Beginners Guide To Growing Mushrooms

There are seven stages of the mushroom cultivation process and these stages are based on a mushroom's life cycle.  These stages can be applied on easy to grow mushrooms like Oyster and Shiitakes as well as more difficult to grow species. 

Stage 1 – Propagation Of Pure Culture

This involves placing mushroom spores or tissue samples on a nutrient rich media such as an agar filled petri dish.  This occurs in a sterile environment to prevent contamination from competing bacteria and fungi. 


Stage 2 – Preparation and Inoculation of Sterile Grain

A section of the mycelium or mushroom culture from an agar plate is transferred to a jar of sterilised grain which the mycelium will colonise as the grain is a nutrient rich food source.


Stage 3 – Multiplication Of Spawn

The grain can be used to then inoculate other jars of grain, thus exponentially increasing the available spawn from which to grow mushrooms. 


Stage 4 – Preparation Of Bulk Substrate

All mushrooms require an energy source or food to grow on, such as straw, coffee grounds or hardwood logs and this is called the growing medium or substrate.  For indoor cultivation, growers typically use straw or sawdust, depending on the mushroom and this will need to be sterilised or pasteurised to prevent contamination from competing bacteria and fungi. 


Stage 5 – Inoculation Of Substrate

The substrate is inoculated with the spawn and the mycelium will run through the substrate, engulfing it and consuming nutrients. 


Stage 6 – Fruiting

When the environmental conditions are changed by altering elements such as temperature or humidity, the mycelium in the substrate will develop small mushrooms called “pins”.  If the right conditions continue then the pins will develop into full sized mushrooms which are the reproducing components of the mycelium.  The mycelium will produce several “flushes” of mushrooms for you to harvest, until all the nutrients in the substrate are consumed.