Oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) are a culinary delight all over the world because of its bittersweet aroma. One of the easiest varieties to grow, Oyster mushrooms yields best harvest when grown using straw as its substrate.

Mushrooms grow from dust-like particles called spores, which develop into a mass of dense white tangled threads called mycelium. Mushroom spawn is essentially sawdust permeated with mushroom mycelia. From mycelium emerges an upward-growing umbrella-shaped fruit, called mushroom.

Oyster mushrooms on tree

Oyster mushrooms growing on a tree

Things required:

·         Oyster mushroom spawns

·         Substrate: Paddy or rice straw

·         Plastic bag (approx. 60 cm x 30 cm)

1.      Sterilizing substrate (straw):

Cut the straw into smaller pieces of about 1 to 3 inches in length. Boil it in water for about an hour. Drain the water until it no more drops from the straw.

2.      Preparing growing medium:

Once the damp straw has cooled to room temperature, stack it densely inside the plastic bag, about 6-10 inches high. Now spread a handful of oyster mushroom spawns over the straw. Tie the bag from top and poke some holes in it for the spawns to breath.

Growing Oyster mushrooms

3.      Incubation period:

Place the bag in a cool and dark place, away from direct sunlight. Spray some water occasionally over the plastic bag to maintain humidity.

4.      From spawn to mycelium:

Within 5 to 7 days, spawns develop into white furry cob-web structures, called mycelium. When mycelium spreads and covers the entire straw in 10 to 14 days period, it is time to place the bag in a brighter spot, to initiate fruiting.

Oyster Mushrooms

5.     From mycelium to mushrooms:

Make large x-shaped holes on the bag using a clean knife, for the oyster mushrooms to grow out from. In next 3 to 5 days, little mushroom-heads start popping up, growing almost double in size every day. When the mushroom caps separate fully from their stems, they are ready for harvesting. Oyster mushrooms stay fresh for 7 days in a refrigerator.

Happy Gardening

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