I get a lot of questions about where people should begin when starting to grow mushrooms, in particular when people want to start a mushroom farm. My advice is to work backwards. A lot of people want to start in the lab, and I agree that is a sexy skillset to have but it’s not the skillset with the most immediate return. It’s important in beginnings to have lots of early successes, this isn’t easy to do when you are first starting with lab work.
When learning to grow mushrooms I like to tell people to start with the actual fruit. Buy a kit, grow it out, and see if you even like growing mushrooms. Chances are that you will, and you’ll want to get another one and do it again. As time goes on you can build a larger grow room and focus on buying blocks in bulk. This will get you on the path to growing profitably in the quickest time possible. Grow blocks out, sell some mushrooms and immediately set to work on a business plan.
Growing mushrooms isn’t as difficult as people psych themselves into believing that it is. You need a way to control humidity, lighting, and fresh air. A way to control temperature is a bonus, but you can get around this in the early stages by growing with the season rather than against it. I started with a plastic shelf and wrapped it in plastic wrap. I used a little pump sprayer for humidity and a very small fan to push in air. It wasn’t pretty, it didn’t grow the most amazing mushrooms but it did work. I worked my way up to a more advanced grow room.
Once you have a working farm and only then should you start looking into lab work.
The simplest process to start learning is by buying grain spawn and making your own fruiting blocks. For this you don’t need many tools, a HEPA filter and a pressure cooker are enough. I began with a small HEPA filter in my kitchen. My work wasn’t lab quality, but I was having more successes than failures and saving a good bit of money by making my own bags and paying myself a wage to do so.
Every step you take it will get easier and easier to grow quality mushrooms. You’ll be able to pay yourself a wage from the get go, and you’ll feel much better during the down times because you aren’t just a slave to the mushrooms.