Different formulations of nitrogen supplement for growing mushrooms exist for home growers, but in general you can expect to use the following supplement rates, some notes are provided and if you’re not sure I encourage you to do research on the species you are growing before committing to growing it! Supplement recipes as follows:
- Wheat Bran: 20% for most gourmet mushrooms, 5% for Shiitake
- Cottonseed Hulls: May be used up to 50% for Pleurotus sp., Hericium sp., no experience with Shiitake. (Email me if you can comment on this!)
- Soybean Hulls: 50/50 mix HWFP & Soybean Hulls = Masters Mix, high yielding substrate for Oysters.
- Beet Pulp: 10-20% for Pleurotus
It’s worth noting that simply using high (grain) spawn ratios also adds nutrition, expedites spawn runs and increases chances of success for new growers. I think adding extra spawn for these reasons instead of adding supplement is a wise choice for new mushroom growers.
Once a substrate is selected, it is either pasteurized or sterilized, inoculated with clean and happy mushroom spawn, and allowed to colonize.
Once the substrate is colonized, it is generally provided humid fresh air & pinning begins. Once pins have formed the mushroom fruiting body matures and as they used to say at the guillotines, ‘OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!’. Rinse & repeat, species depending. The record for me before I stopped counting was 10 harvests with a single Pink Oyster mushroom bucket grow, it was just straw!
Growing Coprophilic Mushrooms
Coprophilic mushrooms grow best on pre-digested grasses (compost, manure etc…) and home growers have discovered that Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms will even grow on and fruit from grains such as brown rice, and even coco coir substrates. While other growers may use straw, some will use manure and some even mix the two among other things, you have some flexibility when choosing your substrate, but your local materials will more than likely be your most influential factor.
Manure where I live is basically free, others may have free or cheap straw, it’s worth noting while discussing straw that composted straw works a hell of a lot better than freshly baled straw. Coconut coir with added vermiculite is a popular choice due to low likelihood of contamination and ease of hydration through first hand experience with this substrate leaves a lot to be desired compared to straw, with a good vermiculite & manure blend being tried, true and my preference.
The approach with dung loving mushrooms is generally the same as with lignicolous fungi. Bagged substrates, beds or vessels are filled with pasteurized substrate which has been cooled for spawning, and inoculated with clean happy spawn. The substrate is allowed to colonize, sealed (with some but very restricted airflow to prevent surface molds) to keep CO2 levels high and prevent premature pinning.
Once the substrate is completely colonized, humid fresh air is introduced and CO2 levels may or may not be managed to initiate pinning, at which point fresh air levels are generally increased to promote the development of the mushroom fruiting body.
Species, scale and geographic of the grower depending, these parameters and approaches to managing them vary but remember, the underlying principles are the same. We’re just managing mycelium, nurturing it to the point it’s ready to fruit and then enjoying the fruits of our labor, pun intended.
To summarize the process:
- Spawn Making
- Substrate Preparation (Pasteurization/Sterilization)
- (8) Rinse & Repeat
Some crops are able to be fruited immediately with no soaking or hydration required, other species require the substrate to be soaked, watered or otherwise hydrated to produce second, third or more harvests (flushes) successfully. Not all mushrooms will produce more than one harvest.
Myc, I’m Still Lost, Just Tell Me Where To Start!
Again, another question to answer this question! Have you considered whether you want to start from scratch making your own spawn (Intermediate), using spawn to make your own substrates (moderate) or using a ready to fruit kit (easy) for your first time?
All this jazz about spawn and mycelium may be overwhelming to someone who just wants to dig in and get something growing without spending tons of money or effort researching, and that’s great! Some folks learn best this way, and many great vendors offer pre-colonized substrates that are ready to fruit. My specialty at the time of writing this article is ‘7lb Lion’s Mane kits‘, check /r/MycoBazaar on Reddit to see other vendors and their offerings.
If you’re hoping to start from scratch, it’s not that hard so long as you have a still air box, laminar flow hood or other sterile working environment! If you’re not sure what these things are, check out the ‘Mushroom Growers Wiki’ on /r/MushroomGrowers! If you’re taking this route you have two approaches. You can purchase a liquid culture or a colonized agar plate (check out @Kaizen_Mushrooms on IG) and inoculate sterilized grains with your culture. From there, once the grains are colonized with healthy & happy mycelium, you’ll be able to inoculate a substrate per the needs of the mushroom you’re growing.
Whichever route you take, remember, you’re a mycelium manager, you’re the boss – don’t be intimidated or overwhelmed, and if you do find yourself feeling stuck or having questions, I’m just a comment, DM or email away!