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Mushroom farming certainly takes time, effort and know-how — and some species entirely elude human attempts to commercially grow them. (Ahem, we’re talking about you, Chanterelles and Morels…) But others are relatively easy to grow, even at home with no experience. Once you get the hang of the process, mushrooms take less effort than many plants. So, if you aspire to have a green thumb but just can’t seem to keep plants alive, try mushrooms!
Read on for our best tips for growing mushrooms at home. Plus, we’ll share a list of the species that are suitable for beginners — along with ideas for what to do with your home-grown ‘shrooms!
Those are the most popular species, but you can also find indoor and outdoor grow kits for Maitake, Chestnuts and even Chicken of the Woods!
Start with a grow kit. Just like using plant “starts” or seedlings is easier than growing from seeds, so is using a grow kit that’s already inoculated with your mushroom of choice. You can find grow kits in our shop, or ask your go-to mushroom seller (such as at the farmers’ market) about local options.
Look for pre-inoculated logs. Maybe you have some outdoor space but no power tools — and you want to try growing Shiitakes or Chicken of the Woods. No problem. You can buy a log (or several) that are already filled with “plugs” (mushroom spores). Once you’re ready to expand your mushroom “garden,” enlist a friend or two to help. Find someone with the tools and know-how to DIY some logs and make a day of it! Look for mushroom logs at the farmers’ market.
Keep your mushrooms moist. There’s a reason why the best mushroom hunting happens after a rain. Mushrooms need water, just like we do! For indoor grow kits, keep a fine-mist spray bottle on hand and make sure they don’t dry out. Try not to let your outdoor logs dry out — spray them with a hose during the drier seasons.
Get the kids involved. Spraying the grow kits, checking the outdoor logs and even harvesting the fruits of your labor are all “chores” that little ones can help with. If you’re trying to get a picky eater on board with more mushroom dishes, start with the ones you’ve grown yourself. Research has actually shown that kids are more willing to try new foods when they’ve had a hand in the production process!
Be patient when growing outdoors. Indoor kits are designed to grow quickly — but the outdoor logs take their sweet time. You’ll sometimes need to wait months (especially if you start your inoculation project over the winter). Nature works on her time, and we can’t rush her. The first time you taste a dish made with mushrooms you grew yourself, all that waiting will be worth it!
If you find that mushrooms in your local supermarket tend to get slimy or dry before you can use them, then you’ll especially love how fresh and tender home-grown ones can be! Use them in any number of creative and tasty ways (here are 13 suggestions!) When you have more mushrooms than you can use, freeze them or dry them.
Have you ever grown mushrooms at home? Tag us on social media with pics of your hobby mushroom “farms”!