There’s no doubt that Oyster Mushrooms are the #1 choice for new growers, hobbyists and even small-scale farmers.
They can be grown on a variety of substrates including hardwood sawdust, soy hulls, wheat straw, sugarcane, coffee grounds, banana leaves, cardboard, coco-coir and more!
Not only do they grow on many different materials, but they also grow really fast. This rapid growth allows Oysters to outrun many potential competitors, helping to avoid issues with contamination.
Some are heat tolerant and can be grown in tropical areas. Some are cold-tolerant and can be grown in more temperate climates. Some are resistant to high levels of CO2 and can be grown in small grow rooms. Some need fresh air and are more suitable to be grown in large grow rooms. Basically, no matter where you live in the world, and what conditions you are facing, there is likely a strain of Oyster mushroom that will work for you.
TYPES OF OYSTER MUSHROOMS
Before you can start thinking about growing Oyster mushrooms, you first have to decide exactly what species you want to grow.
The right species would depend mainly on the time of year that you would be growing, temperatures while fruiting being the main thing to consider.
Blue oysters will fruit between 10c – 20c
Grey oysters will fruit between 15c – 21c
Pink oysters will fruit between 20c – 28c
HOW TO GROW OYSTERS
There are 3 basic steps to growing Oyster mushrooms
The first step is inoculation, where you add mushroom grain spawn (think of it like seeds) to a suitable substrate (think of it like soil). Grain spawn can either be made at home or bought pre-made. You’ll want to add the spawn at a rate of about 20%. That means if you have 10kg of substrate (like wet straw) you’ll want to add about 2kg of spawn. The spawn needs to be mixed in thoroughly in order to get the most possible “inoculation points”.
2. COLONIZATION (INCUBATION)
Once the spawn is added to the substrate, it will start to expand and grow over its new territory, spreading out and devouring nutrients. This process is known as “colonisation”. After a couple of weeks, the mycelium will have completely engulfed the new substrate and is said to be “fully colonised”
Once the substrate is colonised, it will continue to get thicker until it is fully consolidated. Eventually, little pins will start to form. These pins will eventually turn into fully formed mushroom “fruits” which if grown correctly can be harvested and enjoyed.
Steps to grow
First, you need to get good quality grain spawn. You can either make it yourself or buy it from us ready to use. The process of making spawn is easy but there is some trial and error involved so for beginners we recommend buying it. Our spawn can be purchased here. If you want to make your own spawn follow this tutorial.
Next, you need to decide on your substrate. Although oysters can be grown on a variety of substrates we recommend using wheat straw, it is easy to find at animal feed stores and is cheap and easy to work with.
You need to prepare this straw for use firstly by cutting it into smaller pieces about 5 cm long and then pasteurising it. This helps knock out any potential competitors to your mycelium and gives the oyster mushrooms a head start to colonise the straw before other contaminants take hold.
Pasteurisation can be done by either boiling the straw or by doing a cold pasteurisation by changing the PH level of the straw using hydrated lime. We recommend using the hydrated lime method, all you need to do is add the hydrated lime to water and soak the straw in that solution for 24 hours. Hydrated Lime can be purchased here.
Next, you need to decide in what vessel you are going to grow in. Oysters grow well in plastic buckets or in polypropylene tube bags. We recommend using plastic tubes which can be bought here.. Get a bucket that has been pre-cleaned with bleach and add your straw and grain spawn together. Mix well and stuff this into the bags. Try to push it down and compact it. Once the bag is filled around 50cm, tie off the top or use cable ties to clamp the top.
Next, get a knife that has been cleaned with bleach and poke holes all around the bag with a few at the bottom to allow excess water to drain from. I would cut about 10 holes around the bag and 2 more at the bottom should be enough, each slit being about 1cm wide.
During the above steps try to be as clean as possible, use a clean bucket, wash your hands well or even better use cloves.
Once your spawn and substrate is in the bag leave it to colonise for a week or two, you will start to see the mycelium grow through the straw. After a week or two you will notice tiny pins ( mushrooms ) forming near some of the holes. Once this happens it is time to fruit.
You can fruit these in many ways, in a grow room, tent shotgun fruiting chamber. The main things to consider is getting the right balance of enough fresh air, the correct temperature and the correct humidity. Oyster mushrooms love fresh air, if they start growing with long thin stems it is a sign that they need fresh air.
A simple way is to grow them is near your kitchen sink and mist the sides of the bag a couple of times per day to create some humidity.
Below are some pics of our Blue Oyster strain grown in the kitchen.
Below are some interesting videos made by Freshcap Mushrooms, they are a great source of information for anyone interested in growing mushrooms:
HARVESTING AND STORING OYSTERS
Of course, after you have successfully grown Oysters, you’ll want to harvest and enjoy them!
Before harvesting, let the mushrooms dry out a little bit, especially if they are being grown in a really high-humidity environment.
Harvest your oysters by tearing off the whole cluster at the base. You can also cut them off with a knife. Oyster mushrooms are usually quite delicate, so handle them with care.
Storing in the Fridge
Oyster mushrooms do not have a great shelf life. That’s why they never look that great at the store. Still, the shelf life can be extended by storing them in a paper towel or a paper bag in the fridge. Do not store them in sealed plastic containers or ziplocs- they will quickly turn bad.
Parts of this article have been taken from Freshcap Mushrooms. They are a great source of information you can find them here: https://freshcap.com/