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Easy steps to growing oyster mushrooms

By George Mbakaya
Bunch of fresh oyster mushrooms ready for cooking.

With the unpredictable weather patterns, farmers are at crossroads. The field crops are vulnerable to harsh weather condition. Alternative crops should be explored to cope with the condition. One such crop is mushroom.

Mushroom farming business can give one profits in just a few weeks. Plus, starting mushroom farming is fairly easy.

To get started, you’ll need a spawn to start the culture. You can produce your own spawn using a sterile culture, or you can buy ready-to-inoculate spawn. Producing your own can be cheaper in the long run, but the start-up costs can be high, so chances are buying the ready-to-inoculate spawn is the way to go. You’ll also need to buy the substrate. Many growers use straw or wood chips. Straw is generally the preferred method. You want straw that can be chopped up into little pieces.

The next step is you prepare the substrate. First, chop the straw into short pieces. Next, wet the straw. Boil the straw in water to kill the contaminants. Pack the sterilised straw and the spawn in plastic bags. Pack two or three inches of straw into the plastic bag and then lightly sprinkle the spawn on top. Repeat this until you’ve almost filled the bag, close the top and poke holes in the bag.

Incubation is the next step. Keep the growing area at around 25 degrees Celsius. Places the bags on a shelving unit. Remember to stop any threats of natural light getting into the room. Cover windows and cracks. Use a red “darkroom” light when you need to check on your bags. When you start to notice tiny pinhead mushrooms near the air holes in your bag, then you’re ready to move on to the next step.

Fruiting is the next step. For your fruiting room, you need a high level of humidity. The temperature will need to be 18 to 21 degrees Celsius. Unlike the incubation room, you’ll actually need a lot of natural light—at least 12 hours a day. To shock your mycelium, which will force it into fruiting, move the bags to a cool place for a day, such as a basement or other cool place, and then move them back to the fruiting room. Next, cut away the bag, which allows mushroom growth to take place. Start harvesting your mushroom Just before your caps are fully uncurled. To do so, twist the stem off as near to the growing block as you are able to. You’ve now harvested your mushrooms.

With proper nutrients and water, the tiny pins of mycelium can quickly grow and develop into full size mushrooms in just 5-7 days. A crop of mushrooms can be harvested three times before the mycelium becomes exhausted, with a new crop of mushrooms manifesting every 7-14 days during this time. In other words, it takes about just 5-8 weeks to grow 3 crops of Oyster mushroom. All this can be done with minimal equipment or expertise.

georgy.mike@yahoo.com   

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