how to grow mushrooms at home

If you’re looking for information on how to grow mushrooms using our certified organic mushroom growing kits, you’re in luck. Here, we answer your frequently asked questions and give detailed instructions for growing mushrooms at home. Check out our educational videos for more information on getting the most out of growing mushrooms at home!

Click the links below for specific instructions on each mushroom variety:

How To Grow Shiitakes

In this helpful video, Cascadia Mushrooms founder Alex Winstead goes over how to grow shiitake mushrooms using our mushroom growing kits.

Shiitakes

Our Shiitake Mushroom Growing Kit is a colony of mushroom mycelium growing on a mixture of hardwood sawdust, grain and water. It is a living thing and is intended to be grown right away. If you are not able to start your kit within a week of receiving it, you can safely refrigerate it for up to four weeks at normal refrigerator temps (34-39*F).

What you need to succeed:

  1.  About a gallon of non-chlorinated water
  2.  A plant sprayer or misting bottle for the water
  3.  Three or four plastic or metal forks
  4.  A plastic grocery sack or other clean plastic bag to loosely cover your kit
  5.  A wire baking rack (optional, but recommended)
  6.  A large plate or baking sheet

*NOTE ON WATER: Chlorine is a fungicide and will kill the mycelium that your mushroom kit is made of. You can either use store-bought spring water, or de-chlorinate city tap water by letting it sit out in an open-topped container for 12 or more hours. If your water comes from a well or spring, it is safe to use.*

The ideal temperature range for growing Shiitake is between 55 and 70 degrees F. Light should be a natural night/day cycle and light levels should be low, like a north-facing window or counter-top that doesn’t receive direct sun. Mushrooms don’t need sunlight to grow, but do require some indirect light; natural or artificial light works great. Avoid direct sun because that will dry out and potentially overheat the mushroom block.

Creating the mushroom habitat:

  1.  To activate your Shiitake kit and begin growing mushrooms, the first thing to do is remove the dark brown block from the original bag it was contained in. Since mushrooms will form all over the surface of the block, it’s necessary to completely remove this covering. To avoid making a mess, do this outdoors or in a sink so any liquid from the bag can go down the drain or onto the ground. 

    Do not position your kit near a heat source or in a drafty location where there is a lot of airflow. This may dry out your kit and decrease growth. 

  2.  Now set up the proper environment for your kit that will allow the mushrooms to grow. The basic requirements for mushroom growth are: proper humidity, temperature, and light. Ideal humidity is achieved by making a plastic humidity tent to drape over the kit. Create this tent using a white or clear plastic bag that fits loosely over the Shiitake block (grocery bags or white plastic garbage sacks work well). Gently stab 3 to 4 of your plastic or metal forks about an inch into the block evenly around the top – this will support the humidity tent. Cut 4 or more X-shaped holes in the bag so it can breathe, then drape the bag over the block so it sits on the forks and is held slightly away from the surface of the block.

    Within 7-14 days of misting your kit, you will see small brown or tan bumps breaking out of the brown skin all over the block. This is the beginning of your first “flush” of mushrooms. Occasionally only a few bumps will form or some will not grow into large mushrooms, this is normal. Over the next 10 days these bumps (mushroom primordia) will grow and mature into full sized mushrooms just like you see in the grocery store or at the Farmers Market! 

  3.  Once you have the humidity tent set up, place the tented block on your wire baking rack on top of the plate or baking sheet.

  4. If you do not notice many mushrooms forming on the kit’s surface, check the underside to see if they are growing from the bottom. If so, flip the kit so that most mushrooms will grow upward–replace the humidity tent and continue misting daily.

Care & watering:

To produce bountiful Shiitake crops, the proper conditions must be maintained:

Fill your plant sprayer with the non-chlorinated water. Two to four times a day, remove the humidity tent and liberally spray the Shiitake block surface, then replace the humidity tent. There is no need to soak the block when misting–we are only trying to create humidity–mist enough to create water droplets on all sides, that’s enough! A wire baking rack under the block will keep the Shiitake kit from becoming soggy with the water that collects in the plate below. When the baking sheet/plate basin becomes full of water, lift up the kit, pour out the water, and re-place the kit on the rack. 

If the mushrooms are too large to fit easily under your humidity tent, it’s okay to grow the mushrooms without the tent once they are started. If you are not using a humidity tent you may need to mist more often. 

When to harvest:

It’s time to harvest your Shiitake when the caps and stems of have gotten large and the edges of the mushroom caps are beginning to flatten out. The underside of each mushroom cap should reveal the blade-like gills. If the gills aren’t visible, let it grow longer. All of the mushrooms should mature within a few days of each other, but not all are ready at the same time. Pick your mushrooms as they mature.

How to harvest Shiitakes:

To harvest the mushrooms, simply snap them cleanly off the block with your fingers or cut them off with a sharp knife or scissors. Either prepare and consume the fresh mushrooms right away or place them in a paper bag in your refrigerator & store them for up to two weeks. They can also be dried & saved for two years in an airtight container. 

cascadia mushrooms grow room

How to cook Shiitake mushrooms:

The stems of Shiitake can be dried or boiled fresh to make a great soup or gravy but some people find them too tough and chewy to cook fresh. The caps are deliciously meaty and juicy and can be sliced and sautéed fresh. 

To prepare fresh Shiitake, slice or tear the caps into bite-size pieces & sauté with a bit of oil in a medium-high frying pan. Cook and stir them this way until all water has sweat out of the mushrooms. When steam no longer rises off the cooking mushrooms, add finely chopped onions or garlic and a bit of butter or oil. Continue to sauté until the Shiitake are slightly browned, but still tender. 

For more cooking inspiration and tips, check out our recipe collection:

Lion's Mane

Lion’s Mane Mushrooms (Hericium erinaceus) are a somewhat common wood-decomposing mushroom that can be found throughout the Northern Hemisphere in hardwood forests. It is a choice edible mushroom hunted by many-a mushroom enthusiast and grown commercially worldwide. Our Lion’s Mane Mushroom Growing Kit is a colony of Lion’s Mane Mushroom mycelium (the white thread-like fungus) growing on sterilized alder sawdust. This mix, called substrate, serves as food for the fungus and provides the necessary nutrients to produce mushrooms, much like they would grow from a log in the forest. 

What you need to succeed:

  1.  About a gallon of non-chlorinated water (To de-chlorinate tap water, let a bucket of water sit out in an open container overnight)
  2.  A plant sprayer or misting bottle for the water
  3.  Three or four plastic or metal forks
  4.  A plastic grocery sack or other clean plastic bag to loosely cover your kit
  5.  A growth chamber (see ideas below)

Creating the mushroom habitat:

Mushrooms can be grown indoors year-round or outdoors in the Spring or Fall if you live in a mild climate. An effective growing chamber can be constructed from a plastic bag and a few chopsticks. The plastic tent provides a humid environment and allows you to easily monitor your kit for growth and watering.

Cut four 3-inch diameter holes in the plastic bag for ventilation. Once you have initiated mushroom growth (next step), stab the chopsticks/ skewers into the top of the kit and drape the plastic bag over the entire kit like a tent. 

There are many options that work well as a growth chamber, get creative — a glass terrarium; a large clear plastic bin with a vented lid; a dish tub covered with a loosely fitting plastic bag. The key ingredients the mushrooms need in their growing environment are:

High humidity, indirect light, a good amount of air or breathing holes and temperatures ranging from 55 to 75 degrees F. 

Initiating mushroom growth:

To get your mushrooms to start growing you need to make some holes in the bag it came packaged in so the mushrooms can get out. We have marked several locations on your kit that are ideal for the mushrooms to grow from.

With a clean, sharp knife carefully make 4-6 cuts in the plastic bag where the marks are. “T” or “X” shaped cuts work best and allow large mushrooms to form & emerge from the bag. If a large amount of dense mushroom-like tissue is growing on the top of the kit, feel free to make extra holes in this area. 

Now all you have to do is place the kit in the growing chamber you made for the first week or so, keep it out of direct sunlight, and make sure it stays nice and moist. Most kits require a generous misting with your spray bottle about 2-3 times per day. Spray the kit so the surface is slightly wet, you do not need to spray inside the cut holes and you do not want the kit to be completely saturated or sitting in a pool of water. Mushrooms will begin to form over the next 1-2 weeks! 

 

Care & watering:

Lion’s Mane start out as tight clusters of coral-like growth located at the sight of the holes you made in the bag. They will grow larger every day for about 10-14 days. Once you begin to see the little buds of mushroom have grown larger than the tip of your finger, you may remove the humidity tent to make space for the growing mushrooms. During this time make sure you mist the kit 2 to 3 times per day. If your home is especially dry or drafty keep the humidity tent in place throughout the growing cycle

When to harvest:

When the brain-like Lion’s Mane mushrooms get large (up to fist-sized!) and the spines are distinct and elongated, they are ready to pick and eat.

How to harvest Lion's Mane:

To harvest the mushrooms simply grasp them at the base where they are emerging from the bag, gently twist and pull to remove the entire mushroom. Pull away any extra mushroom bits that remain sticking out of the hole, the second flush will form from the same holes. 

After harvesting, replace the humidity tent and continue to mist your kit daily. In another 10-14 days, the next crop will begin growing. Two – six crops can be harvested from one kit, each about two weeks apart. 

If your growing mushrooms take on a yellowish tint to them they are probably ready to harvest or the conditions are too dry. Mist more often. If the mushrooms appear soggy and are wet to the touch, mist less often. 

lion's mane mushroom grow kit

How to cook Lion's Mane mushrooms:

Lion’s Mane is best enjoyed in its purest form, you don’t want to disguise the flavor of this mushroom by cooking it in a complex meal.

Tear the whole mushrooms into bite-sized wedges, by separating it like a head of cauliflower. Heat a large skillet and dry sauté the mushroom pieces until all the water boils away and the edges begin to brown. Add a pat of butter to the skillet–enough to coat the mushrooms–and a clove of finely chopped garlic. Cook until golden brown. Dash the cooked mushrooms with a pinch of sea salt and eat them while they’re hot. Try them on small pieces of crusty bread or a good cracker. 

This mushroom’s flavor and texture also accompany egg dishes exquisitely! Try them in an omelet, quiche or frittata. Bon aptit! 

For more ideas, check out our recipe index:

Oyster

Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus spp.) are common wood-decomposing mushrooms that can be found throughout the world in many different climates. It is a choice edible mushroom hunted by many-a mycophagist and grown commercially worldwide. The Oyster Mushroom Growing Kit is a colony of Oyster Mushroom mycelium (the white thread-like fungus) growing on sterilized alder sawdust. The sawdust serves as food (substrate) for the mycelium which will provide the necessary nutrients to produce Oyster Mushrooms, much like it would grow on a log in the forest. 

What you need to succeed:

  1.  About a gallon of non-chlorinated water (To de-chlorinate tap water, let a bucket of water sit out in an open container overnight)
  2.  A plant sprayer or misting bottle for the water
  3.  Three or four plastic or metal forks
  4.  A plastic grocery sack or other clean plastic bag to loosely cover your kit

Creating the mushroom habitat:

Oyster Mushrooms can be grown indoors year-round, or outdoors in the spring or fall. An effective growing chamber can be constructed from a plastic bag and a few chopsticks. The plastic tent provides a humid environment and allows you to easily monitor your kit for growth and watering.

Cut four 3-inch holes in the plastic bag for ventilation. Once you have initiated mushroom growth (next step), stab the chopsticks/ skewers into the top of the kit and drape the plastic bag over the entire kit like a tent. 

You can also use this mushroom kit as “spawn” (see below) to grow more Oyster Mushrooms. Spawn is the mushroom equivalent of seed and can be mixed with an appropriate substrate (food for the mycelium) to produce more mushrooms. 

Other options for making a growth chamber include using a glass terrarium with a vented plastic lid; a large clear plastic bin with a vented lid; a dish tub that is covered with a loosely fitting plastic bag. There are many options that work well, get creative! The key ingredients mushrooms need in their growing environment are:

High humidity, indirect light, a good amount of air or breathing holes and temperatures ranging from 55 to 75 degrees F.

Initiating mushroom growth:

To get your mushrooms to start growing you need to make some holes in the bag so the mushrooms can get out:

Carefully make 4-6 cuts in the plastic bag evenly around the middle of the sawdust block using a sharp knife. “T” or “X” shaped cuts work best and allow large clusters of mushrooms to form & emerge from the bag. Do not open the top of the bag!

Now all you have to do is keep the kit in the growing chamber you made for the first week or so, keep it out of direct sunlight, and make sure it stays nice and moist. Most kits require a generous misting with your spray bottle about 2-3 times per day. When watering it is not necessary to get water inside the mushroom’s grow bag, all you need to do is get the surface wet to create a humid environment. 

Care & watering:

Mushrooms will begin to form over the next 1-2 weeks! Mushrooms start out as tight clusters of tiny mushrooms located at the sight of the holes you made in the bag and will grow larger every day for about a week. These “primordial” mushrooms can double in size every 24 hours! You can almost watch them grow. 

Once you begin to see the little buds of mushrooms emerging, you may remove the humidity tent to make space for the growing mushrooms. During this time make sure you mist the kit and mushrooms 2 to 3 times per day. 

If your mushrooms begin to grow in strange shapes and create long, spindly stems they are telling you they need more fresh air. Remove the humidity tent to allow the mushrooms to breathe. They will require generous watering each day to make up for increased evaporation.

When to harvest:

When the clusters of mushrooms get large and the edges begin to flatten out, they are ready to pick and eat!

How to harvest Oyster mushrooms:

To harvest the clusters simply grasp them at the base where they emerge from the bag, gently twist and pull to remove the entire cluster. Pull away any mushroom bits that remain on the kit, the second flush will form at the same holes. After harvesting, replace the humidity tent and continue misting your kit every day. In another 10-14 days, a new crop will begin growing. Two – six crops can be harvested from one kit, each about two weeks apart. 

growing oyster mushrooms at home

How to use the sawdust as "spawn":

After you have gotten 3 or more harvests from your kit, you can expand the colony outdoors to encourage seasonal fruitings of Oyster mushrooms.

Remove the plastic bag containing the colony and break it into pieces. These bits of sawdust and mushroom mycelium can be mixed into wood chip beds, mounds of moistened cardboard and paper scraps, spent coffee grounds, or straw. By feeding more substrate material to the Oyster Mushroom mycelium, you give it more food and another chance to expand and produce more delicious mushrooms! **

The mycelium can also be transplanted into cut hardwood logs. Cut an alder, oak, maple, or cherry log into 1/2-1 foot tall rounds and pack the Oyster Mushroom sawdust between layers of the rounds and stack them up. Place these stacks in a shady area of your garden or forest and look for mushrooms in the fall and early spring.**

 

**When picking mushrooms that grow outdoors, always positively identify each mushroom species. All mushrooms picked for food must be verified by an expert before consuming! 

Reishi

Reishi, also known as Ganoderma lucidum or “Ling zhi”, is a polypore mushroom that has been used for centuries as a health tonic in many traditional medicine practices. Known for its deep red to yellow coloring and its ability to support the immune system, the Reishi mushroom can be easily grown at home using one of our kits.

A grow-your-own Reishi kit from Cascadia Mushrooms is one of the easiest mushrooms to cultivate indoors at temperatures above 70 degrees F. If you live in a warmer climate where temperatures are regularly above 70 and humidity is high, they may also be grown outdoors. 

What you need to succeed:

  1.  A room that stays above 70* F
  2.  A spot protected from direct sunlight

Creating the mushroom habitat:

To allow the antler-like stems of Reishi to grow to their fullest possible size, simply leave the plastic bag containing your kit intact and the mushrooms will grow within the air-filled space of the bag directly from the block of mushroom-colonized sawdust.

Place the kit in a room of your home that has an average daytime temperature of 70 degrees or more but is protected from direct sun. Indirect light is essential but you want to avoid bright, direct sunlight which may affect growth.

Over the course of six to eight weeks the mushrooms will steadily and rapidly break down the nutritious sawdust food source and fill the empty portion of the bag with these fascinating branched mushrooms. 

The mushrooms have everything they need to flourish within the growing medium, there is no need to open the bag or disturb the block during growth. 

When to harvest:

Once the mushrooms have reached the top surface of the bag and are beginning to get very crowded, they are ready to harvest. 

How to harvest Reishi mushrooms:

To pick the mushrooms, cut open the entire top section of the plastic bag and fold it out of the way. Using scissors, your fingers or a serrated knife, carefully remove the antler-like mushrooms from the sawdust block. If you pick them from too low on the block some sawdust may come off with the mushrooms; if this happens just remove the sawdust and continue cutting higher up on the block. 

organic red reishi mushroom antlers

How to use your Reishi mushrooms:

Reishi can be dried using a food dehydrator, sun-dried, or air- dried on screens. Once they feel dry to the touch and crispy when broken, they can be stored in air-tight containers such as canning jars or ziplock bags for up to two years. 

To make an invigorating tea with your Reishi, break up a handful of antlers and simmer in 2 quarts of clean, fresh water for 20 minutes to 2 hours. You can add ginger, spices and/or honey to create a healing tea. Drink 2-3 cups per day for general support. 

Wine Cap Stropharia

This spectacular choice mushroom, which you can find in quantity throughout the United States in the spring and fall (sometimes even in the summer), has a cap that is red brown to tan and can sometimes grow to the size of a dinner plate, but is usually 2 to 5 inches across, bell-shaped when young, flat when old.

The crowded broad lilac-colored gills attach to the stem. The spore print is a very dark purple brown. The white stem is 4 to 6 inches long, 3/8 to 3/4 inch wide, emanating from an enlarged base.

Penetrating the wood chips, where the mushroom grows, you’ll see threads of white fungus coming from the mushroom’s base.

A distinctive membranous ring with radial lines on the mushroom’s upper surface grows on the upper stalk. 

Creating the mushroom habitat:

Our King Stropharia Mushroom Kits can be grown in a variety of ways, such as in a bucket, as well as in a raised bed in the backyard. Both methods work well.

The bucket method:

Carefully place a block of colonized mycelium into a 5 gallon bucket with drain holes drilled in the bottom.

Cover the mycelium with peat moss about 1-2 inches over the block and keep moist.

Once all the mushrooms are harvested, the bucket is left to rest for a couple of weeks, and then drenched with water, triggering another flush of mushrooms. You should be able to get about four crops of mushrooms from the bucket over the course of a summer. 

The raised bed method:

Use a raised bed 6 – 10″ tall. Fill the bed with wood chips and straw.

Carefully mix the mycelium into the wood chips and straw and then cover with a layer of peat moss or more straw, and then water.

This method will produce mushrooms for several years once established. It can, however, be killed off during harsh winters or summer droughts, as can the bucket unless protected from extreme freezing or drying. 

Mushroom Plugs

The wooden dowels contained in our Gourmet Mushroom Plug bags are the mushroom spawn which will be used to inoculate logs. The dowels are fully colonized by the gourmet or medicinal mushroom species indicated on the label. Once the plugs have been inserted into a log they will get to work decomposing the wood of the log over a number of years. After 9-12 months of colonization, mushrooms will begin to appear and will produce seasonal crops until the log itself decomposes fully and falls apart (5-15 years depending on type of log used). 

Storing the mushroom plugs properly:

It is always best to use your plugs as soon as possible after purchase, but you can wait if you have to. If you don’t use the mushroom plugs in the first month, store them in a refrigerator. Be sure not to let your plugs freeze, this will damage the delicate mycelium. 

Choosing proper logs & habitat:

It is best to cut down the trees to be inoculated when the leaves have fallen, but anytime will be sufficient. The logs should be inoculated as soon as possible, within 6-8 weeks. The goal here is to preserve the internal moisture content of the logs, and to beat the competing fungi that eventually rot any log. The plugs will not work if inserted in an old, rotten log. 

The logs that will perform best are broad-leaf hardwoods: alder, oak, birch, poplar, cottonwood, maple, etc.. The logs to be inoculated should be 4-10 inches in diameter and 2-5 feet long. Stumps of hardwood trees can also be inoculated if the bark is girdled (cut a ring in the bark) at soil level and the stumps are 2 to 4 feet tall. 

The best habitat for incubation is deep shade. Also called “spawn run”, the incubation period is defined by the time from inoculation to the production of mushrooms. Even a day or two of full sun exposure in summer can dry out a log and kill the mushroom mycelium. An area with a thick canopy of trees or a shade cloth structure works best.

Logs placed under cedar trees may be inhibited by the acidic content of falling cedar debris. 

Tools needed for inoculation:

  1.  An electric or hand-powered drill
  2.  5/16-inch drill bit
  3.  Wooden or rubber mallet
  4.  Sealing wax or *Seal and Heal* latex grafting sealer. Paraffin wax works but can become brittle and flaky if not mixed in a 1:2 ratio, beeswax : paraffin

  5.  A 1-inch bristle paint brush 

Inoculating the logs:

Place your cut logs on two 2″ x 4″ boards between sawhorses. You can also use a sturdy table, or the ground.

Use your 5/16″ bit, set approx. to 1″ depth with a bit stop or a band of duct tape. Starting about 2 inches from the end of the log, drill holes about 6-8 inches apart down the length of the log; make a line of holes every 3 inches around the log. This will make a grid of holes in a diamond pattern around the log surface.

Inoculate the logs immediately after all the log’s holes are drilled. Tap a plug into each hole with a mallet until the plug is flush with the bark surface. 

If you choose to use a sealing wax, melt it slowly on “low” in a pot that will only be used for melting wax after this point (i.e. the pot will be ruined for cooking purposes). When you have plugged all of your logs, dab a small amount of the melted wax over each plug site using a 1-inch bristle paintbrush. Use just enough wax to completely seal over the plug.

WARNING: Hot wax can be flammable when over-heated. Take caution when melting wax, and do not leave the paintbrush in the wax if the heat is still on. If using a grafting sealer, simply dab a small amount over each plug and allow to dry. 

With a group of people an assembly line is easily created with one person drilling, one plug tapping, and one wax sealing. 

Once your logs are inoculated and sealed, use a ballpoint pen to write on a tree tag or a piece of aluminum the date and the variety of mushroom. Staple or nail the tag to the smaller end of each log.

Stacking & placement of the logs:

There are three ways you can stack and place your inoculated logs:

1) Stack the logs off the ground to keep them from direct contact with soil; a 3-4″ layer of gravel or a pallet works well and helps keep off bugs (and termites!). Make low open stacks like a log cabin, each log placed about a log-width apart from the others, so they are not in total contact with each other. 

2) You can also bury the bottom of each log standing upright in sand or gravel. Bury the bottom foot of the log. 

3) Another method is to make a lean-to with your logs in one long row with a log-width between each log. This is usually implemented in large scale projects.

 

Put the stacks in a shady spot where they get plenty of rainfall and/or water from a sprinkler. Under tree canopies works well, especially evergreens. The logs can also be shaded using 80% shade cloth or cut pine boughs. Shade cloth will ensure that your logs don’t get too much sun during the summer. Simple hoop structures of PVC pipe with a shade cloth covering work great for a mushroom house! 

Harvesting the fruits of your labor:

The spawn run (incubation of the log) requires one warm season to fully colonize the log under the bark. The mycelium (thready white fungus) produces its fruiting bodies (mushrooms) in response to stress, such as a decrease in nutrient levels, a rapid increase in moisture, or a sudden drop in temperature. When several of these changes occur simultaneously, they tell mushrooms it is time to reproduce.

Once fruiting has begun, maintaining mild temperatures and high moisture will produce the highest yields and quality. Fruiting is close when white splotches of mycelia appear at the ends of the logs, leaving a marbled look to the cut end. The first fruiting of your logs can be initiated 9 to 12 months after inoculating them. 

 

To get Shiitake to produce you must soak the logs:

The best time to fruit your logs is in the Spring, early Summer or Fall, when temps are between 60 and 75 degrees. To simulate the natural monsoon conditions of the native Shiitake habitat, submerge your logs in cool water for 24-48 hours (you can use a rain barrel, pond, or bathtub to do this–use a weight to keep them from floating). In about a week, mushroom buds (*primordia*) emerge from the log and attain maturity after 1 to 2 weeks. In dry weather, they can harden and stop growing unless they are given a daily sprinkling of water.

 

To harvest:

Pull down the mushrooms by the stems, or cut them close to the bark with a sharp knife.

After fruiting for 2 to 3 weeks, the harvest tapers off. The mycelium now needs a few weeks to digest more wood for the next fruiting. During this time little watering is required. After the resting period, another fruiting can be started. If you have multiple logs you can stagger your soakings to get near constant mushroom growth during the season. 

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