After spending some time with Raymond Blanc and Kate Humble at Kew Gardens last year, we’ve decided to create our DIY Mushrooms on a Plate Kit – to provide you with everything you need to inoculate two large mushroom growing bags approx dimensions 70cm long, diameter 20cm that should yield several kilos of oyster mushrooms.
This product is not suitable for everyone – this blog post is to give you a better idea of what’s involved – and how rewarding and exciting it can be!
We pride ourselves for making our Kitchen Garden mushroom kits super simple and ultra-reliable to grow – and for thousands of people they have hit the spot!
We’re also aware of a ‘growing’ bunch of mushroom lovers and horticultural enthusiasts who want to try something more hands-on and get adventurous with their mushroom cultivation.
The kit contains:
- 1 full set of easy to follow printed instructions
- 1.2 L of Pearl Oyster Spawn: plenty of spawn to inoculate two x 70cm mushroom growbags with circumference of 60cm.
- Straw ready to prepare for inoculation
- 2 purpose designed large mushroom growbags
- Gypsum powder
- Metal Gauze
- Cable ties to hang the growbags
- 1 spray pump to help with humidity during fruiting
As you’ll see below, the DIY Mushrooms on a Plate kit is relatively straight forward – but definitely messier and more work than growing our Kitchen Garden kits, so make sure you have the time and space to put your kit to good use before placing an order.
Timings: Once you receive this kit you will need to refrigerate the spawn and start within 2-3 weeks. You can select a delivery date on the checkout of our website, so please use this if you plan to start in several weeks time.
You will need to spend up to 2 hours to setting up your kit, and from start to ‘first harvest’ will take around 3-4 weeks.
Requirements: Our instructions include recommendation to pasteurise the straw in a bath tub. If you do not have access to a bath tub or equivalent, you may struggle to make best use of this kit.
To fruit the kits you’ll need a space that gets the light – it could be a conservatory, garden shed (with windows) or even an indoor room where there is some light (either natural or from lighting).
Four stages to mushroom cultivation:
- Pasteurisation: where you prepare the growing substrate to ensure minimum contamination
- Inoculation: mixing the spawn with the pasteurised substrate
- Incubation: the inoculated mushroom logs are left in the dark for a couple of weeks while the mushroom ‘takes root’.
- Fruiting: when you grow the mushrooms!
This should take place in a space that gets the light – it could be a conservatory, garden shed (with windows) or even an indoor room where there is some light (either natural or from lighting).
We perfected this method with Raymond Blanc last summer, and have been also been producing colonized growbags for Le Manoir Aux Quatre Saisons to use in their very own mini mushroom farm using a similar technique – but before selling this kit, we sent one to Alex to try in his London flat to see if it really is straight forward to use at home.
Alex’s top tips on using the DIY Mushroom on a Plate Kit.
The kit arrives in a large box with the straw contained in one bag and the other materials neatly parcelled off separately. The first thing to do is remove the spawn and put it in the fridge. By keeping it cool it will stay fresh for 2-3 weeks.
Our full instructions come with the kit and are comprehensive. I don’t normally bother reading instructions before embarking on assembling Ikea furniture, but it is worth reading through the instructions in the mushroom kit to makes sure you’ve got everything prepared before you start!
What growing medium to use?
We provide enough straw for both growbags, but if you’re feeling adventurous you might want to try using cotton or cardboard. We tested cotton and were amazed to see the size and shape of the mushrooms that grew. They were monstrous – massive mushrooms, although not so ‘beautiful’ looking – see below – and use the Stanley knife for scale!
Cardboard will also work well. You could try using coffee – as we do in our kits – but it is a harder medium to use and doing it in a home environment may lead to contaminations. If you do use coffee, make sure it’s been brewed within 6 hours of inoculation (but this isn’t recommended).
Pasteurisation: We recommend pasteurising the straw in a bath.
This is not what we do at the farm, but after testing it at home it does work and does not create a bit mess. In fact, the bath tub is quite useful to contain all the straw during the inoculation stage, and is quite easy to clean up.
You need to soak the straw at 60-65 degrees centigrade for around 1 hour. The hot tap on the bath doesn’t go that hot, so you’ll need to use the kettle, and boil water in pans to bring the temperature up – then stir the water and the straw to keep it equal. We provide a thermometer to help with this.
I have 3 top tips for getting the water up to hot enough temperature:
- Pre-heat the bath tub itself with hot water from the tap to take the edge off
- Use lids on your pans
- Put hot water from the taps into the pans and kettle to give you a head start!
It may seem complicated, but it only took around 15-20 minutes for me to get the water up to temperature then I topped it up after 30 mins and it was fine. It will get steamy in there!!
When it comes to draining the bath, be careful not to scald your hand when removing the plug. The main problem I had was that the straw blocked the plug – so we’ve included a piece of wire gauze to put over the plug to prevent that from happening to anyone else! It’s ok if it takes a little while to fully drain as you need to wait for the straw (or cotton / card) to cool anyway.
When the bath has drained and substrate is cool enough (below 30 degrees centigrade), you’re ready to inoculate. The straw should not be dripping wet – if you pick up a handful it should not drip when you squeeze it – the cotton and card will need a good squeeze to get them dry enough.
Inoculation: The process as described on instructions is straight forward – and it makes sense to do this in the bath tub too. Once you’ve filled the growbags, tie them off and leave them to stand for a few minutes for any moisture to drain.
Incubation: For the incubation stage you’ll need to keep them in the dark for a 2-3 weeks. If you have a dark room or cupboard then great – take them there. Otherwise, an good alternative is to simply put them inside a cardboard box. The box the kit comes in is good for 1 tube, and a comparable box would work for the second.
Every couple of days, take the bag out, check out the progress – you’ll see the mycelium slowly spreading – but also allow some fresh air in the box.
Fruiting: When it comes to fruiting, the mushrooms will need some light. You may need to move the growbags to a conservatory, garden shed (with windows) or even an indoor room where there is some light (either natural or from lighting). Avoid situating the growbag near a radiator as this will dry it out.
Take a clean knife and cut through the plastic bag, this will create a space for the mushrooms to grow through. See the photo of above for an idea of the shape for the slits. This change in environment, combined with increased humidity will stimulate the mushrooms to start growing.
Keep an eye on your mushrooms – they’ll start to ‘pin’ after 4-7 days and you’ll have the fruits ready to eat after 9-12 days.
In optimal conditions the growbag can fruit in 2 or more cycles. In this case, it’s reasonable to wait for the 2nd harvest which should happen within 3 -4 weeks after the first.
After you have harvested your final mushroom, you can add the ‘spent mushroom substrate’ to the garden, either on the compost heap, or by digging it into the soil. There may be another mushroom or two here as well!
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to drop us a line on firstname.lastname@example.org
If this sounds like too much hard work, but you’d still like to grow your own mushrooms, check out our Kitchen Garden kits where all you have to do is ‘open up’!