Mushrooms are so powerfully nutritious, medicinal, and therapeutic, adding them to your diet and medicine cabinet is practically a no-brainer.
In this article, you’ll learn some different ways — from easy to most difficult — to start growing mushrooms from the comfort of your home, shed, garage, wherever!
Get a Kit
The easiest way to grow your own gourmet or medicinal mushrooms is to purchase a premade mushroom grow kit. A plethora of companies exist offering grow kits. We recommend purchasing a kit from a reputable vendor instead of just buying the cheapest one. Quality is important here, or you risk contamination and failure!
The beauty of kits: as it grows over a few weeks you can do some research and learn how to expand the purchased kit into even more homemade kits for very little cost. In other words, a kit that would typically lead to a pound or two of mushrooms could, with a little know-how and a few tools, lead to tens of pounds of mushrooms!
Do it for the Culture
The beginning of the mushroom life cycle starts as a spore. Once the spore germinates, it grows into hyphae, which when densely formed becomes mycelium, the root-like filamentous structure preceding the final stage of a mushroom life cycle: the mushroom fruit body!
In commercial mushroom cultivation, the steps of growing typically look like this: spores on a petri dish are grown into mycelium, the mycelium is transferred onto sterilized grains to grow more mycelium, the grains are consumed by mycelium and then used to inoculate a hardwood based substrate, and from this substrate, voila, mushrooms fruit!
Those are the basic steps. The beauty is that each step of the process can be circumvented by simply purchasing a product from an experienced cultivar. Want to skip the spores? Buy a mycelium culture. Want to skip the technical lab work? Buy myceliated grains and just use them to make a bunch of grow kits.
But if you want to dive deep into the rabbit hole that is mycology, for a couple hundred dollars you can purchase all the equipment needed to do each step yourself! We understand it can be difficult to motivate yourself to splurge $300 on mushroom growing equipment, but when you consider that you can grow hundreds of pounds of mushrooms each year in a simple 10’ by 10’ room, you may begin to see it less as a splurge and more as an investment.
The Right Tools for the Job
The most common pieces of equipment in a basic mushroom cultivation setup include:
- Pressure cooker (for sterilizing grains, petri dishes, tools, etc.)
- Mason jars with modified lids (for growing myceliated grains)
- Substrate (hardwood fuel pellets and straw are the most common)
- A mushroom culture or spore print (e.g. mycelium on a petri dish, myceliated grains, grow kit, etc.)
- A plastic tote converted into a still air box (trust us, it is very easy to make) for doing sterile lab work
- A space to fruit your mushrooms (e.g. a greenhouse, converted closet, or the most basic design, a converted plastic tote with holes in it for airflow and perlite on the bottom for retaining moisture and keeping a high humidity)
- A misting spray bottle for humidifying your mushroom grow kits
There are always new tools and techniques to acquire and learn. Still, mushroom cultivation is fundamentally very straightforward. Our recommendation for beginners? Stick to this KISS rule: “Keep It Simple, Stupid.”