Learning how to grow mushrooms will involve plenty of trial and error, so prepare to be a tad patient. A delicious crop, mushrooms don't grow in the same way as other vegetables and they require a top layer called a substrate to thrive. Fear not, as with a bit of practice, you'll soon enough enjoy homegrown mushrooms in your garden, or even on your window sill...you're in for a lot of fun(ghi)!
If you're new to growing vegetables, or even just funghi, we recommend sticking to oyster mushrooms to begin with, as they're less fussy about where they will grow. You can also try brown or white cap mushrooms if you only have sawdust available and wish to grow them indoors.
For more planting advice, go to our garden ideas page.
How to grow mushrooms in the garden
1. Choose a secluded and shady spot, preferably under a tree or shrub. Mushrooms will not grow in full sun and without a constant supply of moisture. They are precious things.
2. Disturb the soil a little and cover with wood chips or a log, or a section of an old tree trunk. If using logs or tree trunks, make sure they're not rotten. If using wood chip, make sure it's hardwood, as mushrooms won't grow in softwood.
3. Scatter the mushroom spores over your woodchip or logs, that is over your substrate.
4. Now, be patient. Don't worry if the area dries out in warm weather, although you may not see any growth until the following year.
How to grow mushrooms at home
If you don't have a garden, you still can attempt to grow mushrooms at home. You will need:
- A growing containter
- Mushroom compost
- Sawdust or hardwood chip, or used ground coffee
- A sterilising pouch called an autoclave bag
- Oat or wheat bran (optional)
- Mushrooms spores
1. Fill the container with the mushroom compost.
2. Next, make sure that if using sawdust or woodchip, it's sterilised. To sterilise sawdust, steam it or soak it in hot water for half an hour. Afterwards, place on top of the compost while still damp. To sterilise wood chip, you'll need to place the wood chips in an autoclave bag and steam them in a pressure cooker for three hours, with a little water at the bottom of the cooker for steam. Make sure the bag doesn't touch the water.
3. Scatter your substrate over the compost, ideally while damp. If using, add a little wheat or oat bran as fertiliser. Don't use more a teaspoon, or you could see mould growth instead of mushrooms. Next, mix the mushroom spores in with the substrate.
4. Mist daily with water. You should see growth within a month.