How to Grow Your Own Tasty Mushrooms at Home to Eat – A Beginners Guide
Clear off your garden bench top and sweep off that loose soil, because today we are going to be getting our hands dirty with our beginners guide on how to grow mushrooms at home.
It doesn’t matter if you are curious and new to the world of mushroom growing, because this guide was designed with the novice in mind.
In this article you can expect to learn:
- the key facts and information you need to know about growing mushrooms at home (including the benefits of mushrooms),
- the phases in the mushroom growth cycle, so you will know what to expect at every step of the way,
- discussion on whether you should buy a done-for-you home mushroom kit, OR
- whether you should try the DIY path.
So pull on those garden gloves and let’s get into it.
Why Grow Mushrooms at Home?
The answer to this question is easy – you want to grow mushrooms at home because you want to include some delicious home-grown organic mushrooms in your meals. And our response to that is – why wouldn’t you?
Not only are mushrooms healthy and packed full of essential vitamins and minerals to help you with a balanced diet for your body. Learning how to grow mushrooms at home also comes with some quite nice side benefits that may not be as obvious.
Positive Environmental Impacts
One benefit of growing mushrooms at home that we can get on board with is the positive impacts of growing mushrooms at home. Firstly, you will reduce the amount of plastic waste that ends up in landfills. Think about it – the more produce you can grow at home, the less packaging required to wrap your food from the local supermarket.
This brings us to the next benefit – organic produce.
You Cannot Beat Organic
When it comes to choosing between organically home-grown and commercially grown produce – the choice is easy. When you consume organic, home-grown produce, you know exactly what has gone into developing and growing your food. You have confidence in knowing the amount of pesticides (or lack of), the concentration of chemicals in the soil, etc.
Beginners Guide for: How to Grow Mushrooms at Home
Before we begin, we think it is important to note this is the general process that mushrooms go through when cultivated at home. Each variety of mushroom will have its own nuances and requirements. If you are interested in growing a particular variety of mushroom (like oyster mushrooms or enoki mushrooms for instance), we highly recommend you browse our mushroom growing guides for specific growing conditions required for the varying mushroom species.
Alternatively, you can use our search tool located on this page. Simply enter the name of the mushroom you are looking to grow, and all our related articles will appear.
Considerations BEFORE you begin Growing Mushrooms at Home
Before you jump into growing mushrooms at home, you need to ask yourself a few questions. One of those questions is which growing medium are you going to work with for the mushrooms to attach and colonize.
There are many substrates that you can use to grow mushrooms. Some of the more popular growing mediums are:
- wood chips,
- used coffee grounds,
Now you could go head first into your mushroom growing journey and use the growing medium as is. However, you risk using a contaminated substrate which can result in unwanted bacteria and mold taking over your mushroom colonies. And unfortunately you won’t know if you have a contaminated mixture until it is too late.
We recommend pasteurizing the growing medium first – which coincidently is the first step in the process.
Step 1 – Prepare your Growing Medium
To prepare your growing medium, you will want to run it through a process called pasteurization. There are advanced methods of pasteurization, however we are going to assume most beginner home gardeners don’t have the access or budget for these types of methods.
We prefer to achieve a sterilized growing medium by soaking it in near boiling hot water. By increasing the temperature to close to boiling, the bacteria and other unwanted microorganisms will be eliminated. Leaving a clean environment for your mushroom spores to thrive.
We detail the methods of sterilization in our mushroom growing guides.
Step 2 – Combine the mushroom spores with the growing medium
The next step in the guide to growing mushrooms at home is to mix your mushroom spawn into the growing medium.
You will need a sterilized clear plastic bag to contain both the growing medium and mushroom spores.
Before you begin, make sure to drain the substrate well, and dispose of any excess water.
We prefer to use a layering method to achieve an even spread of mushrooms throughout the mixture.
Think of it like building a lasagna. First you layer a generous serving of growing medium, then you can sprinkle the mushroom spawn over this layer. Be sure to break apart any large clumps of mushroom spawn, so there is greater surface area for it to begin growing white mycelium into the growing medium.
Then simply repeat this process until the plastic bag is almost full.
The last layer should be a layer of the growing medium.
Complete this step by securing the plastic bag with an airtight tie.
Step 3 – Incubate the spores
Next, you will need to find a dark temperate area in your house or garage that receives fresh air flow.
Generally speaking, the space should be approximately 65 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18 – 24 degrees Celsius) without large fluctuations in temperature.
Move your bag to your ideal incubation space and flip it over, so the tied end of the plastic bag is at the bottom.
With a sharp sterilized knife, puncture the bag several times for air holes (approximately half an inch wide). The holes should be evenly spaced apart and along all sides and top of the bag.
Now it’s time to let the mushroom spawn do its thing to colonize and spread throughout the mixture. You will be leaving the bagged mixture for around 2 – 3 weeks.
After a week or two, you will begin to see mushroom mycelium spreading throughout the mixture.
It may look like mold or something has gone completely wrong, but it is normal. Sit back and enjoy the process, because you are on your way to growing your very own mushrooms!
Step 4 – Fruiting Process
For us, this is one of the most exciting parts of the process. The moment you see little pinhead mushrooms poking out of the holes in the plastic bag, it is time for action.
You can now move the mushroom mixture to a lighter area around your home. Note, for perfect conditions, the area should be a lighter space, but not in direct sunlight and a humid environment. This is the signal to the mushrooms that it is time to begin the fruiting process.
Feel free to begin adding more holes to the plastic bag to allow for more mushroom colonies to sprout. Be mindful, however, to keep the bag intact and not allow the holes to converge and become one large hole where mixture is likely to escape.
Over the course of the next week or so, you should be able to observe more mushroom colonies growing from the bag.
We also recommend you maintain the humidity and moisture levels while your mushrooms are developing by using a spray bottle and spraying tepid tap water on them in the morning and evening.
Step 5 – Harvest and Enjoy
It’s almost time to begin harvesting your very first flush of mushrooms.
We recommend checking on your mushrooms daily. You will know when to harvest when the mushroom caps begin to pull away from the stems and begin to take the shape of your typical mushroom form.
Now all there is to do, is to use a sharp knife to cut your mushrooms at the lowest point of the stem and enjoy some delicious mushroom dishes.
How to Begin Growing Mushrooms at Home
Now that you are familiar with the growing process for various types of mushrooms, you may be asking yourself “How exactly should I begin to become a mushroom grower?”. There are a few different ways we recommend.
Mushroom Growing Kits
A mushroom grow kit is a great place to start and pick up some experience using an almost fail-safe method of growing mushrooms.
These are generally pre-mixed packages that you can pick up at your local garden center, or delivered directly to your door from popular online marketplaces.
All you have to do is follow their instructions, and you’ll be enjoying home-grown mushrooms sooner than you expect.
Purchasing mushroom growing kits usually yields faster results and are a great option for first-time home mushroom farmers.
Build Your Own Mushroom Kits
Once you have wet your feet with a pre-prepared mushroom growing kit, we recommend giving the DIY guides that we have at the Garden Bench Top a try. The great thing is they are practical and easy to follow. Plus the methods we use are inexpensive, and are more eco-friendly than the pre-mixed kits.
Plus, in our humble opinion, it is a much more rewarding process.
Growing Mushrooms FAQ
Given this guide is targeted at beginners, we thought it would be fitting to include some frequently asked questions that we have received from our readers.
If you have any questions, please send them in via our contact us page or leave a comment below. We operate the Garden Bench Top under a strict – there is no silly question policy. Plus, we love engaging with our readers!
How long does it take to grow mushrooms?
If you have made it this far without jumping over anything, you will know the entire process from preparation to harvest will take approximately one month in total. Of course, this will vary depending on your local climate conditions.
The type of mushrooms you choose to grow will also affect the length of time it takes before you will be serving up home-grown fresh mushrooms at dinner time.
Is it hard to grow mushrooms at home?
We hope you know the answer to this question!
With our techniques, there is no reason why you cannot become a successful mushroom farmer at home. We employ budget-friendly, easy to follow step-by-step guides for cultivating your very own mushrooms in your backyard. From button mushrooms to shiitake mushrooms, you’ll definitely find what you are looking for at the Garden Bench Top.
Final Thoughts on Growing mushrooms at Home
So there you have it – after reading this guide you should be well on your way to becoming a beginner mushroom cultivator.
Let us know how your mushroom journey has progressed. We love to hear about all the triumphs and failures our readers experience on their own Garden Bench Top.