Growing Mushrooms at Home

You can easily grow mushrooms at home and enjoy their rich flavors and nutritious benefits in everyday recipes.

  • Oyster mushrooms
    These budding caps will mature into a harvestable crop of oyster mushrooms.
  • Oyster mushrooms on logs
    These oyster mushrooms will continue to produce “crops” of mushrooms over the next few years, if the logs are kept moist.
  • Growing oyster mushrooms
    Oyster mushrooms make a tasty addition to any recipe calling for mushrooms.
  • Mushroom inoculation
    The author’s son daps wax onto the sawdust-covered inoculation holes in the fresh oak nursery logs.

  • Oyster mushrooms
  • Oyster mushrooms on logs
  • Growing oyster mushrooms
  • Mushroom inoculation

Fresh tomatoes, healthy green beans, sweet potatoes — these are all good edibles that make “growing your own” a positive and nutritious experience. But what about fresh, homegrown mushrooms? Shiitakes, oysters — even morels?

Believe it or not, with a few purchased tools, some freshly cut logs and a little patience, you can easily grow fresh mushrooms at home, either to sell for a profit, or to enjoy them yourself.

The easiest way to grow mushrooms at home is to order “spawn” from a reputable online company. Spawn is a big loaf of moistened sawdust knitted together with mycelium — the vegetative tissue of the fungus, similar to the root system of a perennial plant.

In March 2009, our son Robbie ordered his first mushroom spawn from Field and Forest Products, a great company in Wisconsin with a knowledgeable staff and lots of spawn choices suited for various climates and conditions. Robbie chose to grow a variety of shiitakes called Native Harvest, and Grey Dove oyster mushrooms. He ordered about $150 worth of supplies — two 51/2 pound packages of spawn; a special tool for thumping the spawn into small holes drilled into fresh oak logs; cheese wax to seal the holes to prevent moisture, stray mold or fungal spores from invading; and an educational book with all the information needed to successfully propagate, harvest and sell homegrown mushrooms.

Shortly after Robbie’s order arrived in early April, our weather turned sunny and cool, and temperatures climbed to the 60s — perfect for getting out a chainsaw and cutting a big pile of oak and maple logs. (Most mushroom supply companies sell logs, too.) There are a variety of ways to grow mushrooms, but log cultivation imitates nature most closely. It is also low-cost (albeit physically demanding). The logs used must be live and healthy, and it’s best to cut the nursery (spawning) logs in spring before the leaves emerge. The instructions suggest cutting 3- to 8-inch-diameter logs about 3 feet long. After they are cut, the logs should be inoculated with the spawn right away, before they start to dry out or become contaminated with competing organisms.

Soon after we cut the logs, we set up a lab on our picnic table with an old two-burner hot plate, a Folgers’s coffee-can “kettle” with my expensive candy thermometer clipped to the side (half-submerged in melting wax), and a nearby pile of waiting logs. Robbie carefully sealed the spawn in with hot wax, after having punched it into small holes drilled in diamond-patterned rows, just as the instructions specified. The purpose of daubing wax over each spawn-filled hole is to protect it from moisture loss and bacteria infiltration.

Dirt Murphy
10/6/2021 1:05:15 PM

I enjoyed your post but I don't know why you used a thermometer. The wax is ready to use when it's melted. I work at Asheville Fungi. Check out our website for all of your mushroom growing needs as well as excellent blog posts.

6/4/2012 4:45:34 PM

I am very impressed with the article,How to grow mushrooms at home.Desperately want to try it at home, not very sure if i will be succeed,as i live in the hottest place of india,but still i am sure i will give it a try.Thanks,jyotika in rajasthan.

Ken Alston
2/4/2012 4:38:12 PM

Try this new way to grow mushrooms at home. Simple kit gets you fresh organic mushrooms in about 2 weeks. Mushrooms grow on spent coffee grounds. Simple to use kit. I did it successfully - you can too!

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