How to Grow Mushrooms at Home: A Beginner’s Guide (2024)

Growing mushrooms at home is an easy, family-friendly project requiring little space and no gardening experience. Here's how to get started.

Mushrooms arehaving a moment. That’s partly thanks to growing global interest in their health benefits: Certain varieties of mushroomsare thought to promote brain health and better immune system functioning and even to lessen cancer risk. From dried mushroom powders to coffee substitutes todocumentaries, the mushroom market is now an industry estimated to value $50 billion.

But mushrooms also make a great DIY pursuit. Foraging and festivals are becoming more popular, as is home-growing. The latter may be easier than you think—growing mushrooms at home is a family-friendly, DIY project requiring little space and no gardening experience. Here’s how to get started.

Choose a mushroom variety. Some 14,000 varieties of mushrooms flourish in this fungi-rich world, but only a dozen or so are in common use for home growers. Oyster mushrooms are perfect for beginners, according to Tavis Lynch, author ofMushroom Cultivation: An Illustrated Guide to Growing Your Own Mushrooms at Home. They have a rich flavor, especially when sautéed, and grow on all types of substrate, the nutrient-rich medium that allows mushrooms to flourish.

“They’ll grow on coffee grounds, cardboard, wood chips, natural logs, sawdust, cornstalks—anything that has cellulose,” says Lynch, who also recommends pioppino and chestnut mushrooms for beginners, followed by intermediate-level lion’s mane and shiitake. “Varieties like maitake are downright difficult,” he says, alluding to maitake’s finicky reputation. Research what mushrooms appeal most to you, and then make space on your kitchen counter.

Start with a grow kit

Spray-and-grow kits, a block of colonized substrate inside a small box, make for the easiest way for beginners to get started. “They’re inexpensive. You get a lot of mushrooms out of them. And they're super easy,” says Lynch. “If you know how to run a pair of scissors, you can grow mushrooms.” He’s hinting at the basic instructions here, which are as follows: Slice open the box, spray with water, and wait. While online options abound from nationwide operations like North Spore and Myco Labs, consider looking locally. Some farmers’ markets have mushroom grow-kit sellers, or you can ask at nearby mushroom farms.

To optimize your kit for success, keep in mind that nearly all edible mushrooms prefer humid environments with plenty of oxygen and minimal direct sunlight. Placing your kit near the kitchen sink can help replicate those conditions. If you live in a drier climate, make a “humidity tent” by taking a semi-transparent plastic bag, piercing it with lots of holes, and placing it over your kit. You can also set a dish of water at the kit’s base to increase moisture levels.

Don’t forget to let some air in, though. “Mushrooms ‘breathe’ oxygen like we do—a lot more than one would expect,” Lynch explains. Put the tent on too tight and your mushrooms will likely rot. You’ll know if this is happening: Oxygen-starved mushrooms will deform, become spindly or wrinkly, and often take on yellow, brown, or pinkish hues.

“If you know how to run a pair of scissors, you can grow mushrooms.”

Take the operation outside

If you have access to an outdoor growing space, spring is a great time to start cultivating al fresco mushrooms—begin after the last frost and you can have a harvest in as little as a couple of months. Look for areas of partial shade that retain moisture, from the base of trees to the empty spaces around your vegetables.

For the easiest entry point into growing outside, Lynch suggested the wine cap mushroom, which growers buy as “spawn,” in other words, substrate inoculated with the fungus. “Soak wood chips or straw for a couple of days, sprinkle across your yard, and sprinkle mushroom spawn on top,” he toldSierra. “Then walk away, because you're done.”

Logs or stumps can also become miniature mushroom farms. You’ll need a freshly cut log (hardwoods are best), spawn, melted wax, and a few basic tools. It’s a slightly more involved process and may take a full calendar year to harvest, but you could get years of growth—stumps often produce for up to a decade. Spawn, like grow kits, can be purchased from mushroom farms and online purveyors.

Harvest and repeat

Grow kits produce edible mushrooms after anywhere from a few days to a week-plus. Regardless of type, harvest when the mushroom is young, firm, and healthy-looking—softness or discoloration can be signs of rot, and you don’t want to eat spoiled mushrooms. “Mushrooms don't decay in the same way plants do,” notes Lynch. “They behave the same way that meat does.” In other words, fresh-kit mushrooms are entirely safe, but spoiled mushrooms are not.

After harvesting, continue to monitor your kit’s humidity and oxygen levels, because you’ll likely get another round of mushroom growth, called a flush. If the weather’s not too hot or cold, you can also “plant” the kit outside, burying it in partially shaded ground like you would a seed. Check on it periodically, especially after a rainfall that could spur growth. Once you’ve got healthy mushrooms to harvest—whether they’re from a kit, on a log, or just on the ground—simply twist them off the substrate … and start cooking.

How to Grow Mushrooms at Home: A Beginner’s Guide (2024)


What is the easiest way to grow mushrooms for beginners? ›

Start with a grow kit

Spray-and-grow kits, a block of colonized substrate inside a small box, make for the easiest way for beginners to get started. “They're inexpensive. You get a lot of mushrooms out of them. And they're super easy,” says Lynch.

What are the 5 steps to growing mushrooms? ›

The six steps are Phase I composting, Phase II composting, spawning, casing, pinning, and cropping. These steps are described in their naturally occurring sequence, emphasizing the salient features within each step. Compost provides nutrients needed for mushrooms to grow.

What mushrooms should I grow first? ›

Shiitake mushrooms grown on logs outdoors is one of the easiest mushrooms for beginners to learn the cycles of mushroom production. Although oyster mushrooms may fruit easiest, they are insect prone, so Shiitakes are the one to start with.

What is the easiest mushroom kit to grow? ›

Oyster mushrooms are by far the easiest and most reliable mushrooms to grow. For beginners we recommend our Mist & Grow Oyster mushroom grow kits. Simply cut an X in one side of the bag, cover with a humidity tent, and mist a few times daily. Within 7-10 days a cluster of baby mushrooms will appear!

What is the cheapest way to grow mushrooms indoors? ›

Another easy, inexpensive option for growing mushrooms at home is inoculated sawdust in a plastic bag. These come in kit versions, but you can also make them yourself. Store them in a bathroom where it is dark and moist and you'll start to see flushing pretty quickly.

What is the cheapest way to grow mushrooms? ›

Outdoor logs

Growing mushrooms outdoors on hardwood logs is by far the cheapest, easiest, and most passive method for how to grow mushrooms at home. Pre-inoculated logs can be purchased online or better yet, from local mushroom producers in your area.

Where is the best place to grow mushrooms indoors? ›

In nature, mushrooms grow in the cool, moist areas of the forest where they are sheltered from the weather and wind, so it's best to find a place like this in your house or backyard. Many people say to grow your mushrooms in the bathroom as it's an area that often has humidity from showers.

What are the best mushrooms to grow indoors? ›

Oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) or Shiitake mushrooms (Lentinula edodes) are great choices for first timers because they are delicious and are some of the easiest to grow. How you grow your mushrooms will depend on the kit you buy. But don't worry; they should come with instructions to help you get started.

Is growing mushrooms cheaper than buying? ›

A: Yes, growing your own mushrooms can save you money in the long run. Mushrooms bought from the store can be expensive, especially if you consume them regularly.

Do mushrooms grow better in sun or shade? ›

Mushrooms thrive in dark, damp areas. It's important to choose a shaded area in your garden or yard that stays moist.

Do mushrooms grow better in light or dark? ›

Mushrooms do not necessarily require darkness to grow; however, they do thrive in low light conditions. Most mushrooms are saprophytic, meaning they obtain nutrients by breaking down organic matter. Light is not a primary factor for their growth, but it can influence certain aspects of their development.

What is the easiest and most profitable mushroom to grow? ›

And although growers are devising ways to cultivate fussier mushroom species, their unique requirements and the extra time, energy and labor required to grow them increases production costs. The best mushrooms for small-scale production are profitable, easy-to-grow species like oysters and lion's mane mushrooms.

Is it cheaper to grow mushrooms yourself? ›

Save Money: It's cheaper to grow your own mushrooms than to buy them, and you can even sell the excess. Quality & Variety: Control what goes into your food and explore exotic mushroom types you won't find in stores.

What helps mushrooms grow faster? ›

Humidity. Mushrooms need a humid environment when they're fruiting. After all, they're made of more than 90% water. Increasing humidity can help your mushrooms grow faster and of a better quality.

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