Updated: May 3
Why grow your own oyster mushrooms at home?
Many Kiwis grew up watching our parents or grandparents picking tomatoes, silverbeet, carrots, and the odd field-mushroom in the paddock. Today, it is still fairly uncommon to see people growing gourmet mushrooms at home -- as it hasn't been a big part of the culture of farming here in NZ. Along with a ranging flavour profile, mushrooms have plenty of health benefits and can be expensive to buy in shops, especially high-quality fresh ones! Cultures throughout Europe, North America, South America and Asia have been enjoying a large variety of mushrooms in different cuisines, as well as for medicinal purposes, for many generations. Oyster mushrooms are also especially high in selenium, which Kiwis are commonly deficient in!
For those that are new to the world of growing mushrooms, we highly recommend starting with grey oyster mushrooms. Oyster mushrooms are a high-yielding, fast-growing crop. They can be grown relatively low-tech, and are tolerant of varying environmental factors such as humidity, temperature, light levels, and carbon dioxide levels -- making them a perfect choice for first-time-growers.
Beginner-friendly oyster mushroom grow kits!
Growing mushrooms at home can be a fun and rewarding addition to the garden, not to mention a perfect opportunity for those of us in an urban setting, as they take up very little space. Oyster mushrooms can even be grown indoors within a matter of weeks from purchasing a kit. Unlike the common button mushroom varieties, the oysters need only reading-level light to grow -- rather than the old expression of 'being kept in the dark and fed only horse sh$t.' Don't worry, the varieties we offer don't smell!
We have a few different products for growing oyster mushrooms. These 5 step oyster mushroom grow kits are perfect for kids (with adult supervision); as well as a good gift for that person that has everything, especially gardeners! Very low maintenance and doubles in size everyday once the mushrooms start 'pinning.' We also offer 'dowel spawn' to drill into your own logs, oyster mushroom sawdust spawn to grow in the garden, and pre-colonised oyster mushroom blocks that are 'ready to fruit' or start producing mushrooms.
The 5 Step Oyster Mushroom Kit
We have designed the '5-step grow-kit', containing everything you need to grow oyster mushrooms and really get an idea of the mushroom growing process. This kit is easy to use, even simpler than baking a cake. The kit comes with substrate, hydrated lime for pasteurisation, 'spawn' (a.k.a. grain that has been inoculated with the oyster mushroom culture), and a bag to put the mixed materials in. This kit will teach you the basic steps of how to grow oyster mushrooms hands on, at home with little equipment.
This is perfect for the hobbyist who is interested in growing mushrooms but doesn't know where to start ... Once you understand this method of growing, you can continue growing oyster mushrooms at home so that you have a consistent supply of fresh mushrooms for the family using your own substrate and only buying in spawn or a refill kit.
This 5-step oyster kit comes with everything to make up a 5-6kg bag of sawdust in three varieties, pink, grey and a native oyster variety. The kits usually produce up to 1-2kg of mushrooms by the end of their life depending on environmental factors.
Each kit will produce about 3-5 'flushes' of mushrooms, each flush getting smaller and producing less yield until it runs out of nutrients. Then you can take the contents of any of the kits and spread it out in the garden, potentially getting a few more rounds of mushrooms!
Growing Oyster Mushrooms on Logs
Growing mushrooms on logs is an easy, low-maintenance way to grow mushrooms long term. Depending on log size, it can be anywhere from 6 months to a year or more before mushrooms start producing. The bigger the log, the longer mushrooms will produce and can continue producing for up to several years until the log runs out of nutrients for the mushrooms. For more information about growing mushrooms on logs, check out our blog post on the theme.
Growing Oysters in the Garden
Oyster mushrooms can start producing mushrooms in the garden in as little as 40 days from setting up a patch! Starting a mushroom patch is simple and only requires fresh sawdust or wood-chip (unfortunately not pine) and a good watering for the first few weeks of establishing. It is helpful for the patch to have shade during the summer months. You can plant garden veggies & flowers directly in to the patch as well if you like: pumpkins work especially well on this count - offering your oysters some shade! For more information about growing oyster mushrooms in the garden, check out our blog post on the topic.
Growing Oyster Mushrooms in Reusable Buckets
Using food grade plastic buckets, you can easily grow any variety of oyster mushrooms in a more sustainable manner. You can use a number of different substrates from pasteurised straw to wood pellets and reuse the bucket hundreds of times for producing your own organic mushroom supply regularly!
More information on how to grow mushrooms on buckets can be found on our blog post here.
Oyster Mushroom Sawdust Blocks
The oyster mushroom 'fruiting block' is essentially a block of sterilised substrate that has already been inoculated, and partially colonised, with grey or pink oyster mushroom culture. All you need to do is find a good spot for your mushroom block and follow the instructions to cut a hole in the bag as soon as you have received it.
Oyster Mushroom Varieties and Growing Seasons
Grey oyster mushrooms and NZ-native oyster mushrooms will grow all year round, however they prefer autumn and spring environments, but will even grow through winter down in the South Island. Mid-winter grey and native oyster mushrooms tend to grow slower. In summer heat, grey oyster mushrooms will grow quickly and have less colour in the caps however still produce similar yields. Once harvested, they will last up to a week or more in the fridge.
Growing pink oyster mushrooms can be a bit more temperamental in growing, but thrives in summer heat. They will not grow in temperatures below 15C, but produce beautiful eye-catching tropical mushrooms that are bright pink! These are similar in taste and have a much shorter shelf-life - only lasting about 5 or so days in the fridge. They are best eaten as fresh as possible, as they are very fragile and will go off quickly.
In summer, or year-round for those in the far north of the North Island, we offer a pink oyster 'fruiting block' and a 'pink
5 step kit.'
Mycoremediation with Oyster Mushrooms in NZ
There are a ton of resources available online of oyster mushroom growing methods on different substrates. Oyster mushrooms have also been used successfully in breaking down pollutants such as E. coli and hydrocarbons, pesticides, heavy metals and motor oil! (Some of these methods will not produce mushrooms that are edible, but do a great job at cleaning up toxic sites safely for very low cost). If you are interested in doing any 'bunker spawn' for mycoremediation projects in New Zealand, please reach out!!