When I was a child, I used to spend 3 hours every Sunday morning gardening with my mother in our backyard. We grew all sorts of fruits and vegetables which we then used in our fresh homemade meals.
Last year, I visited my mother over Thanksgiving and we decided to revisit the times we spent together in my childhood growing our own food. My mother found an opportunity to teach me about growing something other than the usual fruits and vegetables. That’s when I was introduced to mushrooms.
There are so many ways in which you can grow mushrooms. Some species can grow well in buckets and tubs while others require logs. However, growing a mushroom in a garden remains one of the most popular ways of cultivation.
In this blog, I will be teaching you how to grow wild mushrooms in small spot in your garden. Happy reading!
Growing Wild Mushrooms in the Garden
What Are Wild Mushrooms?
Wild mushrooms are fungi species that are not grown in a controlled environment. They grow in the nature along mountain slopes and in coastal areas. They are hand-foraged in woods and sold all across the United States.
The mushrooms that we consume on a regular basis including shiitake, Portobello, button and cremini mushrooms are not wild. They need a controlled environment to grow in which is provided by large scale mushroom growers.
Since wild mushrooms are grown without the use of fertilizers and pesticides, they are highly nutritious, dense in protein and flavorful.
Types of Edible Wild Mushrooms:
Since centuries, people have forged mushrooms from the wild for food. While an interesting hobby, picking mushrooms from nature requires utmost caution.
Not all mushrooms grown in the wild are edible. Some are safe to consume while others are potentially dangerous and can pose health risks. Below is a list of edible mushrooms that grow commonly in nature (source):
Chanterelles: Chanterelles are the most popularly-consumed wild mushroom species. A chanterelle mushroom can either be yellow, orange or white in color.
These funnel-shaped mushrooms have a meaty texture, a peppery taste and a fruity smell. They are grown in Northern Europe, large parts of Africa, Turkey, the Himalayas and throughout North America.
Morels: Morels, or morchella mushrooms, have a unique honeycomb shape and appearance caused by ridges on their caps. Cultivating a morel mushroom is near to impossible which is why its commercial harvesting has turned into a million dollar industry.
Morels are found most commonly in the Northern Hemisphere, particularly in Pakistan, China, Turkey, India and North America.
Lion’s Mane Mushrooms: Lion’s mane mushrooms are used commonly for medicinal and culinary purposes. They grow on the edge of hardwood trees in late summer and early fall, especially beech trees.
They have long white spines and their shape resembles that of a pompom. Lion’s mane mushrooms have a unique taste which is usually compared to the taste of crabs, lobsters and other seafood.
Maitake Mushrooms: Also known as hen-of-the-woods, maitake mushrooms grow in late summer and early autumn.
They are best consumed dried and powdered and can be added to soups and sauces. A cluster of maitake mushroom comprises of grey-brown curled caps which are around 0.79 to 2.76 inches broad.
Oyster Mushrooms: Oyster mushrooms have the same genes as a popular edible macro-fungi. They grow in subtropical temperate forests around the world all year round.
They grow mainly on dead hardwood trees like maples and oaks. Oyster mushrooms have a large oyster-shaped fan cap that can grow up to 9.84 inches in size.
Identifying Edible Mushrooms
The next time you are out on a mushroom hunt and come across a cluster of mushrooms, here is how you can find out whether they are edible or not:
- Steer clear of mushrooms with red pinheads or stems. A red cap mushroom is most likely to be poisonous. Consider red as a sign or warning.
- If a mushroom has patches or scales on its cap, avoid harvesting it. Scaly spots are a sign that the mushroom is poisonous. Most poisonous mushrooms are white with brown or tan scaly patches.
- Always check the stem of a mushroom under its cap. If the mushroom has a tissue like ring around its stem, avoid plucking it. Most mushrooms with this feature are dangerous. (source)
- The most deadly and poisonous mushrooms have white gills under their gap. Only harvest mushrooms with brown or tan gills if you are sure about their type.
Wild Mushrooms to Avoid:
You must avoid the following species of mushrooms as they can pose a significant health risk:
Death Cap Mushrooms (Amanita phalloides): They are responsible for the majority of mushroom-related deaths around the world and are the most poisonous amongst all wild mushrooms. (source)
Autumn Skulllcap Mushrooms (Galerina marginata): An autumn skullcap mushroom grows mainly on rotten wood and has a small, brown cap. It is also known as “deadly Galerina.” Most fatal Galerina-related deaths occur because of the consumption of Galerina marginata mushrooms. (source)
How to Grow Mushrooms in a Garden: A Step-By-Step Guide
Now that you know what wild mushrooms are, let us take you through the process of growing them in your own garden! (video) You might want to steer clear of growing poisonous species so you must pay careful attention to this section.
Things You Will Need to Grow Mushrooms:
- Wild mushroom spawn or spore for mycelium development
- A large growing tray or a pan
- A mushroom growing medium or substrate (you can use wood chips, hardwood shavings, straw etc.)
- A heating pad
- Potting soil
- Piece of Damp Cloth
- A spray bottle with water
The Procedure to Grow Mushrooms:
Step 1: Collect Your Supplies
The first step is to collect all the supplies you need to grow mushrooms in your garden.
You should purchase mushroom spawn or spores from an authentic supplier like Fungi Perfecti (source). Oyster mushrooms are one of the easiest and most-profitable species to grow and their spores are readily available.
A mushroom growing substrate (a bag of wood chips) can easily be sourced from a mulch supplier or hardware store. You might even find it at Home Depot if you are lucky.
Rest of the things on the list of supplies will be easily be available at your local supermarket, pharmacy or convenience store.
Step 2: Prepare the Substrate
In the large tray, layer the growing medium you have chosen. The substrate must be at least 3 inches deep.
Place a heating pad under the tray to ensure that the temperature stays around the optimal point (70 degrees Fahrenheit). Place the tray in a cool and dark place, away from sunlight such as under your bed, in a cabinet or in your basement for 2 to 3 days.
Step 3: Inoculate the Substrate with Mushroom Spawn
Add mushroom spawn to the tray. Combine to ensure that it is evenly mixed in the substrate. Keep the tray in the same spot under the heating pad for 3 weeks or until you see white mycelium growth take over the entire growing medium. The mycelium will have created strong network by now.
Step 4: Transfer the Substrate to Your Garden
Dig a deep hole the size of the tray in good quality potting soil in your garden, away from direct sunlight. With sanitized hands, carefully transfer the substrate covered in mycelium to the potting soil.
Next, cover the hole with a 1-inch layer of potting soil on top. The soil must cover the entire mycelium on the substrate. Place the piece of damp cloth over the whole and mist it using a spray bottle to retain humidity and moisture to allow the mycelium network to grow.
Step 5: Sit Back and Observe
This is, by far, my favorite step! Keep observing the growing area until you see mushroom pinheads emerge from the soil in about 3 weeks, depending on the mushroom species.
Wait for the mushrooms to mature before you pick them. You will know that mushrooms have reached their peak when the step starts separating from the cap.
Step 6: Harvest the Mushrooms!
Use a knife to carefully harvest the mushrooms. If you are unsure of the species, do not consume the mushrooms at any cost. Only consume them if you are 100% that they are edible and have verified the authenticity of the spores before purchase.
Step 7: Prepare for Future Flushes
After harvesting, let the substrate remain in the potting soil in your garden. Keep it covered with a damp cloth and mist it after every 2 or 3 days. Once the substrate stops producing mushrooms, toss it into a compost!
Frequently-Asked Questions about Growing Mushrooms in the Garden
Q1. What Conditions Are Needed For a Mushroom to Grow?
Most mushrooms need the following environmental conditions to grow:
- No direct sunlight
- Cool temperatures between 55 to 6o degrees Fahrenheit
- Late summer or early autumn months
- High moisture content and humidity
- Mold-free soil
Q2. Why Is Mushroom Growing in My Garden?
Your garden probably has fungal mass below the ground that is causing mushrooms to sprout up. Most of the times, we don’t realize the presence of fungi till we see mushroom pinheads. If your garden has ideal conditions like high humidity and cool weather, a mushroom will most likely sprout up.
Q3. Can You Have a Mushroom Garden?
Yes, you can have a mushroom garden. It is much easier to grow them outdoors than indoors. There are 3 kinds of mushrooms that you can plant: shiitake, wine cap ad oyster mushrooms. These species are easy to not only easy to grow but also very tasty!
Final Thoughts about Growing Wild Mushrooms in the Garden
This brings us to the conclusion of our discussion regarding growing mushrooms in a garden. All you need to do is:
- Buy spawn from a reliable supplier
- Select the right growing medium
- Provide ideal environmental conditions for growth
If you have any questions regarding the process, leave a comment down below and we will get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks for reading!