The best way to grow mushrooms is with complete information and no guesswork. That’s why we created this how to grow mushrooms guide. From selecting the right species to harvesting and storing mushrooms, growing them indoors or in your garden, this guide will cover all you need to know about how to grow mushrooms.
Most people have heard about the magic of growing mushrooms, but it is really simple. Mushrooms grow on dead organic material and can be grown in any soil as long as the air, light, and water are in balance. They are an excellent natural food with low calories and high protein content. You can eat them raw, in salads, or add them to stews. 
One of the benefits of cultivating your own mushrooms instead of gathering them from the wild is that you’ll be sure that you’re not picking inedible ones.
Before You Begin
Plants are usually grown from seeds, but mushrooms and other fungi are grown from spores. These spores form a mycelium. It is similar to plant roots that develop when a mushroom’s spores contact a growing medium such as dirt, sand, straw, sawdust, compost, manure, or even cardboard. 
Beginners should buy a mushroom growing kit, as they are more cost-effective and easier to start. These mushroom growing kits are ideal for people who want to grow their own mushrooms but are unfamiliar with growing details. The kit includes a growing medium and spawn that has already been incubated.
So, jump right in!
Step 1. Find Your Ideal Mushroom Variety
The first step in the process is to find your ideal mushroom variety. This could be hard as there are so many varieties to choose from. But let us make it simple! The more you know about the mushroom, the easier your choice will be.
We will list the most popular mushroom varieties and their characteristics. This way, you can determine the ideal mushroom characteristics that suit you. You should consider all of the following points when choosing a mushroom variety:
- Taste of Mushrooms – Unless you are growing mushrooms for medicinal purposes, the taste is the most important thing to consider. Why would you grow something that you will not eat? Some mushrooms can be bitter, some sweet, some even have an earthy taste.
- Texture of Mushrooms – This point is often overlooked, but the texture is significant for your taste. Some mushroom varieties are soft and spongy. Some are hard and crunchy. Some are even slimy.
- Smell of Mushrooms – Most mushrooms will have a typical, pleasant, earthy scent. Other mushroom varieties can have a fruity aroma or a scent that reassembles cucumber or watermelon. Some can even smell like crayons.
- Ease of Growing Mushrooms – Same as fruits and vegetables, some varieties of mushrooms are easy to grow, and some are very difficult. For example, Oyster mushrooms are the easiest to grow in the garden or indoors. In comparison, Morel mushrooms are very difficult to grow.
|Cep||Nutty, Earthy||Firm, Crunchy||Very strong, mushroomy||Very Difficult|
|Cremini||Savory, Earthy||Delicate, Mild||Sweet, Earthy||Medium|
|Black Trumpet||Earthy, Almost Smoky||Very Thin-fleshed||Deep Woodsy with a Hint of Sweetness||Difficult|
|Enoki||Tender, Mild, Savory||Firm, Somewhat Crisp Texture||Pungent, Ammonia-like||Easy|
|Lion’s Mane||Rich, Bitter||Stringy, Meaty, and Delicate||Similar to Cocoa or Chocolate||Easy|
|Morel||Earthy, Nutty, and Woodsy||Meaty, Tender||Strong but Nice, Similar to Fresh Fish||Very Difficult|
|Maitake||Strong Earthy, Peppery||Delicate and Feathery||Woodsy||Medium|
|Oyster||Mild, Bitter, and Savory||Slightly Chewy||Black Licorice or Anise||Very Easy|
|Portobello||Smoky, Earthy, Rich, and Intense||Chewy and Meaty||Slightly Mushroomy||Easy|
|Reishi||Earthy, Bitter, and Raw Flavor||Crunchy, Though||Strong but Pleasant Woodsy||Easy|
|Shiitake||Strong, Earthy||Meaty, Chewy, Buttery||Rich Mushroom and Radish||Easy|
|White Button||Mild, Earthy Flavor||Crisp||Sweet and Earthy||Easy|
There are also other factors to be considered, which this article will not go through. Some of them are:
Benefits of Mushrooms – Many varieties of mushrooms are excellent sources of protein. They are high in protein, fiber, vitamins low in fat and sodium, which are essential to a healthy diet. Some varieties of mushrooms can be considered a superfood. 
Appearance of Mushrooms – This is of low importance if you grow for yourself. Still, you can choose a mushroom variety that is long and thin, short and thick, one with a small cap, one with a large cap, or one that has bright or dark colors.
Step 2. Prepare Your Growing Medium
Before you start using your selected variety, you will want to prepare the growing medium. The mushroom growing medium is a substrate on which mushrooms will grow. It should be a good-quality medium that contains a mixture of compost and fertilizer.
Pro Tip: A compost and fertilizer mix is more of a general growing medium. Remember that some mushrooms require a more specific growing medium like wood chips of a particular tree or a fresh log. You can make your own growing medium depending on what mushroom variety you have chosen, or you can easily find one online.
Step 3. Add Spores To The Growing Medium
When you have your growing medium selected, place it in a tray or container. The selected tray or container can be plastic, wooden, or metal. You can even use a plastic bag to hold your substrate.
Fill the tray with your growing medium, leaving an inch from the top of the tray. Saturate the growing medium with water a few hours before planting. This will help with drainage and keep the medium from drying out too fast.
When the substrate is damp enough, spread the spores on top.
Pro Tip: Clean your equipment and hands before working on your substrate. Non-sterile equipment can contaminate your growing medium, and you may lose all your mushrooms.
Step 4. Care for Mushrooms
Mushrooms do not require a lot of looking after. Only a few things to keep in mind.
Mushrooms thrive in a humid environment. It’s vital to ensure that the substrate is moist during the entire growing process, so keep your growing medium moist to avoid drying out. Spray or mist your growing medium at least once a day.
Mushrooms are nocturnal, which means they grow best at night. They require dim light for a few hours a day to form fruit bodies successfully. It can also be indirect light or even fluorescent light.
Mushrooms prefer temperatures of 50 to 70°F (10 to 21°C), and they can be grown in any climate. If you notice your mushrooms drying out or getting soft, you may need to move them to a cooler area.
During the first three weeks of growing your mushrooms, the temperature of the growing medium should be slightly below 70°F (21°C) as higher temperatures can kill spores. The temperature can be maintained by placing your inoculated trays in a warm location. Alternatively, but not necessary, you can use a heat mat. This will let you control the temperature precisely.
The white, root-like growth called mycelium will appear on the growing medium. When your container is covered with it, it’s time to turn down the heat to 50-60°F (10-16°C).
If you were using a heating pad, remove it now.
When you see mycelium spread on the growing medium, add 1 inch (~2.5 cm) of the growing medium on top.
After adding the growing medium on top of the mycelium, wait a few days, and you will see small mushrooms sprout up. Mushrooms will grow until they are ready to be harvested.
Step 5. Harvest Mushrooms
The first flush of mushrooms should be ready to harvest in 3 to 4 weeks. Then, you can harvest mushrooms again after 9 to 10 days.
How To Know When Your Mushrooms Are Ready For Harvest?
The veil underneath the caps of your mushrooms will indicate when they are ready to be harvested. When the veil has broken, it’s time to harvest.
Is It Better To Harvest Mushrooms Too Early Or Too Late?
It’s usually better to pick your mushrooms a day or two early rather than a day or two late. Harvesting your mushrooms too late will cause the cap to open and release spores.
This release will trigger all mushrooms to stop the growing process and restart the colonization process with new spores.
So, if you harvest too late, it will be your last harvest until new spores will colonize the growing medium and produce fruit.
How To Harvest
There are two methods, and both of them are commonly used.
Method 1. Harvest mushrooms by pulling and twisting them upwards from their base. Do not apply too much force, as this may damage the mycelium.
Method 2. Harvest mushrooms using a sharp knife to cut through the bottom of the stem. Make sure not to cut too deep as this may damage mycelium.
Whichever methods you choose, the most important thing is not to contaminate your growing medium. So, wash your hands and use clean equipment before working with mushrooms. Neglecting this can lead to contamination by bacteria or mold and will result in a less healthy mushroom harvest.
Step 6. Store Mushrooms
Freshly cut mushrooms will not last long. You should use them within 2 or 3 days. So, preserve them if you know that you will not use them up in a couple of days. There are four ways to preserve and store mushrooms.
Drying Mushrooms – is a great way to preserve and store mushrooms. Dry them in the oven or a dehydrator. By placing them in a jar afterward, you can keep dried mushrooms for up to 12 months.
Pickling Mushrooms – is probably the preferable way to preserve and store mushrooms. Put mushrooms in a large glass jar and cover them with your favorite marinate. This way, you can keep mushrooms for up to 12 months.
Freezing Mushrooms – is another excellent and straightforward way to preserve and store mushrooms. You can keep frozen mushrooms for up to 12 months.
Mushroom Powder – is not the most popular way to preserve mushrooms, but very effective when stored correctly. The powdering process involves drying your mushrooms first and then powdering them using a blender, food processor, or going the old school with pestle and mortar. You can store powdered mushrooms for a very long time. The powder will lose its flavor before it goes bad.
What to Do Next
Mushroom growing is one of the easiest and most rewarding hobbies out there. You can grow mushrooms virtually anywhere. It’s very sustainable and low-maintenance. You have a How to Grow Mushrooms guide in your hands. So why not try it?
If you liked our How To Grow Mushrooms guide, then check out our other Growing Guides. Read and learn more easy step-by-step tutorials.
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