How to Grow Mushrooms Indoors

Cultivate tasty mushrooms for a fun indoor garden.

Growing mushrooms is something lots of us want to do, but figuring out how to do it can be a challenge. There are lots of edible mushroom varieties to choose from, and many of them have very specific growing requirements that can be difficult to replicate at home. Fortunately oyster mushrooms are not as picky as most other types. With easy to find supplies, following a few simple steps, you can grow your own mushrooms at home.

Growing Mushrooms Beauty1

Growing Mushrooms Beauty1

Growing mushrooms at home is fun and rewarding.

Photo by: Mark Wolfe

Mark Wolfe

Supplies

  • a five gallon bucket with a lid, with 3/8-inch holes drilled at 8-inch intervals around the sides of the bucket
  • dry organic matter like garden debris, weeds or straw
  • one pound of brown oyster mushroom sawdust spawn. If you are growing in cold or hot conditions, choose another variety of oyster mushroom spawn that tolerates your temperatures.
  • large pot
  • fire for cooking
  • cooking thermometer
  • a wire scoop like what you use to take food out of a deep fryer
  • collander
  • bleach wipes
  • clean plastic tarp or several plastic trash bags
Straw Mulch Keeps Soil Warm

Straw Mulch Keeps Soil Warm

Use straw mulch to help keep soil warm during cool weather.

Photo by: Debbie Wolfe

Debbie Wolfe

Collect enough paper-dry substrate to over-fill your bucket. The material you use, and its texture, will determine the amount you need. It will compress significantly when you pasteurize and pack it, so collect more than you think you’ll need. We used dried weeds and other garden debris. Virtually any dry organic material will work for this project. The particles should be shredded to something resembling the texture of a bird nest.

Growing Mushrooms

Growing Mushrooms

Photo by: Mark Wolfe

Mark Wolfe

Fill the pot approximately half full of water and heat it to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Carefully pack the dry substrate into the hot water and weigh it down with a brick inside a colander. Allow the substrate to pasteurize at 160 degrees for two hours. Then remove it from the heat source.  While the substrate is pasteurizing, clean the bucket, lid and tarp with bleach wipes. Once clean, keep surfaces free from any contaminants including unwashed hands.

Growing Mushrooms

Growing Mushrooms

Photo by: Mark Wolfe

Mark Wolfe

Strain the pasteurized substrate using the wire scoop and colander, and spread it on the cleaned tarp to cool. Keep it covered while it cools to avoid contamination. Once cool, sprinkle the substrate evenly with sawdust spawn, mix together and pack into the bucket. Put the lid on it and place the bucket in a dark, cool, humid location.

Growing Mushrooms

Growing Mushrooms

Photo by: Mark Wolfe

Mark Wolfe

Depending on the mushroom strain and growing conditions, the substrate will be completely colonized by the mushroom mycelium in 2-4 weeks. 

Growing Mushrooms

Growing Mushrooms

Photo by: Mark Wolfe

Mark Wolfe

When the colonization period is complete, tiny mushrooms will begin to grow. At this stage, it is important to maintain consistent humidity and temperature. Avoid drafts and sudden cooling or heating of the growing area.

Growing Mushrooms

Growing Mushrooms

Photo by: Mark Wolfe

Mark Wolfe

The mushrooms will double in size daily until they are mature. 

Growing Mushrooms

Growing Mushrooms

Photo by: Mark Wolfe

Mark Wolfe

Harvest oyster mushrooms when the edges of the caps begin to turn up. Leaving them too long will affect texture and flavor.

Growing Mushrooms Beauty2

Growing Mushrooms Beauty2

Growing mushrooms at home is fun and rewarding.

Photo by: Mark Wolfe

Mark Wolfe

After the first harvest, wait 2-3 weeks, and another harvest may be had. Typically, each ensuing harvest will yield about half the weight compared with the prior harvest. In perfect conditions, 4 or 5 harvests may be had before the substrate is exhausted.

Growing Mushrooms

Growing Mushrooms

Photo by: Mark Wolfe

Mark Wolfe

Enjoy your mushrooms in your favorite dish. When you’ve harvested all of your mushrooms, compost the used substrate for a wonderful soil amendment.

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