While there are numerous mushrooms that you can plant at home, Lion’s Mane mushroom is known for winning the hearts of most people. The reason for this is that Lion’s Mane mushrooms are not only fun and easy to grow, but also produce large delectable bodies that can be a great addition to every type of meal. What’s more, Lion’s Mane mushrooms boast a large number of health benefits.
Unfortunately, chances of finding Lion’s Mane mushrooms at your favorite local grocery store are very minimal. For this reason, if you need a constant supply of fresh Lion’s Mane mushrooms, learning how to grow your own at home is necessary.
Luckily for Lion’s Mane lovers, getting started with mushroom cultivation is not complicated. In this detailed guide, we will show you how to grow Lion’s Mane mushrooms.
What Exactly is a Lion’s Mane Mushroom?
Carrying the scientific name Hericium Erinaceus, Lion’s Mane is a large mushroom that features needles (also known as gills) that cascade downwards. These gills give the mushroom a shaggy appearance resembling the mane on a lion’s neck.
Lion’s Mane mushrooms are native to Europe, North America, and Asia. They naturally grow on hardwood logs and trees.
These unique mushrooms feature a spongy, soft texture with an internal structure resembling that on a cauliflower. The mushroom’s mildly sweet flavor closely resembles that of a lobster or crab.
After cooking, the mushroom’s gills/needles have a texture similar to that of meat. This is one of the reasons why Lion’s Mane mushroom is often used as a meat substitute in vegan and vegetarian dishes.
Cultivating Lion’s Mane Mushroom at Home: A Step-by-Step Guide
Cultivating Lion’s Mane mushroom is not only convenient but also rewarding. You will need minimal space to grow your Lion’s Mane mushrooms and you won’t have to deal with messy soil.
When cultivating Lion’s Mane mushrooms at home, you have two options:
- You can use a hardwood tree substrate to grow the mushrooms indoors.
- You can grow the mushrooms outside on hardwood logs.
Below, we will look at both options.
Cultivating Lion’s Mane Indoors
If you are just getting started with mushroom growing, buying a mushroom growing kit may be a good idea. The kit comes with an incubated and inoculated substrate – this gives you the ability to start cultivating your mushrooms immediately.
Alternatively, you can get spawn from a well-known spawn supplier. If you decide to go the spawn route, you will have to inoculate the spawn at home. Below, we will look at the process of cultivating Lion’s Mane mushrooms using spawn.
Step #1: Gather Your Supplies
- Hardwood pellets
- Lion’s mane spawn
- Wheat or oat bran
- Growing buckets, containers, or bags
- Pressure cooker
- Bowl or bucket
- Measuring cup
Step #2: Prepare Your Substrate
A substrate creates a nutrient-dense and hydrated medium for your spawn. A combination of bran and hardwood pellets supports the growth of Lion’s Mane mushrooms.
To make a 5-pound substrate block, you will need:
- 5 cups of your hardwood pellets
- 6 cups of water
- 25 cups of bran
Combine the water and pellets and allow them to soak for thirty minutes. Your pellets turn into sawdust. Next, add your bran to your sawdust and then mix until everything is evenly distributed.
Ensure the substrate has an ideal moisture content. You can use a squeeze test where you squeeze the substrate slightly. When you squeeze the substrate, you should see a couple of water drops coming out.
If a lot of water drips out, the substrate is too wet. If water fails to come out, this is a sign that it is too dry.
Place your mixture in a growing bag and then expel air. Follow instructions when folding the grow bag.
Next, sterilize your substrate in your pressure cooker for 2.5 hours. Maintain the pressure at 15 psi. Allow cooling for a minimum of 8 hours before moving to the next step.
Step #3: Inoculate the Substrate
Inoculation involves adding Lion’s Mane spawn to the substrate. Before initiating this process, be sure to wipe down the surfaces and wash both hands with soap – this will help you eliminate contamination.
Next, add the spawn at a rate of 5% per bag. Mix and then close the bag.
Step #4: Incubate Your Substrate After Inoculation
Place your bag in a non-lit and warm area (about 68 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit). Leave the bag to incubate.
Your spawn should start growing, spreading all over the bag, and colonizing your substrate. This process takes 2 to 3 weeks.
Step #5: Establish Fruiting Conditions
After colonization, prepare fruiting conditions and put your substrate in these conditions. This will involve adding holes in the bag to give your Lion’s Mane mushroom access to fresh air.
Also, you will need to place the colonized substrate in a shady and humid area. Misting your substrates with some water a couple of times every day will help you maintain moistness and protect the substrate’s health.
After 2 to 3 days, you should start noticing pinheads (primordia) on the substrate. These pinheads should mature into harvestable mushrooms in approximately 2 weeks (14 days).
How to Grow Lion’s Mane on Logs
Step #1: Gather the Supplies
Find Good Logs
The initial step in finding supplies is to locate fresh and healthy logs. Lion’s Mane mushrooms do well on hardwood logs – these include birch, maple, oak, elm, and beech.
Find healthy logs that do not have any infection signs. Since Lion’s Mane mushrooms can become very large, use logs with a diameter of three to ten inches – this will give the mushrooms enough space to grow.
The best time to get logs is when the trees are dormant – this is usually winter or fall. When trees are dormant, they have concentrated sugars.
After harvesting your logs, do not allow 30+ days to pass before inoculation. If you ignore your logs for an extended period, other fungi may establish themselves on your logs.
Purchase Your Spawn Plugs
These are available online. However, before you order your plugs, you have to calculate the number of plugs you will need for the project. A 4-foot log carries thirty to fifty plugs.
Better yet, use the formula below to get a good idea of the number of spawn plugs you will need:
Number of holes = (The length of your log in centimeters x diameter of your log in centimeters) ÷ 60
Gather Inoculation Equipment and Materials
- Hardwood logs
- Sealing wax
- Lion’s mane spawn
- A hammer
- A drill
- A small baster or paintbrush
Step #2: Inoculate the Logs
Drill a row of one-inch (three centimeters) deep holes at intervals of six inches (15 centimeters) apart down the log. Stagger these holes, starting the second row approximately 2.5 inches (six centimeters) away from the initial row.
After you are done with hole drilling, insert the spawn plug dowels. Tap your spawn plug dowels with your hammer gently to ensure they are fully inserted. Ensure the dowels are below the bark and flush perfectly with the log’s actual wood.
Next, use wax for hole sealing to protect the spawn. Most people prefer using cheese wax. However, beeswax or candle wax will do the job. You can melt the wax in a pot or a double boiler. After melting the wax, use a small brush or wax dauber to apply it to the holes.
Step #3: Incubate Logs After Inoculation
During incubation, store the logs under a shade. Water the logs one to two times every 7 days for a minimum of 10 minutes. This will maintain an appropriate moisture level. If the logs dry out, your spawn may die.
It takes approximately 1 to 2 years after inoculation for the logs to produce the first harvest.
Step #4: Fruiting Initiation
Look out for indicators of mushroom growth on your logs twelve to eighteen months after the initial inoculation. If you can’t see growth indicators after a year, shock the logs to initiate fruiting. Shocking involves submerging the logs in some cold water and allowing them to soak for twelve hours.
The fall and the spring are the most ideal times to shock logs as temperatures are perfect for mushrooms’ growth. Summers can be extra hot while shocking the logs in winter is not recommended as the cold temperatures can cause freezing.
During the mushroom’s fruiting phase, be sure to mist the logs every day. In addition to keeping the logs moist, be sure to remove slugs.
Step #5: Harvest Your Mushrooms
Once Lion’s Mane starts fruiting, you won’t wait too long before harvesting. In just under 14 days, you should be enjoying the fresh mushrooms.
While grocery stores do make it easy for us to find all types of vegetables and fruits, they often fall short when it comes to Lion’s Mane mushrooms. Luckily for people who enjoy mushrooms, growing Lion’s Mane at home is easy and can be done by anyone.
In this detailed guide, we have discussed two ways through which you can grow your Lion’s Mane mushrooms. If your goal is to harvest and consume the mushrooms as soon as possible, growing them indoors should be an excellent idea. However, if you are ready to wait for a longer period, growing the mushrooms on logs should work for you.