Whether you’re a mycologist, researcher, or casual reader looking to have some fun with nature, understanding the basics of mushroom growing is essential. To successfully grow your own mushrooms at home, you must first understand the importance of substrate. A good substrate is key to successful mushroom growth and quality yields. Let’s break down what makes a good substrate for growing mushrooms.
Mushrooms feed off of carbon-rich materials such as sawdust, straw, cottonseed hulls, and composted manure. Carbon is an essential element to their growth and helps them build strong cell walls. Different mushroom varieties prefer different substrates, so do your research before selecting one! For example, oyster mushrooms prefer straw while shiitake prefers sawdust as its substrate.
In addition to providing carbon for mushroom growth, substrates also need to be nutrient-rich in order for the mushrooms to thrive. Nutrients are important for all living things and without them mushrooms cannot survive or thrive during their growth cycle. The ideal mix should include a combination of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and sulfur (S). You can find these nutrients in organic matter such as composted manure or wood chips that have been aged for several months.
Organic matter provides the necessary nutrients needed by fungi in order to grow properly and produce high yields of mushrooms. Organic matter also helps retain moisture which is important when cultivating fungi because they require humidity levels between 70% and 95%. Organic matter can come from natural sources like composted straw or manures or it can be purchased from suppliers that specialize in growing mediums specifically made for mushroom cultivation.
All in all, having a good substrate is crucial when it comes to cultivating mushrooms at home! From providing carbon for stronger cell walls to adding extra nutrients for better growth, there are many components that make up the perfect blend of materials necessary for success! As long as you do your research on types of substrates available and necessary nutrient content needed by each variety of fungus you plan on cultivating - you’ll be well on your way to producing delicious edible mushrooms from your very own backyard! Good luck!