Guide to Growing Mushrooms in a Bag
If you’re looking for a unique and rewarding gardening experience, growing mushrooms in a bag might be just the thing for you. With the right materials and a little bit of patience, you can cultivate your own delicious and nutritious mushrooms right at home. If you are interested in developing a commercial operation, growing mushrooms in a bag is a system that you should explore. Here is the process step by step, so you can enjoy the fruits of your labor in no time.
- Guide to Growing Mushrooms in a Bag
- The Process
- The Right Mushroom Species
- Button Mushrooms
- Oyster Mushrooms
- Shiitake Mushrooms
- Reishi Mushrooms
- Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
- Portobello Mushrooms
- Mushrooms In General
- Choose the Right Substrate
- Sterilize Your Mushroom Substrate
- Inoculate Your Substrate
- Seal the Bag
- Incubate Your Bag
- Induce the Fruiting Chamber
- A Viable Hobby or Business
Using mushroom grow bags is a simple and efficient way to produce edible or medicinal mushrooms. This can be done at home or on a larger production scale for commercial sales.
Growing mushrooms in a bag involves inoculating a substrate (usually a mix of grain and sawdust) with mushroom spores or mycelium, and then incubating the mixture in a sealed grow bag until the mycelium colonizes the entire substrate and forms a solid block.
Once this block (also called a “fruiting body” or “fruiting chamber”) is fully colonized, it is ready to be encouraged to produce mushrooms.
The Right Mushroom Species
Different types of mushrooms grow best on different substrates and in different environments. Here are some examples of the types of mushrooms you can grow in mushroom grow bags and the substrate that is best for them:
Button mushrooms, also known as Agaricus bisporus, are the most commonly cultivated mushroom in the world. They are typically grown in composted horse manure or a mixture of horse manure, straw, and gypsum. Button mushrooms are considered an easy-to-grow mushroom.
If you are thinking of producing these small mushrooms commercially, data shows that this is a rapidly expanding market. In 2022, the button mushroom market was valued at $18.03 billion. By 2030, that market is expected to reach $32.88 billion.
Oyster mushrooms, also known as Pleurotus ostreatus, are popular for their delicate flavor and soft texture. They can be grown in a variety of substrates including straw, sawdust, coffee grounds, and agricultural waste products such as cottonseed hulls and soybean straw.
Commercially, oyster mushrooms are even more valuable than button mushrooms, producing $50.3 billion in 2021 and expecting to reach the value of $87.73 billion by 2029.
Although the oyster mushroom is also considered an easy-to-grow variety, it is considered to taste better than the button mushrooms. In addition, they have a higher protein content as well as high levels of essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. Obviously, the commercial market has recognized these benefits, seeing the projected growth of this sector.
Shiitake mushrooms, also known as Lentinula edodes, are a staple in Asian cuisine and have been cultivated for thousands of years. They are typically grown on logs or sawdust blocks made from hardwoods such as oak, maple, and beech.
Shiitake mushrooms are considered a bit harder to grow as compared to oyster or button
mushrooms. The mycelium is passive or nonaggressive as compared to other species’ mycelium and is harder to propagate. The incubation time is longer, but the harvests tend to be more abundant and frequent.
Commercially, the projected growth of the Shiitake market is upward, expecting an annual growth of 7+%. In 2029, the market share is expected to be $234.88 billion.
Reishi mushrooms, also known as Ganoderma lucidum, are prized for their medicinal properties and have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. They are typically grown on sawdust blocks made from hardwoods such as oak, maple, and beech.
Reishi mushrooms take at least 12 months or more after inoculation to colonize. Moisture is extremely critical for the growth of this variety of mushroom.
The commercial market for Reishi mushrooms is one of the smallest, but it is still healthy. The market anticipates growth of 8% a year, with it producing $5.1 billion in 2021. The projection for 2029 is $9.51 billion.
Experts claim this is a good mushroom for home growers. It’s beautiful red fruit is only one benefit of this easy-to-grow mushroom.
Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
Lion’s Mane mushrooms, also known as Hericium erinaceus, are known for their unique appearance and delicate flavor. They are typically grown on sawdust blocks made from hardwoods such as oak, maple, and beech.
Lion’s Mane mushrooms produce some difficulties for beginning mushroom growers. Since it takes the mycelium a long time to develop, there is a greater chance of contamination. Experts also point out that it is difficult to decide when it is ready to produce.
This mushroom, as well as other mushrooms used for medicinal purposes, is legal in most states, but restricted in California (you need a license).
Commercially, this mushroom is one of the most popular ones on the market for eating as well as the extract that is highly popular as a health product.
Portobello mushrooms, also known as Agaricus bisporus, are a larger and more mature version of the button mushroom. These meaty mushrooms are typically grown in composted horse manure or a mixture of horse manure, straw, and gypsum.
Portobellos are considered easy to grow, just needing damp soil and the optimum temperatures. Very popular as a meat substitute, there is a growing restaurant demand for this beautiful mushroom.
Mushrooms In General
In general, mushrooms require a substrate that is high in nutrients and moisture, and low in contaminants. The specific substrate used will depend on the type of mushroom being grown and the growing conditions.
A growing medium can include chopped straw, sawdust, composted manure, coffee grounds, and agricultural waste products or you can purchase a premade substrate. It’s important to follow proper growing techniques and maintain a clean environment to ensure successful mushroom cultivation.
Make sure to choose a mushroom species that matches the substrate and conditions you can provide.
Choose the Right Substrate
The first step in growing mushrooms is choosing the right substrate for the mushroom you wish to grow. This is the material that the mushrooms will grow on, and it’s important to choose one that is nutrient-rich and free of contaminants.
Some common substrates include chopped straw, sawdust, and coffee grounds. For some mushrooms, you can even use old logs. You can also purchase pre-made mushroom growing kits that come with the substrate already prepared.
Whatever substrate you choose, make sure it’s clean and free of any mold or bacteria before you begin.
Sterilize Your Mushroom Substrate
Before you start growing mushrooms, it’s important to sterilize your substrate to kill off any unwanted bacteria or mold. You can prepare the substrate by using hot or boiling water, steaming, or pressure-cooking the substrate for several hours.
Once sterilized, the substrate should be allowed to cool before you add the mushroom spores or mushroom spawn. This step is crucial to ensure a healthy and successful mushroom crop.
Inoculate Your Substrate
Inoculating your substrate is the process of introducing mushroom spores or mushroom spawn into the sterilized substrate. This can be done by mixing the spores or mushroom spawn into the substrate and then sealing it in a bag or container. You can inoculate your substrate by injecting a spore solution or adding a small piece of mycelium culture.
Again, it’s important to follow the instructions for the specific type of mushroom you are growing, as different varieties may require different methods of inoculation.
Once the substrate is inoculated, you should keep it in a warm, dark area to allow the mycelium to grow and colonize the substrate.
Seal the Bag
After the mushroom substrate is inoculated, it should be placed in sealed mushroom growing bags to prevent contamination and maintain a high level of humidity. You can use zip ties to secure the bag, but the mushroom grow bags should have small holes or filters to allow for gas exchange.
Incubate Your Bag
After inoculating your substrate, it’s time to incubate your mushroom grow bags. This means keeping them in a warm, dark place where the mycelium can grow and colonize the substrate. You will need to provide an adequate fresh air exchange.
The ideal temperature range for incubation varies depending on the type of mushroom you are growing but generally falls between 64-75°F. A heating pad or warm room will help to maintain the necessary temperature.
The mycelium will start to colonize the substrate and form a solid block over the course of several weeks.
It’s important to check on your mushroom growing bags regularly during incubation to ensure they are not contaminated and to monitor the growth of the mycelium.
Induce the Fruiting Chamber
Once the block is fully colonized, you can induce it to grow mushrooms by exposing the grow bag to cooler temperatures and higher humidity. This can be done by opening the grow bag slightly and misting the block with water several times a day to initiate the fruiting stage. Mushrooms should start to form within a week or two.
Once the block is fully colonized, it can be induced to produce your own mushrooms by exposing it to cooler temperatures and higher humidity. This can be done by opening the bag slightly and misting the block with water several times a day. Healthy growth should result and mushrooms should start to form within a week or two.
A Viable Hobby or Business
Growing mushrooms can be a fun and rewarding hobby, and it can also be a source of nutritious and delicious food. If you are just starting out, try a mushroom-growing kit and see if you like the process.
If you enjoy growing mushrooms, selling fresh mushrooms can evolve into a very successful mushroom-growing operation.
Regardless of your intent, it is important to follow proper sterilization and hygiene procedures to prevent contamination and ensure a healthy harvest.