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How to Grow Mushrooms at Home

Mushrooms are packed with nutrition and are easily grown at home. Learn the basics in this blog post and podcast with Chris Gilmour as he shares how simple it is to grow mushrooms at home.

A man holding up a bucket with mushrooms growing out of it.

About Chris Gilmour

In Chris’ early twenties, he saw many things that concerned him about the direction the world was heading. This began his lifelong journey of learning how to reconnect to the land (and to people). 

Chris went to college to study ecology and forestry. He then traveled to North and Central America to learn about their ecosystems, cultures and ways of living sustainably. After that, he apprenticed on permaculture farms and in sustainable forestry. 

Today, he lives on a homestead with his wife, Laura, where they grow food and herbs and sustainably tend and harvest from the forest.

Large mushrooms being sliced to dehydrate.

Why Grow Mushrooms at Home?

Growing mushrooms seamlessly complements the homesteading lifestyle. We’re all for eliminating food waste and doing our best to live a no-waste lifestyle.

Chris says if you take spent coffee grounds, add them to a mason jar and inoculate them with mycelium, you’ll get two or three flushes of mushrooms off those coffee grounds.

Once the mushrooms are done growing, those coffee grounds are super-charged with mycelium. Chris says he then feeds the coffee grounds to his worms (vermicompost system), which means the worms are benefiting from the mycelium, and they create even better fertilizer.

That vermicompost is used to create a compost tea for his plant starts in the spring, or to feed the garden every couple of weeks throughout the growing season.

A basket filled with a mushroom harvest.

Health Benefits of Mushrooms

Mushrooms are growing in popularity for their many health benefits (mushroom coffees and other mushroom supplements). But they’re expensive! So what are the mushrooms that can be grown at home and what are their benefits?

  • Lion’s Mane – Supports healthy brain function & neuron generation.
  • Reishi – Sleep aid and potent immunomodulator.
  • Cordyceps – Improves lung capacity and increases energy.
  • Chaga – Boosts digestion and clears/protects skin.
  • Turkey Tail – Boosts immune system function.
  • Shiitake – Supports cardiovascular health.
  • Maitake – Helps to maintain healthy blood pressure and supports immune function.
  • Oyster – Supports heart and metabolic health.
  • Agaricus – Supports cardiovascular health and provides excellent levels of vitamin D.
  • Tremella – Promotes healthy, youthful complexion through potent anti-aging properties.

If you want a clear guide to how to use mushrooms for medicinal use, check out the book Fungal Pharmacy.

A man harvesting mushrooms growing out of logs.

Growing Mushrooms Outdoors

Choose Your Mushrooms

Not all mushrooms are equal in their ease of growing. Choosing a variety that’s easy to grow will give you a better chance of having success.

Some of the easier mushrooms to grow are the following:

  • Wine Cap Mushrooms – Also known as King Stropharia, they have an aggressive mycelium and will outperform other mycelium in the soil, growing very quickly.
  • Oyster Mushrooms – These are also a fast-growing mushroom that are easy to grow.
  • Shitake Mushrooms – This variety is slightly harder to grow indoors, but growing in fresh logs outdoors is incredibly easy. Chris has a log that has been growing Shitake mushrooms for 9 years after only one inoculation (the average is 6-9 growing years).

Chris recommends avoiding some of the harder-to-grow varieties when just getting started, like Lion’s Mane and Maitake.

Once you choose the mushroom variety you’d like, you need to purchase mushroom spawn, which is sawdust that’s been inoculated with mushroom mycelium.

Mushrooms growing out of logs.

Choose a Growing Medium

All mushrooms need moisture in order to grow. No matter what substrate you’re growing mushrooms on, it will need to be able to hold moisture. This is why you often find mushrooms growing in wood chips or wood shavings and along dead logs rotting in the forest.

  • Wood Chips – Fresh, clean wood chips will give the best results. Chris also mentions using a piece of cardboard under the wood chips to give the mycelium a jump start.
  • Straw – Choose a nice clean and dry bale of straw, not one that’s been sitting in a field getting rained on for months on end.
  • Logs – When growing mushrooms on logs you’ll need a green wood, meaning a nice healthy tree. Chris recommends deciduous trees. Set up the logs in the shade, close to a water source.

Step-by-Step Process

  1. Once you’ve procured your mushroom spawn (this is simply sawdust that’s been inoculated with mushroom mycelium) and chosen your growing medium, it’s as simple as inoculating the growing medium and waiting!
  2. If you’re using wood chips or straw, simply sprinkle the mushroom spawn throughout the growing medium (using some cardboard, if desired) and then wait.
  3. If you’re using a log, you’ll want to drill holes all over the logs, put the mushroom spawn into each hole, and then seal it over with some wax. You’ll then sit back and wait! The logs will need to stay damp. If it doesn’t rain at least once a week, Chris recommends putting a sprinkler on them for a bit to keep them watered.
Mushrooms growing from a Mason jar in a kitchen.

Growing Mushrooms Indoors

If you’re going to grow indoors, we first need to discuss safety. Mushrooms release spores, which is how they reproduce, and this will go into the air. So when growing indoors, we don’t want to be breathing this in all the time.

Chris grows in a big clear plastic tub, which catches all the spores and keeps the humidity pretty high (which mushrooms love).

Choose Your Mushroom

Chris says he mainly grows oyster mushrooms indoors. They’re very delicious and easy to grow. Once you get the hang of growing oyster mushrooms, then you can give the more medicinal mushrooms a try. These will have different growing recommendations than what’s shown below.

  • Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
  • Maitake Mushrooms
  • Reishi Mushrooms

Choose a Growing Medium

There are a couple of options when growing mushrooms indoors:

  • Coffee Grounds – Spent coffee grounds make a fantastic growing medium for mushrooms. It’s something most of us already have on hand and would otherwise end up in the trash or compost bin.
  • Straw – Straw is another great growing medium for growing mushrooms indoors. Take care that the straw you’re using isn’t sprayed and is from a good clean source.
  • Coconut Husk
  • Compressed Sawdust Fiber

Step-by-Step Process

  1. Once you’ve procured your mushroom spawn and chosen your growing medium, it’s as simple as inoculating the growing medium and waiting!
  2. If you’re using coffee grounds, simply sprinkle the mushroom spawn throughout the growing medium, add this to a large bin, cover the bin and then wait.

There are a few more details than this, such as making sure your mushrooms are at the appropriate temperature throughout the process, so we highly recommend checking out Chris’ class, The Mushroom Course (use coupon code “HSF25” for 25% off), where he walks you through the entire process.

If you purchase mushroom spawn, it’s likely there will also be instructions that come with your purchase.

A basket filled with a mushroom harvest.

How Long Does it Take For Mushrooms to Grow?

This will vary depending on the variety and the growing medium. Shiitake mushrooms, which Chris recommends when getting started, can take anywhere from 8-24 months before they’ll begin to produce mushrooms when growing on logs, so it’s a bit of a time commitment. However, they’ll also produce for up to nine years, so it’s well worth the wait.

When growing on coffee grounds, you could be enjoying your first mushroom harvest in about five to six weeks.

Where to Find Chris

If you’d like to learn more about foraging for or growing mushrooms or learn more from Chris, you can: 

  1. Check out The Mushroom CourseHe created a special discount code for our Homesteading Family viewers. So use coupon code “HSF25” for 25% off the course.
  2. Check out Chris’ Website, Chris Outdoors
  3. Find Chris on YouTube and Facebook.
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A man and wife smiling.

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Josh and Carolyn bring you practical knowledge on how to Grow, Cook, Preserve and Thrive on your homestead, whether you are in a city apartment or on 40 acres in the country. If you want to increase your self-sufficiency and health be sure to subscribe for helpful videos on gardening, preserving, herbal medicine, traditional cooking and more.

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