You can easily stock up on oyster mushrooms from your local market, but this delectable ingredient can also be grown right in your own home. It may sound like a daunting task to grow your very own mushrooms at home, but the process is fairly straightforward and pretty simple once you have the necessary tools.
To grow oyster mushrooms you’ll need spores or prepared liquid culture to spawn, an appropriate growing substrate, plus a fruiting container (aka a monotub) and you’re on your way to growing your very own mushrooms.
An alternative and faster way to grow oyster mushrooms is a grow kit. Grow kits are prepped with all of the steps and supplies needed to grow you’re very own oyster mushrooms. But if you want to manage the entire cultivation process and have larger yields, then read on for the steps involved in the monotub method.
What is a Monotub?
A monotub is one of the most popular fruiting chambers to grow a wide variety of different types of mushrooms and is both relatively inexpensive and fairly easy to use. It’s basically a plastic tub that can be modified at home or pre-made to have holes at specific locations around the bin to allow for proper air circulation.
More specifically, the holes in a monotub allow for the conduction of warm air that not only helps the inside of the tub hold onto moisture but also continually recirculates fresh air into the chamber. Moisture is important to help mushrooms survive and grow inside the monotub, while the air current allows for warm air to escape and be replaced with fresh air.
Can You Grow Oyster Mushrooms in a Monotub?
Oyster mushrooms cannot grow on the ground (unless they have logs or a similar material), so growing them in a monotub is a great solution.
Monotubs are fantastic environments to grow many different types of mushrooms, including oyster mushrooms. To get started, you’ll need a few key things, like oyster mushroom spawn, a monotub, and the substrate, to be able to grow oyster mushrooms in a monotub.
Oyster mushroom spawn can be found both at some supermarkets and online. The spawn is the actual living fungal organism and is what will grow into your final oyster mushrooms. You can also create your own oyster mushroom spawn, which we’ll cover in an upcoming post.
Next, you’ll need a monotub, the large plastic bin that you’ll use to fruit mushrooms. You can use a drill to create holes around the sides of your tub to allow for air circulation or purchase tubs with pre-made holes, although it can be slightly more expensive than if you were to do this yourself.
The final thing you’ll need is an appropriate growing substrate for your mushrooms. Most substrates are rather inexpensive and extremely easy to find, but it’s important to pick a substrate that will provide enough nutrients specifically to oyster mushrooms. The most popular substrates for oyster mushrooms include heat pasteurized straw, used coffee grounds, and wood chips.
Once you have the above items, you’ll want to find an appropriate location to place the monotub. This means finding a place in your home that is well ventilated, typically on a table next to a window or in a wide-open basement/attic. Fresh air exchange (FAE) is crucial for the proper growth of Oyster mushrooms.
Oyster mushrooms can take anywhere from two to six weeks for full growth before they’re ready to be harvested and used in any of your cooking.
What is the Best Growing Substrate for Oyster Mushrooms?
The most commonly used substrate for oyster mushrooms is straw, not only because it is relatively cheap and easy to find, but also because it has a higher carbon and nitrogen content which is essential to the proper growth of oyster mushrooms. Next, you’ll need to prepare the straw to ensure it can act as a substrate.
What’s a substrate?
A substrate is any biodegradable product that can provide nutrition for a growing mushroom or plant. Though there are many different types of substrates that can be used, some substrates are definitely far superior to ensuring the healthy growth of oyster mushrooms.
Preparing the straw means first chopping the straw into 4 to 5-inch pieces, and then pasteurizing it. There are a few ways you can do this, but most the most common method is to apply heat to the straw. Place the straw in a pot of boiling water set at 160ºF for 2-4 hours. Once the time has passed, strain the straw and allow it to cool before placing in the monotub.
If you’re unable to find straw, there are also other substrates that are just as good. For example, used coffee grounds in particular are already sterilized from the brewing process and are packed with nutrients.
Coffee grounds are a great substrate to use with oyster mushrooms and are exceptionally easy to come by, relatively inexpensive to buy, and don’t require much other prep before being used as a substrate.
How to Grow Oyster Mushrooms in a Monotub?
Once you’ve gathered your oyster mushroom spawn, monotub, and substrate; you’re ready to grow your oyster mushrooms.
The first step as mentioned above is to prepare your monotub. This involves putting a black liner on the bottom of the tub along with ensuring there are holes around the sides of the tub for air circulation. If your tub doesn’t already have holes, you can use a drill to create 2-inch holes around the side.
Over these holes, place monotub filters or simply place tape on the outside with poly-fil in the holes. This “filling” allows air to pass through but helps prevent contamination from getting into your tub and hindering the growth of your mushrooms.
Next, you’ll lay down a layer of your substrate which can be either straw (which has been pasteurized at around 160 degrees Fahrenheit as described above) or used coffee beans (within 24 hours of brewing). On top of your substrate, you’ll layer on your mushroom spawn, and continue to place down alternating layers of your substrate and mushroom spawn. Make sure that your layers don’t go over the holes that you have created in your monotub.
Once all your substrate and spawn are in the monotub, simply pop on the lid of the tub and place the bin in a clean, well-ventilated, dark room. Lightly spray your container with water every day to keep your growing mushrooms hydrated. Within two or three weeks, you’ll notice the mycelium or white spots on the substrate which will eventually cover the entire surface.
After colonization and proper hydration, it’s time to fruit. Place the bin in direct sunlight or under grow lights. In a few days, you’ll notice little pins emerging from the substrate.
Oyster mushrooms will be ready for harvesting when the edges of the caps get wavy. At this point, you can cut or twist the mushrooms from their stem, clean them, and can store them in an airtight container in the fridge until you need them.
Although you can most likely find a good batch of oyster mushrooms at your local supermarket, they can also be grown at home relatively easily.
All you need is a monotub, a growing substrate like straw, wood chips, or coffee grounds; oyster mushroom spores, and a bit of patience to grow oyster mushrooms. After two to six weeks of loving care and an ounce of patience, you’ll have delicious oyster mushrooms ready to be harvested and used in all your delectable culinary creations!