Most of us however have to resort to the grocery store for our mushroom, and unfortunately it is difficult to find fresh mushroom in the market and if available, seriously lacking in quality. By growing your own mushroom at home you can get a good quality product at the peak of freshness, free of chemical additives, and you can experiment with many varieties that are not commercially available.
This technology makes full use of wheat straw, a common crop residue.
Oyster mushroom (Pleurotus species) is a delicious and nourishing food. On dry weight basis, Pleurotus species have substantial protein, ranging from 25-40% and contain sufficient quantities of free amino acids. They are replete with assorted vitamins such as vitamin C (30-44mg/100grams), and vitamin B (100mg/100grams) and niacin. Recent studies have also shown that oyster mushroom lowered cholesterol and triglycerol levels as well as very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) in blood plasma. Pleurotus species also been shown to have activity in anti-tumor, immune response, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antibacterial.
- Wheat straw or cotton waste
- Polypropylene bags (20-30 cm)
- Rubber bands
- Water tub or ordinary drum
PREPARING THE SUBSTRATE (GROWING MEDIA)
Good results have been achieved on cotton waste. If cotton waste is not available, other substrates such as wheat or rice straw can be used.
Cotton waste is thoroughly soaked in water. 20% wheat straw may also be added. Then Lime 2-4% is added and mixed. Four per cent wheat or rice bran can also be added. The mixture is piled up, covered with plastic sheet and allowed to ferment for 5-7 days. Then the cotton waste is filled into heat resistant polypropylene. Wheat straw (wheat bhoosa) could also be used for home gardening. It should be moistened by sprinkling with water. Excess water is drained out and the substrate is filled in Polypropylene bags.
This serves to eliminate harmful organisms. To accomplish pasteurization, the substrate is subjected to pasteurization. For small–scale production at home, pasteurization is accomplished by seaming the bags at 100°C for one hour. The cost is lower and the steamer can only be a big capacity drum.
Then the material is cooled and spawned. Wheat straw can also be treated with hot water (65 ± 5°C) for 10 minutes to one hour. The excess water is drained off and discarded.
The straw is turned once after three days, first from the top downwards, then from the bottom upwards, then from the inside outwards, and finally from the outside inwards.
The moisture content of the substrate can be checked by rolling a handful of straw into a ball and squeezing it tightly. If your hand is wet, the material has the proper moisture content. If your hand remains dry, you should add more water.
Mushroom spawn must be purchased commercially, unless it is provided by an extension center. Around 1-1.5 Kg of spawn are needed for 100 kg of wet straw.
Filling the bags
Polypropylene bags measuring 20 x 30 cm, are used as mushroom beds. Open the bag and put in it with growing media (wheat straw or cotton waste) by pressing gently. Mix the spawn on top 3-5 cm layer.
Bags are loosely tied on the top with rubber bands and place them on floor or shelves.
- Try to maintain the room temperature between 16-28°C for spawn running.
- With in 3-4 weeks depending upon the available temperature, the bags will be fully impregnated with mycelial growth (white growth).
- Wait for another week so that white mycelia in the bags become mature. It is advisable to observe the sign of mushroom formation as small pin heads in some of the bags.
- Then open the mouth of the bags by removing rubber bands.
- Introduce fresh air by opening window or vents.
- Maintain desire humidity by sprinkling water 2-3 time during a day on the floor.
- Bag surface are sprinkled with light watering daily. The material in the bags should be moist but not over wet.
- Try to maintain temperature between 16-25°C.
- Mushroom will start to form as tiny pin heads, which will reach to picking stage with in 4-6 days.
- Harvest with hands, don’t use knife.
- Mushroom appears in flushes. Total numbers of flushes are 3-5.
- After the bags have been cut, they should be sprayed with water two or three times a day to keep the mushrooms moist. Be careful not to give them too much water.
Harvesting the mushrooms
The first oyster mushrooms can be harvested 4-6 days after the appearance of pin heads. After the mushroom are harvested, try to maintain desire humidity by sprinkling water on the floor but stop watering on the bag. Ater first picking, close the surface, invert, make slit on bottoms and mushroom will come out again in 7-9 days. Then make slits on sides. This cycle can be repeated three or four times, giving a total harvest of 20 – 40 kg (fresh weight) of oyster mushrooms from 100 kg of straw or more mushrooms.
About the author: Dr. Muhammad Asif Ali, Mushroom Laboratory, Institute of Horticultural Sciences, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan, photo from www.freedigitalphotos.net