How to Simplify Growing Mushrooms

June 19, 2015

Most people get it backwards! They love mushrooms, and think Chanterelles are wonderful, so they look for Chanterelle spawn. If they manage to find it, they are disappointed to learn that Chanterelles require conditions which are not present in their own back yard or home. They sigh, and give up, because they are just too hard to grow!

If you start with the mushroom, growing mushrooms can be very difficult. You are required to produce conditions which the mushroom you want to grow, actually thrives in. This can be problematic for many kinds of mushrooms.

To make it simpler, start with the conditions you HAVE.

Wine Cap MushroomsIf you have a backyard with landscaping which provides shade, and lawn around it, you have the conditions under which a number of mushrooms may thrive. If you have mature conifers, grouped together, with pine needles underneath, you have conditions under which different mushrooms will thrive.

A garden with deep wood mulch, or a compost pile with lots of manure and straw (or hay), provides conditions for yet other types of mushrooms. A kitchen countertop with room to place a box, or an unheated garage or basement, creates the conditions under which several types of mushrooms may be successfully grown. Add a refrigerator and you can grow some kinds of winter mushrooms as well.

And a greenhouse, or a sunroom provide conditions for other types of tasty gourmet mushrooms. If you start with the habitat, and grow mushrooms that naturally LIKE to grow in the conditions that you can provide with no effort on your part, you have taken all the work and fuss out of growing your mushrooms!

Mushrooms grow very well out of doors, producing seasonally, when you put them where Mother Nature intended them to go in the first place. You may need to provide supplemental watering, and you might need to fertilize or add more mulch every now and again to keep them producing, but otherwise they’ll establish and do their thing and all you need to do is harvest them.

So… what can you do in your conditions?

Indoors: Portobello or button mushrooms, Oyster mushrooms, Enoki, and many kinds of Oyster Mushrooms on Strawmushroom Kits. Freckled Dapperling will also grow in plant containers indoors.

In Lawns or Compost Piles: Horse mushrooms, Meadow Mushrooms, Fairy Ring Mushrooms, Shaggy Mane, The Prince, and many other gourmet types.

In Woodchip Gardens: Elm Oyster, Wine Cap, Freckled Dapperling, Mica Cap, Pearl Oyster, Phoenix Oyster, Chicken of the Woods, Maitake, Morels, Blewits, and more.

Under Landscaping in Mulch: Pine Mulch Mushroom, Morels, Wine Cap, Parasol Mushrooms, Phoenix Oyster, The Prince, many others.

Under Hardwood Trees in Mulch: Many kinds of Agaricus, Chanterelles (dependent on specific tree types), some Boletes, Shaggy Parasol, Morels, Blewit, and many other gourmet types.

Under Conifer Trees in Needle Mulch: Pine Mulch Mushroom, King Bolete (Porcini – dependent on mature trees), Chanterelles (dependent on specific tree types), Mini Almond Agaricus, Blewit, some types of Morel, and others.

On Dead Wood (some grow on conifer, some on hardwood): Shiitake, Enoki, Maitake, Turkey Tail, Oyster Mushrooms (many kinds), Mica Cap, Lion’s Mane, Chicken of the Woods, and many other wood digesters.

Shiitake Mushrooms on LogsMushrooms also bear during a specific season of the year, and will do better or worse in one climate or another. 

Mushrooms do require water, but contrary to popular belief, they do NOT require a wet area. They simply require ample rains (or irrigation) periodically through the fruiting season, and they require sufficient occasional moisture through the rest of the year to prevent complete dehydration of the mycellium (mushroom fungus). They don’t do well in boggy areas, as a rule.

It is harder to find mushrooms by habitat type, and it does require that you research the types of mushrooms you want to grow, until you find those that will naturally do well in your conditions, but the time you spend discovering the gourmet mushrooms that will thrive in your environment without difficult work on your part, pays off year after year as the mushrooms produce without requiring complex management to do so.

The effort you spend BEFORE you purchase will do more to simplify growing mushrooms than any adaptations you make later.

This article was written by Laura Wheeler; Mother of eight, grandmother of 7 and counting, and entrepreneur, Laura spends much of her time making lacto-fermentation products, growing and hunting mushrooms to produce mushroom spawn, and writing on topics ranging from home and family, to farming and gardening, to internet business success strategies. She blogs about whatever she feels like, over at, where you can find links to her various online businesses. Laura sells mushroom spawn, which she categorizes by habitat, on her website at

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