How to Grow Mushrooms With the Burlap Method

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How to Grow Mushrooms With the Burlap Method
In about 13 weeks, you can enjoy home-grown white button mushrooms. (Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

White button mushrooms (Agaricus species) grow easily and quickly indoors in the winter. A spot in your basement, laundry room or even under the kitchen sink provides the cool, moist conditions mushrooms need to thrive. White button mushrooms grow on a composted blend of equal parts straw and manure. Burlap sheets keep the growing medium moist so mushrooms thrive.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Plastic tub
  • Straw
  • Manure
  • Watering can
  • Burlap sheets
  • Thermometer
  • Plastic tray, 6 inches deep
  • Agaricus spawn
  • Spray bottle
  • Knife (optional)

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    Mixing the Compost

  1. 1

    Fill a plastic tub with the straw and cover it with water. Allow it to soak for one day.

  2. 2

    Moisten manure in an amount equal to the amount of straw you prepared until the manure is almost wet enough to form runoff. Manures high in nitrogen work best for forming mushroom-growing compost. Most growers use horse manure, but chicken, turkey, rabbit, sheep, goat and elephant manure work as well. Avoid cow manure, which contains little nitrogen. Fresh manures contain the most nitrogen. Local farms often sell or give away fresh manure.

  3. 3

    Mix the soaked straw and wet manure together until they mix evenly. Cover the pile with wet burlap to help hold in the moisture.

  4. 4

    Check the temperature at the centre of the pile daily. As the manure and straw decompose, the temperature will rise. Monitoring the temperature lets you gauge how the process is working. Once the temperature reaches 71.1 to 76.6 degrees C, turn the pile, exchanging the material in the middle of the pile for the material on the outside of the pile. Moisten any dry spots as you work.

  5. 5

    Turn the pile weekly for five weeks. When the compost turns a rich, dark brown colour and produces no odour, it's ready to use. Allow it to sit for one week after the final turning before adding the mushroom spawn.

    Growing Mushrooms

  1. 1

    Spread the finished compost in a tray at least 6 inches deep.

  2. 2

    Break off chunks of the Agaricus spawn roughly the size of a walnut. Plant these in the tray, 2 inches deep and 8 to 10 inches apart.

  3. 3

    Cover the trays with one or two layers of moistened burlap, which helps maintain the correct humidity. Move the tray to a dark room and maintain the temperature at about 21.1 degrees Cor three weeks. Check the tray periodically and moisten with a spray bottle in the growing medium feels powdery to the touch.

  4. 4

    Remove the burlap and cover the compost with 1 inch of good-quality garden soil. Re-wet the burlap, if needed, and recover the tray. Move the tray to a cool spot, where temperatures remain at about 15.6 degrees C. Continue checking the tray regularly and spraying with water if needed. The first tiny mushrooms should appear after about three weeks.

  5. 5

    Harvest the mushrooms when the cap splits away from the stem by cutting them at the soil surface with a sharp knife or pinching them off at the surface. Pulling them out of the compost can disturb newly emerging mushrooms and limit your harvest.

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