How to grow your own mushrooms for fun, deliciousness, and protein

April 11 | Guest post by Anna Hess
cute snack
Reader whoisjaja made a cute snack and got crafty with radishes.

I started out as a mycophobe, picking mushrooms off pizza and turning up my nose at cream of mushroom soup. But once I started growing my own mushrooms, I discovered a wide world of delicious flavors. I learned that mushrooms can be nearly as easy to grow as lettuce and that the fungi are one of the healthiest foods. Just three years into growing mushrooms, I've become a mushroom-pusher, and this post is part of that campaign.

What's the easiest way to start growing your own mushrooms?


Steer clear of the kits you'll see in glossy seed catalogs — you won't get many mushrooms for your money and soon the kit will be played out and useless.

Instead, we recommend that first-time mushroom growers buy plug oyster mushroom spawn and pound the plugs into freshly cut logs.

Oyster mushrooms are the easiest mushrooms to grow, can live in "weed" trees like box-elder and tulip poplar, provide twice the protein of shiitakes, and taste better, too. You can buy plug spawn from Field and Forest Products, Fungi Perfecti, or Mushroom Mountain. The last is my favorite supplier, specializing in strains well suited to the southeast.

How do I keep my mushrooms happy?

Fungi like damp, shady spots and need periods of heavy moisture to tempt them to fruit. After inoculating your oyster mushroom logs, you will need to let the logs sit in the shade for about six months while the spawn (the vegetative stage of the mushroom) colonizes the entire log.

That fall, you're ready to tell your mushrooms to fruit, either by soaking them for twelve hours in a pool of water or by turning your logs into mushroom rafts and totems. Most people haven't heard of mushroom rafts and totems, but these methods require less work on your end while providing nearly as many mushrooms as the traditional soaking method, so they would be my recommendation for backyard mushroom keepers.

Can I expand my mushroom garden?

One of the reasons I recommend oyster mushrooms for first-time growers is this species is easy to propagate at home with no specialized supplies.

  • Simply cut the stem butts (base of the stalk) off the mushrooms and set the butts aside. (Eat the rest of the mushroom, of course!)

  • Bring a pot of water to a boil, pour the water over medium-size pieces of corrugated cardboard, and let the cardboard soak for an hour.
  • Peel the flat outer layers off the cardboard, revealing the corrugated core.
  • Crumple up half of the flat outer layers and place them in the bottom of a clean flower pot, then create a lasagna of the corrugated center layers sandwiching the mushroom stem butts.
  • Top the propagation chamber off with several more of the flat outer layers of the cardboard and set the flower pot under your kitchen sink.
  • Every few days, pour a little water on the pot to keep the cardboard damp. Soon, you'll see white spawn running across the cardboard — this is the same stuff you bought to put in your logs. You're ready to inoculate more logs and keep the cycle spinning!

Happy farming!

  1. I, too, am a mushroom pusher and I love this post! My girlfriend has grown mushrooms for years, and while I am newer to it. . . I am obsessed. NOTHING is as amazing as topping your pasta with mushrooms you just picked tossed in butter and garlic (except like, child-birth and falling in love and. . y'know, other things). Yay for mushroom farming!

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    • This post makes me want to leap into mushroom tending. Your comment is pushing me closer to the edge. :)

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  2. Loved this post. It was also kinda neat to become aware of another Ana Hess =0P

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  3. Lol my mom and I just last week were talking about trying mushroom growing. Now we have a starting point :)

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  4. Hmmm.. I wonder how difficult this would be to do with a balacony/apartment situation?

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  5. Fun fact about mushrooms:

    Apparently they only have nutritional value when cooked. Something about cell walls and fungi and such. I wasn't really paying attention (college).

    Other fun fact:

    Mushrooms are the most delicious of all fungi.

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  6. Wow, cool! I am interested in homesteading and vegetable gardening, but I never thought of growing my own mushrooms, I had no idea it was so easy! Thanks for the article :)

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  7. Awesome. My husband and I just bought a wonderful house, but I found myself lamenting that the backyard is too shaded for a vegetable garden.

    Mushrooms would totally work though. :)

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  8. This is fantastic! Bookmarking the page, and will give it a try when I move into a new place this summer. It seems perfect for me, actually. I'm moving into my grandfather's old house, and he used to manage a mushroom cannery. The house had mushroom statues and mushroom-embroidered pillows and such. It seems fitting to have real mushrooms, too.

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  9. Does it have to be outside or can it be done in a basement or closet?

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  10. thank you for all of this information.ive been looking on line trying to find a site that tells me i dont have to nuy a kit.i just wanted to plant some mushrooms in my backyard garden.i did have a couple of questions though can i just go to like ochard supplk and buy like some kind of seed or plant and just go home and plant it???i dont have any logs..and i dont really want a kit.i guess i really do need some good advice lol. thanks patti(from slz,calif.)

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  11. thank you for all of this information. I use to grow mushroom before through rice hays. This article is a big help to me.

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