How to Grow Your Own Mushrooms

Cultures throughout the world have long prized edible mushrooms. Ancient Egyptians declared mushrooms to be the food of royalty and banned commoners from eating them. Other cultures have used mushrooms to encourage super-human strength, help find lost objects and lead the soul to the god realms.

Technically speaking, mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of fungi. They are often considered a vegetable, but genetically fungi are more closely related to animals than plants. This could explain the often meat-like flavor of many mushroom species.

You can easily grow your own delicious crop of mushrooms with some basic steps.

Which Types of Mushrooms Can You Grow?

Most of the fresh, edible mushrooms that you would find in a supermarket can also be grown at home. Whereas, more exotic varieties, or mushrooms that have been collected from the wild, are typically not easy to cultivate.

These are some excellent species for growing yourself:

  • White Button – Perhaps the most common mushroom available commercially. Very versatile and can be used raw or cooked.
  • Portabella – A large mushroom that’s great for burgers or grilling.
  • Oyster – These fan-shaped mushrooms are said to have an oyster- or seafood-like flavor that compliments salads, stir-fries or pasta dishes.
  • Shiitake – Known for their rich, meaty flavor. They are delicious sautéed, grilled or baked.
  • Chanterelle – Classic in French cuisine, this golden mushroom has a delicate, nutty flavor that goes well in salads, sauces and risottos.
  • Enoki – Thin, delicate mushrooms whose mild flavor makes them ideal to eat raw. Try them in a Buddha bowl, salad or sandwich.

Related: 8 Reasons to Eat More Mushrooms

Assorted mushrooms

Where to Start

Mushrooms grow from spores, which are the fungal equivalent to seeds. If you look on the underside of a fresh mushroom cap, it usually contains many gills covered in brown powder. That powder is the spores.

You have a few different options for getting mushroom spores. The easiest way is to buy a pre-made mushroom kit from a store or online. These typically contain a soil mix that already has spores added to it. All you have to do is water and take care of the kit to grow your mushroom crop.

Another choice is to buy prepared spores. Spores are often grown in some kind of medium, like sawdust or peat moss. This inoculated medium is called spawn, which you can order from online suppliers.

You can also start with pure spores, although this is the most difficult method. Spores can be collected from purchased or wild mushrooms. Look for mushrooms that are fairly young because these will still contain their spores.

If your mushroom has a cap, like a button mushroom, make sure the gills are exposed underneath. If needed, trim the stem off so you can put the gills against a clean, stiff piece of paper. Cover the mushroom with a glass and leave it for about 24 hours. This should create what’s known as a spore print, where the spores have fallen off the gills and stuck to your paper. Store your print in a sealed bag in a cool, dry, dark place.

The last step is to mix your spores into sterile water. This allows them to rehydrate and start growing. It also makes them much easier to mix into their final growing medium. The Mushroom Patch has a great overview of how to make a spore solution.

Front view of Oyster mushroom growing up in plant nusery,natural food concept, agricultural industry concept.
Oyster Mushrooms

Sowing Your Mushrooms

Different varieties of mushrooms need different growing substrates. For example, oyster mushrooms grow well in straw, whereas button mushrooms prefer well-rotted manure or compost.

Find out what the ideal substrate is for your mushrooms. If you’ve bought a kit or spawn, their instructions will typically describe what your mushrooms need. The Mushroom Cultivator, by Paul Stamets also has excellent information on growing different mushroom varieties at home.

Your substrate will need to be sterilized to prevent any unwanted fungi or bacteria growth. Submerging your growing medium in boiling water is a good method. It can also be baked or heated in a pressure cooker.

Allow your substrate to cool and carefully mix it with your spawn or home-made spore solution. Then put it in a sterile container, such as a plastic bag or a clean jar or bucket.

Keep your mixture warm and moist as the spores start to germinate and grow. You’ll see fine, white threads spreading through your substrate. These are mycelia, the branches of fungi.

Chanterelle
Chanterelles

Harvesting Your Mushrooms

Many mushroom species require a lower temperature and darkness to fruit. Although, each mushroom is a bit different, so check the conditions required for your particular mushrooms.

Once you’ve provided the right conditions for fruiting, mushroom buds should start to form within a few weeks. Let your mushrooms grow long enough to mature, but no longer. Try to harvest them with the spores still intact. If you see their spores are releasing, they’re becoming over-mature and should be harvested immediately.

To harvest your mushrooms, cut each fruit at the base. If you pull mushrooms out, it can harm the mycelia and reduce the number of fruit they’ll produce.

Your mushroom culture can continue to fruit for a few weeks or up to a few months, depending on the variety.

Related:
7 Reasons Mushrooms Could Save the World
How to Grow Your Own Ginger
9 Surprising Things Fungus Can Decompose

91 comments

Lisa M
Lisa M22 days ago

Thanks.

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Lisa M
Lisa M22 days ago

Thanks.

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Marie W
Marie W28 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Delun K
Delun K1 months ago

This is a good piece of information about how to grow the mushrooms and what is the best possible way to grow them. Although some of the mushrooms you can grow by yourself some of them need a suitable environment which a normal person cannot provide. I came to know about a company called Agrinoon (Fujian) Ecological Agriculture Co. Ltd through one of my friend living in Japan. They provide every type of mushrooms and that's in all season.

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Melania Padilla
Melania P2 months ago

I love to see mushrooms in forests or gardens. They are so beautiful, among my favorite creatures

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Jerome S
Jerome S2 months ago

thanks

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Jerome S
Jerome S2 months ago

thanks

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Jerome S
Jerome S4 months ago

thanks

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