Growing Lion's Mane: Caring for Mushrooms
Lion’s mane mushrooms are shaggy-looking fungi known for their unique seafood-like flavor and numerous holistic benefits. Lion’s mane mushrooms have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years and continue to be favored by the holistic community even today. However, this special fungus is not likely to be found in any grocery store.
The good news is that lion’s mane mushrooms are easy and fun to grow yourself. Following a few simple steps will easily result in a fresh supply of delectable mushrooms with some incredible health benefits.
Lion’s Mane Potential Health Benefits
These mushrooms have been said to offer a wide array of benefits, some of which include :
- Relief from mild symptoms of depression and anxiety
- Aid in recovery from nervous system injuries
- Protection against ulcers in the digestive tract
- Reduction of heart disease risk
- Helps to manage diabetes symptoms
How to Grow Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
Although growing lion’s mane mushrooms is very similar to growing any other kind of gourmet mushroom, there are some differences to be aware of. The main difference is its appearance-- it will not look like any other mushroom that you may have grown before.
The best way for beginners to approach this new hobby is to start by investing in a grow kit. It is definitely the easiest way to grow these mushrooms.
Another option is to start from commercially made spawn, which requires more experience and tools. Although more work and effort are required, this option will yield better results than a kit.
It is said that the best quality mushrooms are grown from a pure culture on agar, which requires forming your very own spawn. This option requires the most experience and effort, which is not advisable for beginners to attempt .
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Option #1: Grow Kit
As a beginner, it is recommended to opt for a kit since most of the hard work has already been completed for you.
The mushroom growing kits typically come as a block in a small packet. Inside the packet, there is soil and mycelium . Kits can be purchased from various online retailers and can sometimes be found at farmer’s markets.
Once you have purchased your kit, you will need to slice some “X” marks into the side of the plastic bag and keep the block in a humid environment. Once the soil and mycelium are exposed to oxygen and moisture, the lion’s mane mushrooms will start to grow. Store the block on its side so that the fungi can easily sprout from the top. Place some plastic wrap around the block. Be sure to perforate the plastic and allow enough space between the block and plastic wrap so that the fungi have room to grow. The mushrooms will start to form through the holes in the bag.
Mist the interior of the bag with a spray bottle multiple times a day. Be sure that the environment has proper air circulation-- you may want to invest in a fan or two or install a small shotgun fruiting chamber.
A kit will likely yield two to three flushes. Depending on where you live, the growth within the kit might not require any special accommodations to the environment. This particular type of mushroom has been known to flourish even in sub-par conditions. This means that you need not worry too much about the block’s environment unless you are looking to yield spectacular results beyond the typical two to three flushes .
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Option #2: Commercially Made Spawn
If you already have some experience with mushroom cultivation, it is feasible to obtain some lion’s mane spawn and add it to a substrate.
The best substrate for growing this specific type of mushroom is hardwood sawdust amended with bran. Another option that works well is straw, although it can be messy. Both options should yield a large number of flushes.
If you are unfamiliar with how to formulate substrate, consider using the general recipe for a fruiting block: 50% hardwood sawdust and 50% soy hulls that have been hydrated to 60% .
The next step is to add the lion’s mane spawn to the sterilized substrate. It is important to do this step in a clean environment. Try to distribute the spawn as evenly as possible by shaking the block. Next, tie off the top of the bag and store it on a shelf.
The next step is to allow your spawn to colonize, which generally takes approximately two weeks.
Check your mushrooms occasionally for contamination. If the mushrooms become contaminated, the batch will need to be discarded, and the process will start again.
Your bags will be ready to fruit once the mushrooms are fully colonized. This is when the same steps from the grow kit can be implemented.
Lion’s mane mushrooms fruit quickly in about two to five days. Thus, it’s likely that you will observe small fruits forming even before you expose them to fruiting conditions. If this happens, you will need to move the block to the fruiting area and cut “X” marks into the bag where the fruits have started forming. These pins will continue to develop and eventually form large mushrooms outside of the bag .
Growing Lion’s Mane: An Amazing Mushroom
There are several reasons to grow your own lion’s mane mushrooms. Some people are looking to keep a fresh supply of lion’s mane mushrooms for their delectable taste that is said to resemble lobster; others simply want to keep them around for their health benefits.
This mushroom is worth the work whether you opt for a lion’s mane mushroom growing kit or commercially made spawn.
However, growing lion’s mane at home isn’t the only way to grow your love for this fantastic fungus. If you would prefer to enjoy lion’s mane and its potential benefits without investing the time and effort into growing it yourself, you can buy some delicious and nutritious lion’s mane mushroom tea.
Besides convenience, there is another advantage to consuming these mushrooms in tea form. Steeping mushrooms in hot water help to break down their water-soluble cell walls that contain their key nutrients, maximizing their bioavailability.
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