September 23, 2022 14 min read

Did you know that mushrooms are the world's largest and most diverse group of organisms?

Growing mushrooms can be a fun and rewarding experience, but knowing a few things is essential before you start. This comprehensive guide will cover everything you need to know about growing mushrooms.

Keep reading to learn more about the fascinating world of mushrooms and how to grow mushrooms at home.

What Exactly Is a Mushroom?

What is a mushroom?

Mushrooms are a type of fungi. Fungi are eukaryotic organisms, which means they have cells that contain a nucleus. You're probably familiar with other types of fungi, such as yeasts and molds. These are both single-celled fungi, while mushrooms are multi-celled.

Mushrooms are classified as separate kingdoms from plants and animals. However, they're more closely related to animals than plants. One of the main differences between mushrooms and plants is that mushrooms don't have chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is what gives plants their green color and allows them to make their food through photosynthesis.

Mushrooms get their energy from breaking down organic matter. This is why you'll often find them growing in places with many decaying leaves or wood, such as forests.

While mushrooms are technically classified as fungi, they have some characteristics that set them apart from other fungi. For example, most mushrooms have a stalk and a cap, while other fungi do not.

The part of the mushroom you can see above ground is called the fruiting body. The fruiting body contains spores, which are like seeds. When the spores are released, they can grow into new mushrooms.

The source of the mushroom is made up of a network of fine threads called mycelium. The mycelium is responsible for breaking down organic matter and absorbing nutrients. When conditions are right, the mycelium will produce a fruiting body that contains spores. This is how mushrooms reproduce. Understanding the life cycle of mushrooms is crucial for successfully growing them.

The Mushroom Life Cycle

The mushroom lifecycle

Like other fungi, mushrooms go through a life cycle of many stages. The stages of the mushroom life cycle are as follows:

The Spore

This is the first stage of the mushroom life cycle. Mushrooms start as spores, which are like seeds. During this period, the mushroom is nothing more than a single cell. The spores are released from the fruiting body of an existing mushroom. They're spread by wind or animals and can stay dormant for years before germinating.


Once a spore germinates, it grows into a thread-like structure called a hypha. The hyphae begin to break down organic matter and absorb nutrients, a process called decomposition. 


When multiple hyphae come together, they form a mycelium. The mushroom fruit grows from the mycelium network. It can be enormous and can even span acres of land. The mycelium continues to break down organic matter and absorb nutrients. When conditions are right, it will produce a fruiting body that contains spores.

Hyphal Knot

When the mycelium has enough nutrients, it will form a hyphal knot. The hyphal knot is the beginning of the fruiting body. Once this happens, the mushroom will start to grow above ground.

The Pinheads

Once the hyphal knot has formed, small bumps also called primordium will appear on the mycelium surface. These pinheads will eventually grow into full-fledged mushrooms.

The Mushroom

As the pinheads grow, they'll eventually form the cap and stalk of the mushroom. The mushroom is now mature and will produce spores that will start the cycle again.

The Mushroom Dictionary - Important Words Everyone Should Know

Mushroom enthusiasts often use a lot of jargon when talking about mushrooms. If you're new to the world of mushrooms, some of this terminology can be confusing.

To help you out, we've compiled a list of essential mushroom terms that everyone should know:


The spores are the "seeds" of the mushroom. They're released from the fruiting body and can grow into new mushrooms.

Grain Spawn

Grain spawn is used to inoculate substrates. It's made by adding inoculated agar or liquid cultures to a grain, such as rye or wheat. The grain is then incubated until it's fully colonized by the mycelium.

Live Cultures

Live cultures are made by adding a piece of mycelium into a liquid culture where mycelium can grow further. The live culture is then incubated until it's colonized by the mycelium where it can be extracted to inoculate grain spawn.

Agar Plates

Agar plates are used to isolate strains of mushrooms. They're made by adding spores or live cultures to a plate of agar. The plate is then incubated until colonies of mycelium have formed.


The mycelium is the main body of the mushroom. It consists of a network of delicate, thread-like structures called hyphae.


The substrate is the material that the mushroom will grow on. It can be anything from wood chips, coconut husks also known as coco coir, coffee grounds, and manure. Specific substrates are better suited for certain types of mushrooms.


Pinning is the term used to describe the process of the mushroom fruiting body forming. Once the mycelium has colonized the substrate, it will start to produce pinheads. These pinheads will eventually grow into full-fledged mushrooms.

FAE (Fresh Air Exchange)

FAE triggers pinning by letting the mycelium know that it's reached the surface of the substrate. This is necessary for the mushroom to fruit. Additionally, when mushrooms fruit, they produce CO2 and FAE is required to flush CO2 away from the fruiting body. Mushrooms require specific CO2, humidity, and temperature levels to grow correctly.


Clones are pieces of the fruiting mushroom body that have been taken from a mature mushroom. They can be used to inoculate agar plates. In addition, clones are often used to preserve specific strains of mushrooms.

Teks (Tekniques)

Teks are methods used to grow mushrooms. They often involve using specific substrates, containers, or environmental conditions. Every grower has their own way of doing things, and you can use many different teks to grow mushrooms.

The Easiest Way to Grow Mushrooms at Home - The Beginner's Guide

Grow mushrooms at home

Mushroom cultivation can be a fun and rewarding experience for beginners. It's a great way to learn about the biology of mushrooms and how they grow. You can also produce your mushrooms for consumption or research purposes.

This guide will teach you the basics of mushroom cultivation. You'll learn about the different types of mushrooms, how to choose a substrate, and how to set up your grow for success. You'll also get tips on troubleshooting common problems that beginner growers face.

By the end of this guide, you'll be ready to start growing your own mushrooms at home.

The Most Important Rule of Growing Mushrooms!

The most important rule of growing mushrooms is to be absolutely sterile and clean. Mushroom spawn and mycelium must be kept free of bacteria and other microorganisms. If your grow area is not clean, chances are the bacteria will win, and your mushrooms will never fruit.

To avoid this, take precautions to prevent contamination. For example, always wear gloves and a mask when handling mushroom spawn or mycelium. Keep your grow area clean and free of debris. And be sure to sterilize all of your equipment before each use.

Following these simple rules ensures that your mushrooms will have the best chance to thrive.

What You Will Need

You only need a few supplies to get started growing mushrooms:

  • Liquid live cultures or agar cultures
  • Sterilized grain spawn bag or jar
  • Sterilized substrate
  • Sterilized 55qt tub
  • Isopropyl alcohol in a spray bottle
  • 3 bricks of coco coir

Mushroom Live Cultures and Spawn Bags - How To Use Them

Let's take a look at live cultures and spawn bags, the "mushroom starter kit" you need.

Step 1: Sanitize the live culture syringe and spawn bag with alcohol

Always remember to sanitize your equipment before each use. This will prevent contamination and ensure that your mushrooms have the best chance to thrive.

To sanitize the live culture syringe, simply dip it in isopropyl alcohol. You can also use a spray bottle to mist the syringe with alcohol. Be sure to let it dry completely before using.

To sanitize the spawn bag, open it and mist the inside with alcohol. Then, let it air dry for a few minutes.

Step 2: Heat the tip of the syringe

This step is optional but will help prevent the live culture from clogging the needle.

To do this, simply hold the tip of the syringe in a flame for a few seconds. You can also use a lighter or a match to heat the tip. Be careful not to burn yourself. Once the tip is heated, allow it to cool for a few seconds before proceeding.

Step 3: Inject the syringe at the injection port

The injection port is a small opening on the side of the spawn bag. It's typically located near the bottom of the bag.

To inject the live culture into the bag, simply insert the needle of the syringe into the injection port. Then, slowly inject the live culture into the bag. You should use between 3 and 5 cc's of live culture for each 3 lb spawn bag.

Be sure to sterilize the needle of the syringe between each use to prevent contamination.

Colonizing the Spawn Bag

Once you've injected the live culture into the spawn bag, it's time to colonize it. Colonization is the process of the live culture growing and taking over the substrate.

How long does colonizing grains take?

It typically takes between one and three weeks for the live culture to colonize the grain. The actual time will depend on the type of grain you're using, and the temperature and humidity of your grow area. You should also consider the size of your spawn bag. Smaller bags will colonize faster than larger ones.

You can shake or stir the spawn bag daily to speed up the colonization process. This will help to distribute the live culture evenly throughout the substrate. You should also keep the spawn bag in a warm and humid environment during this time. However, if the temperate is too high, you risk slowing the colonization process or killing the live culture.

How do I know when it's ready to plant?

When the grain is fully colonized, you should not see any brown grains, it will be white and dense. Open the spawn bag and break apart the "cake", the spawn should smell clean and earthy. If you smell anything sour or smell scents of rot, something went very wrong and you should throw away the bag.

Transporting Grain Spawn into your Bulk Substrate

Now that your grain spawn is fully colonized, it's time to transfer it into your bulk substrate. The bulk substrate is the material that the mushrooms will grow in. It can be anything from manure to straw to wood chips.

To transfer the grain spawn, open the spawn bag and pour it into your desired substrate. Be sure to do this in a clean and sterile environment. Once the grain spawn is in the substrate, you can close up the bag or container.

You should transfer all of the grain spawn at once to help prevent contamination.

Pinning and Flowering

Mushroom pinning and flowering

Once the grain spawn is transferred into the bulk substrate, it's time to wait for the mycelium to take over the substrate environment. Once the mycelium has covered 75% of the surface, you can initiate the pinning conditions by introducing FAE (Fresh Air Exchange). This process is called pinning. It typically takes about 10 days to see the premordia to start forming, and about 1 week for the mushrooms to fruit. After that, flowering is the process of the mushrooms growing. Once the mushrooms start to fruit, they will proliferate quickly. In some cases, they can double in size overnight.

To promote pinning and flowering, temperatures should drop to around 75 - 77 degrees Fahrenheit and bring in FAE. However, when the mushrooms start fruiting you will want to maintain a 90% humidity level throughout while providing ample amount of FAE. You can mist the substrate with water every day. This will help to keep it hydrated.

Harvesting Your Mushrooms

harvesting mushroom

Once the mushrooms are fully grown, it's time to harvest them. To do this, simply twist or cut the mushrooms at the base. Again, be careful not to damage the substrate when you harvest the mushrooms.

Always use clean and sterile equipment when you harvest the mushrooms to prevent contamination. You can eat the mushrooms fresh or dry them for later use. To dry them, simply place them on a dehydrator or in an oven set to the lowest setting.

Popular Mushroom Growing "Teks"

Mushroom growing "tekniques" vary depending on the type of mushroom you're growing. However, there are some general teks that will help you to produce mushrooms.

PF Tek

PF Tek is a popular mushroom-growing tek developed in the early '90s by Robert McPherson (Psylocybe Fanaticus). It involves using a substrate made from vermiculite, brown rice flour, and water. This substrate is placed in canning jars or other types of containers. Once the jars are colonized, they can be used to fruit mushrooms.

The main advantage of PF Tek is that it's a straightforward process. It does not require the use of any special equipment or materials. PF Tek is also a very forgiving method, which means it's easy to troubleshoot if something goes wrong.

Spawn and Bulk Sub Tek

This tek is for intermediate to advanced growers. It involves a fully colonized grain spawn, which is then used to inoculate a bulk substrate. The bulk substrate is typically made from manure, straw, or wood chips. Once the substrate is colonized, it can be used to fruit mushrooms.

This method is more advanced because it requires live grain spawn and is more prone to contamination. However, it results in a much larger yield than PF Tek.

What Are Optimal Mushroom Growing Conditions?

Mushrooms require specific growing conditions to flourish. These conditions include the right temperature, humidity, light, and air quality.


Mushrooms like a moist environment. The substrate should be kept moist at all times but not wet. You can achieve this by misting the substrate with water every day. Having a humidifier in the room where you're growing the mushrooms is also essential.

The ideal humidity level for most mushroom species is between 80 and 90%. However, some species may require higher or lower humidity levels.


The room where you're growing mushrooms should be between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature gets too high or too low, it can affect the growth of the mushrooms.

Some species of mushrooms may require higher or lower temperatures in order to fruit. However, these temperatures are typically only a few degrees from the ideal range.


Mushrooms will require a small amount of light during certain stages of their growth cycle. For example, while fruiting, some species of mushrooms may require several hours of light per day. However, mushrooms usually do not need direct sunlight and can grow in low-light conditions.

FAE (Fresh Air Exchange)

Mushrooms need fresh air for fruiting and flowering. This means that the controlled environment where you're growing them should have good ventilation. You can achieve this by opening the lid or using a fan to circulate air. By controlling the concentration of carbon dioxide in the environment, you will also be able to control the rate at which the mushrooms fruit.

The Different Types of Substrate and Their Use Cases

Understanding the different types of substrate is vital for mushroom cultivation. The substrate is the material on which the mushrooms will grow. It can be made from a variety of materials, each with its own benefits and drawbacks.

The nutrient content is one of the most important things to consider when choosing a substrate. The substrate must be able to provide the mushrooms with the nutrients they need to grow. It should also be able to retain moisture so that the mushrooms do not dry out.

Common substrates used in mushroom cultivation include:

Coco Coir

Coco coir is a popular substrate for mushroom cultivation. It's made from the fiber of coconuts and is a renewable resource. Coco coir is also very resistant to unwanted bacteria and mold, so it is a great substrate for growing mushrooms.

One of the benefits of using coco coir is that it's easy to find and relatively inexpensive. It's also easy to work with and can be used in various ways. In addition, coco coir is versatile and forgiving, which means you can experiment without worrying about ruining your entire crop.

Saw Dust

Sawdust is another inexpensive substrate. Commercial growers commonly use it because it's easy to find and store. Sawdust is also a suitable substrate for mushroom cultivation because it can retain moisture and provide the mushrooms with nutrients.

Wood Chips

Wood chips can be made from a variety of different woods, each with its own unique properties. One of the benefits of using wood chips is that they're readily available. You can find them at most hardware stores or online. Wood chips are also easy to store and can be used in various ways.


Manure is a good source of nutrients and can help retain moisture. Manure is also inexpensive and easy to find. However, it can be challenging to work with and may introduce unwanted contaminants into the growing environment.

What Types of Mushrooms Can You Grow at Home - 6 Popular Strains

There are millions of different species of mushrooms. However, not all of them are suitable for cultivation. In fact, only a few hundred species can be cultivated successfully.

Mushroom cultivation comes with many rewards, including fresh mushrooms to consume, a sense of achievement, and the satisfaction of controlling the entire process from start to finish.

Some of the most popular strains of mushrooms that can be grown at home include:

1. Oyster Mushrooms

Oyster Mushrooms

Oyster mushrooms are one of the fastest-growing mushroom strains with some species able to fruit in as little as two weeks. You'll love their mild, slightly sweet flavor and their versatility in the kitchen.

2. Lion's Mane Mushrooms

Lions Mane Mushroom

Lion's mane mushrooms have a delicate, slightly sweet flavor and a texture that has been likened to crab or lobster meat. They're also one of the few mushroom strains shown to have cognitive benefits.

3. Reishi Mushrooms

Reishi Mushroom

Reishi mushrooms have a strong, woody flavor and are often used in traditional Chinese medicine. They're a slow-growing mushroom, but they're well worth the wait.

4. Shitake Mushrooms

Shitake Mushroom in woods

Shiitake mushrooms are one of the most popular types of mushrooms in the world. They have a rich, earthy flavor and a meaty texture. They also have many health benefits, including being a natural source of antioxidants.

5. Chicken of the Woods Mushrooms

Wild Chicken of the Woods Mushroom

Chicken of the woods mushrooms get their name from their chicken-like flavor. They're fast-growing mushrooms and are perfect for those who want to enjoy fresh mushrooms as soon as possible. The health benefits include being a natural source of antioxidants and vitamins.

6. Magic Mushrooms

Magic Mushrooms

Magic mushrooms are a type of psychedelic mushroom. They're not for everyone, but they might be right for you if you're looking for an adventure. Please use caution when consuming magic mushrooms, as they can cause hallucinations. However, studies have shown that they can also have therapeutic benefits.


How Long Does It Take To Grow a Mushroom?

The time it takes to grow a mushroom varies depending on the type of mushroom and the growing conditions. You can generally expect to see some results within 1-3 weeks.

What Is the Easiest Way To Grow a Mushroom at Home?

The easiest way to grow a mushroom at home is to purchase a kit. Mushroom kits contain everything you need to start, including the substrate, spores, and a bag to contain the growing environment.

What Do I Need To Grow Mushrooms at Home?

To grow mushrooms at home, you'll need a few things, including:

  • Spores or live culture to inoculate the spawn.
  • A substrate to grow the mushrooms
  • pawn to inoculate the substrate
  • A container to hold the substrate
  • Appropriate growing conditions (temperature, humidity, light, etc.)

Can I Grow Mushrooms From a Store-Bought Mushroom?

Yes, you can grow mushrooms from a store-bought mushroom. However, it's important to note that not all store-bought mushrooms are suitable for cultivation. The best way to ensure success is to purchase a mushroom kit that contains everything you need to get started.

Tying Everything Together - Mushroom Growing Checklist

Now that you know the basic steps for growing mushrooms, it's time to get started. Of course, the best way to learn is by doing, so don't be afraid to experiment. And, if you run into any problems, plenty of resources are available to help you troubleshoot.

This versatile fungi's sustainability is twofold: it doesn't require a lot of space or equipment to get started and provides a nutritious food source that can be grown indoors with minimal impact on the environment. It's a win-win for everyone involved.

Here's a quick checklist of the steps you'll need to take to get started with mushroom cultivation:

  1. Sanitize all of your equipment.
  2. Grow your agar/spawn.
  3. Colonize your substrate.
  4. Fruit your mushrooms.
  5. Harvest your mushrooms.
  6. Enjoy!

Mushroom cultivation comes with many rewards, so don't give up if you don't get it right the first time. With a bit of patience and practice, you'll be harvesting your own delicious mushrooms in no time.

As this exciting new hobby grows in popularity, it's crucial to stay up-to-date on the latest information. For tips, advice, and all the latest news, be sure to check back often.

Happy growing!