This post may contain affiliate links.

Mushrooms are a delicious and nutritious dish that adds flavor to soups and stews or makes veggie burgers more meaty. Growing your own mushrooms at home is easier than you think, thanks to grow bags. Grow bags provide the perfect contained environment for mushroom cultivation right at home.

In this complete guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about successfully growing a variety of mushrooms in grow bags.

Mushrooms Growing In A Farm
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

What Is a Mushroom Grow Bag?

A mushroom grow bag is a bag designed specifically to grow different types of mushrooms at home or commercially. Grow bags create a perfect microclimate and growing conditions for mushroom mycelium to colonize and fruit.

Grow bags are made from materials like plastic, burlap, or other breathable fabrics. These bags have filtration patches that allow for gas exchange while preventing contamination. The top of the bag remains open, allowing you to easily fill and access the mushroom substrate inside.

Most grow bags used by home gardeners are 5 to 50 liters, but bags designed for commercial cultivation can be much larger. The bags have grommets along the top and sides to secure them after filling and to attach ropes for hanging vertically.

Before using a mushroom grow bag, you must fill it with a nutritious substrate like wood chips, sawdust, straw, or a specific mushroom compost. You then introduce mushroom mycelium by using a grain spawn or a mushroom grow kit. This allows the mycelium to colonize through the substrate inside the bag. From there, mushrooms begin forming either inside or along the bag’s surface.

The all-in-one nature makes grow bags a great choice for beginners while providing flexibility for larger scale cultivation.

How do Mushroom Grow Bags Work?

These grow bags provide a perfect microenvironment for mushroom cultivation. They allow you to combine a nutritious growing medium with mushroom spawn in a portable, breathable container. This kicks off the natural life cycle process that mushrooms need to develop from spores into mature fungi.

The mushroom growth process starts when mycelium from spores or spawn breaks down and consumes the nutrients within the bag’s substrate. As the mycelium spreads, it forms a dense, web-like matrix, allowing mushrooms to start budding and fruiting along the surface.

The breathable fabric and filtration patches along the bags provide the ideal level of fresh air exchange. This gives the fast-growing mycelium enough oxygen while retaining the high humidity that the mushrooms require. The open top of the bag provides additional air exchange, allowing you to easily monitor conditions and initiate fruiting.

Mushroom grow bags have structures like grommets and rope handles at the sides and top. This allows you to securely seal then hang the bags vertically, so mushrooms can grow upward against gravity. The vertical orientation promotes proper moisture distribution and prevents pooling at the base as the mushrooms mature.

As the first flush of mushrooms is harvested from the initial colonization, the nutrients remain, allowing further flushes. Simply soak the bag to rehydrate it, and new mushrooms will form within a week or two. This cycle repeats several times until the substrate is fully colonized and depleted.

Different Types of Mushroom Grow Bags

Mushroom in the planting farm, growing in the plastic bottle.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

When selecting a mushroom bag, key considerations include breathability, durability, and how the bag’s specific properties influence the preferred growing environment for your mushroom type.

  1. Basic mushroom grow bags feature exterior fabrics like polypropylene or flexible plastics that resist tearing while allowing gas exchange. 
  2. More advanced grow bags may consist of burlap or coconut fiber surroundings that promote greater airflow. These natural fiber bags provide excellent breathability, while plastic-based bags offer maximum durability for sterilization and reuse.

Another differentiation among mushroom bags is their micron filtration patch. This regulates microscopic air exchange to prevent contamination while satisfying the respiration needs of fast-colonizing mycelium. Denser filters around 0.2 microns are ideal for beginners, while more advanced gardeners usually opt for bags with 1.0-micron patches to avoid growth restriction.

 Mushroom grow bags vary significantly in size and shape. Short squat bags of around 20 liters are common among home growers, while tall cylindrical bags of up to 150 liters are used for large-scale farming. Commercial bags also utilize heavy plastic composites and double stitching to support heavy weights when stacked.

Most mushroom bags use grommets, rope handles, and adjustable closures along the top opening. This allows the bags to be securely sealed and hung vertically for ideal mushroom formation. 

Step-by-Step Guide To Using A Mushroom Grow Bag

Thriving mushroom grow bags depend on mastering key steps, including connecting all the necessary components, providing ample conditions for colonization and fruiting, and maintaining the ongoing care that preferential mushroom species demand.

While individual techniques may vary slightly by mushroom type and cultivation environment, you can follow a comprehensive methodology to ensure successful harvesting from your mushroom grow bags.

Related article: How to Use Grow Bags

1. Gather Necessary Supplies

Brown mushrooms harvest from nature forest / Wild mushrooms.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Preparing your mushroom grow bags starts with assembling the right supplies and materials. You’ll need an assembled grow bag matched to the size of your growing operation and mushroom type.

 Select substrates that provide nutrients, such as wood chips, manure, or straw. Purchase mushroom grain spawn or retrieve a tissue sample for the gourmet or medicinal species you wish to grow.

2. Prepare The Bags

Artificial substrate in bag for growing edible mushroom in farm.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Once supplies are available, it’s time to fill your mushroom grow bags. Start by moistening the substrate ingredients, like straw, according to instructions. Pack the moistened material into the bags and distribute it evenly from top to bottom. Leave at least 5 inches of space along the top to allow room for fully colonizing and fruiting overhead.

Next, carefully crumble the mushroom grain spawn over the substrate, aiming for dispersed coverage so pockets don’t remain uncolonized. Using a ruler, gently mix the grain spawn down through the middle section of the substrate to initiate expansion both upward and downward through the bag. Don’t overmix or pack too firmly. Some aeration and fluffiness help with thorough colonization after sealing.

3. Seal The Mushroom Grow Bags

After inoculating your bags with spawn, securely seal them, allowing only the filtration patch to permit gas exchange. Use rope handles, metal clips, or plastic ties to firmly close the opening while permitting airflow. Attach an identification tag listing the species, date, and batch number.

Moving delicately, position the tight-sealed bags oriented vertically according to your growing set up and recommended fruiting needs. Logging details on lighting, humidity and other factors provides helpful data when mushroom pins emerge. With preparation complete, vigorous mycelial growth will soon commence!

4. Incubate The Mushroom Grow Bags

Mushrooms grown on the farm.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

When your grow bags are filled, spawned, and sealed, incubation begins. This phase allows the mycelium to spread rapidly, bonding intimately with the surrounding substrate—place bags in complete darkness at around 75°F, the ideal temperature for colonization.

Avoid direct exposure to light and refrain from disturbing the bags during this period. The incubation process usually takes 2–4 weeks depending on factors like moisture, aeration and strain aggressiveness. Misting bags and airflow should be minimal at first but can increase as colonization progresses to avoid overly dry or carbon dioxide saturated conditions.

5. Trigger Your Mushrooms To Start Fruiting

Image Credit: Deposit Photos

As the mycelium fully permeates the substrate, colonization tapers off, transitioning the growth cycle toward mushroom fruiting.

Reducing carbon dioxide buildup, coupled with exposure to light and cooler temperatures, helps trigger this shift. Allow air exchange by widening bag openings while moving them to a brightly lit area around 65°F.

Lightly mist the blocks and drain excess moisture. Within a week, tiny mushroom pins should stud the mycelium, rapidly enlarging over several days. Harvesting ideally takes place just before the veil breaks when caps remain round and intact.

6. Harvest The Mushrooms

Hand Harvesting Growth Indian Oyster Mushrooms from the Fruiting Block.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Timely harvesting preserves quality and reinforces future production capacity. As mushrooms reach maturity, use a sharp knife to cut through the stem base while carefully twisting away from the block. Rapidly repeat harvesting as additional clusters mature, aiming for several pickings through the first heavy flush.

During peak cropping, daily harvesting prevents overmaturation and rotting. Schedule picking times for early morning when mushroom cells are plump. After cutting, gently trim away the stub, leaving the mycelium undamaged to support further flushes.

7. Consider To Create A Fruiting Chamber

Constructing an enclosed fruiting chamber provides maximum control over environmental triggers prompting mushroom production from your grow bags.

Converted cabinets, small rooms, or basic plastic containers can all serve as functional fruiting chambers. The chamber allows you to dial in lighting duration, air exchange, humidity, and temperature levels that signal to your mushroom mycelium that it’s time to pin and fruit.

This takes experimentation but helps stabilize seasonal outdoor fluctuations. For continuous harvesting, a controlled fruiting room really optimizes your mushroom yields.

Purity Wamoyi
+ posts

Purity Wamoyi is a horticulturist. She studied BSc Horticulture at the University of Nairobi. She has a passion for agriculture driven by her urge to be a champion and ambassador in fighting for food security.She believes that the world would be a better place if we did the little things that bring peace and uphold humanity. During her free time, Purity loves watching soccer and is a huge ardent Chelsea fan.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *