Here are simple steps to a profitable mushroom growing operation.
These steps are simplified to give you a brief overview of the processes involved. I am also focusing on the Oyster Mushroom because they are easy to start with, and still a popular variety of gourmet mushrooms.
It is my belief that this simplified process will add to your general knowledge and have you considering further steps you can take to become successful. As with any business and or a new skill, there is a great deal to learn. I encourage you to watch a great many videos and read some of the better books available on the topic.
It is also advisable to start with a mushroom growing kit before jumping in cold into this business. On our Facebook group, we also offer a simple excel calculator you can use for your farm budget for Oyster mushrooms if you want to explore this idea further.
Why start with Oyster mushrooms?
I suggest Oyster mushrooms because their cultivation is considered easier than other varieties, but they are still considered gourmet mushrooms. This means if your goal is to learn to grow mushrooms for resale then Oyster mushrooms are a great place to start.
Also, there are many great resources for amazing strains of Oyster mushrooms. Think of the strain of the variety of mushroom like the type of seed for a vegetable you want to grow. Mushroom are unique in that you can use your harvest mushroom to create spore prints, and other cultures of various kinds to grow more mushrooms for another harvest. So in their way it is like being able to use the heirloom seeds from non-GMO plants to grow more of that plant.
Most growers start their experience of growing mushrooms for profit slowly when they purchase a mushroom growing kit. These kits are basically ready to grow mushrooms with all of the hardest work is already done for you. It is not considered profitable to grow and scale a mushroom business this way, but it is a great way to learn more about mushrooms. Growing from a kit can also help you discover many things first hand that you would not typically learn for months if you were starting the entire process from scratch.
An amazing kit is now available from Uniquely Greener and MushroomMediaOnline.com on their website. They actually have 6 kits available, but 3 of those kits are Oyster Mushroom Kits. These kits are the largest on the market we are aware of at 11-12 pounds. They can produce several pounds of gourmet mushrooms and are an excellent place to start.
When you get your first kit you want to follow the directions and cut modest airflow holes in the grow bag and also water the kits with a simple spray bottle and tap water. That water adds to the humidity your mushrooms will need to grow and thrive.
After you try the kit, you, then have some choices of the next steps to take.
If you like the taste of mushrooms, and the process of watching them grow, and tending to them. It may be time to learn more about the total growing process. For this, you will need at least a few key items to get started.
Now, these items are my own recommendation there are many paths one can take two growing mushrooms. This is just what I believe is the easiest and most cost-effective way to start.
Order some Liquid Culture starter for your mushrooms, at the same time also order some Unicorn mushroom grow bags (the industry standard) and some Fast Fruiting mix. The fast fruiting mix is essentially what is referred to in the industry as the Master’s Mix. It is an ideal mix of two substrate ingredients. The substrate is the nutrient-dense material mushrooms love to grow on. The better your substrate is from a nutritional standpoint, the better the mushrooms will grow, taste, and look. It just so happens that the Fast Fruiting Mix is the ideal substrate formula for growing Oyster mushrooms. It is 50% oak hardwood sawdust, and 50% soy hulls. This potent one two punch of nutrient is perfect for this gourmet variety.
You will also need some grain spawn. With that, you can use wheat berries or many other grains. Some people even use plain popcorn without any coating or additives. The grain spawn becomes more essential as you master the first few steps. Now as you are just learning the grain spawn, you use will matter less than in the future.
Follow the instructions provided by your liquid culture provider. This typically includes using an injector port to inoculate the then sterilized grain spawn (sterilized with heat, or heat and pressure over time to kill bacteria, mold, and fungus) to give the liquid culture the best growth medium to grow and expand in.
You then wait until the grain spawn in your smaller grow bag (some also use mason jars for this stage) is fully colonized. Colonized grain spawn is easy to recognize. It essentially turns all white. Once your grain spawn has lots of healthy mycelium present. (It is very white, and almost looks like sugar, or snow covering the grain you used). You can then add it to your sterilized substrate in your grow bag.
Again you start a bit of a waiting game. You waiting now for the grain spawn to colonize the fruiting block of the substrate. The next step is to transfer the fruiting block to an area to fruit. This grow room or fruiting area typically needs higher airflow, low light, and high humidity. For most who are growing the mushrooms in their home or garage, you may also need to cool the environment some depending on the season and conditions.
The ideal temperature range for Oyster mushrooms is typically 60-80 degrees. The sweet spot for your variety should be shared from the provider of the liquid culture. They can also provide helpful humidity tips and other information specific to the line or variety they are selling.
Once you place the mushroom grow bag in the fruiting area and give them the proper conditions you are just days away from your first harvest. Typically, 10-14 days with proper conditions. Then get ready to start harvesting. You usually get 3 harvests per grow bag or block. With the first harvest being the largest, and two more to follow. After that the grow block is considered spent of nutrients for the mushrooms and is a waste product for the mushroom process.
*A side note while you can not properly reuse the blocks for mushrooms they are prized as an amazing source of nutrient for flowers and other plants gardeners love. So you may want to upcycle your substrate.
Most growers harvest by hand with no tools. It is simple and normally just a twist of the wrist (s).
From there you have a choice to make. Where to sell your mushrooms. We will talk about that another time. With mushroom prices per pound from $8-20 wholesale to retail. There is some serious profit potential if you can handle the marketing and sales.