How to Grow Mushrooms

by sheilamarie

Mushrooms have been shown to promote a healthy immune system. They also add great taste to our foods. Here's how to grow mushrooms at home, either indoors or out.

Have you heard the hype about how good for us mushrooms are? Well, it turns out there's a lot of scientific evidence to substantiate the claims that mushrooms can help boost our immune systems and help our bodies combat cancer as well as many other diseases. Mushrooms are key ingredients to many delicious recipes, as well.

Have you ever considered growing mushrooms at home? In this article, I will show you how easy growing mushrooms can be. I will also provide you with some sources for getting you started on producing your own crop of mushrooms.

Photo credit: Hans @

Have You Ever Considered Growing Mushrooms?

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Natural_Skin_Care on 09/15/2013

No, but I eat my fair share.

Tolovaj on 07/02/2013

Not me, but I have a friend who tried that. He stopped after one summer.

Yes, I have!
happynutritionist on 12/02/2015

But I don't know what kind would be safe to grow and eat.

PeggyHazelwood on 07/12/2013

I've considered it but never done it!

MaggiePowell on 07/05/2013

I had some basement space that seemed like a natural spot to grow them.

dustytoes on 07/02/2013

I would love to grow my own mushrooms but had no clue how to do so.

A Course on How to Grow Mushrooms

We Used Shiitake Mushroom Spawn

A couple of years ago I took a course at our local adult ed center about how to grow mushrooms. The instructor started out with a slide show in which he described the process and showed the different types of mushrooms that are easier to grow at home.

The next day we gathered at his farm and as a group drilled holes into some aspen logs he had cut ahead of time. (What I mean by "as a group" is that some of the more tool-handy types did the drilling and the rest of us watched!)

The thing is, you have to cut fresh logs from living trees for this process, as dead trees may already have mushroom spores established in them. You can't be certain on a dead tree whether the mushrooms you are growing are the edible ones you are trying to encourage or some other perhaps even toxic ones. And the mushroom spawn you are introducing will have too much competition from the spores of other varieties to establish themselves if the tree you are starting with is dead.

Those of us without drills carried the 14" logs to a table and stuffed them with the mushroom spawn. We then passed the logs to another group who melted bees' wax and sealed the holes so that the spawn was safe from birds and insects.

We each went home with two logs. These we were instructed to soak overnight in a tub of water. We were then to keep the logs under a shady tree near to a source of water that we could use to keep them moist.

When the mushroom spawn has established itself, the cut edges of the log will take on a white pattern of where the holes were drilled into the log. The mycelium grows along the sap channels on the tree so that it is visible at the very ends. It takes up to 18 months for the mushroom log to fruit, sending up the mushrooms that you can harvest.

Video on How to Grow Shiitake Mushrooms at Home

Notice how the advice in this video is geared towards a damp Cape Cod climate -- also listen to what she says about using an oak log -- very different from the advice I was given in the West where different hardwood trees grow.

Think You May Grow a Few Mushrooms for Yourself?

A Little Advice

If you are considering growing mushrooms yourself, I would suggest reading up on the process and watching these Youtube videos, which will give you a feel for how it's done.

You should also investigate whether there are any courses offered in your area by a community center or an agricultural college. Reading a how-to manual is all well and good, but nothing replaces the hands-on experience and the practical tips you can get from an expert.

Another great thing about taking a workshop or course on how to grow mushrooms is that you can ask questions pertaining to your own specific environment to which you may not find the answers by looking it up in a book. You can also refer back to this person if you have any problems -- and, chances are, you will have problems or at least questions when you try it on your own.

This is me talking -- a person who usually needs a little direction on growing anything. I try hard, mind you, but hands-on is the best method for me in these things. You may have a green thumb for whom everything thrives.

Another Shiitake Mushroom Video

This video has a more thorough description on how to grow shiitake mushrooms. It is geared towards those who grow mushrooms on a larger scale.

Oyster Mushrooms

Oyster Mushrooms
Oyster Mushrooms

Growing Oyster Mushrooms Is Also a Good Choice

Can Grow in Cooler Seasons

The video below gives you information on how to grow oyster mushrooms -- another favorite with people into mushroom farming.

The procedure is much the same, only using a different spawn. 

Although these videos recommend using logs, other videos talk about growing mushrooms in your basement using a variety of media, such as coffee grounds, bags, sawdust, and other available stuff.  

How to Grow Oyster Mushrooms: Videos

Mushrooms and Your Health

Mushrooms Have Been Shown to Slow Down or Destroy Cancer Cells

Now I'll give you a heads up here -- I'm not a health professional. However, I have a vested interest in anything that is used to fight cancer cells. Doesn't everyone know someone with cancer these days?

My son is an acupuncturist and he is also someone who has researched the health benefits of local plants and fungi. Mushrooms, especially certain kinds, he tells me, are good at boosting your immune system and can even be used in an anti-cancer diet when you are facing the dreaded disease.

The man in the "How to Grow Gourmet Mushrooms" video says that some mushrooms kill cancer cells. I can't say for sure whether that statement is true, but in my way of looking at things, if you can alter your diet to promote good health, you'd be foolish not to at least try that method, even if you are receiving medical treatments.

Of course, if you have cancer, you'd want to check with your doctor first to make sure whatever natural methods you are using to combat the disease don't interfere with whatever pharmaceuticals you are taking. Some substances may interact, as plants can have powerful agents in them, too.

Mushrooms, however, so I am told, do not cause a problem in this way, but as I've said already, be sure to check with your doctor before you mess around too much. I had a friend once who almost died because he didn't inform his doctor he was taking herbal supplements and there was a drug interaction that he wasn't expecting.

Low Tech Method of Mushroom Growing

Using Cardboard and Store-Bought Mushrooms!

Have Confidence! You Can Grow Mushrooms, Too!

With all the advice out there on the internet, and especially if you're lucky enough to have a center where a growing mushroom course is offered, you should feel confident that you, too, can tackle this task and actually produce food that can supplement your family's diet.

As one of the videos I've added recommends, you should start with easy-to-grow varieties such as button mushrooms or oyster mushrooms, but once you have been successful with those, the shiitake and other varieties can be tried.

Or just jump right in and grow the shiitake mushrooms, if that's the one you most enjoy eating.

The beauty of mushroom growing is that you don't have to have a big garden space or any garden space at all to make them grow. You can grow mushrooms in your basement if you want to or in any moist, dark space.

I hope you try it for yourself. Leave a comment to let me know what you think. And then come back and leave me a message to let me know how it went.

Find Mushroom Spawn on eBay

Updated: 07/02/2013, sheilamarie
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sheilamarie on 12/07/2015

Good point, @frankbeswick .

sheilamarie on 12/07/2015

@Veronica That's true as long as we haven't destroyed the environment around us. So many "weeds" are actually medicinal. Developments so often crowd out or even poison many naturally occurring plants and push the animals into smaller spaces.

frankbeswick on 12/07/2015

One important safety rule is that you should not pick buttons [young mushrooms] as at the button stage there is little or no way to properly distinguish between species. You should also examine the habitat in which the mushroom is found, as this is part of its identification.

Veronica on 12/07/2015

I do believe that we should eat seasonal food and what is about us. We forage when we can. I feel that nature has given us what we need at specific times of year.

sheilamarie on 12/06/2015

@frankbeswick I agree with your statement "Take no risks with mushrooms." Edible varieties can look different from place to place. You can do serious damage to your liver if you eat "inedible" mushrooms, even if they are not listed as "poisonous."

sheilamarie on 12/06/2015

@frankbeswick A good book can be helpful, but it's better to go out with someone who knows their mushrooms. When I forage, I keep to a couple of varieties that I'm sure of. It's no fun if you make a mistake.

sheilamarie on 12/06/2015

I'm glad you found it useful, @Veronica. If you still want to forage for them, going with someone who knows their mushrooms is a good idea. You can check a mushroom against a picture in a book, but some varieties have poisonous look-alikes. It's always better to learn about varieties from an expert.

sheilamarie on 12/06/2015

@happynutritionist You do have to know what you're doing when growing mushrooms. Having a good source of mycelium is key.

frankbeswick on 12/03/2015

A point that I need to clarify is that there are no seriously poisonous agarics, but the yellow stainer, found in British woodlands, is a slightly poisonous agaric. It will give you belly ache, as it contains an irritating acid.

Seriously poisonous mushrooms include Death Cap, Destroying Angel, Fool's Mushroom, Fly Agaric, Panther Cap, False Morel, Inocybe and some related species, but this list is not exhaustive, and there are other poisonous kinds. There are others that are inedible, but not poisonous. It is always wise to play safe when picking mushrooms. Take no risks with mushrooms.

frankbeswick on 12/03/2015

There are some poisonous mushrooms, but members of the Agaric family, which are the main domestic ones, are not among them. Fly agaric is not an agaric, it is an Amanita, and is dangerous. The safest option is not to pick wild mushrooms if you don't know enough. Get a good book on the subject.

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