Grow Your Own Mushrooms - Growing your Own is Easy

One way to have a plentiful supply all year round is to grow your own mushrooms.

If you are lucky enough to live in the countryside, there may be a ready supply of wild mushrooms around for you to pick your own.

However, unless you are absolutely certain of what type of mushroom is growing near you, don't be tempted to guess and assume the ones you are picking for eating are safe.

Poisonous mushrooms kill.

The safest way to know what type of mushroom you have for your kitchen is to get into the habit of growing your own. They are not hard to grow. All you have to do is provide them with their preferred growing environment and they do the rest.

Book on Mushroom Identification

Mushroom Types

Know your mushrooms before you cook them. One way to know is to buy them in a shop, or to buy a mushroom kit from a reliable seller.

After you have grown your own, you will be better able to identify those you find in the wild, although it is always advisable to have a reference book to hand. In this article, I hope to encourage an interest in these remarkable fungii, and show what they can do for our health.

morel mushroom
morel mushroom

Morel mushrooms

Morel mushrooms have a very distinctive shape as seen here.

In the wild they can be found growing on old apple trees, dead and dying elms, sycamores, ash and tulip trees.

Of the different edible varieties there are the common or yellow morel (morchella esculenta), the white morel (m.deliciosa) and the black morel (m.elata).

It has been suggested that the first time you try this mushroom, you should slice lengthways, fry lightly in butter and serve on toast so that it's slightly nutty taste can be appreciated.

The morel mushroom can be frozen or dried for later use.

False morel
False morel

False morel

Where the morel mushroom grows wild, take extreme caution when collecting any, because in the same situation you will find it's deadly cousin, the false morel (gyromitra esculenta). The false morel mushroom is squatter and it's head more brain-like, and if ingested is deadly as it attacks all your major internal organs resulting in death from liver damage.

An important difference is when you slice it open lengthways, the false morel is solid on the inside, where the real morel is hollow.

Shiitake Mushrooms

The shiitake mushroom has taken America by storm, not only for it's delicious smoky flavour, but for its health-giving properties.

Originally grown and used by the Chinese for 6000 years, where it is well-known for its health benefits, the shiitake mushroom has been found to contain lentinan, a substance that has shown remarkable qualities in the treatment of cancers. When ingested, the body has produced reticular cells, which are immune cells that eat damaged or cancerous cells.

Lentinan has also been proven to boost the immune system, assisting HIV sufferers, fighting infection and is also proven to be more effective against viruses like colds and influenza than any prescription drug.

Shiitake mushrooms are an excellent source of selenium and also contain a massive 20% of the daily recommended dose of iron.

They also contain eritadenine, which when fed to laboratory rats, lowered cholesterol.

To top it all, shiitake mushrooms have been found to be the top food source of the anti-oxidant, L-ergothioneine, which is NOT destroyed by cooking.

Shiitake mushrooms can be kept in a paper bag in the fridge for about 1 week, or dried to keep forever, or frozen when it will keep in a home freezer for up to a year.

Note: shiitake mushrooms contain purines, which are especially bad for people with kidney or gout problems.

chicken of the wood
chicken of the wood

Chicken of the Woods Mushrooms

Sometimes known as the sulphur polypore, laetiporus sulphureus is often found in the wild on the barks of the oak, yew, cherrywood, sweet chestnut and willow trees.

When found growing on conifers and eucalyptus trees they are considered inedible.

They are best harvested when young and tender as when they get older they become sour and woody.

Chicken of the Woods  mushroom is best used as a chicken substitute, or chopped up and cooked with chicken, as it has a chickeny-flavour and texture, though it also has a strong fungus flavour and woody smell, which can be off-putting to some.

Chicken of the Woods do not store well, though they can be frozen if chopped up ad lightly fried in butter first. It cannot be dried.

It's health giving benefit is that it contains a substance that kills staph. aureus, a common but particularly nasty bacteria.

Some people can show an allergic reaction to this mushroom, so if trying for the first time it is advisable to only take a little bit to see how well it sits with you.

Reishi mushrooms

The Reishi is an extraordinary mushroom in terms of its health giving benefits. Like the shiitake, Reishi mushrooms have been grown for centuries in ancient China where it's benefits were well-known, and it's only now the Western world is catching up and catching on.

Reishi mushrooms are also known as Lingzhi or Ling Chi and are a recognised medicinal mushroom, with extracts being available in health food shops. It's botanical name is ganoderma (meaning 'shiny top') lucidum.

Among the claim to fame of the reishi mushroom are immune system boostng, cholesterol lowering, infection fighting, sleep giving, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer - in fact the Japanese government recognise it as an anti-cancer drug - to name but a few of it's abilities. There are too many to list here, so if you need to read more I suggest you look here : Health Benefits of Reishi Mushrooms

Oyster mushrooms

The botanical name for Oyster mushroom is pleurotus ostreatus, and like their name suggest, they have a slight oyster and peppery flavour and are best used in Eastern-type cookery in soups, sauces and stir-frys with soy sauce.

Again, Oyster mushrooms are best eaten when young, as they tend tecome leathery and sour as they get older.

Oyster mushrooms mature in the autumn, and are found on old dead deciduous trees throughout the temperate and sub-tropical regions of the world, especially in areas of higher rainfall.

They can also be considered medicinal as they contain higher levels of locastatin which lowers cholesterol, and is reputed to have some anti-cancer agents.

It is inadvisable to eat Oyster mushrooms raw as they contains natural toxins that could interfere with the digestive process. However, cooking kills these toxins as well as any bacteria that may be present.

Once picked, Oyster mushrooms can be frozen, dried, pickled or canned for later use.

Oyster Mushrooms in the Wild

oyster mushrooms in the wild
oyster mushrooms in the wild

White Button mushrooms

Button mushrooms are best grown at between 63 - 68 degrees F. Temperatures above 86C will kill the spores and below 55F will put them into hibernation. Freezing will kill some spores, but not all.

If you buy the White Button mushroom kit online, as shown here, you need to start them off right away or within a week or two of its arrival. If you are not going to be abe to start it off right away, it can safely be stored in the refrigerator until you can use it.

Normally these kits come with mushroom compost already full of mushroom spawn or spores and all you have to do is add water. Your first White Button mushrooms should be ready for picking in about 3 weeks, and will continue producing at about fortnightly intervals for about another 3 months.

Portobello mushrooms

Agaricus bisporus, or white button mushroom is the common mushroom normally bought in stores, and the one most of us are used to using. This same mushroom in maturity is known as the portobello mushroom.

Health Benefits - there are studies to show that this mushroom can reduce breast cancer incidences of over 60% in women who regularly eat them. The studies show that they inhibit a substance called aromatase, which in turn lowers estrogen levels in the body. This same study also showed that women who drink green tea along with their mushroom intake, reduce their risk of developing breast cancer by a massive 90% which is excellent news for women whose family have suffered from this. (Breast cancer frequently runs in families).

There is also evidence to suggest that the button mushrooms boost the immune system.

The downside risk of eating this type of mushroom is that there is an added risk of vomiting, diarrhoea, bloating, gas and discomfort for the minority of people who are sensitive to chitin, a compound also found in the common mushroom.

More Mushroom Kits at Amazon

Finally

There are many other varieties of mushroom you can grow at home, and you don't have to buy a kit although they are useful for the beginner and for those without a garden.

If you can find someone to sell or give you mushroom spawn plugs, you can drill holes in an old log and insert the plugs, cover with wax - cheese wax is best but if you can't get any, use candle wax (this is to protect the plugs from attack by insects).

Water well and leave in a shady corner of your garden, underneath a tree or outhouse for example, and you will be rewarded in due course by baby mushrooms popping out of the sealed holes you drilled.

Comments 19 comments

macki62000 profile image

macki62000 6 years ago from Central Scotland

hope their no magic Izzy lol


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 6 years ago from UK Author

LOL, wish they were the google keyword pays more for them!


Tammy Lochmann profile image

Tammy Lochmann 6 years ago

great info. I never thought of growing them at home.


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 6 years ago from UK Author

Cheers Tammy, I might even take up growing them myself. It was a friend of mine told me he is thinking of growing them to sell - they are €4 per kilo in the shops - that made me stop and think.


blondepoet profile image

blondepoet 6 years ago from australia

I love mushrooms and am seriously thinking of getting a kit.


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 6 years ago from UK Author

They don't seem to be too hard to grow either. Good luck with it if you buy one :)


jayjay40 profile image

jayjay40 6 years ago from Bristol England

very interesting, never thought of growing mushrooms before, thanks for sharing


Eileen Hughes profile image

Eileen Hughes 6 years ago from Northam Western Australia

Izzy, I knew there were many types but did not know so many, very interesting hub. thanks for educating us.


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 6 years ago from UK Author

Educating myself , morelike lol. It started off as a topic of conversation in the local pub, so I went home and researched and finding it a fascinating topic, decided to share it with everyone.

I want to grow mushrooms too! At least I know how now:)


philip carey 61 6 years ago

Great topic. Fungi Perfecti (they have a website) is a good source for home growing supplies. I'm heading out to gather morels tomorrow. Then, in July the Chanterelles fruit (Cantharellus cibarius). But my favorite comes in September. The Parasol mushroom (Lepiota procera). I love wild mushrooms and have studied them for years. Identification is my forte, but also mycophagy (eating them). I've eaten around 30 wild species that grow here in eastern Pennsylvania. Anyway, smiling to see a hub on this topic!


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 6 years ago from UK Author

Thanks for dropping by and commenting:) Good to see an enthusiast!


Urban Farm Girl profile image

Urban Farm Girl 6 years ago from El Cerrito, California

I have been learning mushroom cultivation and mycology in general. I haven't been able to grow them on my farm successfully, but I do go out to hunt for wild mushrooms. They are so good! I have been a member of Mycological Society in San Francisco for 5 years. Most of general public in the states are afraid of mushrooms. Seriously afraid. I am happy to see other enthusiasts here! :D


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 6 years ago from UK Author

yes mushrooms are fascinating, aren't they?


wearing well profile image

wearing well 6 years ago from Lancashire U.K.

Thanks for a great article.I would love to know if the mushrooms growing in my back garden are edible :)


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 6 years ago from UK Author

Did you see on the news the other day (I am in UK at the moment) about people stealing the wild mushrooms from Epping Forest? Take it they are edible then..is there no place near you can identify yours for you...a university perhaps? I wouldn't risk trying them until I know...


Donna Suthard profile image

Donna Suthard 5 years ago

I used to hunt for morels in Indiana.. We usually found the black ones first, then the yellow morels. We also sometimes found the red mushrooms..They were good. I would fry them in egg, flour, and butter..They were delicious..so its really possible to grow morels with a kit? Awesome... We always found them in April...Thank you for sharing this wonderful hub!!


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

You're welcome, and thanks for commenting :)


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 5 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

Very good article, Izzy! I bought two "back to the roots" pearl or oyster organic mushroom grow kits from amazon - bought them with my HP ad earnings, and just wrote a hub about it.

Great stuff!!! I like em' in ground beef!


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

They are great in a bolognese sauce too! Let me know how you get on with the kits!

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