Does anyone have any info on starting a small household mushroom farm in a little converted tool shed to grow a variety of mushrooms without using the commercial box start-up kits?
closed as off topic by rumtscho♦ Nov 28 '12 at 15:41
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well you only really need two things to grow mushrooms... spores and a growth medium.
First the growth medium; mushrooms grow from decaying wood or other decaying meterial, not soil. They sell mushroom compost that is mixed wood and manure, check your local garden center.
Second, the spores a quick search on amazon will give you lots to choose from for pretty cheap. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_20?url=search-alias%3Dgarden&field-keywords=mushroom+growing+kit&sprefix=mushroom+growing+kit#/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dgarden&field-keywords=mushroom+spores&rh=n%3A1055398%2Ck%3Amushroom+spores
All you should have to do is build beds in your shed to hold the compost, 'seed' the compost with the spores, and wait for your mushrooms.
Your best bet is to grow Shiitake on logs as described in the article "Consider Shiitake Cultivation". As discussed in the article, you can contact your local extension agent for non-commercial spawn (but it is probably easier to purchase a bag of commercial spawn to inoculate your logs).
Googling "shiitake log cultivation" will turn up a number of other good resources.
Both of the existing answers imply that mushroom compost is a way to produce mushrooms. In my extensive research and experience, this is the first time I have come across this suggestion. Mushroom compost is the waste produced by mushroom farms, after the mushrooms have been produced. A few mushrooms may pop up, but this is not considered a viable or efficient method of cultivating mushrooms.
I bought some mushroom compost for the garden. It's supposedly 'used' compost from a mushroom farm, a couple of days later I had delicious mushrooms sprouting up all over the flower beds - it wasn't quite as 'used' as they though.
Probably the easiest way to start!