How To Grow King Oyster Mushrooms.
King Oyster mushrooms are one of my favorite mushrooms to grow at home, the fruiting bodies develop fast producing large thick stems all of which are great fun to watch develop day to day.
The best thing about growing King Oyster mushrooms is these mushrooms can be grown indoors using several different methods such as monotubs, containers and jars.
When grown inside they produce thick stems due to the Co2 levels indoors which is ideal for what we want from this species.
Growing King Oyster Mushrooms is relatively straightforward. However, their requirements for cold shocking, low growing temperatures, and the use of casing layers might make them a bit more challenging than other oyster varieties.
Growing Parameters for King Oyster Mushrooms.
Best Substrates For King Oysters: Hardwood Sawdust (Oak, Aspen, Beech, HWFP), Coco Coir, Supplemented Straw.
Spawn Creation: Temperatures 20-22c, Time Approximately 10-25 days.
Incubation: Temperatures 20-22c, Time Approximately 5-7 days.
Fruit Development: Temperature 5-10c, Time Approximately 5-7 days
Full Grow Time: 6-8 weeks (this really depends on spawn quality and amount used).
Casing Layer Requirements: Smaller surface areas will require a casing layer, larger fruiting surfaces can get away without one.
King Oyster mushrooms are versatile and will grow on hardwood, coco coir and straw based substrates.
If using straw, ensure it's chopped into small pieces. This can be done using a garden strimmer and a bucket.
For a nutrient boost, consider adding coffee grounds or wheat bran to but be warned this will increase contamination rates and may not be worth it for the average hobbyist.
Indoor vs. Outdoor.
Both indoor and outdoor grows are possible. Indoor grows in particular create the large king oyster mushroom stem which they are famous for whilst outdoor grows will produce a large cap typical with the rest of the genus.
- Bags: While farmers frequently use bags for cultivation in growing rooms, hobbyists can also employ this method and even fruit the mushrooms directly inside the bag.
- Monotubs: Though monotubs are an option, I personally feel that a simple container or bucket with a casing layer is more effective.
- Jars: Many might be surprised to learn that even farms utilize jars for growing King Oysters, attesting to the viability of this method.
- Containers and Buckets: For hobbyists, I highly recommend using containers and buckets as the preferred cultivation method.
How To Grow King Oyster Mushrooms At Home.
This post is going to assume you already have King Oyster Grain or Sawdust spawn, this can be purchased online or you can make it yourself by following my post “how to make grain spawn“.
Step 1 – Gather Supplies.
King Oyster mushroom grain spawn.
As discussed previously, here is a post on how to make grain. This can also be purchased as sawdust spawn from a reputable spawn provider which i would recommend if you are after quicker results.
I will be using my Instant Pot to pasteurize my bulk substrate using the hot water bath method, this is an optional item that makes the process easier, however, if you have a stove, large pan and a thermometer you can just use those instead.
Checkout how to pasteurize bulk substrate for a full breakdown of other techniques you can use.
This will be used for fruiting the King Oyster Mushrooms, try to get the biggest one possible so the mushrooms have plenty of nutrients to grow BIG. I am going to demonstrate two grows in this post, this will help to manage expectations on how much substrate is required for a good sized harvest. The container I will be using are one large (11L unmodified container), one small (5L unmodified container).
Step 2 – Pasteurize The Bulk Substrate.
Weigh out enough bulk substrate to fill your plastic container leaving about a 1-inch gap at the top.
Next, place the bulk substrate in a net bag.
Place the net bag into the Instant pot.
Fill the pot up with water until the substrate is completely submerged in water.
Using the sous vide setting, set a temperature to 168F (76c), set the timer for 2 hours, finally press start (if you are using a stove and thermometer then just heat the water to 160-168F degrees and maintain, then add you net bag).
Come back regularly to check the internal temperature of the substrate using a thermometer if your using a stove.
When done, carefully remove the substrate net bag from the pot and allow it to cool and drain.
Step 3 – Spawn King Oyster Spawn To Bulk Substrate.
Put some rubber gloves and a face mask on. Wipe down your gloves with rubbing alcohol.
Next, wipe down the inside of your large container with alcohol and set that aside to dry.
Take the king oyster grain spawn jar, wrap it in an oven glove and bash it on a bike tyre or football or similar.
If you are using sawdust spawn crush it into pieces in the bag.
Next mix about 3 x 800ml jars grain spawn jars into the pasteurized substrate inside the 5L container you are going to be using.
Double the amount of spawn if you are using a larger 11L container.
Pat down the substrate lightly until it has an even surface on the top.
Finally, wipe any excess substrate off the edges of the container and put the lid on.
Step 4 – Incubate (Leave it alone).
Place the container somewhere it won’t be disturbed like a cupboard with temperatures at 70-75F (21c – 23c).
Check the container every couple of days for any signs of contamination, if you see anything then get rid of it immediately.
Wait until the bulk substrate is 100% colonized (this is when white mycelium completely engulfs the bulk substrate) like this.
Step 5 – Fruiting King Oyster Mushrooms.
When you start to see small white knots appear on the surface this means your container is ready to fruit.
In the picture below I am actually a bit late, pinning has started around the edge of the box, no worries.
Depending on the size of the container it might be worth adding a casing layer (read about how to make a casing layer) to the top of the substrate to aid in the fruiting process.
If I am using a large container which holds around 11L of substrate, I won't bother with casing.
However if I am using a smaller 5L container I normally add a casing layer to avoid the substrate drying out and maintain hydration levels on the surface.
To trigger King Oyster mushroom fruiting, place the growing vessel in temperatures of 2-5c for a day or two (I put my small container in the fridge), this should cause a “cold shock” which should trigger the initial fruiting process.
For larger containers I pop them in my garage or a room without the heating on for a couple of days. Normally a couple of cold nights will initiate pinning.
Wait at least 7 days and you should start to see mushrooms forming.
Leave the lid on until you start seeing mushrooms forming from the substrate, I then pop the lid off and place it on top with a small gap until the mushrooms start getting larger.
Once the King Oyster mushrooms have started to grow larger begin to mist them with water once a day.
You just want little droplets left on the substrate, if the mushrooms already have droplets on them DO NOT MIST (see picture below).
Do not over mist King Oyster Mushrooms or you risk blotch infecting them.
Once the mushrooms have began to enlarge they will quickly soak up lots of water including all those droplets.
Eventually I completely remove the lid.
Here I am going to compare the grow and harvest of the 5L container in comparison to the 11L container.
The small grow was fun but really didnt produce much of a worthy harvest, however the 11L container did really well and I had an easier time getting it to fruit.
5L Container Harvest.
11L Container Harvest.
I took two flushes from this box, initially I went on holiday for 3 days and took what I could (too early really) then when I returned the small ones I left over blew up.
Commercial farmers will often crop away smaller fruits to allow for a few large fruits so this is probably why my second flush was larger.
How Do I Harvest King Oysters?
You can either cut the stem at the very bottom with a sterilised knife or twist and pull the mushrooms of the substrate. Then store them inside a paper bag in the fridge (or something else which won't create condensation).