Growing white button mushrooms

Care Of Button Mushrooms: Learn About Growing White Button Mushrooms

Growing mushrooms is a little talked about side of gardening. While it may not be as conventional as tomatoes or squash, mushroom growing is surprisingly easy, versatile, and very useful. Growing white button mushrooms is a good place to start, since they’re both tasty and easy to maintain. Keep reading to learn more about how to grow white button mushrooms and some white button mushroom information.

Growing White Button Mushrooms

Growing white button mushrooms doesn’t require sunlight, which is especially nice for the indoor gardener whose windows are full up with plants. They can also be grown at any time of year, with winter actually preferable, making for a great gardening opportunity when everything outside is cold and bleak.

Growing white button mushrooms takes spores, tiny microscopic things that will grow into mushrooms. You can buy mushroom growing kits made up of organic material inoculated with these mushrooms spores.

White button mushrooms grow best in nitrogen-rich manure, like horse manure. To create an indoor bed for your mushrooms, fill a wooden box that’s at least 6 inches deep with manure. Leave a few inches of space below the rim of the box. Spread the inoculated material from your kit on the top of the soil and mist it thoroughly.

Keep your bed in the dark, damp, and warm – around 70 F. (21 C.) – for the next few weeks.

Care of Button Mushrooms

After a few weeks, you should notice a fine white webbing on the surface of the bed. This is called mycelium, and it’s the start of your mushroom colony. Cover your mycelium with a couple inches of damp potting soil or peat – this is called casing.

Lower the bed’s temperature to 55 F. (12 C.). Make sure to keep the bed moist. It may help to cover the whole thing with plastic wrap or a few layers of wet newspaper. In about a month, you should start to see mushrooms.

Care of button mushrooms after this point is very easy. Harvest them by twisting them out of the soil when you’re ready to eat them. Fill in the empty space with more casing to make way for new mushrooms. Your bed should continue to produce mushrooms for 3 to 6 months.

How to grow button mushrooms

Agaricus is unlike other mushroom spawn in that it is a secondary decomposer; this means that it needs to work with bacteria which carry out the primary decomposition of cellulose material into a form accessible by Agaricus. The mushroom growing substrate referred to as ‘compost’ is quite different from garden compost or soil. If the substrate is fully decomposed then the mushrooms are unable to grow. It is therefore necessary to produce the compost in exactly the right stage of decomposition (partially broken down). Failure to grow Agaricus is almost certainly due to failure to provide the right compost.

Stages of Growing Button Mushrooms:

  1. Preparation of the compost (this can take 3 weeks or more)
  2. Pasteurisation of the compost
  3. Spawning the compost
  4. Spawn run (mycelium grows through the compost)
  5. Fruiting (up to 6 flushes are possible)

Preparation of the Compost

The best substrate is horse manure mixed with straw. The ideal compost is bedding cleared out of horse stables, which has been left to rot for around 3 weeks. If you can get this type of compost, simply move on to the pasteurisation step. Check that there is no smell of ammonia – if there is, leave a little longer. Turning the compost every few days is ideal, allowing more oxygen to enter and the substrate to break down better. If you are using plain horse manure without any bedding, you should add some straw to the material. A typical mix is 50% straw, 50% fresh horse manure and a small amount of gypsum (plaster).

Soak the straw thoroughly in water – ideally submerge it in a tank of water for 2-3 days. This will wet the straw well but also start a fermentation process which is very beneficial to the resultant mushroom compost. Prepare the compost in a sheltered area with a hard floor by spreading a layer of straw about 15cm high and about 1.5m x 1.5m in area. Then sprinkle a generous handful of gypsum over this and add a similar layer of manure. Repeat until you have created a mound approximately 1.5-2m high. This will consume around 2 bales of straw.

Cover the pile with polythene or tarpaulin to avoid drying out and leave for about 2 days. The pile should start to heat up – you will need to turn the compost to prevent it from becoming anaerobic. Loosen the compost up as it will begin to sink. Repeat again at 2-day intervals until the compost stops heating. The compost is ready to move into the mushroom beds at this stage. The heating should reach 70 degrees C, which will pasteurise the compost and prevent the growth of competitor microorganisms. Once cooled, the compost is ready for Agaricus spawn to be added.

Pasteurisation of the Compost

If you wish to prepare small quantities of compost, it may not heat up readily and will require a longer time to decompose. In this case, the compost will not have heated sufficiently to pasteurise, so you will need to heat it yourself to achieve this. It also kills off insects which may be present in the compost (could prevent mushrooms from growing). If you have obtained rotted manure/bedding from horse stables and you are not sure whether it is pasteurised, you should play it safe by pasteurising your compost. The best way of doing this is by steam.

You could use an old pressure cooker – place some water in the bottom of the cooker and fill the inner trays with compost. Heat it until the water starts to boil. The steam will pasteurise the compost – ideally it should be heated for a half-hour or more. For larger quantities, a pasteurisation unit can easily be created out of an oil drum (205 litres) or vegetable oil drum (20 litres). In all cases, make sure that the compost isn’t burnt by touching hot walls of the container and that the water isn’t all boiled away.

Spawning the Compost

If the spawn is added to the compost when the temperature is above 30 degrees C, it will be killed, so make absolutely sure (leave overnight) that it is cooled to ambient temperature. The compost should be saturated with water but not enough that it drips out if a handful is picked up. If you squeeze the compost in your hand it should retain its shape and it should be possible to squeeze water out of the compost. Place the compost in a growing container; growing containers can be plastic biscuit tins, polystyrene packaging boxes, polythene bags, cardboard boxes, wooden boxes etc. The ideal size of the box (for convenient handling) should be 45 x45 cm and 25 cm deep. The box needs to be cleaned thoroughly with soap and water, and the soap thoroughly rinsed off before use.

Ideally the compost should be 15 to 20 cm deep, but leave enough space to add 25 mm of garden compost (the casing) at the top during the fruiting stage. Add the spawn to the compost (approximately 3% by dry weight); so 60g of button mushroom spawn will seed up to 4kg of compost. Ensure that the compost is all under 30 degrees C (failure to ensure the compost is adequately cooled is a common cause of poor/no results); mix the spawn thoroughly.

Spawn Run

Next, you need to create a high CO2 environment for the mushrooms to grow. This is done by covering or enclosing the compost in polythene. This encourages the spawn to run through the compost. Place this somewhere dark (although this isn’t essential) and at warm room temperature (20 to 26 degrees C) but not above 30 degrees C. After a few days, you will see thread-like growths coming from the spawn, and after a few more days, the compost should look like it is covered in cobwebs or mouldy. This is the mushroom spawn growing. Depending on temperature, compost and general conditions, this will normally take 11 to 21 days. In poor conditions (if the mushrooms are left outdoors in cold weather), the spawn run may take several months. Often the mushrooms will surprise you many weeks or months later, when you thought things had gone wrong.


When the spawn run has completed (don’t rush this stage or you will get fewer mushrooms), you need to increase air circulation, which reduces the CO2 level and stimulates fruiting. Remove any bags/covers and spread 25 mm of garden compost. This is called ‘casing’ and for reasons not entirely understood, it stimulates Agaricus fruiting. The garden compost needs to be fresh from the bag, so that it is uncontaminated. The temperature should be dropped slightly (to 16-20 degrees C) and air circulation should be increased. Evaporation will increase, so use a plant sprayer to keep the surface of the casing damp (but not wet) by spraying twice a day.

After 7 to 10 days, you should see white dots appearing on the surface of the casing. These are ‘baby’ mushrooms (pins), some of which will develop into mushrooms. Try not to spray these pins directly, as direct contact with droplets of water can cause them to abort. It may help to loosely cover the growing container with some polythene to reduce evaporation, but it will be necessary to manually remove this twice a day to allow air exchange, otherwise build up of CO2 will prevent effective fruiting.

After the first flush, the compost will rest for 7 to 10 days and it should provide a second flush. You should get at least four flushes and sometimes up to six, but each flush will get successively weaker. When no more mushrooms will grow, you can use the spent compost as a valuable mulch/soil conditioner. Sometimes you will even get a few mushrooms growing after the spent compost is spread on the garden, particularly if the location is damp and organic-rich.

Thanks to Clifford Davy of Forest Foragers.

Growing button mushrooms is becoming a popular part of gardening nowadays. It’s not as common as growing tomatoes and green beans, but it has become a bigger part of the home gardener’s arsenal, and for good reason.

Button mushrooms are one of the easier types to grow. They don’t need sunlight, and you can buy affordable, simple kits to help you grow them. Hobby farmers find that growing mushrooms is a great way to make some extra cash, as well.

Unlike some mushroom varieties, it’s simple to find button mushroom spores, and they’re some of the most versatile of the mushrooms in the kitchen. Perfect for soups, stir-fries, chicken dishes, and scooped on top of steaks.

Hungry yet? I sure am. Button mushrooms from the grocery store are delicious, but homegrown ones are on another level. Ready to learn how to succeed at growing button mushrooms? Let’s dig in.

How Do Mushrooms to Grow?

Before we focus on button mushrooms, we have to learn how mushrooms in general grow. Mushrooms start from spores rather than seeds, and spores are so small that you can’t see them individually with your eye.

Mushroom spores don’t contain chlorophyll like plants do to start germinating, so they need substances like wood chips or liquid for nourishment to get started. The blend of spores and nutrients is called a spawn. You can think of spawn like the starter that you need to make sourdough bread.

Spawn supports the growth of mushrooms’ threadlike roots, which are called mycelium. First, the mycelium grows before the mushrooms appear. Then, in a few weeks, the medium will support the growth of the mushrooms.

Preparing to Plant Button Mushrooms

Button mushrooms are easy to grow for several reasons, one of which is that they don’t require sunlight. That makes them perfect for apartment dwellers and those who have way too many indoor plants taking up window space already.

Not only that, but button mushrooms can be grown at any time of year, including winter. You can get your gardening fix when snow covers the ground. Homegrown crops in the middle of winter sound appealing, right?

Growing button mushrooms can be as simple as grabbing a growing kit and following the directions. It’s an easy way to get your feet wet. But if you really want to make cash or feel a sense of accomplishment, this guide will show you how to grow button mushrooms without one.

Choosing a Spot

Mushrooms enjoy growing in areas that are cool and dark, so you want to pick somewhere to grow them that is between 65-75℉. It also needs to be shielded from light and any disturbances.

Many mushrooms growers choose a basement or crawlspace to grow their white button mushrooms. If you live in an apartment, dark closets work as well.

Finding Spawn

You need to use spawns, not seeds, to grow mushrooms. You can purchase ready-made spores online or at a nursery. Some spores have already been inoculated or mixed in with a substrate, such as dirt, hay, or sawdust.

Ideally, you want to purchase spawn from an experienced mushroom cultivator rather than a random seller online. High-quality spawn is more likely to produce mushrooms.

Growing Supplies

Growing mushrooms isn’t the same as growing tomatoes or peas. It takes some supplies that you may not use regularly, so you’ll want to prepare ahead of time.

A Box: A cardboard box works well, so long as its at least 6 inches deep and about 14 inches by 16 inches. You need a box with plenty of surface area for your mushrooms to grow. If you don’t have cardboard, you can use wood, instead. Boxes can be made of plastic or metal as well, depending on what you have available.

A Garbage Bag: The garbage bag is used to line the cardboard box to stop things from getting messy while keeping moisture in its place.

Composted Manure: Composted manure is the perfect growing medium for your white button mushrooms as it’s a food source for them as well.
White button mushrooms grow well in nitrogen-rich manure, such as cow or horse manure. If you don’t have 100% manure, equal parts of compost and manure work as well.
Those who want to dive into growing mushrooms on a larger scale will want to start their compost rather than buying it by the bag. Bagged compost and composted manure can cost a lot.
On the positive side, bagged manure has been sterilized, so you won’t have to worry about transferring bacteria. If you start your own manure or compost, you’ll need to heat it to kill off spores or bacteria that could harm the mushroom spawns.

Newspaper: Newspaper keeps the mycelium damp while it spreads and grows across the medium.

Vermiculite: Don’t make the mistake of growing mushrooms solely in composted manure. Mix the manure with some vermiculite. Manure gives the mushrooms nutrients, and vermiculite provides aeration and moisture retention.

Inoculating Button Mushrooms

If you’re new to growing button mushrooms, these steps can seem strange. Once you get the hang of it, though, you’ll find how easy it is to get them to thrive.

  1. Take an open garbage bag and line a box with the bag.
  2. Next, add a 50/50 mixture of vermiculite and manure. Read the directions on the spawn to know how much you need. For example, 50 grams of white button mushroom pawn needs 5kg of growing medium to inoculate. More is always better; it doesn’t need to be perfect. The mix shouldn’t be too deep – 3 inches at the most.
  3. Wet the medium with a bit of water. It should be damp but not waterlogged.
  4. Sprinkle the white button mushroom spawn onto the damp growing medium. Mix it into the top 2-3 inches of the moist compost.
  5. Take 4-5 layers of newspaper, spray with a bit of water, and lay the newspaper on top of the scattered spawn.
  6. Cover the top of the box with a plastic bag with a few holes to help retain moisture.

Caring for Button Mushrooms


Button mushrooms like warmer mediums to spawn, so if the compost gets too chilly, place the tray on a heating pad to bring the temperature to 70℉. You don’t want to heat the soil any higher than that because it can kill the spores.


You’ll want to check your mushrooms once a day to be sure that the newspaper is moist. If it’s not, gently spray with more water. Never pour water onto the compost mixture or the paper, or you will create wet spots that aren’t the right consistency to encourage mycelium growth.

Adding Casing

Within three weeks, you should see a white web of mycelium spreading over the top of the manure and vermiculite mixture. Once you see the mycelium, remove the heating pad.

Then, take more of the 50/50 manure and vermiculite mixture, and cover it with one inch of the mix. This part is called adding casing, and it’s needed to encourage the button mushrooms to appear. You can also mix parts of peat and soil, or peat and chalk. Spray with water so that everything is damp. Remember not to dump water on top! Cover with plastic again.


Check once a day to be sure that the medium is damp and spray if necessary. Wait another 3-5 weeks, and your white button mushrooms should start to grow. Once mushrooms begin to form, continue to mist the soil and keep it damp.

Common Pests and Diseases

Dactylium Disease

This disease looks like webbed, cottony growth on the surface of the casing and mushrooms. It might turn gray or pink, and the mushrooms will develop a soft, watery rot.

Getting rid of Dactylium disease requires good sanitation practices. Make sure the casing should be kept clean and sanitized, along with all tools and equipment.

Green Mold

When the dense layer of mycelium changes to green, you might have green mold. Developing mushrooms will be brown and might be cracked or distorted. Getting rid of green mold is achieved by good sanitation practices, and make sure the compost is adequately sterilized before use.

Verticillium Spot

If you have small spotting on mushrooms or deformed mushrooms, you might have verticillium spot. A severe infection can cause a deformation known as dry bubble and mushrooms might become covered with gray, fuzzy growth.

You can destroy this fungus by using salt. Put the salt in a cup near the bubbles to dry them out. There are some fungicides to treat verticillium spot, but it could also kill the mushrooms as well.

Harvesting Button Mushrooms

When button mushrooms are mature, the cap pops open. When you’re ready to harvest, twist the mushrooms out of the soil. That’s it! If you don’t want to twist them, use a sharp knife to cut through the stem, just below where the cap meets the stem.

During the growing period, while you pick the mushrooms, look for any fogging. Fogging means mushrooms that have gone soft. You need to remove these as well as any old mushroom stems or spongy material attached to these.

You can fill in the empty space with more casing to make space for new mushrooms. Your mushroom bed should continue to produce mushrooms for 3-6 months.

Cooking Button Mushrooms

Now that you have an ample supply of button mushrooms on hand, it’s time for you to start cooking them up. Button mushrooms can be used in so many recipes. They taste great in soups, with rice, casseroles, or stuffed. Mushrooms stuffed with cheese are a delicious appetizer for parties.

It’s one of the great things about growing button mushrooms; they’re so versatile – and they sell well at a farmer’s market. Chefs and local cooks love homegrown mushrooms; they’re hard to find in most places!

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White Button Mushroom Kit

White Button Mushroom (Agaricus bisporus)

The white button mushroom is the most widely cultivated mushroom in the USA. Our new strain of white has been bred to produce a mushroom with a uniform cap size and a thick stem. It is a robust growing white button. The caps of the mushrooms in the button stage are usually 2-3 inches in diameter, but if left to mature and open the caps can reach a size of 5-8 inches in diameter.Consumers enjoy eating this mushroom due to the many ways it can be prepared. Mushroom growers find that the white button mushrooms compact shape make it an easy mushroom to pick, pack and ship. White button mushrooms have been around for sale in markets for the last 30 years.Our mushroom kits produce abundant quantities of this delicious delicacy. Our kits grow mushrooms with ease and are very productive.Crops grow back every 10-14 days until the mushroom kit uses up all it’s nutrients. Approximately 4 pounds of mushrooms grow in our kit during the 3 months period of time. No matter what they are called they taste great. The kit is complete all you add is water. Kits are time sensitive and should be started within 10-21 days after there start date. Start dates can be delayed if the kit is refrigerated. These mushrooms are grown on pasteurized compost and do not smell. All mushroom kits can to some degree attract small fungus gnats this is normal. Shipping charges are calculated at time of check out. View our 2 videos at the bottom of this page.

This kit can be held for up to 10 days at room temperature before starting.

Product Specifications

Contains: Inoculated mushroom compost, casing and instructions. All you add is water. It is complete.

Best Temperature for Growing: 63 – 68 degrees Fahrenheit plus or minus 5 degrees.

Kit Instructions: See Mushroom Kit Instructions

Mushroom Kit Dimensions: Length 12″, Width 10″, Height 8″.

Mini Kit Dimensions: Length 9.5″, Width 7.25″, Height 7.5″.

Shipping Weight Regular: 12lbs. / Grows up to 4 lbs of mushrooms total.

Mini Kit Shipping Weight: 6lbs. / Grows up to 2 lbs of mushrooms total.

Outer Boxing Available! Nondescript packaging: Choose “Plus Outer Box”. Your order will be placed in a second plain brown box so the recipient will not know what is being delivered. This feature can also help mushroom kits survive shipping during harsh, cold weather.

Choose “Plus Outer Box” in the product selection above.

Available from September 15 through May 5

Any orders placed prior to our opening date will not be shipped, but held and shipped when we open. This is necessary to ensure cooler temperature during shipping.

Our products grow best in cooler months. It’s too hot to ship and grow mushroom kits during the summer.

Price does not include shipping via FedEx Home Delivery.

In the outskirts of Ngong town is Murshtec International Ltd that have leveraged in modern mushroom farming. The farm, which sits on an acre piece of land, has several permanent rooms that mushrooms are thriving.

Mushroom farming in Kenya is slowly gaining popularity as more health conscious generation embraces eating this diet. However, many people are taught how to grow mushrooms and not how to consume; hence more awareness is required. Mushroom delicacy is rich in proteins. There are four popular mushroom species currently grown; Button Agaricus bisporus, Oyster Pleurotus spp, Shiitake Lentinula edodes and Reishi Ganoderma lucidun. Out of the four, Oyster mushrooms are the easiest to cultivate; growing in a wide range of substrates and temperatures, and thus referred to as “mushrooms for all seasons”

However, Button mushroom has the highest demand, with Kenya importing up to 80,000 tones to satisfy its tourist industry. This is due to its complicated growing process that makes many farmers shun it. But with the knowhow, this variety pays handsomely. A 250gms sachet retails at Ksh200 in the open market hitting to lows of at least Ksh160 when there is glut.

Murshtec International Ltd started farming mushrooms eight years ago. They are specializing in cultivating Button variety as well as selling Button spawns. “Wheat straw is used when growing mushroom and ingredients include; urea, chicken manure, cotton seed gypsum molasses and mop. The wheat straw is put in a heap for mixing purposes and aeration,” Josephine Wambui, Murshtec Marketing Manager explained.

The process starts by wetting the wheat straw then adding the other ingredients starting with urea and chicken manure. The rest are added on different dates. The process takes about 21 days.

Preparation of substrate for Button mushroom follows a complex stage process involving composting followed by pasteurization. The compost is then moved to the tunnel for pasteurization. This eliminates excess ammonia and sterilizes the compost for a period of between five to seven days. After all the ingredients are added and are evenly mixed, the substrate is then packed in 1.5m high blocks. This removes excess water in the compost and it’s now ready for pasteurization.

After leveling the temperatures in the tunnel, steam is introduced with temperatures of about 60 degrees to sterilize the compost. This takes about 8 hours after with the temperatures are lowered and leveled. “The day before spawning (planting) the temperatures are lowered gradually to prepare the compost for spawning,” Josephine explained.

The substrate is then packed in polythene bags or trays and spawn is introduced. After spawning, the bags are incubated at 20 to 25 degree Celsius, which is the optimal temperature for mycelia growth. “After two weeks, the substrate has colonized and is ready to be cased (putting soil on top of the substrate a small layer of soil is introduced on top of the mycelium and in 10 days’ time, the mushroom starts fruiting,” she said.

“When the mushrooms start fruiting, we open all the windows to allow flow of air and also lower temperature as they require low temperatures at this stage,” she said.

Harvesting sets in after three weeks. The company harvests the produce by hand picking depending on their schedule. They are harvested every day for a period of 1 to 2 months. “It’s advisable to keep the room thoroughly clean as mushroom can be infested by mites which feed on mycelium and the growing mushroom. They are also attacked by snails. Excess ammonia kills the spawns, “Josephine said

Finding Button spawns in Kenya is quite a challenge, Murshtec International imports from South Africa. Besides planting, the company sells the spawns (mushroom seeds) to farmers in the country. A box of spawns retails at ksh23, 000.

The niche market for Murshtec International Ltd is supermarkets but they also sell to groceries and open markets. Wambui states that Button Mushroom farming requires one to be hands-on to reap benefits.


This work was rejected

Mushroom Growing Made Easy is a one-hour video work offering the viewer clear and detailed guidance on the cultivation of ‘magic mushrooms’. At present, the cultivation and possession of fresh and untreated psilocybe mushrooms is not apparently an offence under UK law. Nonetheless, the Board is conscious that the Drugs Bill currently passing through Parliament will have the effect of making the cultivation and possession of such mushrooms, even in their fresh state, illegal. It would be premature for the Board to classify this video work when it is likely that, within a short period of time, it will become a clear incitement to a criminal offence involving a Class A drug. Regardless of the current legal situation, the video in any case shows how to cultivate an organism that contains what is undoubtedly a Class A drug (psilocin) and which, if altered or treated in any way (for example by drying), would even now result in the commission of a serious criminal offence. The BBFC’s Guidelines clearly set out the Board’s serious concerns about the portrayal of illegal drugs, particularly when the work in question promotes or encourages their use. The Board’s Guidelines clearly state that “No work taken as a whole may promote or encourage the use of illegal drugs”. Furthermore, under the terms of the Video Recordings Act 1984, the BBFC is required, when making a determination as to whether a video work is suitable for classification, to “have special regard (among the other relevant factors) to any harm that may be caused to potential viewers or, through their behaviour to society, by the manner in which the work deals with illegal drugs” .The Board considered whether cutting the work would be a viable alternative to refusing a classification certificate but found that, because the entire purpose of the video is to assist and encourage in cultivating an organism which contains a Class A drug, this was not a viable option.It is our conclusion therefore that this video work is in conflict with the Board’s published Guidelines and the requirements of the Video Recordings Act. In line with its specific duties under the Video Recordings Act, the Board is required to treat material of this kind very carefully indeed and the Board therefore finds this to be unacceptable for a classification certificate to be issued to it.


Courtesy of North Spore Courtesy of North Spore Shiitake mushrooms growing on logs. By Aislinn Sarnacki, BDN Staff • July 17, 2018 12:54 pm
Updated: July 17, 2018 5:43 pm

Popping up from moss and rotten trees in the shadows of the forest, mushrooms capture the imagination. The colorful caps and frilly gills are almost alien. The fungi world, to many, is a complete mystery. Yet, more and more people are endeavoring to learn more, particularly about edible mushrooms, in an effort to grow, harvest and enjoy these delicacies right at home.

“A lot of people don’t realize how easy it is to grow mushrooms,” said Eliah Thanhauser, co-founder of North Spore Mushroom Co. in Westbrook. “You’re able to grow mushrooms in places you wouldn’t be able to grow plants — in shady spots, under a deck or porch.”

Founded in 2010 by three college friends who recognized the public’s growing interest in mushroom cultivation, North Spore not only produces and sells quality mushroom-based tinctures and teas, but also the tools people need to grow mushrooms for themselves. Their customers range from at-home gardeners to commercial mushroom farmers. And on their website,, they provide written material and videos about mushroom growing, with a mission “to provide access to the mycological world.”

“A lot of people want to try something new,” Thanhauser said. “They’ve been gardening their whole lives and have never grown mushrooms and are excited to grow a new, healthy food.”

To help the general public develop a better understanding of fungi, North Spore and other mushroom enthusiasts, such as the Maine Mycological Association, have been offering information and educational workshops throughout Maine.

Mike McNally, a member of the Maine Mycological Association and a regular contributor to the organization’s newsletter, has recently offered a mushroom cultivation workshop at his local library, the Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick, and he was blown away when about 50 people showed up for the program.

“I got interested in it about seven or eight years ago,” McNally said. “A lot of the mushrooms have tremendous medicinal properties. Like the oyster mushroom has been found to lower your cholesterol.”

Oyster mushrooms are the easiest mushroom to grow indoors, McNally said, because they grow well in a wide variety of substrates, including spent coffee grinds, banana leaves and sawdust. And outdoors in Maine, delicious wine cap mushrooms are one of the easiest varieties to grow, usually in piles of wood chips. Shiitake mushrooms are easiest grow on logs.

“Each mushroom, depending on species, has its own personality and growing requirements,” McNally said. “And even within the same genus and species, each seem to have their own.”

While one oyster mushroom may grow furiously, another might refuse to grow at all. At times, mushrooms almost seem tempramental, McNally said, but he doesn’t mind. He enjoys a certain degree of surprise, and he never tires of experimenting with new substrates and methods of growing.

A few years ago, he plucked a wine cap mushroom from a golf course, brought it home, collected its spores, then created what’s known as liquid mycelium (the vegetative part of a mushroom) by growing the spores in a maple syrup solution. He then use a syringe to inoculate or introduce the mycelium into a rye grain, which is scattered on the ground and covered with hardwood chips. A couple years later, he harvested about a hundred pounds of wine cap mushrooms from that location. All from one mushroom.

Courtesy of North Spore Courtesy of North Spore Pink oyster mushrooms growing out of a North Spore indoor mushroom growing kit.

McNally has worked with fellow mushroom enthusiast Nelson Frost, who is also from Brunswick, to clone mushrooms in petri dishes. But this multi-step process is usually too complex for beginner mushroom growers.

Instead, you can skip several steps in mushroom cultivation by simply purchasing mushroom spawn, which is defined as any substance inoculated with mushroom mycelium. In other words, spawn is to a mushroom what seeds are to a plant. Mushroom cultivation businesses — including North Spore, Mushroom Ally of Massachusetts and Field and Forest in Wisconsin — sell a wide variety of mushroom spawn, with some species being easier to grow than others.

Spawn comes in three forms: plug spawn, sawdust spawn and grain spawn. The first two are used to grow mushrooms on logs and stumps, and the third is for growing in straw or wood chip beds.

To make it even easier for people to learn the art of mushroom growing, North Spore is currently working on a series of educational videos that will include time-lapse clips of mycelium expanding through substrate and fruiting. They also provide FAQ sections, books and other resources through their website.

“It’s one of those things that because there isn’t a very good general understanding of mushrooms in the public that it’s such a mystifying concept,” Thanhauser said. “People just don’t understand how they’re grown.”

“We want people to be as successful and happy as possible with their first mushrooms,” he added. “We want to set them up for success.”

One common mistake people make when attempting to grow mushrooms is treating the fungi as if it is a plant. Mushrooms will dry out in the sun, and if being grown indoors, the mycelium should be misted with water at least once a day — but it doesn’t need to be watered like a plant.

Another common mistake beginner mushroom growers make is using rotten logs rather than fresh cut logs to grow mushrooms.

“You have to use freshly cut wood that was living within a month ago,” Thanhauser said. “This ensures there’s a certain moisture content and there’s not a lot of wild fungi already established in the wood.”

And lastly, mushroom growing takes patience, especially when you’re just starting out.

“It takes at least a year to get your first flush,” Thanhauser said. “It’s kind of like a perennial . It takes a little time to get established.”

But once mushrooms start growing on logs or in wood chip beds, they could continue to grow for years to come.

Courtesy of North Spore Courtesy of North Spore A display of some of the mushroom growing kits created and sold by North Spore, a mushroom farm located in Westbrook.

And for those who want faster, short-lived results, North Spore sells indoor mushroom growing kits, which can be grown any time of year and usually take only two or three months to fruit, but only produce one to three crops. These kits are blocks of substrate (for oyster mushrooms, it’s a sawdust bock) that has been completely colonized by mushroom mycelium. All you have to do is take it home, slice through the plastic covering the block, and the mushrooms will start growing within weeks.

For these kits, North Spore has selected mushroom varieties that are hardy, easy to grow and edible, such as oyster mushrooms, lion’s mane, shiitake, king trumpets and reishi. Grown this way, the mushrooms grow a crop, or “flush,” between one and three times, then can be tossed in the compost pile.

For those interested in mushroom growing, foraging, photography or identification in Maine, the Maine Mycological Association organizes regular meetings, presentations and mushrooming forays for their members. The nonprofit also sends out a regular newsletter filled with mushroom-related articles. Membership is $10 for one adult, $12 for two adults, $5 for students and free for children under 18 years of age. To learn more, visit

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Mushrooms are the spore-bearing fruiting body of Fungus. They are highly nutritious playing the ‘meat’ in the vegetable world. They have of late captured the attention of the Kenya’s farming community with most mushroom farmers boasting of amazing profits. They are land and rainfall independent hence making them the better option for the land-unblessed or those looking to maximize revenue from their land usage.
They only require a house and your attention to make you the happy farmer in the end. The demand in Kenya is unsatisfied with NAFIS data indicating that we are only producing 500 tons of these mushrooms against an annual demand of 1200 tons from homes and hotels.
Mushroom farming has been a very complicated venture requiring lots of chemistry, biology and attention. This has made it a no-go-zone for the small-scale farmers. However, with continuous seminars and studies, some farmers have learned how to improvise and they have successfully mastered how to make the very complicated procedures of the large scalers to one simple- carefully-executed-piece of cake procedure.
Peter Kibe, a mason from Molo, is one of those farmers. He is growing mushroom as a business with his focus being the oyster variety( the most common among small-scale farmers. Others include shiitake and button)and he is enjoying the benefits of this venture. He has been in mushroom farming since 2006. He started with only 2 kg of spawn (the planting material) per mushroom cycle but got disrupted by the post election violence a bit in 2007 to 2008. However, he resumed his agribusiness venture with his recent plans being to inoculate 4 kg of spawn every month. This is how he pulls it off.
The structure!
Mushrooms do not require huge tracts of land to grow. All you need is a house to keep them warm and humid and very happy. Using free material from his garden such as mud and wood, peter constructed a structure of 10 by 17 ft to house his new money-bleeding venture. He then bought a cover paper worth Ksh 5,000 to act as a roof for the structure.
Substrate( the growing medium)
Mushroom would require a special kind of medium to grow and Kibe was smart enough to improvise. Using maize and beans trash from his garden, crashed and packed in the 50 kg gunny bags (like those for packing sugar or rice) he was able to create the substrate required for growth. Here, soil is not necessary.
This venture is very sensitive to cleanliness. They require germ-free environment. This is why attention is very important when it comes to mushroom farming. Sterilization is usually done through steaming in large scale but for small-scale farmers like Kibe, one can improvise. He uses a drum to boil water. With the water boiling, he immerses the gunny bags with the substrate in it for about 1 hour so as to get rid of any germs. He then suspends the gunny bags in the structure overnight for them to cool off. With this procedure, his sterilization problems are solved.
This is the most serious part. It’s the part that scares away newbies in mushroom growing. This stage is all about getting the ‘seeds’ (spawns) from the experts and planting them (inoculation). In this stage, you become the chemical engineer with lots of mixing stuff. But, don’t you worry, it’s not rocket science. With Kibe, he only purchased the spawns (2 kg) from JKUAT at a cost of Ksh 600 per kg. He then purchased the normal 9 by 15 nylon bags used for packing 2 kg sugar or rice among others. A bunch of them goes for around Ksh 80 and contains 200 pieces. These were to serve as his garden bags. He then outsourced for cotton wool and methylated spirit (you know the deal for these things, right? It’s all about keeping your working tools very clean. Like you are operating on someone)
Using the spirit to sterilize his hand gloves, he then mixes the spawn with the sterilized substrate and packs the mixture in the small gunny papers. The 2 kg of spawn mixed with the substrate gives him about 50 small gunny bags (I kg of spawn translates to about 25 small gunny bags). He then covers them with the top wrapped around small pipes (sterilized). Just like drinking water from those nylon papers using a straw. Their external opening (of the pipes) is covered with cotton wool sterilized with the methylated spirit. Wow! Complicated stuff. But believe it or not, this is one is easier done than said.
This is the part where Kibe takes the 70 gunny bags to the darkest corner of his structure, away from sunshine for about 21 days. After those 21 days, the gunny bags are now covered with whitish substance, mycelium. He transfers the gunny bags from darkness to lighter places of the structure to enable mushroom formation. It takes only 4 to 5 days before he notices the white heads beginning to appear on the sides of the gunny bags. Using a sterilized scalpel (sharp razor blade), he pricks the gunny papers at the area directly adjacent to the new mushroom about to pop out so as to allow easy germination. This time, a lot of humidity is highly required. You can use the knapsack to spray clean water in the structure. Just ensure that the jet is in mist form.
This is the happy moment for Kibe. This usually happens after 1 to almost 2 months of serious nurturing of these fungi. The 2 kg he inoculated less than 2 months ago have multiplied to 50 kg of fresh mushroom for sale. He sells a kilo of mushroom to his clients at a price of Ksh 320 meaning he just made Ksh 16,000 in less than 2 months using only Ksh 1600 of spawn. If he expands to growing 4 kg of spawn every month (half the full capacity for his 10 by 17 ft structure) then he will be getting a gross income of Ksh 64,000 every month.
Bottom line! This sounds too complicated. However, with practising high levels of hygiene and attending seminars organized by government and universities as suggested by Kibe, it becomes as easy as turning Ksh 2,000 of investments into Ksh 16,000 in less than 2 months.
The question to ask yourself will be, how many of those Ksh 2,000 do I need to multiply in those 2 months?

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