Mushroom cultivation at its core is the process of mimicking the mushrooms natural growing conditions. The closer these conditions are copied, the better the crop. Whether you attempt to cultivate them indoors or outdoors, all mushrooms require 4 key requirements to grow.
1.Food Source (Substrate)
Each variety of mushroom has its own unique nutritional requirements. Most commercial varieties prefer woody lignocellulosic plant debris such as dried paddy stray, wheat straw, sawdust, sugarcane bagasse etc. Others prefer composted or manure based substrates.
A fresh mushroom is around 92% water. It is of great importance to provide them with enough water which is mainly provided through a very humid (90-95%) environment. If a mushroom receives too little water, it can result in stunted growth, delay in mushroom pinning, drying out of the substrate and even complete crop failure. Over watering on the other hand can cause the substrate to become water logged, cause browning of the mushroom and reduce shelf life. The accumulated water can also become a breeding ground for competitor molds and other contaminants.
Most mushrooms require diffused or florescent light of specific intensity and wavelength for their ideal development. There are only a few that are exceptions like the Agaricus species (Button mushrooms, portabellas) that can grow and mature in complete darkness. For mushroom cultivation, blue-green spectrum of light has been shown to give the best results.
Mushrooms require different ratios of Carbon dioxide and Oxygen depending on which phase of their life-cycle they are currently in. During the phase when theis colonizing the substrate, a higher level of carbon dioxide and minimal oxygen is sufficient for fast growth. During their fruiting stage, a higher level of oxygen is needed for proper mushroom fruiting body development. In the instances where these requirements are not met, many problems can arise. Some examples are formation of dead zones with mycelium absent in areas of the substrate, deformed fruiting bodies, stunted growth, poor crop and even possibly crop failure.
In order to have the best possible mushroom crop, it is important that the above parameters be kept optimal for whatever mushroom species you decide to grow.