Whether you want to grow your own mushrooms to save money on buying mushrooms from supermarkets and grocery stores, or you fancy making money from your own home based mushroom growing business, you’ll find advice and tips in this article to help you grow mushrooms that will be the envy of your friends and family, also the many customers for your mushroom growing business. Mushrooms are the fruiting body of some forms of fungi, and there are many very different species of mushroom in a range of shapes, colours and sizes. Mushrooms are prized for their nutritional value, as well as being good to eat and containing many health benefits. For those reasons and the fact that few people dislike them, you’ll find that harvesting mushrooms represents a very profitable hobby and business venture that virtually anyone can start, even without experience or high capital investment, and with just a small amount of space to work from.
How much you earn depends on the type of mushrooms you grow, and the scale of your operation, as well as your talent for marketing your produce. As a small scale operator, maybe with just a small garden shed to work from, growing mushrooms probably won’t make you a full-time living, but you should earn enough to pay the mortgage or fund Christmas, and perhaps take a long holiday each year. Add a few more sheds or acquire space from a local farmer or landowner to expand your venture, and you can grow as big as you wish and enjoy a very good living. Mushrooms are not only easy to grow, they are also a year round delicacy and markets are plentiful. Private households, hotels, shops, restaurants,market stallholders, and others, are all potential clients. So you see, just a few clients can form the bulk of your market, and represent regular repeat buyers for as much stock as you can harvest.
Main Stages of Mushroom Production
These are the essential steps in growing mushrooms for profit:
1) Learn about mushrooms and the different species, also how those species are used in food and health preparations. Study the difference between cultivation methods for different species, and search on and off the Internet for potential clients for the various species.
2) Choose a specialty. Decide what species to grow, and preferably choose according to whatever capital you already have and equipment you can obtain at a premium while you establish your business.
3) Identify and comply with local and more distant legal obligations. Various rules and regulations surround the growth and marketing of most forms of plant life.
4) Decide where to grow your mushrooms and establish a suitable working environment. Your chosen location should be clean and dry, and have the correct temperature for storing your basic ingredients under cover and free from rain and sunlight.
5) Choose a suitable growing medium or ‘substrate’ for your chosen mushroom species. Straw and dirt are commonly used. You’ll also need mushroom spawn to lay on the medium. Your spawn can be self-grown once the cultures start to develop. You’ll also need cultivation beds on which to grow your mushrooms. Beds can comprise logs with cut out cavities for mushrooms, sometimes sawdust and simple wooden boxes will suffice.
6) Find a supplier for beds, medium and spores (spawn)
7) Prepare and sterilise the medium.
8) Lay spawn – spores – on the beds. Spores are mature mushrooms grown on a sterile medium.
9) Establish and maintain the correct temperature, moisture, humidity and other essential conditions for optimum mushroom cultivation.
10) Pick, pack and market your mushrooms.
11) Clear the beds and start all over again.
Basics on Which to Expand Your Knowledge
– The mushroom season, from preparing beds to harvesting the stock, lasts from between six and eight weeks, and rotating seasons means you will always have mature stock to market.
– Mushroom spore, grown on an appropriate medium in trays or boxes, must be maintained at a temperature of between 10 and 13 degrees C. The trays should be placed in a dim but well ventilated spot – an empty cellar or spare room is ideal.
– Mushrooms should be sold, and preferably used, almost straight after
picking. If you have to store them, keep them in a cool dark place. Try taking a stall at local markets. You won’t make a fortune from passers by, but you might find several business owners, hoteliers and restaurant owners
becoming regular clients. Afterwards you can deliver to them direct.
– How you promote and make money from your mushrooms is the most important part of your business plan, and the one on which your success or otherwise in making money depends. But profit margins can be low which means, from a really small set up, you could be working hard and investing significant time and effort for precious little reward. See the next tip.
– Economies of scale are what convert a moderately successful mushroom growing venture into a hugely profitable one. Your success can be guaranteed before you begin the business, by pre-planning the scale of your operation and the type of mushrooms you’ll grow, as well as studying the market and potential for your stock, and aiming to contact likely buyers before you grow your first mushroom.
– Be market driven and make all plans and contemplate any investment and changes to your business based on money-making potential, past and current, also future. Even before you begin, talk to potential buyers and people currently buying other people’s mushrooms, ask about volume of stock they might purchase from you and at what price.
– When you’re up and running and manufacturing just a few species of mushroom, begin planning other species for your business and consider reselling other growers’ mushrooms also to provide variety for your own clients and add additional income streams to your business.
– Invest and grow slowly and carefully, and learn all you can from other producers and mushroom growing experts before embarking on a full scale enterprise.
– Study and make a list of marketing outlets, such as farmers’ markets, direct to the public, from your own Internet site, direct to restaurants and hotels, through small retail outlets and larger commercial wholesalers and supermarkets, and so on.
Learn as much as possible about potential markets before and after starting your business. A very good way to research markets, and keep your eye on what the competition is doing, is by searching on Google for both organic listings as well as firms advertising through Google AdWords.
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