If you're new to growing mushrooms, buying a mushroom growing kit is the easiest way to get started.
These kits are designed to be beginner-friendly, and you won't need any special skills or tools to use them. In fact, you probably already have everything you need at home, other than the kit itself.
Using a mushroom kit is a great way to get a feel for what it's like to grow mushrooms without having to commit too much time or effort. So, are these kits really worth buying?
Absolutely! As long as you find a high-quality kit, you'll have a great experience growing your own mushrooms. With so many different branded mushroom kits available, and a variety of species to choose from, it's worth doing a bit of research to find the one that's right for you.
Even though I personally enjoy growing mushrooms from scratch, I still wanted to try out a kit myself to see how effective and easy they really are. At first, I was skeptical, but I ended up having a great experience with the kit and would highly recommend it to any new growers looking to get started.
What Is A Mushroom Grow Kit
A mushroom growing kit is essentially a pre-colonized “fruiting block” which has not yet been put into conditions that make it want to fruit mushrooms.
The mycelium covered block is typically contained in a mushroom grow bag, which can sit dormant for quite some time, especially if it’s kept cool in the fridge.
You can buy grow kits for a variety of different types of mushrooms, although some species make for better kits than others. One of the most common types of mushrooms you will find in a grow kit is Pleurotus ostreatus – the regular ol’ “oyster mushroom.”
Oyster mushrooms are pretty resilient to contamination, they fruit relentlessly, and they can grow on a whole whack of different substrates.
They are super tenacious, and can fruit mushrooms even if conditions aren’t picture perfect- making them an excellent choice for a kit.
Oysters also grow really quickly, which increases the chances of success. Most grow kits only require a few simple steps and minimal maintenance, although the chances of success and potential harvest size increases greatly if the mushroom block is properly prepared and placed in ideal conditions.
New To Growing Mushrooms?
Make your first grow successful with an easy to use kit! Three easy steps:
1. Soak the kit in water.
2. Scrape back some of the mycelium.
3. Keep moist and near indirect light
Blue Oyster Mushroom Kit Review
If you're looking for an easy way to get started with growing mushrooms, the Back to the Roots Mushroom Mini Farm might be a good option to consider. This kit produces Pearl Oyster Mushrooms, which are fast-growing and can handle some neglect without affecting their yield.
The mini farm itself is compact and lightweight, with the fruiting block weighing in at less than 2 lbs. While you shouldn't expect a massive harvest from such a small amount of substrate, the main goal of this kit is to give you a hands-on experience with the mushroom growing process.
The instructions provided are very straightforward and are geared towards novice mushroom growers who may not be familiar with the complex terminology involved in the process.
To put it simply, the process involves scraping, soaking, and watering the block.
To elaborate, one should create an opening in the bag and disturb the mycelium to stimulate growth. Next, soak the block in water to replenish moisture and induce shock, and maintain a humid environment to facilitate the formation of mushroom pins.
Although the kit refers to the mycelium as "soil," it is a bit misleading but understandable given the intended audience.
Following the instructions, I made a small "x" in the front of the bag and agitated the mycelium to reactivate it and initiate new growth.
To rehydrate the block, I submerged it in water for 12 hours, and even though it floated, it is crucial to ensure that the block absorbs enough water to produce fruiting bodies, which are predominantly composed of water.
If the block lacks adequate moisture, it may not produce any fruiting bodies or will have stunted growth.
Fruiting the Block
The kit's instructions advise adding 2-3 teaspoons of water daily to the scraped area until the mushrooms are fully formed.
However, placing the kit in a humid environment with indirect light, as is typically done when growing mushrooms from scratch, is just as effective. While the kit can be grown on a countertop without a shotgun fruiting chamber (SGFC), I chose to use one.
Pearl Oysters are hardy fruiters, but if not grown in a controlled environment like an SGFC, the block may dry out and not produce any fruit. Additionally, SGFCs are simple to construct and can be used for future mushroom projects.
The appearance of the first pins occurred after approximately 15 days, which was a longer duration than anticipated. The delay may have been caused by the block remaining in the fridge for an extended period before being used, although this is uncertain.
The SGFC was maintained at a consistent humidity level, with indirect lighting, and a temperature ranging from 16-19 degrees Celsius. Following the instructions, I did not directly spray the block, which could have contributed to the delayed fruiting. However, misting the block directly before pinning is not a technique I usually employ.
After the pins emerged, growth progressed rapidly, and the mushrooms were ready for harvest within seven days of the first pin's appearance. This speedy development is typical of Oyster mushrooms in general, and Pearl Oysters, in particular.
From Fruiting To Harvest
The SGFC received two daily misting and fanning sessions, leading to rapid fruit formation. Personally, the best aspect of growing mushrooms is checking on them each morning and observing their impressive overnight growth.
However, despite the mushrooms pinning and fruiting successfully, only three primary fruiting bodies emerged, failing to produce the cluster I had hoped for. The appearance of mushroom fruit bodies is unpredictable, which is part of the excitement, but one always hopes for a significant yield.
Nonetheless, the mushrooms that did develop were visually appealing, with slightly plumper and longer stems and smaller caps than desired, typically a result of inadequate fresh air. Although I opened the SGFC lid twice daily on average to mist and fan, it may have been beneficial to do so more frequently.
It is essential not to underestimate the importance of fresh air for oyster mushrooms to develop sizable capped clusters.
Once the oyster mushrooms had reached a suitable size, I decided to harvest them. The box suggests that mushrooms are ready when they stop doubling in size each day, but I believe that the best indicator for oyster mushrooms is when the caps begin to curl up, which signals that they are about to drop spores and past their prime.
Perhaps I harvested them a bit prematurely, but I was eager to taste them! Oyster mushrooms can quickly transition from unripe to overripe, so it is preferable to err on the side of being a little early rather than too late.
To harvest, use a sharp knife to cut the mushrooms at the base of the stem, striving to remove as much of the fruiting body as possible, especially if you want a second flush. Leaving old dying stems on the fruiting block is a common spot for contamination to occur.
I only managed to harvest 79 grams (just under 3 ounces) of fresh oyster mushrooms on the first flush, with a considerable portion of the weight consisting of thick stems, which are rather tough and usually discarded.
Although the yield may seem low, I was still quite content. These kits are designed to provide an easy way to grow your own mushrooms at home, and in that regard, the kit was a success.
Cooking The Mushrooms
There's nothing quite like the taste of fresh, homegrown oyster mushrooms - they're far superior to anything you can find at the grocery store. There are countless ways to enjoy them, but my personal favorite is to fry them up in a pan with butter, garlic, and a sprinkle of pepper.
Be mindful that they cook quickly and tend to shrink in size. As previously mentioned, the caps are the most enjoyable part of the oyster mushroom, while the thick stems can be a bit tough and not as flavorful. However, everyone's palate is different, so it's worth experimenting to find your own preferences.
I used the mushrooms I grew to enhance a pizza, and it was truly amazing!
Recycle Your Substrate
Don't toss out your block after harvesting the mushrooms! You can attempt to get a second or even third flush from it. It's not uncommon for some people to get more than five flushes from a single kit. To achieve this, simply rehydrate the block by soaking it again, and then return it to the fruiting environment.
It might take up to two weeks for the mushrooms to start growing again, so be patient. Keep an eye out for green mold, which can cause contamination. If you see any, try to remove it. However, if the block becomes too moldy, it's best to dispose of it.
Should You Try a Kit?
Absolutely! If you're interested in growing mushrooms but not yet ready to start from scratch, trying a kit is a great way to get started. It can give you a good understanding of the growing process and the conditions required for proper fruiting.
Even if you're not planning to pursue mycology as a hobby, growing mushrooms from a kit is a fun and easy activity that can bring joy to anyone interested in gardening or growing their own food.
Overall, it's a great experience that I highly recommend. If you've already grown mushrooms from a kit, I would love to hear about your experience! Thank you for reading.