Mushrooms come in three different varieties such as Button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus), Straw mushroom (Voluariella uoluacea) and Oyster mushroom (Pleurotus sajor-caju). These are the popular ones cultivated in India. Button mushrooms are the most popular among these cultivars. Mushrooms were once considered exotic and are now considered a superfood as they are packed with Vitamin D, contain no fat and are rich in fiber.
Mushrooms are grown in UP, Haryana, Rajasthan, HP, J&K, etc. Mushroom cultivation has recently gained popularity in the commercial market. It is beneficial not only for farmers but a hobby for retired persons and house-wives who can grow mushrooms indoors easily in small boxes or containers. Mushroom cultivation is easier now comparatively if the rules are followed. Mushrooms have more uses in modern culinary cuisine than any other food crop.
Button mushrooms are grown in winter. Paddy straw mushroom can be grown in hot climates. Oyster mushroom requires moderate temperature (not too hot or too cold). Mushrooms are a good source of vitamins, minerals, protein, folic acid, and iron.
In India, the mushroom has gained popularity over the years and it is extensively used in cuisine too. Some common and popular dishes from mushrooms are Kadai mushroom, chili mushroom stir fry, mushroom omelet, mushroom masala gravy, potato mushroom gravy, mushroom pasta, mushroom munchurian, mushroom cutlet, hot garlic mushrooms, mushroom soup, mushroom pepper fry, mushroom fried rice, mushroom biryani, matar mushroom, mushroom korma, kombu barthad, shahi mushroom, kalan milagu, mushroom chettinad, mushroom kofta in tomato gravy, potato and mushroom kebabs, stuffed mushrooms, mushroom uthapam, etc.
Since button mushrooms are the most popular variety, we will consider button mushroom cultivation in this article. Button mushrooms are grown seasonally and round the year. Button mushrooms can be grown in small, medium and large farms. The vegetative mycelium is composed of many inter-woven septate hyphae. The reproductive phase is initiated by the formation of small knob-like swellings at different points of interwoven mycelial strands.
These swellings increase in size and break through the surface of the substratum as small balls constituting the button stage. A matured basidiocarp (fruit body) is whitish in color and consists of thick short stipe with an annulus. The stipe supports the pileus which appears as a hat like an expansion. On the underside of the pileus, a number of radiating gills or lamella are present which are pink when young but purple-brown when mature.
Image source – veganfresh.in
Image source – indiamart.com
Image source – dir.indiamart.com
Process of growing Mushroom
⦁ Time / Season / Climatic conditions –
Button mushroom is grown in the winter season. The most suitable temperature for the spread of the mycelium is 24 – 25°C, while 16-18°C is essential for the formation of fruit bodies. The higher temperature is harmful and low temperature retards the development of both mushroom mycelium and fruit bodies.
The straw mushroom can be grown at around 35°C. The temperature should not go below 30°C or above 40°C for more than 4 – 8 hours during the growing period.
In North India, it can be grown from April – September but the most suitable period is from the middle of June – September.
Dhingri (oyster mushroom) grows best between 22 – 28°c. It is grown in northern plains from October – March.
⦁ Process –
The process of growing mushrooms is different from the other methods of growing crops. Firstly we need to prepare spawns/mushroom seeds. These are available ready in the market. After this, we need to prepare compost. This can be done as per your individual requirement, but one such method is mentioned here. Usually, wheat / paddy straw is used into which various nutrients are added.
In the synthetic compost method, Wheat straw (chopped 8 – 20 cm long) – 250kg, Wheat / rice bran – 20 kg, Ammonium sulphate / calcium ammonium nitrate – 3 kg, Urea – 3 kg, Gypsum – 20 kg are required for 15 – 16 trays of size 100 cm x 50 cm x 15 cm.
The straw is uniformly spread over the composting yard in a thin layer and wetted thoroughly by sprinkling water. All ingredients except gypsum, are mixed thoroughly in the wetted straw, which is finally heaped into a pile. The pile, 1m high, 1m wide and length adjustable, can be made with hand or stack mold. The straw should be firmly compressed into the mould. At each turning, water should be sprinkled to make up the loss of water due to evaporation.
In the natural compost method, pure horse dung – 1000 kg, Chopped wheat straw – 350 kg, Gypsum – 25 kg, Poultry manure – 110 kg are required for 15 – 16 trays of size 100 cm x 50 cm x 15 cm. The mixture is uniformly spread over the composting yard and water is sprinkled over it so that the straw becomes sufficiently wet. The manure is then heaped in a pile as for synthetic compost. After 3 days when the manure in a heap gets heated up due to fermentation and gives off an odor of ammonia, it is opened. The process is repeated 3 – 4 times after an interval of 3 – 4 days.
The compost when ready for filing and spawning has a dark brown color and no trace of ammonia. There is no unpleasant odor, but it smells like fresh hay. The pH is neutral or near neutral. The compost should not be too dry or too wet at the time of filling in the trays. The prepared compost is now filled in trays, which may be of any convenient size but depth should be 15 – 18 cm. The trays should be made of softwood and provided with the pegs at the four corners so that they can be stacked one over the other leaving sufficient space (15 cm) between the two trays for various operations. The trays are completely filled with the compost, lightly compressed and the surface leveled.
Spawning is the process of sowing the beds with the mycelium (spawn) of the mushroom. The grain spawn is scattered on the surface of the tray bed which is covered with a thin layer of compost. Spawning can also be done by mixing the spawn with compost before filling it in trays. 500-gram spawn is sufficient for five trays of standard size. After spawning, the compost surface is covered with old newspaper sheets, which are wetted by sprinkling water to provide humidity but no water is directly added to the compost during spawn running. The trays after spawning are stacked vertically one over the other in 4 – 5 tiers. 1m clear space may be left in between the top tray and ceiling. There should be about 15 – 20 cm space between the two trays.
The room should be maintained at 25 °C. The humidity should be built up by frequently watering the floor and walls. The room may be kept closed as no fresh air is needed during the spawn run. White cottony mycelium spreads and permeates through the compost. Eventually, the compost surface gets covered with the mycelium. It takes 12 – 15 days for complete spawn run.
After the spawns complete, the surface of the compost is covered with 3 m layer of casing soil. A suitable casing soil can be prepared by mixing equal parts of well rotten cow dung. The casing material should possess high water holding capacity, good pore space and pH should not be lower than 7.4. The casing material is sterilized to kill insects, nematodes and molds. Sterilization can be accomplished either by steaming or by treating with formalin solution. For 1 Cubic m of casing soil, 0.5 liters of formalin (40%) diluted with 10 liters of water is sufficient. The casing soil is spread over a plastic sheet and treated with formalin by sprinkling.
The treated soil is piled up in a heap and covered with another plastic sheet for 48 hours. The soil is frequently turned for about a week to remove all traces of formalin which can be tested by smelling. After casing, the temperature of the room is maintained at 25°C for further three days, after which it must be lowered to below 18°C. At this stage lot of fresh air is needed and, therefore, the growing room should be ventilated by opening windows etc.
⦁ Harvesting –
Mushrooms begin to pop up in a month’s time in flushes and harvested when buttons are tightly closed. In a cropping cycle of 8 – 10 weeks a yield of 10 kg/sqm mushrooms can be obtained. Cropped mushrooms are packed for marketing.
Mushrooms once bought can be sorted under refrigeration. They do not have a long shelf life and tend to get spoilt. So it is best to buy and use them soon. Ensure you wash thoroughly under tap water before use.
⦁ Benefits of Mushroom –
⦁ Mushrooms are high in antioxidants that get rid of free radicals that potentially lead to cancer. Hence you can say that mushrooms help fight cancer
⦁ Mushrooms contain vitamin D also prevent the formation of cancer cells
⦁ Mushrooms are known to fight type 1 and type 2 diabetes
⦁ The fiber, potassium, and vitamin C content in mushrooms help regulate blood pressure
⦁ They also help lower cholesterol levels and promote heart health
⦁ Mushrooms improve immunity
⦁ Mushrooms have zero fat and hence can be safely eaten by weight watchers
⦁ Mushrooms contain good amounts of iron and hence are found beneficial to treat people suffering from anemia
⦁ Mushrooms help improve bone health and help in absorption of nutrients
Nutritional value of mushrooms
One cup of chopped or sliced raw white mushrooms contains –
⦁ 15 calories
⦁ 0 grams of fat
⦁ 2.2 grams of protein
⦁ 2.3 grams of carbohydrates, including 0.7 grams of fiber and 1.4 grams of sugar