Use these four cultivation methods outlined in this article and you know know how to grow edible mushrooms without a kit 

Are you interested in how to grow edible mushrooms without a kit? Mushroom growing kits are great as an introduction to mushroom growing. Many mushroom growers quickly fall in love with watching beautiful, delicious mushrooms grow but then want to cultivate more mushrooms through other means than a grow kit.

Today we are going through four ways to grow mushrooms: on logs, on sawdust, with coffee grounds, and straw.

Growing mushrooms on logs

There is a need to consider the type of wood you are using when cultivating mushrooms on logs. For instance, oak is the desired choice if you are growing shiitakes on logs, however, you can use other hardwoods too, like sugar maple, beech, muscle wood, or iron wood.

The best time to cut the logs is between December and March. It is best to store stacks close to the ground and covered with a tarp. If logs are stored before inoculation, it is best to keep them in a shaded area with minimal wind. The goal is to keep enough moisture in the logs so they do not dry out. The best logs to use will have zero to minimal bark damage with no visible signs of bacteria or fungal infections.

The time of inoculation has direct relation to the size of yields. Typically, yields are the biggest when inoculation occurs in the spring, between late March and early May. Fall inoculations can also lead to impressive yields if a greenhouse is used for the incubation period of the winter.

Here is our process for growing mushrooms on logs:

  • Collect all of the materials you will need for growing mushrooms outside. Order sawdust or plug spawn here. If you are using sawdust spawn, it is recommended to use a palm inoculation tool, especially if you are inoculating dozens of logs. If you are using plug spawn you will need a hammer.
  • Drill holes into the logs for the spawn to go into. The holes should be about 1” deep and spaced 6” apart in the row. The log should be rotated 2” to start the next row. Drill all the way around the surface of the log with 2” in between rows and 6” in between holes in the row. The rows should be offset so you create a diamond pattern.
  • Fill the holes with spawn. If using the plug spawn place, place each dowel on the hole and hammer it in until it is flush with the surface of the log. If using sawdust spawn, fill the palm inoculator with spawn to create a dowel-like structure and then hit the inoculator to place it into the hole. Be sure the hole is completely filled with sawdust spawn.
  • Once the holes have been drilled and filled the last step is to wax over the holes. This ensures the sawdust spawn has a moist and safe place to grow. The bark of the log acts as an armor, keeping unwanted fungi out and moisture in. By waxing over the inoculation holes the sawdust spawn will not dry out as it grows into the log.
  • Stack the logs in a shaded area. Conifer works best for the year-long incubation of logs. Logs that are inoculated in April will begin their fruiting period the following June. Be sure to maintain moisture around 45% during the incubation period. It is critical to water the logs every 2-3 weeks if there is no rainfall. To water, either soak for 4-5 hours or place a sprinkler on for 4-8 hours.

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Growing mushrooms on sawdust

  • Mix 50% hardwood sawdust in fuel pellets, or raw dust from a mill with 50% soybean hulls. This is measured in dry weight, so, if there is 20 lbs of dry sawdust you would add about 20 lbs of dry soybean hulls. Bring this mixture to 55% moisture content. Pack into 5-6 lb specialized autoclavable bags.
  • Load the steaming unit with bags and turn steam on. Use non-pressurized, atmospheric steam and get temperatures up to about 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 18 hours. This typically takes a full 24-hours of cycling the steaming unit on and off.
  • Move bags into a HEPA-filtered lab to cool for 24-hours before inoculating.
  • Inoculate each bag with a half cup of oyster mushroom grain spawn. Seal the bag and shake vigorously to distribute the grain evenly.
  • Place the inoculated bag onto a shelf with a palm-width spacing on all sides. Allow the bag to sit for 12-15 days until fully colonized.
  • Cut a large X on the broad side of the bag and move it into the fruiting room. Fruiting should occur within 10 days. Harvest and allow the bag to rest for about 14 days, and mushrooms will begin fruiting again.

Growing mushrooms on straw

We have written about the process of growing mushrooms on straw before. Visit this article of ours to first read about the treatment methods for the straw. The methods go over the process of pasteurization, which is crucially important.

Once you had read about the treatment methods for the straw, head on over to this article of ours that goes through the rest of the process for growing mushrooms on straw. It also mentions some mushroom strains we recommend.

Growing mushrooms on coffee grounds

An easy method to start growing mushrooms at home is with oyster mushrooms on coffee grounds. We like using blue oyster mushrooms because they are great colonizers, but other oyster mushrooms will work as well. Coffee is a common staple in many homes and it can be easily used to grow oyster mushrooms. This process is fairly straightforward and simplistic, with only four steps to follow.

The materials you need include a plastic container with a lid and several holes poked in the bottom of the container, oyster mushroom spawn, and a household of coffee drinkers. Let’s dive into the process now:

  • First, brew the coffee. Once the boiling water has run through the grounds and filter, place the coffee grounds into the small plastic bucket/container.
  • Next, add your oyster spawn spawn on top of the freshly brewed coffee and filter. Close the lid.
  • Repeat daily or throughout the day, layering oyster mushroom spawn and spent coffee grounds. Keep the mushroom spawn in the fridge between uses.
  • Once the container is full, allow it to sit for 2-3 weeks. Poke 4-5 holes in the side of the container and mist once daily. Mushrooms will begin fruiting within a week of misting.

Hopefully you now have some ideas on how to grow edible mushrooms without a kit! What’s your favorite way to grow mushrooms? Share your thoughts with us!