Domestic cultivation of Pleurotus mushrooms!

Among  the thousands of mushroom species which exist in nature, only 30 edible species are cultivated and even  fewer on systematic commercial scale. The most well-known cultivated edible mushrooms are the White mushroom (Agaricus bisporus), Shiitake (Lentinula edodes), Pleurotus (Pleurotus ostreatus), as well as other lesser known species like Ganoderma.

Each type of  mushroom  has completely different requirements both on its substrate preparation and production conditions, with the cultivation of  Pleurotus mushroom being easier compared to these of the other mushrooms. It is good, therefore, that someone who wants to learn how to cultivate mushrooms to start at first with Pleurotus.

The word Pleurotus comes from the ancient Greek words "πλευρικός ούς", which means "lateral ear", and the term describes the way the particular mushroom is grown in its natural environment. In nature, Pleurotus mushrooms grow laterally on tree trunks, without forming a stem and without reminding morphologically the other mushroom  species which grow on the ground. Pleurotus is extremely delicious while their particular aroma and flavor resemble these of wild mushrooms.

The cultivation process of Pleurotus begins with the preparation of their growth substrate, consisting of a straw mixture of various cereals and legumes such as wheat, barley, corn and chanterelle, which should have a content moisture of around 70% and be slightly acidic (pH 6.5-7). This raw material is pasteurized or sterilized in a natural way by heating, so that all micro-organisms and possibly other organisms are killed. Then, the sowing of "Pleurotus ostreatus" mycelium is applied to the substrate in a quantity of  2% of its total weight, and its packaging is made in 40 cm height plastic bags which are placed in a dark place with a constant temperature of up to 30 °C. It will take about one month for the mycelium to pick up all the nutrients from the straw, to ripen and be ready for our mushrooms.

Then, in a closed cool space without strong light of 10 sq.m. and 6-25 °C, we place 25 previously prepared bags of substrate in which we have opened some holes, that will start in 12 days to incubate the first mushrooms of our first production, which is usually 50% of the total production. After 10-14 days, the second production cycle will start and so on. Within 10-12 weeks we will harvest most of our total production and  therefore we can change the crop. So, the small space of 10 sq.m. will produce 125 kg of mushrooms within 3 months time.

If someone wants to become a systematic mushroom producer and  have a steady production on a weekly basis to supplement his income by selling it on the market, he must create at least 10-12 such 10 sq.m. spaces to produce 125 kg of Pleurotus mushrooms each week from a total  area of ​​100-120 sq.m.

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