Some time ago, I showed you how to grow morel mushrooms, and this time, I have opted for something similar, yet different. So, if you want to know how to grow portobello mushrooms, you will have to read the whole article. Luckily, it is not difficult to understand, and if you enjoyed the rest of my pieces, you would love this one as well.
As always, you can use this article for the whole process of growing these beautiful mushrooms, and you will have fun as I did.
What Are Portobello Mushrooms?
I’m sure that you already saw these little round guys being sold on every step, but still, there are some general facts about them which won’t hurt to know.
As shown, these mushrooms will not require a lot of care. Since they grow in dark areas, there are low chances of weeds and insects to disturb them. However, some precaution is not excessive.
Mushrooms are not difficult to grow, as I said, but there is equipment which will be required. That would be the following.
Luckily, all of those can be found in every store, so you shouldn’t have trouble obtaining what is needed. The only tricky one could be growing kit, but since there are a lot of those available online, you won’t have trouble finding it.
How To Prepare?
There is much more preparation for these mushrooms than it is needed to grow them. So, begin with visiting your backyard or a local hardware store.
A container will be needed for growing these mushrooms so that you can follow my instructions. I have made a wooden box with 8x6x6” dimensions (HxWxL). If you have a bucket of similar size, you can use it, as long as the measures are adequate.
Next thing, prepare compost, and you will need substantial quantity. If you are growing just one container, plan accordingly. The best way is to use soil with worn-out and old manure. This is light in nutrients and won’t burn the plant.
Now, fill the container with compost to about two inches from the top. It is important not to fill it entirely since you will add something little more later. Cut the cardboard to fit the opening of the container, press it on the soil firmly and cover with the black plastic bag.
Leave the container outside for about two weeks in a sunny place. During this period the ultraviolet light of the sun will sterilize the soil so that it will be safe for planting.
Obtaining The “Seed” (Spores, Actually)
At this time you can start searching for spores for growing. These may not be easy to find, so I will show you a trick on how to grow them from commercially sold mushrooms.
Take a mushroom, cut off the stem, and place it on a sheet of ordinary white paper upside down. The curved part (the top) should be at the paper. Place a glass over it and leave it for a week. After that period, you should see a dark circle of dust-like matter appearing on the paper. Those are spores, and you need to transfer them.
Take a solution of water and one tsp of sugar or molasses, so that those spores have a good head start. Take the paper carefully and watch not to sneeze, and shake off the spores into the sweetened water. Stir it mildly, and get ready for moving the container.
Perhaps the most challenging problem to tackle when it comes to the growing of mushrooms is the temperature. It must stay in range of 50-70°F by all means. Higher than that, and it will dry out the mushrooms too much, and lower can cause diseases and the plants to die.
I have chosen the basement, since they need the dark, and I have put one soil thermometer in the soil, to watch it regularly.
Of course, if you are familiar with the climate of your area, you can put the container outside, just watch the direct sunlight, and avoid it at all costs. Again, the temperature must be in said range.
Seeding The Spores And First Care
With container prepared, and water mixed with molasses and spores, head down to the basement, and start planting them. If you have opted for growing kit, follow the instructions instead.
However, if you are adventurous as I am, pour the water with spores all over the top layer of the soil. Care to distribute it evenly so that you won’t get crowded areas. Cover with 1” of the same compost you used to fill the container.
So far, this is not something difficult, but here comes the tricky part. The mushrooms shouldn’t be watered directly into the soil. Instead, take a few sheets of newspaper and cover the top of the soil.
Next, the newspaper needs to be covered with peat moss, but since I’ve already mentioned that excessive use of it destroys ecosystems in Canada, I have opted for coconut coir. It is super cheap and by me far better for water retention purpose.
About an inch of coir should be applied and pressed to be even. Spray it with water from misting bottle, so that it is well moist. The daily appliance of water will be needed, so don’t worry, you are not overdoing it. In case that it is grown outside, twice a day will be required.
About two weeks of such process is needed, to first sprout to appear.
Growing And Caring
When first white caps appear, you will know that good job is done when it comes to starting. Continue to water them on a daily basis, and about ten days, they should be ready for harvesting. Just watch the size, and you will judge if they are ready.
Since they have short growing cycle, you can use the first batch of portobello mushrooms to start more. Of course, planting one container per week will provide good circle, so you will have them available all the time.
Harvesting And Storing
To collect portobello mushrooms, just put on gloves, and pull them out of the soil. Cut the part which was below the surface, and wipe them with the napkin or a paper towel. Don’t wash them yet, since this process will accelerate spoiling process.
As for storing, things are a bit more complicated. There are three ways you can preserve them, and it depends on the period you will use them after. Therefore, here they are.
● Short – just put harvested and wiped mushrooms in a paper bag, wrap it and put it in the refrigerator. This way, they will last about a week. Just be careful not to put it with the food with strong smell, such as onions.
● Medium – freezing is an excellent way to store them, and all that is needed is to boil them for a few minutes, leave them to cool and put into the ziplock bag. In a freezer, they can last for a few months.
● Long – drying mushrooms might be a bit tricky, but it can be done. Just spread them on a baking pan, put into the oven, set it at a low temperature, and wait to lose moist completely. This way, they can last for two or three years. Just be careful about vermin which can eat through your food stock.
Pests And Diseases
Luckily, there are only but a handful of pests and other harmful organisms which can attack your precious mushrooms. Even better, the majority of those are from the soil, and since I have sterilized it, there was no such noted.
Still, you can deal with mites, springtails and other which are connected with spoiled manure. These are sometimes difficult to remove, and I already got you covered on this matter, remember?
As for diseases, good people of Queensland, AU made an excellent article about it. If you didn’t read, let me tell you that any change of color or texture might be the sign of viral or other disease. All of those can be prevented with adequate temperature and hygiene.
So, here we are, at the end of this article. Now you know how to grow portobello mushrooms, and as it is shown, the process requires a bit of preparation, but nothing drastic or impossible. Besides, if I could do it, you can too.
As always, if you have any advice, thought or question, feel free to use the comment section below.