Below are a few terms one needs to know when it comes to mushroom production.
Spawn – mushroom “seedlings”
Spawning – process of planting mushroom
Substrate – medium on which mushroom can be grown
Weed mold – molds that grow in competition with mushroom
Fruiting vessel – container used to grow the mushroom
We recently shared an article with you about a group of sisters from Zimbabwe who are growing mushrooms commercially. If you read that and you were somewhat interested in pursuing mushroom farming for yourself, then this article is for you. Mushroom farming is an exceptionally low cost farming venture, which could be very beneficial for you and your wallet.
While there are many types of mushrooms out there, the type of mushroom you choose to grow is critical to your success as a grower. Oyster mushrooms are a great option for those who are unsure of where to start. They require very little space to grow and can be grown on any kind of substrate. While the easiest substrate to grow oyster mushrooms on is chopped straw. This can be challenging to acquire depending on where you live. You will be pleased to know that you can also grow them on all kinds of different and inexpensive substrates like cardboard, old cotton clothes or any type of unbleached paper. You can use leaves, dried peanut shells or sawdust. Surprisingly you can even grow them on old boiled coffee grounds. The biggest hurdle for many is the high risk of infection from weed molds which could ruin your yield.
The most important consideration regardless of substrate used is to maintain sterility and avoid contaminants where possible. If you are just starting out or do not have the capacity to create a large-scale sterilizing facility, you can just use hot boiling water. We recommended that you boil the substrate to at least 71-100 degrees celsius for at least an hour or more. You can use a large pot or metal drum that can hold a large quantity of your substrate. Once this is done, remove the substrate and let it cool to room temperature. At this point the spawn can be mixed with the substrate and it can be packed into a clean fruiting vessel. Remember to try and keep your tools as sterile or free from contaminants as possible as well.
We are excited for oyster mushrooms because they are easy to cultivate and very healthy. Oyster mushrooms are relatively new in regards to Zimbabwean cuisine but they have been enjoyed in Asian cuisine for thousands of years. Oyster mushrooms are not only rich in proteins, they are also low in calories. They can be used as a meat substitute. They are also considered fat-free, cholesterol-free, gluten-free, and very low in sodium.They have also been shown to contain significant levels of vitamins and minerals like fibre, zinc, potassium, selenium, calcium, phosphorus, folic acid, and an array of B,C and D vitamins. Studies have also shown that oyster mushrooms possess some anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-cancer properties as well.
Oyster mushroom cultivation is the simplest and least expensive when compared to other forms of mushroom farming. This is because oyster mushrooms do not require a lot of extra special inputs. They can easily be grown using locally available materials like agricultural waste. The main component that prospective mushroom growers might need to outsource would be the mushroom spawn. Keep in mind that it is important to maintain sterility throughout the process. If you have done your research and are interested but unsure of how to proceed, we advise seeking professional counsel.
For more information on how you can get help from vaMudhumeni on how you too can get on the road to being an oyster mushroom farmer please contact us at