A tasty and healthy addition to your diet, if learn how to grow mushrooms you will be able to enjoy many different varieties that you might not always be able to find at the grocery store.
Mushrooms are not considered plants, vegetables, or fruits – they are the inhabitants of their own kingdom of fungi. Although they are an unusual crop to grow, you can still include them in your vegetable garden ideas, you just need to take account of their differing growing needs.
Find out how to grow mushrooms both inside, in your garden or in containers.
How to grow mushrooms for beginners
If you wondering how to grow mushrooms, you first need to be aware that there are many different varieties. Each type may need specific growing mediums and temperatures, so some might be easier to grow as part of your vegetable garden container ideas, where you can more easily control the conditions.
'Mushrooms can be classified into three basic ecological groups: mycorrhizal, parasitic, and saprophytic,' explains Paul Stamens, author of, Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms.
In North America alone, there are about 11,000 species of mushrooms that have been identified and named.
What are mushrooms grown from?
Mushroom seeds are actually spores – tiny cells that allow the reproduction of another mushroom without pollination. The spores are so tiny, you usually can’t see a single spore with the human eye. Spores are expelled from the mushroom and can travel through the air, falling on surfaces that allow growth of new mushrooms. They need a substance like sawdust or straw in order to grow.
Mushroom growers offer spawn, a mixture of spores and nutrients, as a starter for mushroom growing. Spawn is then applied to materials, such as straw, cocoa bean hulls, or even logs where the mushrooms will thrive and grow. Threadlike mycelium appears first before mushrooms begin to grow.
You can buy mushroom growing kits that usually include spawn and a growing medium.
How to grow mushrooms inside
Growing mushrooms inside in a controlled environment can often be the easiest and most successful method.
Some mushrooms grow well in a number of mediums, and others need specific types of growing circumstances and soils. For example, they may prefer to be grown on composted manure, hardwood sawdust, cardboard or straw.
'Oyster mushrooms can be grown on straw in containers, mono tubs, or bags/fruiting blocks,' advises the team at North Spore.
'Reishi mushrooms grow best in a special filter patch bag and live the entire lifecycle in the bag if grown indoors.'
How to grow mushrooms in the garden
Mushrooms can be a fun addition to the productive growing areas in your backyard.
The wine cap variety, Stropharia rugoso annulata, is a great option if you want to learn how to grow mushrooms when you're planning when to plant vegetables as 'they can tolerate some sun,' explain the experts at North Spore. They also help improve garden soil by mobilizing nutrients. Wine cap mushrooms can grow well in wood chips or straw.
Alternatively you can grow your mushrooms in a container on your back deck where you can control the growing conditions.
Other mushrooms that work well in outside growing areas include:
- Wood blewitt – Clitocybe nuda
- Shaggy mane – Coprinus comatus
- Pearl oyster – Pleurotus ostreatus
What conditions are needed for a mushroom to grow?
Mushrooms like cool, dark places, with moist growing conditions. Basements and sink or bathroom cabinets are great for growing mushrooms inside. They like temperatures averaging 57 °F (13°C), with no drafts or heat spots.
North Spore experts advise that wine cap mushrooms do well in an outdoor bed.
'These mushrooms are more sun tolerant than other types, but you should find a spot that is fairly dark or has low light.' Add these among your list of vegetables to grow in shade.
Some mushrooms are suited to growing outdoors on logs, but the growing process is longer. Check the growing conditions required for the variety you wish to grow.
When to grow mushrooms
It is best to start mushrooms after the last frost in your area, unless you are growing mushrooms indoors.
If you grow mushrooms indoors and in the garden, you can have fresh crops all year long. In some areas of the United States, you can grow mushrooms outdoors nearly year round, with different species coping well in different temperatures.
How long will it take to grow a mushroom?
How long it takes to grow a mushroom depends on both the species and the environment.
For instance, Shiitake mushrooms need months to colonize before mushrooms appear. For beginners, North Spore suggests growing oyster mushrooms in an indoor container, as you could enjoy a mushroom crop in a month or so.
R.W.Williams is a freelance writer who lives in the Green Mountains of Vermont. Her work has been seen in print and online publications for decades, and she continues to learn and grow every day in the industry. Over the years, she has written about lifestyle, gardening, pets, agriculture, sustainability, retirement, budgeting, celebrities, and more.
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