Mushrooms are fascinating fungi that are popularly used in food items all over the world. They are delicious when used in pasta and pizzas. They have also been a part of fantasy stories such as ‘Alice in Wonderland’. While they grow in the wild, Mushrooms can be grown in your garden too. Growing them at home provides you with many benefits such as keeping your soil healthy and using it in your food. Here is everything you need to know about mushrooms; how to grow them at home, the various types of mushrooms, and how to remove them from your garden if you do not wish for them to grow.
What Are Mushrooms?
Mushrooms are essentially part of a fungus that grows beneath the ground and is thus not visible. The mushroom is the tip of a fungus iceberg, indicating that there are fungi present in your garden. However, mushrooms don’t harm your garden. They are great for your soil and you will just find out why.
A mushroom reproduces through spores, which are similar to seeds. The mushroom lets out the spores, which expand through wind or water, to create a new fungal colony.
Why Are Mushrooms Good for the Soil?
If you find mushrooms growing in the garden it can catch you by surprise. You may be wondering if something isn’t right but we’re here to tell you that mushrooms growing in your garden are indications of a good, healthy soil that is organic.
Mushrooms provide plenty of benefits to a garden so do not get rid of them! Mushrooms can take in the leftover nutrients from a dead substance and present those nutrients back into the soil in ways bacteria or insects cannot.
They break down organic mixtures into food that plants can consume. An example of this is a decaying tree. Mushrooms will take over around and on that tree, enhancing it to be broken down into a fertile soil that is rich for plants to grow.
Mushrooms send out a bunch of filaments named hyphae that take part in a collective relationship with plant roots. Plants enjoy many advantages, such as an increased surface area on their roots. The fungi approach the carbon from the plant, which is essential for their growth.
This mutually beneficial relationship is called mycorrhiza. It has many advantages to plants such as:
- Better tolerance to drought and resisting diseases
- A fast growth rate of plants at every stage
- Increased aptness to consume water and nutrients from the soil
- Less stress from unsuitable weather conditions
- Improving the soil; increasing draining, improving soil structure, curbing soil-related diseases
Mycorrhizae are being more and more used to better poor soil, and to restore contaminated soil.
How Do Mushrooms Grow?
Unlike other plants, mushrooms do not grow from seeds. They grow from spores which are so minuscule that you can’t spot individual ones on your own. These spores depend on grain, sawdust, straw, and other such materials to grow.
A mixture of the spores and the source of the nutrients is referred to as spawn. The spawn is in turn what aids the growth of the mushrooms. Even though the spawn on its own can grow mushrooms, the harvest is much richer when the spawn is mixed with another material such as straw, woodchips, or even compost.
The ideal conditions for mushrooms to grow are damp and humid areas that don’t receive much sunlight. Even though they can withstand some light, they should be in low light areas for most of their growing time. They can be grown in gardens and thrive most in soils that have a good deal of organic matter. They do not respond well to chemical fertilizers so avoid using them.
Before you start growing them, check the temperature of the area you are choosing to grow them in. Mushrooms generally grow best in temperatures that are between 55-60°F. Remember to keep them protected from direct sunlight and drafts of cold air.
If there is excess moisture in the soil caused by over-irrigation or the drainage system not being efficient, particularly in those areas that are dark, mushrooms will be able to thrive as these are the ideal conditions for them to grow. The more organic waste material available, the larger they will grow.
Read: Growing Vegetables in Pots For Beginners
How to Grow Them
If it’s your first time growing mushrooms, then you might want to start with growing oysters. This kind of mushroom is resilient and low-maintenance as compared to the other types. Another variety that is comparatively easier to grow is the Shiitake mushrooms.
You can start by collecting these items that you will need to grow them:
- Mushroom plugs
- Newly cut stump, or logs cut 3-4 feet in length
- Rubber mallet
- Soy wax
- Tiny foam paintbrush
Here are the steps in which to grow them:
1. Find the Perfect Spot
Find the ideal spot in which you want to grow your mushrooms. This should have as many of the growing conditions stated above. You can start growing them by creating a raised garden bed and then lining it with cardboard which will help lock in the moisture and get rid of weeds in the soil. Or you can also find a place underneath a tree where it will receive ample shade.
2. Add Compost to the Soil
Lift 25cm square piece of grass to a depth of 4cm, with each square about 60cm away from the other. Loosen the soil underneath the grass squares using a garden fork. Add extra organic material like well-rotted manure or compost. Spread the mushroom spawn delicately on top of the soil surface and gently mix to 1cm deep.
3. Increase Soil Temperature
To do this you can use a heating pad. The temperature should be approximately 70°F for three weeks. This is until you begin to stop the white mycelim growths. When they do start to appear, reduce the temperature to about 60°F. Then put about an inch of potting soil on top of the spawn.
4. Keep Soil Moist
Mushrooms need good damp soil to grow so keep it moist by spraying it with water and then covering it with a damp cloth. Keep spraying the cloth to make sure that it is not dry at any point. However, be careful to make sure that it is not waterlogged.
Each specie of mushrooms is different from each other and they will only start to produce fruit when the environmental conditions are best suited for them. When you see tiny white nodes emerging on the log, they will develop into mushrooms in about a weeks time. During that period it is essential that you keep the moisture levels the same and do not move the log.
Button mushrooms are likely to emerge within three to four weeks. Only harvest them when the caps are open. You can cut the stalk from the base of the stem using a sharp knife or other gardening tools. Don’t pull them mushrooms up from the bark as that could affect the fungi around it that are still in the development process. If you continue to harvest daily, you will get an abundant supply for around 6 months.
When growing mushrooms, keep aside many months of restoration time for the mycelium to rejuvenate before it produces another crop. Logs will be fruitful for four to six years.
Types of Mushrooms to Grow
Mushrooms are a plant that typically grows in the wild and pop up naturally. However, most varieties can be grown at home as well. An advantage of growing them in your garden as opposed to them growing naturally is that it can ensure that you aren’t growing poisonous ones.
Each type has its own set of growing conditions and requirements. For instance, white button mushrooms are required to grow on composted manure, oyster mushrooms on straw, and so on. Here are some varieties of mushrooms and their growing conditions.
Also called Pleurotus Ostreatus, this mushroom variety is typically found in the wild but can be grown at home as well. As their name suggests, they are a colorful kind of mushroom.
Oyster mushrooms favor being grown on logs, or in dead trees. You can easily do this in your garden by using a hardwood log and dowel spawn. Most hardwoods are suitable for it, however apple, sycamore, and ash are not suggested. Make sure to check that the log was cut from a healthy tree and at the most cut 6 weeks before and no longer
You can grow these kinds of mushrooms by mixing the spawn with sawdust and straw. The mixture can be put in a bag, which is then left in a cool and dark area. . Keep moist and adjust the temperature. In about 6-12 months the mycelium should be ready to fruit. If the mycelium has grown into the log it will continue to fruit until all the nutrients have been used in the decaying log.
These kinds of mushrooms can be grown in a similar manner as the oyster mushrooms. However, they can also be grown on blocks of disinfected sawdust. This method of growing them gets them to fruit even earlier as opposed to a hardwood log, but it is important to note that the mushroom quality won’t be as good.
White Cap/Button Mushrooms
Also known as Agaricus Bisporus, these varieties are the easiest to grow. They also include the much sought after brown cap mushrooms. You can either grow them using a kit or then on your own. To achieve the best quality mushrooms, make your own compost using a mixture of horse manure along with a wet straw.
Mix them well and pack them tightly together to give room for the temperature to rise. For 2-3 weeks, make sure to turn this mixture every 2 days or so. This is done to let the manure rot even further and to obtain the nutrients it needs for the mushrooms to grow. You know that your compost is the best when it is dark brown and has a sweet aroma.
Keep it moist and the temperature warm and fruiting should begin in 3-4 weeks.
Read: How to Start a Fruit Garden For Beginners
How to Remove Mushrooms from Garden
Even though mushrooms have their fair share of benefits and can be good for the soil, there are certain circumstances in which you would like to remove naturally growing mushrooms in your garden. For example, if it’s a poisonous variety or if they are taking over your landscape, you should get rid of them.
Also in the case that you have small children or pets wandering about, they may confuse them as a snack so it would be best to remove them altogether. Your next question is probably how to remove them without hurting your other plants. There are several ways in which you can do this.
Identify Where Mushrooms Might Grow In Your Garden
This is the first step when it comes to getting rid of mushrooms growing in your garden. Get down to the root cause of their growth. Look for where they are growing, is it an isolated area? Since their ideal growing conditions are humid, dark, and moist it is best to first look for them in those areas. Knowing where and why they are growing is primarily how you can prevent them from growing in the first place.
Preventing Mushrooms from Growing
After you have identified where they are growing in your garden, the best way that you can prevent it from happening is to keep a close check on the conditions that they need to grow. If they have already begun to grow you can gently pull them from the base as soon as you spot them. This will prevent them from further scattering into the garden and saving your pets or children from ingesting them.
Since they consume organic material, any available food should be limited or even better, completely removed. To do this you can rake up leaves, grass, twigs cuttings, and any other kinds of waste materials as soon as you start to see it appear. However, some waste materials may be hidden underneath the surface of the soil such as wood or roots of trees.
The solution to this is to dig up these areas and get rid of these waste materials before you add new soil. In addition to that, mow the garden on a daily basis and restrict the water applied to the soil. If your garden is susceptible to retaining added moisture then install an underground drainage system.
Another essential element for mushroom growth is shade. If you find areas that are shady in your garden due to any overhanging branches or limbs cut them. This will allow sunlight to reach them and will destroy them and prevent others from growing.
If you are looking for a short-term option then you can use a nitrogen fertilizer. However, this is not recommended, as instead of just getting rid of it you need to first establish the root cause and deal with it because otherwise, they will continue appearing.
If however, you do decide to go with this short-term option, remove the existing grass and dig up all roots or waste materials that lay underneath, then put out fresh soil, plant grass seed, and fertilize as required.
If you want to preserve your soil’s balance then rake up and bury the mushrooms. Repeat this process a few times until they get the message. You can also let the soil in the surrounding area dry out so that they stop re-growing. To make better use of them you can add them to your compost.
One thing that you should keep in mind is not to eat any mushroom that you find growing out on the log. Some mushrooms can be poisonous so be careful when eating them. If your spawn variety has not taken over the log, it’s could be that another airborne fungi has come in the way.
Therefore, only harvest the type that you cultivated the log with. Take a picture of it when growing it so you know exactly which one to harvest. Fortunately, oysters and shiitake are simple to identify.
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If you wish to grow mushrooms in your house you can easily do so. They do not require much care and attention, and in return, you have a scrumptious new addition to your food! They are various types so pick the one that is best suited for your area. Just make sure to provide them with the required growing conditions and they are good to grow. In the case that you wish to remove them from your garden, you can easily do so by monitoring the growing conditions along with many other methods. Remember, some varieties can be poisonous so be vigilant while harvesting!
I’m Elsa, and I love gardening. I started GardeningElsa.com as a resource for other gardeners, and I offer expert advice on gardening topics such as plants, flowers, herbs, and vegetable gardening. On my website, I share my latest tips and tricks for creating beautiful gardens. When I’m not working on my website, you can find me in my own garden, tending to my plants and flowers. Read more about me.