works best for people who live in rural areas and have access to freestanding deciduous trees.

The first step in this method is to cut down a tree, then leave it lying on the ground for about a month. After a month has passed, the cultivator must cut the tree into logs that are approximately three feet long and drill multiple holes into each log.

The cultivator then fills the holes with mycelium, covers them with beeswax, and piles the logs in the shade. Oyster mushrooms should begin to appear within six months. If the cultivator lives in a dry or hot location, he or she should wet the logs on occasion to ensure that the mushrooms have a chance to grow.

(3) The Spore Formula

This is undeniably the most complex approach to oyster mushroom cultivation. It is an indoor process that involves very scientific equipment, including a laminar flow hood and several Petri dishes. It also requires the cultivator to maintain a sterile work room and initiate three intricate phases of mushroom development.

If the cultivator can master this process, he or she will see that it is fundamentally not very different from using a seed to grow a plant. However, the spore method requires a great deal of consistent, difficult work and is probably not the best option for those who are new to oyster mushroom cultivation.