Growing mushrooms is one of the easiest gardening projects to share with kids – or to try as a beginner – and is perfect in winter when it’s still too chilly to grow stuff outside.
You don’t have to be remotely green fingered to grow mushrooms and once started, mushrooms will literally grow before your eyes.
Every day they will be visibly bigger and in a fortnight you can harvest them and pop them in the pan for a yummy breakfast, lunch or supper.
Growing your own food quickly is the best motivation for kids and beginners starting a vegetable garden to grow more, so do give mushrooms a go.
And in this post I’ll take you through everything you need to know about growing mushrooms including:
- Growing mushrooms with kits
- The best mushroom growing kits
- Mushroom growing tips for beginners
- Best temperature to grow mushrooms
- How to water mushrooms
- How quickly mushrooms grow
- How to harvest mushrooms
- Growing second & third mushroom crops
And as an added extra there are tips at the bottom on exploring fungi with kids to help them understand the weird and wonderful life cycle of fungi.
1. Mushroom Growing Kits
You can grow mushrooms from packets of spawn but the first time you grow mushrooms I definitely recommend buying a mushroom growing kit.
Mushroom kits will cost more than just buying spawned mushroom spore but they make a fun gift and you can support local jobs buying direct from small independent suppliers near you.
Mushroom kits come in different varieties – I’ll help you choose the best mushroom kit in a moment – but basically your kit will include:
- a growing container, e.g. tub or box or log or even a book
- mushroom substrate : mushroom substrate is the material the mushrooms feed on and could be manure, coffee grounds, straw or a log
- spawned mycelium : the mycelium is the fungi itself and in a kit it’s usually been spawned so it is live and already mixed into and growing in the substrate
Kits with spawned mycelium will already be growing when you get them so you do need to start looking after it straight away.
2. The Best Mushroom Growing Kits
There are all sorts of different mushroom growing kits for growing everything from oyster and shiitake mushrooms to weird and wonderful – more than slightly psychedelic!! – enoki and lion’s mane mushrooms …
But to be honest the best mushroom growing kits to start with are the really simple reliable ones with:
- Button, chestnut or oyster mushrooms
- Spawned compost substrate in a tub or box
Other varieties of mushroom kit can be great fun but can have significant downsides for beginners and kids:
- Shiitake mushrooms are often slower to grow.
- Coffee ground mushroom kits are very trendy but the nutrients in coffee substrate are more likely to go off kilter and kill your spawn.
- Kits for growing mushrooms on logs can do well but typically the mushrooms will grow much slower on the logs.
A simple mushroom growing kit will give you three quick growing mushroom crops and let you practice your mushroom growing skills before trying a more exotic mushroom kit or growing mushrooms from spawn.
I’ll now take you through mushroom growing tips for beginners and then show you how you can adapt these to grow mushrooms from spawn.
3. Mushroom Growing Tips For Beginners
Precise instructions will vary between mushroom growing kits but these are the essential mushroom growing tips for beginners you need to know for all kits and for growing mushroom from spawn.
Best Temperature To Grow Mushrooms
Mushrooms don’t like it too hot or too cold, so find a spot for your mushroom container that will be between 63-68 / 14-20 degrees.
How To Water Mushrooms
Mushrooms like soil damp but not soggy. It is best to use a spray bottle and very lightly dampen the growing surface twice a day.
How Quickly Do Mushrooms Grow?
Mushrooms typically grow from spawned mycelium within a week to 10 days and will be ready to harvest within a week of first appearing.
How To Harvest Mushrooms
Mushrooms are best harvested roughly a week after first appearing as this will increase the chance of more crops.
Although, they will be different sizes harvest all the mushrooms at once by cutting as close as possible to the substrate with a knife.
Growing Second & Third Mushroom Crops
To grow second and third mushroom crops make sure to keep spraying the compost lightly twice a day after your first harvest.
Subsequent crops can start to appear after 7 days but it can be 3 weeks so do keep lightly spraying to keep damp and don’t forget about them.
And there you go, all the mushroom growing tips for beginners you need to know for multiple bumper crops. For tips on exploring fungi with kids, whiz to to the bottom.
And for more simple grow your own food tips for beginners check out these posts:
- Growing Vegetables For Beginners On A Budget
- 5 Quick Growing Vegetables
- Growing Vegetables From Scraps
- Vegetables To Plant In Early Spring
So as you are growing your mushrooms encourage your little naturalist to mull over these questions …
- Do mushrooms have a seed?
- Do mushrooms have roots?
- Do mushrooms need light?
- Do mushrooms need water?
- Where do mushrooms get energy from?
- Where does the next crop come from?
Jan Mckenzie says
Where can i buy mushrooms spawn please Jan
Marieta Boshoff says
Where can I buy mushroom spawn or steeds.
Hi there – you can buy spawn on Amazon but I would go to a local mushroom farm / specialist near you as you’ll usually get better quality. If you pop “mushroom spawn” and your state or county into Google you’ll should get a good few choices. I would then check out their About pages which should make clear whether they really know their stuff or are just a fly-by-night business jumping on a trend. Hope that helps Alice
Here in South Africa one cannot find mushroom kits.
So how do I start to grow mushrooms
You need to get some mycelium – the fungi spawn itself – and then decide on a substrate to grow it on. The substrate could be manure / compost, coffee grounds, a log, newspaper. Manure / compost is probably easiest to begin with. The mycelium comes spawned and unspawned. If it’s spawned you can follow the instructions in section 3. If it’s not spawned your mycelium should come with instructions on how to spawn it and you can then pick up from section 3. Hope that helps, Alice
Amazon should have access to kits
Vivienne Bennett says
I would love to start growing mushrooms