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A Beginner’s Guide to Growing Your Own Mushrooms

Mushrooms have many health benefits, and they’re great at absorbing flavors and adding texture to any meal. However, store-bought mushrooms can be expensive, and foraging them year-round isn’t an option. So here’s a beginner’s guide to growing your own mushrooms for goodness all year.

Guide to Growing Your Own Mushrooms

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Mushroom Basics

There are a few mushroom basics and fungi terminologies you should know before you start growing. For instance, while not all fungi are mushrooms, all mushrooms are fungi! The pretty stems and caps are known as “fruiting body;” they release spores into water or air from the gills on the bottom of the cap.

Before mushrooms grow into their main shape, they form as white fluff known as mycelium on the soil. Because fungi can’t produce their own energy through photosynthesis, they get all their nutrients from the mycelium.

Mushrooms are incredible recyclers, returning dead animals and plants back into the soil. They also provide nutrients and protein for not only animals but also people like you!

Grow Environment Characteristics

Mushrooms thrive in dark, moist areas, away from direct sunlight. You want your grow environment to emulate the ideal conditions in which they typically thrive. The substrate in which they grow must remain consistently moist and resistant to bacteria. Mostly comprised of flour, this substrate is referred to as the “cake.” If you’re a beginner, buy your substrate from a specialty store, as mushrooms can be very picky.

You’ll also want to ensure your mushrooms get adequate air and humidity. Whether you’re growing in a bucket or greenhouse, adequate airflow is essential, or else the stems will become tough and chewy. Depending on the exact species you’re growing, you should also keep them anywhere between 55 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

How To Grow

The first thing you’ll need to do is buy spawn, which has been pre-inoculated with mycelium. Luckily, most mushroom spawn is common and inexpensive. After you’ve received your spawn, you’ll inject it into the substrate, which you should keep in a sterile environment.

If you want a larger harvest, you can use another growing technique, but it requires more caution and precision. Wearing gloves and making sure your growing tub remains sterile, break up the mycelium, place it throughout the substrate, and mix it in thoroughly. If you use this technique, you’ll also want to add what’s called a casing layer—which is another layer of your own substrate—on top of what you just mixed together to prevent any direct contact with the air.

Here are some of the Lion's Mane mushrooms we grew this spring.  They taste like shrimp!

Mushrooms need a lot of attention, so check their moisture, temperature, and humidity levels often. You’ll know they’re ready when the caps turn from concave to convex. To harvest them, either twist and pull the stems or cut them at the base. Make sure to harvest regularly, as mushrooms spawn quickly and in large numbers. This way, you allow your mushrooms to continue spreading.

This beginner’s guide to growing your own mushrooms should get you on your way to your first fruitful harvest! If you’re a fungi friend, start looking at what mushrooms you might like to grow. Happy planting

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