If you’re just getting started growing mushrooms, I highly recommend growing your first batch from a kit. They’re generally fool proof, and you’ll be able to see the stages of mushroom growth so that you can recognize them later on if you choose to continue cultivating mushrooms.
If you’re growing mushrooms with kids, it’s especially helpful to start with a kit because your first fruiting bodies will develop in as little as 1-2 weeks, keeping the kids interest and attention through the entire process.
There are a number of different companies that produce oyster mushroom kits. Try this one. Or this one. Or any of these. I’ve chosen one from Back to the Roots because they’re well established company that produces a lot of kits per year.
Using an Oyster Mushroom Kit
Inside the box I found a brick of substrate, colonized with oyster mushroom mycelium and a small spray bottle. To ensure that the process is easy and relatively fool proof, the substrate is fully colonized and then dehydrated right before fruiting.
To induce fruiting, the instructions tell you to cut an “X” in the bag, scratch up the surface of the mycelium and soak the mushroom kit in water for 8 hours. The scratching disturbs the mycelium and helps to stress them slightly to induce fruiting, and the water is necessary to rehydrate them.
Keep the mushroom kit in a well ventilate area with light, but out of direct sunlight. Mist daily, and mushrooms should appear in 1-2 weeks. After the first flush of fruit, the same process can be repeated on the other side of the bag, cutting an “X”, scratching and soaking for a second mushroom harvest.
When the substrate has been completely consumed, it’s been transformed into compost ideal for direct application to a vegetable garden. Some kits have started including a packet of seeds to encourage you to take the process one step further and plant seeds directly into your fresh mushroom compost for yet another harvest.
Other Types of Mushroom Kits
If you’re interested in growing other species of mushrooms from a kit, there are a number of species that grow well on a small scale for the first time grower. Kits are available for shiitakes in either block substrate or log form, lions mane mushrooms, chicken of the woods, and there’s even a kit to try growing your own Morel Mushrooms.
Have you tried a mushroom growing kit? What did you grow? Leave a note in the comments below.