There are LITERALLY zillions of different mushrooms out there. Some are edible and some inedible. Some are easy to grow and some are ridiculously hard to cultivate. This is just a quick and very dirty overview of how to get started with some basics. Growing mushrooms has been sparking heaps of joy for me over the past few months so it felt like a good topic to tackle, but this is by no means all there is to know. It’s all you need to know to get started, but this is really just a jumping point if you get really into it like I have.
For starters, it’s actually really easy and inexpensive to get a few different varieties going. There’s a beginner and an advanced level to growing mushrooms and the beginner level is easy peasy. A few companies out there offer grow at home kits for roughly $20 /$25 that you simply slice open and spritz with water now and again for about a week or two until the mushrooms start to emerge. They grow on big sawdust blocks that are full of the right mushroom mycelium already grown into it. The mycelium looks like cotton balls growing in the sawdust and they act almost like the roots. The “fruits” or the mushrooms will appear after getting some fresh air and water and can fruit a few times.
This is just to name a few. All these kits are set up to get started with right in your kitchen and come with instructions for ideal temps etc. The oyster seems to be the easiest to get started with and makes a beautiful giant bloom.
From there you can try making some mushroom logs and you can even use the same sawdust block you’ve been growing in the kitchen or check out some new flavors like Hen of the Woods or Chicken of the Woods. This one is a bit more tricky so I’d check out some videos on youtube to see specifics, but I’ll give you a rough idea of what you’d be getting into.
You want to find some fresh logs about 4-6″ wide by 3′ long and oak is usually the best to work with. You can double check online if a certain mushroom will grow on different types, but oak is the safe go-to. All over the log you’ll be drilling holes just a few inches apart and then either get wooden plugs that have the mycilium on them or get yourself a special inoculation tool that will capture a small tube amount of sawdust from your grow kit and will plunge into the hole you have drilled. It basically makes a mini cork with your sawdust to fill each hole. After all the holes are filled you’ll seal each hole with wax by melting it and then daubing it on. Then let the whole thing sit and colonize for multiple months. Store your logs in a shady place (think where would mushrooms like to grow) and check it out in a few months time to see what’s going on. I got my inoculation tool from Fungi Perfecti who has a great catalog with tons of info and charts if you want to geek the F out on log types and ideal temps.
The great thing about logs is they can last for quite a few years once you put in all that work. I’ve been enjoying the process so much I’d like to do hundreds of logs in all different kinds of flavors, but I have help and enjoy the fresh air and exercise so that’s a doable goal. If you’re a slightly less active person in an apartment with limited interests in lugging logs around, go for the block method and just cycle them out.
Other mediums are coffee grounds and hay growing in buckets, jars, plastic tubes, and also the ground growing mushrooms which I did not get into here. I also didn’t touch on collecting spores and making spore prints, or growing your own cultures in petri dishes, regrowing super market stumps and so many other things you can do. Maybe another time… Give this starting point try and see how it goes. There’s very little room for error when you get the kit from a trusted source which makes it very stress free. Mushrooms in stir fry is one of my favorite things ever, so every ounce of effort pays off. 🙂