How to Grow Oyster Mushrooms and Reishi
While you’re still learning the ropes of growing mushrooms, you should concentrate on growing some of the simpler types that don’t require so much extensive knowledge and attention – and the strains that are ideally not so prone to mishaps. Oyster mushrooms and Reishi are generally really good options for beginners, because they’re both pretty simple and straightforward to grow, and don’t require that much specialized attention either. On top of that, they can grow very well together because they require more or less the same type of compost to develop fully and perfectly, so you should be able to grow them in one single batch if you pull it off right.
As with any kind of mushroom that grows on regular substrate, you’ll want to start by developing the substrate properly in order to ensure proper growth for the mushrooms later on. Like we said above, both oyster mushrooms as well as Reishi can thrive very well in more or less the same type of substrate. This comes from the fact that oysters can grow very well in a variety of different substrates, including the type that’s ideal for Reishi – so they should typically fruit very well together. Woodchips, sawdust and whole grain are among the best materials to mix into the substrate for your Reishi mushrooms, but make sure there’s more dust than chips.
In addition, if you’re still a beginner and not so good at dealing with contaminations yet, you may want to try omitting the whole grain completely because it can increase the risk of contamination severely, and is generally something that can be of benefit to more experienced mushroom growers who know how to carefully prevent any contaminations from forming. That’s not to say that using whole grain won’t be beneficial for you though – you’ll just need to be much more careful with it and keep its ratio low in the whole mixture for the substrate, to minimize the risk of any contaminations and infections forming.
It’s important to decide what you’ll be using for the spawn as well – both sawdust and grains can work well, but once you’ve picked the one you’ll be using you have to stick to it and never mix it with another material for your spawn, as this can seriously mess up the whole process. Later on when you’ve gained some experience you might actually find benefits in growing mushrooms from two different types of spawn, but beginners would want to stay away from that idea as it’s generally risky.
Humidity is king!
There’s something that oysters and Reishi share in terms of their preferences for growing conditions – and that’s the humidity. If you want to ensure that you get a perfect yield from this batch, you’ll want to keep the humidity inside the tray as high as possible. 70-85% is typically the most appropriate range in order to ensure that the mushrooms develop as fully as possible, and it will also have a strong impact on the time it takes for them to grow – more humidity can accelerate the growth process significantly, though of course make sure that you don’t overdo it because that can have an adverse effect and ruin the batch.
In addition, you’ll need to be extremely patient. If you thought mushrooms grow slowly in general, wait till you see how long it takes with oysters and Reishi – this type of fungus is extremely pretentious towards its environment and the smallest of problems can decrease the rate of their development significantly. Even when you’re doing everything possible though, they’d still grow very slowly and will require a great deal of patience to develop them fully.
You can notice when the Reishi have started growing when small white bumps start to form around the tray, which after a few weeks change their colors into a darker tone and eventually begin to change their shape towards the easily recognizable shape of the Reishi that we all know. That’s when you know you’re on the right track – but it’s still just the beginning, and you’ll be a good few months away from seeing the mushrooms develop fully and properly. If you want to alter the shape in which they grow, you might want to turn down the ventilation inside the tray, which will get the mushrooms to grow in the characteristic “antler” shape, though you might not want to achieve that effect in which case just keep ventilating them as you would any other type of mushroom. Even if you choose to restrict their shape though, still make sure that you relieve them of the CO2 buildups that are going to form with time, because those can kill Reishi and oysters just like any other mushroom.
Something else we should mention is that Reishi tends to be a bit low on the yield, unlike most other strains of mushrooms – even oysters. What this means is that you shouldn’t expect a very large yield from your batch, and you might not even get more than one mushroom per spawn. This is to be expected, though it’s somewhat possible to alter this behavior by placing your trays in the right kind of environment. You’d still have to get used to the idea that the yield would be limited though, no matter what you do – so don’t expect miracles even if you go through a lot of trouble to get the right location for your tray(s).
Expanding your ideas
Earlier we mentioned that oysters and Reishi are perfect for beginners because they’re easy to grow – and while that’s true, don’t disregard the more “advanced” opportunities that these mushrooms provide you with – there’s a lot to perfect in the growing of these strains so don’t regard them as being for beginners only; you can definitely come up with many improvements to the basic schemes used for cultivating these two strains as you become more experienced with mushroom farming – but for that, you’re going to need a proper guide, something which you’ll want to invest in sooner or later anyway. We hope this has inspired you to buy a mushroom growing kit and you will begin your own mushroom adventures.