Gardening Mushrooms

Mushroom 101: Basic Tips for First-Time Mushroom Growers

Photo by carboxaldehydePexels

The following article is offered by North Spore, whose mission is to make the world of mushrooms accessible to all, fostering innovation and collaboration to improve tomorrow.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, lots of people are seeing the value of starting a garden and growing their own food at home. In most cases, people start growing fruits and vegetables that are easy to grow and don’t take up a lot of space, such as cherry tomatoes, hot peppers, green onions, and herbs. Rarely do people think about growing their own mushrooms at home

Contrary to what you may think, edible mushrooms aren’t super difficult to grow if you’re cultivating them for your own consumption. Anyone, even people who know next to nothing about mushroom cultivation, can try cultivating them indoors or outdoors. Besides, there are many benefits to growing your own mushrooms:

  • Mushrooms are rich in B vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber.
  • Store-bought mushrooms can be expensive. You can save money by growing your own.
  • You can have a renewable supply of homegrown mushrooms. Enjoy eating them whenever you want to.
  • It’s fun and educational. You gain a new hobby and acquire new knowledge skills by growing your own mushrooms.
  • It’s very rewarding. Not only do you get a delicious and nutritious treat for your hard work, but you also get a sense of fulfillment and pride for successfully growing your own food. 
  • Gardening and growing your own food help you gain a greater appreciation for nature and the hard work of people like farmers, who feed the world’s population.

With all these benefits, there’s no harm in trying your hand at growing your own mushrooms at home. Before you do that, though, read the tips below to get started on the right foot.

Basic Mushroom Cultivation Tips for First-Time Growers

Yes, anyone can grow mushrooms, but that doesn’t mean you should dive into it without ample research and preparation. It’s essential to arm yourself with the right information and tools to succeed in your first foray into mushroom cultivation. With that said, here are a few mushroom cultivation tips for aspiring mushroom growers.

Educate Yourself

First off, read and research about mushroom cultivation. It’s important that you know about the different types of mushrooms you can grow, how they grow, and the conditions they need to grow. You should also be able to understand mushroom cultivation terminologies.

Here some important terms to keep in mind:

White mushroom mycelium
Mycelium is a network of hyphae. Photo: Tobi Kellner, Wikimedia Commons
  • Mycology is the study of fungi.
  • Hyphae are fungus’s filaments that make up the mycelium.
  • Mycelium is a network of hyphae. The mycelium looks like cotton-like white fibers that grow and spread on and under the soil and other substrates. This network of hyphae is often compared to the root system of green plants as it serves as the feeding structure of a fungus. 
  • Spores are pollen-like genetic material of the fungus. They are the equivalent of seeds in seed plants.
  • Mushroom cultivation is the science and art of growing and producing mushrooms.
  • Mushroom spawn is a substance that has been inoculated with mycelium. Spawn is similar to the seed of a plant. It is introduced into a culture medium (e.g., grain, sawdust, or birch plug) where it grows mycelium and is used by growers to cultivate edible fungus. 
  • The substrate is a substance where the mycelium can grow. For mushroom cultivation, the most commonly used substrates are straw, hardwood sawdust, coffee grounds, soy hulls, compost pile, and wood chips. 

There is more to know about mushrooms and mushroom cultivation. Most experienced growers recommend reading a good guidebook to learn everything you need to know about mushroom cultivation. Alternatively, you can find plenty of mushroom-cultivation guides on the web.

Purchase a Ready-Made Kit

Golden oysters growing from a mushroom kit
Golden oysters growing from a kit. Photo:

Now that you’re armed with the basic knowledge about mushroom cultivation, you’re ready to try your hand at it. For beginners, a ready-made kit is a good place to start to get some experience in growing mushrooms.

Ready-made cultivation kits are easy to grow, don’t take up much space, and can produce mushrooms in about two weeks or less. You only need to keep the kit in the right place, spray it with water, and religiously follow the instructions on the box.

A mushroom kit can cost anywhere from $20 to $30 and can be used to cultivate a variety of mushrooms, such as oyster mushrooms, lion’s mane mushrooms, portobello mushrooms, and shiitake mushrooms.

Assemble Your Cultivation Tool Kit

White mushrooms
Photo: Jai79Pixabay

Ready to move on from growing mushrooms from ready-made kits? If you are, it’s time to assemble your equipment to try other mushroom-cultivation methods. You can grow mushrooms indoors or outdoors. For newbies, it’s recommended to stick with indoor cultivation before going outdoors. 

The tools you will need to grow mushrooms indoors will depend on your cultivation method. If you’re trying the monotub cultivation tek or method, you’ll need a plastic bin like those storage boxes by Sterilite or Tupperware, black spray paint, hand drill, and spray bottles to start.

Having the right tools at hand can make growing mushrooms much easier and increase your chances of success.

Define Your Goal

Variety of mushrooms in a basket.
Photo: Kireyonok_Yuliya, Freepik

Why are you growing mushrooms? Are you growing them for fun, for personal consumption, or for business? What kind of mushroom do you want to grow? There are many ways to grow mushrooms. It’s important to be clear about what you want from the very start so you can invest your time, energy, and resources in acquiring the right tools, knowledge, and skills to achieve your goals.

Besides, having well-defined goals will help provide more motivation when the going gets tough. Setting goals is vital to measure your success. If your goal is to grow mushrooms to supply your kitchen, you’ll have reached it once you’ve successfully cultivated an entire monotub or a pan. 

Grow Your Own Mushrooms Now

Unlike green plants, mushrooms don’t follow specific seasons to grow. Since mushrooms can be cultivated indoors, growers can create optimal conditions to grow and produce this edible fungus.

If you’re thinking about growing mushrooms, now is the perfect time to start. Order your ready-made kit and cultivate some delicious oyster mushrooms on your kitchen counter. As you gain more mushroom cultivation knowledge and experience, you will be able to grow more mushroom varieties and try other, more-advanced cultivation techniques.

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

1 comment on “Mushroom 101: Basic Tips for First-Time Mushroom Growers

  1. Once I get a wood chipper, I am going to chip up weed trees & bushes of hardwood to grow
    Wine cap mushrooms. Mushrooms are a part of the holistic G.B.O.M.B.S., yes the m stands for Mushrooms.

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