Here’s a really quick, easy, and simple hack for growing mushrooms at home with just a few easily obtainable items. I learned this technique from a couple members of the Georgia Mushroom Growers Club at the Radical Mycology Convergence in New York last September.
The ingredient list is short and consists of “Yesterday’s News” Kitty Litter (unused and unsoiled of course), Guinea Pig food, distilled water, plastic bags, and some mushroom spawn of varieties such as oyster or shiitake. Sterile conditions are not necessary for success and there is no heating or pasteurization required.
One of the Easiest Ways You’ll Ever Find to Grow Mushrooms at Home
This process is very simple! You place four cups of “Yesterday’s News” Kitty Litter in a clean container and add four cups of distilled or de-chlorinated water. Let sit until all of the water is absorbed by the kitty litter, then mix in one-third cup of Guinea Pig Food and three-fourths cup of mushroom spawn. This mixture is then packed tightly into a plastic bag. Those long slender sleeve type bags work perfectly for this task.
Tamp the media down to compress it and remove as much air as possible, then twist and tie a knot so that you are left with a solid tube of inoculated mushroom growing substrate. Cut four one inch slits in the sides of the bag to allow the spawn to breathe and place the bag in a dark, cool spot.
The Spawn Run and Colonization of Your Mushroom Bags
Then it’s just a matter of time as you wait for the mushroom mycelium to spread throughout the kitty litter substrate. Once everything is fully colonized you will notice the light colored mycelium is visible throughout the mixture of kitty litter and mushroom spawn. As is typical with mushroom spawn, it has to run through and fully consume the nutrients in the growing substrate before fruiting.
You will eventually get budding and see tiny clusters of mushrooms start to pop out in various parts of the bag where they are receiving air from the tiny perforations that were made in the plastic bag. At this point the bag should be in an area where it can receive light, but avoid placing it in direct sunlight or where it could over heat or dry out. A slightly humid location is also good but not critical for success.
Fruiting and Harvesting the Mushrooms in a Matter of Days
At this fruiting stage the mushrooms will grow rapidly and should be ready to harvest within a few days. You can lightly mist the bags with a spray bottle of non-chlorinated water to help the mushroom form but don’t overdo it. Harvest the mushrooms as soon as they reach full size and before they begin to release any spores.
I haven’t tried this yet, but you should be able to let the bags rest for a couple weeks then soak them in water over night to coax a second fruiting out of them. I have some other ideas that I plan to experiment with to keep the spawn going and I will share them if it is successful. Even if this is only a one or two harvest application it will still be worth the effort. The spent bags of mycelium can be composted, broken up and used as a soil amendment, or be fed to earthworms if you have a worm bin.
So if you’ve wanted to try your hand at cultivating mushrooms this is a great way to start the journey. It’s also pretty satisfying as you can go from start to finish in a month or so with just a handful of ingredients and no special equipment!