The Life Cycle of Mushrooms.

Instructions for each type of mushroom are included in the menu (top left). 

Mushroom mycelium (oyster mushroom), the foundation of everything we grow:

Fungi are an entirely different kingdom on the earth and are actually more closely related to us humans than they are to plants. With this in mind, let’s dive into an overview of the life cycle of the fungi we want to grow. This will help you to understand the foundation of the instructions and really help you on your mushroom growing journey.


Understanding the life cycle of Fungi:

  1. Once suitable conditions arrive, such as during the fall rainy season, all of the mushrooms in the area begin to grow (we talk about mimicking this environment in the instructions). Once the mushrooms become a certain size they begin to release spores into the wind. These spores are nearly as light as air, and can quite easily travel around the world.
  2. Eventually, a spore will land in a little nook or cranny in the earth, the bark of a fallen log, woody debris, dead leaves, grass thatch or other suitable area. The spore will "hatch" and begin to grow out tendrils called hyphae hoping to reach another spore’s hyphae.
  3. Once the hyphae of two spores meet, they connect through clamp-connections and “mate”, sharing DNA. Note the little clamp connections [nubs] in the photo at that connect the ends of the long thin cells. 
  4. Once two spores have mated, they quickly begin to shoot out more interconnected hyphae and begin to travel, sometimes inches a day, in order to find food and resources. Once a food source is found the hyphae continue to grow, forming large webs enveloping the food source and blocking out any competitor fungi and bacteria. This web (or network) is called mycelium. This mycelium is the network of living cells inside the outdoor cultures and indoor grow kits. For the indoor kits we grow mushrooms from this network, for outdoor kits, we break this up and allow it to grow further in order to gain access to more nutrients.
  5. Once this food source is enveloped by the mycelium, the mycelium begins feeding, quickly breaking down lignin, cellulose, and other woody material into sugars that it uses for food and creating a well-connected network. Similar to roots, this network has the ability to transfer nutrients and water quite easily within itself and over long distances. This transfer becomes important later when the mycelium decides it wants to fruit. It will transfer all of the resources within the network into growing mushrooms. Furthermore, some species such as Wine Caps form relationships with plants, share resources, and help each other grow.
  6. Once the network is well fed and consolidated (such as inside the grow kit or once your outdoor bed is colonized), it will sit waiting until nature (or in this case, us) provides suitable conditions to grow mushrooms. Generally, this is a high humidity environment for at least 3-5 days. As long as they are out of full sun and not in complete darkness, the mushrooms will then grow. Note that many wild fungi will wait for literal months until the ideal conditions are provided by nature before growing mushrooms (humidity), so pay close attention in how to create this environment or your mushrooms will not grow!
  7. Once all of the environmental conditions are met, again all of the same species of fungi in the immediate area will begin to grow mushrooms. They will then release spores in order to begin the cycle over again.