Wouldn’t be nice if you could grow your own mushroom supply?

I think so.  Although I love to forage because it is like a an Easter egg hunt, there are times when I just can’t get out and I would love to go into my garden and pick the mushrooms I need along with my vegetables.  Therefor I am thrilled announce, yes! You can grow some varieties of mushrooms in your yard.

 Before we go any further we need to discuss a couple things that are quite important.

First you need to know if the species you want to grow is native to your area.  This is important because time after time we see what happens when non native species are introduced to an area they don’t belong in because some human thought it would be beneficial to them.  Every time this happens be it in plants or animals the non native species has nothing to keep it in check with the rest of the ecological system and because of that the non native species thrives and robs the native species of it’s food and home, thus becoming an invasive species.

Examples of this include the Autumn Olive plant brought over with good intentions to control erosion on our roadsides however this hardy plant now threatens native plants by blocking them out by inhibiting their sunlight and by spreading prolifically.  Unfortunately cutting and burning these shrubs causes them to spread more and although they do feed our birds this causes the cycle to continue as the birds spread the seeds.  Although humans can help by not planting these shrubs anymore and by picking the berries and processing them into jams for example the Autumn Olive is still a burdening problem that seems impossible to be rid of.

Another plant example is Bamboo.  Bamboo is an extremely fast growing plant that has many uses and applications.  Bamboo is a sustainable and renewable building product which sounds awesome.  However it does not belong in the U.S. and can take over a forest within a couple years.  People unknowingly plant Bamboo in their gardens for a privacy screen or for it’s ornamental attributes.  However they soon realize they can not keep up with the plant and before they know it the bamboo took over their yard, the neighbors yard, and wherever else it managed to spread it’s roots, suffocating all the native plants along it’s way.

An example of an invasive animal is the European Starling brought over in 1890 to Central Park in New York City.  One hundred birds were let free in the park due to a belief that all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare needed to be in the U.S. Well now we have tens of thousands of this species which kill our native species like the Eastern Blue bird and decimate crops not to mention can even take down planes!

SO in our quest to grow mushrooms at home it is important to only grow native species!  Do your research first and go with what nature already provides in your area. Which brings us to another important aspect  as to why some species of mushrooms can be grown not all.

Remember that mushrooms have specific place in the ecological balance which I spoke about on a different page in this website, I believe the how to forage page.  There are three types of relationships mushrooms have with trees; parasitic, mycorrhizal, and saprophytic.

Parasitic meaning just that these mushrooms will kill the host tree.  It will rob them of the sugars,

minerals, and other nutrients of the tree until it is dead and then move on to a new host.  An example of this is the Armillaria mellea family with one species commonly known as Honey mushrooms. However some parasitic mushrooms can serve as Saprophytic as well.

Mycorrhizal means that the mushroom or rather the mycellium creates a symbiotic relationship with the tree and shrubs.  The mycellium breaks down organic matter making it available to the tree and shrubs and the plant produces sugar which it makes available to the mycellium.  Examples of this are boletes, truffles, and chanterelles.

Saprophytic mushrooms break down dead plant matter such as downed trees and shrubs.  The mycellium breaks these down into organic matter and can be seen as the recyclers of the forest.  These mushrooms are easy to cultivate because they feed off of dead matter.  Examples of these are Shiitake, Oyster, Champignons or White Button mushrooms (Agaricus spp.), Portobello,  Enokitake, Reishi, Maitake, Paddy Straw mushroom, and many others.

So now that you understand the different relationships mycellium has with the plants around them it is easier for you to choose what type of mushroom you would like to cultivate.  If you cultivate chanterelles for example and you have the host trees in your yard then there are no worries and if chants start popping up around your yard and trees then you know you are helping your trees.  However if you start growing honey mushrooms on an old oak tree per se you are taking a chance that the mycellium will spread and kill all the oak trees in your yard.  So before you cultivate any mushroom take note of the relationships it creates and the hosts it will help or kill.

Phew that was alot to go through but now armed with this knowledge we can move forward to where to get the spores.

Spores can be wild or bought.  If you collect wild mushrooms you can make a slush per say and inoculate your yard or specific area with this slush and see what happens.  This is a technique for morel mushrooms for example.

Or you could purchase a kit with the spores either in dry powder form or in liquid form or in plug form.  Each form has it’s own inoculation procedure. Some kits are super easy and all you have to do is open it and water.  It is up to you as what is best for your area and how much work you choose to put into it.   For example if you want to grow oyster mushrooms it would be best to use the plugs.  You would take a log of maple for example and drill holes into it.  Each hole drilled then receives a plug which is tapped into the hole and then watered.  The mycellium will start to break down the log and grow which in turn will provide a flush of oyster mushrooms when ready..  It’s that easy.

Here are some of my favorite tried and trusted spore dealers you may click the link for my review:

  Back to the Roots Oyster Mushroom Mini-Farm 



10 thoughts on “Grow your own-kits

  1. Robert Reply

    I had no idea, very interesting and informative article. I live in the desert where the only trees that we have are mesquite and palo verde (and some palm). Can they be used for growing mushrooms?

    If not, what do you suggest for growing mushrooms in the desert climate?

    Thanks for sharing

    • Intention8 Reply

      Robert thanks for stopping by. 

      Yes you can grow mushrooms in the desert. However I am not well versed in your native species, as I am in the North east. I do know kits can to be grown indoors which is great because you are introducing non natives to the ecological system but can still grow a large variety of mushrooms for medicinal and edible properties. If you click on the picture of oysters for example those can be grown in your home and all you have to do is water the box! Indoors there is less chance of invasive take over as well so you can try . I am aware of a couple in the Arizona desert that have an oyster and shitake FARM using grains and straw as the substrate. Let me also mention there is debate on the concentration of medicinal quality by using substrate verses the wild native wood. So you would have dig deeper and do what works best for your situation. Best bet start small with a kit or already plugged log and do a quick check on the native mushrooms there because they do grow everywhere. I did come across that pink Oyster mushrooms can be grown on Mesquite pods as the substrate so as you conquer the oyster in a box maybe you should move on to the pink oyster on mesquite pods. Hope that helps!

  2. Marty Reply

    I love mushrooms…sautéed…and in many other dishes.

    But, I never imagined I could grow my own mushrooms…in my own backyard. I have talked with some people who have tried to grow different types of mushrooms and, in every case, they said that they failed miserably.

    Which mushroom kits are the easiest to grow? Which kits have you tried?

    I live in Alabama. Which kits do you think would work best where I live?

    Since I already grow a few vegetables, I am very excited to try growing mushrooms!

    Thanks, for the wonderful article! It opened my eyes to why some plants and animals should not be introduced into new areas given the possibility of endangering existing plants and animals.


    • Intention8 Reply

      Hello Marty in Alabama!  

        Did you know that Alabama is the 5th most bio-diverse state in the U.S.?  With over 4,000 native species!

       Marty you are in wild edible gold mine state with the opportunity to find undiscovered species as well! That my friend is awesome.  

      I have tried the kits and spores I offer in my post, just click on the pictures and it will take you to purchase options.  I only offer what I know to work, what is tried and trusted.  

        A great first try is the oyster mushrooms as they naturally tolerate many climates and are native already to your area.  Also oysters are quick to grow and delicious.  The best part though is once you get the basic white growing you will be amazed of the variety of oysters.  There are white large, white small, yellow, pink, and cream to name a few varieties.  

      On my page I offer a boxed kit that all you do is open and water.  Can’t get simpler then that and it’s an indoor/outdoor variety so you can control the climate as well.  Basically as long you water the mycelium it is going to grow and they are beautiful too.  My daughter calls them angels wings cause she swears they look like wings. lol  Anyway I am exited for you and I know you will enjoy growing oysters, and eating them.  It’s a great addition to your diet as they have medicinal benefits as well.  

      Hope that answers your questions and thanks for stopping by!  If I can be of more assistance let me know and send me pictures of your flush!

  3. Michelle Reply

    Great and informative article! I have been trying for a couple of years now to start a garden successfully. And it never even occurred to me that I could buy kits for any of the items that I was attempting to grow. Thanks to your article, I will now be on the lookout for other vegetable growth kits. Thank you so much! I am really excited about the new possibilities!

    • Intention8 Reply

      I’m excited for you too! I love gardening, there is nothing like walking in your garden and picking fresh herbs, fruits, vegetables, and potatoes.  In fact I was just preparing a roast and pulled carrots, celery, onions, potatoes, and rosemary from the garden for it.  You can’t get fresher then that! 

  4. Heather Reply

    I’ve recently come to love mushrooms. At first I couldn’t get over the taste or texture but after I forced myself to eat them a few times I now I really like them and cook them with every dish. Your article really helped me see the different types of mushrooms (I just buy the ones on sale at my grocery store) but now I can grow mushrooms that’ll help my garden!

    This was also very informative on where they can be bought. I’ve read you other comments and I also live in Alabama. Do you know the different mushrooms that grow here?

    • Intention8 Reply

      First off thank you! I am so glad you enjoy mushrooms now. Some taste like chicken or beef or fish and shrimp. 

      Alot of the mushrooms I talk about are for North America. The timing of the flushes can differ a bit, you would have longer seasons so to speak. Best to look for your local mycological society and become a member. They are a wealth of knowledge. 

  5. Mutac Reply

    Nice website Mom! I hope more people will learn how to cook, identify and find mushrooms and edible plants.

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