Growing medicinal mushrooms is not that much more complicated than growing regular ones. The problems only arise when you’re trying to grow a species that is not native to your area and local climate. But even then, shrooms are tough little “critters” that can survive almost anything you throw at them.
The equipment is very straightforward as well. You can buy fully assembled and pre-packaged kits, but you could do without them and rely on stuff that you already have at home, or that you can pick up for cheap in the local big box store. m
What is the average cost of growing mushrooms at home?
You could set up a small scale production at less than $1000. That’s if we’re assuming that your production capacity is small enough that you can work alone.
Most of that money will go towards the equipment, That’s assuming that you are sticking to the basics and not going for automated growing systems that cost a couple of thousand per unit.
You can see all of the numbers broken down in this presentation by the Purdue University.
How hard can it be to grow mushrooms at home?
In most cases, not hard at all. You can easily treat it as a side project while you go bout your life and other activities. The majority of work happens in the beginning while you’re setting up everything. After that, it’s mostly checking up on your colony to make sure that everything is okay, with slightly more work needed once you’re ready to start a second generation.
To avoid a lot of fuss, most mushrooms are grown with barley or rice as their host. It’s a rather good and inexpensive way to host almost all species that you could grow at home. Though fist, check if the shroom of your choice must have a particular preference first.
You will need to learn how to develop a light touch – any vigorous movements and shaking may trigger the mushrooms to release spores. And controlling what happens to the spores and where they go will be one of your most important tasks.
What conditions are needed for a mushroom to grow?
Most fungi like dark and damp places. There’s only a handful of those that prefer to be in the light.
Though mushrooms are rather good at adapting to their environment, you have to be ready to go an extra mile for those that are native to a completely different part of the world. That means that you will probably have to modify the temperature and humidity level
Speaking of hosts, you will have to worry more about them than the mushrooms themselves. They will need an appropriate amount of sunlight, water, fertilized soil, etc.
Your job is to practically care about the host, and mushrooms will do their thing on their own.
Are mushroom kits worth it?
If you are a complete novice, they are. With most of them, after you’ve opened the box and removed its content, you’ve already completed the majority of the work.
Their only issue is the lack of choice when it comes to species that are on offer. Most of the manufacturers concentrate on popular culinary mushrooms, and you will have to go to an indie supplier to get a kit with medicinal mushrooms.
How long does a mushroom kit last?
Most of the kits promise to last you a lifetime. The truthfulness of this claim depends both on the content of the box and your efforts to keep your little farm alive.
But if you were wondering how long can they sit on the shelf before they are ready to use, each manufacturer is supposed to clearly mark the “best before” date on their product. But it’s safe to say that you should plan to grow as soon as possible once you bring a kit home.
Can I reuse a mushroom kit to grow a second batch?
Yes – as long as your mushrooms are producing spores, you will be able to grow a new generation.
But, if your kit came with a host, you will need to replace that at some point. Mushrooms feed off of their hosts and it’s just a matter of time before they suck them dry.
What is the best host for medicinal mushrooms?
Most of the mushrooms that are used for medicinal purposes like to grow on or near trees. But because you are not just about to grow an oak in the middle of your house, there’s the “spawn”.
This term refers to the base your fungus can grow on. It’s quite cheap and versatile, and most importantly, it works with all species of edible and medicinal mushrooms.
Although the process for preparing it may seem simple, there is a bit of an art to it. You can read it all in detail in this guide from Penn State.
What are the fastest-growing medicinal mushrooms?
The top 3 are maitake, cordyceps, and reishi. All three have a generation turnover of about a month or less and can be easily grown at home.
Maitake can be used for treating high blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes. Trees are its hosts of choice, and it can grow in huge clusters. The main advantage of maitake is that they test great, have a nice texture, and can obviously be eaten like regular food. No need to make tinctures or extracts.
And for an additional benefit, it’s rather easy to get your hands on a growing kit for this species. It’s included in almost every product lineup and you could start growing your first batch within the next couple of days.
Reishi is a favorite if many oriental traditional medicine practitioners, and it’s nicknamed the “mushroom of immortality”. It’s used to treat and prevent heart disease, diabetes, inflammation, liver damage, and numerous other conditions.
They also like to grow on the side of the trees but unlike maitake, it’s woody and bitter, and not suitable for regular consumption. It’s better to dry it and grind into a powder, and then add into a beverage of choice,
And finally, cordyceps. Its favorite hosts are living insects and once they take over their body, It takes only 3 weeks for them to mature. It’s packed with antioxidants and even considered as “natural Viagra”.
In China, they grow it by infecting ghost moths. This method is rather efficient, but it’s still not suitable for mass-production. But, on the other side of the globe, we use grain as a base.
Cordyceps is very expensive, but you should not eat it more than twice a week, and only in very small amounts per pop.
Is it safe to grow mushrooms indoors?
As long as you think of a way to prevent the spores from spreading all around, it’s perfectly safe. But leaving then in the open is just an invitation for the spores to settle all over your house.
If you don’t want that to happen, keep the mushrooms under the lock and key. Or at least in some regular plastic food containers. You can also place them in a room all of their own if you have enough real estate for that, If not, pick up an old armoire or cabinet and place them in there.
Do medicinal mushrooms need sunlight to grow well?
In most cases, no. Mushrooms don’t perform photosynthesis so they themselves don’t need any sunlight at all. They’ll do just fine in dark and damp places.
But their hosts will need some sunshine. In short, the ones that grow on tree barks don’t need sun, but if you can see even a little bit of green, let the sunshine in.
Though that’s only when we’re talking about growing them and nothing more. There is also something awesome that mushrooms do when they are exposed to the Sun – they develop Vitamin D, just like we do when we go sunbathing. And you don’t even need to use special medicinal mushrooms to get this effect since the regular eating mushrooms will do the same job as well.
Should I invest in a mushroom growing house, cabinet, tent, or another special piece of furniture?
Maybe. It all depends on the size of your production, the species of mushroom you are growing, local climate, how much havoc their spores can wreak on the immediate environment, etc. It can even have additional benefits since it’s easier to control the conditions in a small space than it is in a larger room.
That being said, you don’t have to hop on online and order yourself the fanciest option you can get your hands on. You can pretty much scout out local yard sales and find a cabinet, get some plastic to line it from the inside, and you’re good to go.
Leave the expensive, hi-tech setup only for when you’re unable to grow mushrooms no matter what you try.
Can I grow medicinal mushrooms with children and pets in the house?
Yes, but you will need to be careful. Though they are less likely to eat them (especially if the mushrooms are locked away or place out of reach) the sores may cause an allergic reaction or another type of infection.
If your child is immunocompromised or suffers from any type of auto-immune disorder, you may need to give up your plans altogether. Or go to extra length to ensure that you don’t bring any spores into their vicinity. But even if your child is perfectly healthy, talk to your pediatrician before you bring the shrooms into your home.
Both cats and dogs will not generally be interested in your new little farm. Just like when they are helping us find truffles, they will sniff it all out, but will not be interested in eating anything. And cats just simply don’t care.
However, spores can still cause irritations and infections. So, don’t forget to check with your vet if you should avoid keeping your mushrooms of choice anywhere around your fur-babies.