While commercial mushroom farms raise and package large quantities of mushrooms for consumers, packaged mushroom gardens give individual gardeners the opportunity to raise a small, indoor mushroom crop. These mushroom-growing kits include everything you need to start your own small mushroom garden. Although you can purchase one of these ready-made kits from Internet suppliers and gardening centers, you can also put together the necessary ingredients to make your own mushroom-growing kit. Use this for your own gardening hobby or present this homemade kit as a gift for a friend.
Putting Together Your Kit
Obtain a broad, shallow container or recycle a used one for this purpose. A large casserole dish or a plastic storage bin works well for building a mushroom garden.
Mix equal amounts of sterile compost, potting soil and peat, filling your container with a 2-to-3-inch layer of this rich medium. Reserve about 1/4 cup of this mixture in a sealed envelope. Smooth the top of your soil mix with a large, wooden spoon, removing any ridges or dips, creating a uniform surface.
Gather mushroom spores for your garden kit. Known as spore printing, collecting spores allows you to propagate new mushrooms from harvested species. Purchase only fresh mushrooms from your grocery store to use for this purpose. Cut off the stems and place your mushroom caps, gills down, on a piece of clean, white paper. Wait 12 hours for the mushrooms to release the majority of the miniscule spores. Carefully transfer the spores to a sealable envelope for storage. Keep these cool and dry.
Tear off a sheet or two of clear plastic wrap to place over the top of your container. Poke several holes in the plastic wrap to allow adequate airflow. Complete your mushroom garden kit with a plastic spray bottle for misting the soil. Your kit is now ready for planting or giving away as a gift. Include growing instructions with a gift.
Planting and Growing Your Mushrooms
Plant your mushroom garden by misting the surface of your soil with a fine spray of water until it glistens. Scatter your tiny spores over the surface of the damp soil. Sprinkle the reserved 1/4 cup of medium over the top of your spores, barely covering them with this fine substance. Spray the surface again to create even dampness and place your plastic wrap over the top of your container.
Put your planted mushroom garden in a dimly lit area, such as a closet or storage cabinet. Maintain the temperature in your closet near 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the soil slightly damp to the touch by spraying it every few days.
Look for the small mushrooms to appear within one to two weeks. Begin harvesting them as they reach maturity to allow space for new ones to grow. Mushroom gardens often continue supplying fresh produce for six to eight weeks.