Growing fresh vegetables at home has quickly regained popularity in the last few years, but many people remain intimidated by the prospect of cultivating mushrooms. Even those who absolutely love mushrooms seem hesitant to wade into trusting themselves to grow their own.

From a young age, most of us have been taught to fear the fungi even though there are only a few that are dangerous and even fewer that are deadly. Truthfully, though, there are just as many—more actually—dangerous and deadly plants as there are fungi. It’s just that we don’t have the same cultural fright over flora.

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Well, now is as good a time as any to begin getting over it all. Mushrooms are delicious, have fantastic medicinal qualities, and can be amazing additions to an edible landscape. There are several ways we can grow them right at home – no high-dollar equipment or special training involved.

Mushroom Grow Kit

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For the most apprehensive of growers, the mushroom grow kit is probably the best place to start. These are mail-order jobbies. More or less, the task of growing mushrooms has been reduced to opening a bag and spritzing the contents with water. A sanitized growing medium has been inoculated with mushroom spawn, and all that’s left to do is expose to air and keep it moist. Nevertheless, gourmet mushrooms—maitake, oyster, cremini—can be grown this way. For about $20, homegrown mushrooms can be yours.

Mushroom Logs

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Enthusiastic DIY mushroom cultivators usually opt for the mushroom log methodology. In this case, the grower needs to acquire one (or a few) freshly cut hardwood logs, with oak and maple being amongst the best. These can be sourced, often for free, by calling tree-trimming services. The logs are inoculated by inserting a bunch of mushroom plugs and sealing them in with wax. The plugged logs are stacked in the shade, and typically between six months and a year, the logs begin sprouting fresh gourmet ‘shrooms for years to come. Shiitake, oyster, and lion’s mane mushrooms are very fond of this.

Mushroom Beds

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Another effective way of producing mushrooms at home is to grow them in mushroom beds. In this case, a sort of raised bed is built of freshly chopped hardwood chips or even straw. As the chips are being layered into the bed, mushroom spawn is spread over them. The mushroom bed is kept moist, especially for the first month, and within half a year, fungi begin fruiting throughout the mushroom bed. The mushroom bed is particularly well suited for wine cap, nameko, and oyster mushrooms.

Mushroom Bags

Source: FreshCap Mushrooms /YouTube

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Kind of a cross between mushroom beds and grow kits, mushroom bags are plastic bags, buckets, or various other containers that are filled with pasteurized (fresh) wood chips, shavings, and/or sawdust. In this case, like building the mushroom bed, the mushroom bag is filled with the grow medium (woody products), with mushroom spawn layered in every couple of inches. The advantage of mushroom bags is that they can be kept indoors or under shelter, where growing conditions can be controlled a little more.

Mushroom Mulch

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Another way to take advantage of those mushrooms that like to grow on wood chips is to include them in the vegetable garden. Fungi are fantastic at taking woody organic matter and decomposing it into rich soil. It’s actually their job in the forest. Well, we can recreate this system by sheet mulching and inoculating our garden beds, garden paths, or around fruit trees with fresh wood chips and mushroom spawn. The fungi have a great environment for fruiting, and all the while, the surrounding plants will be benefitting from it.

Aside from adding astounding flavor to meals, mushrooms can quickly become a food growers’ favorite because they don’t compete for garden space. Unlike most crops we cultivate, mushrooms do best with little to no sun. That means we can tuck them under the trees, just behind the fence where the sun never hits, or below the luscious leaves of our kale plants. They can even be grown in a closet or the basement. In other words, mushroom growing is worth getting into, because it provides delicious food and is also quite a lot of fun.

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