Mushroom Growing Kits

Tips on How to Grow Mushrooms

mix of shiitake portabello button mushrooms

Use mushroom growing kits to grow fresh healthy mushrooms at home.

Mushroom kits:

  • are fast and easy to set up
  • are cool to look at
  • save you money
  • improve your health
  • provide you with organic options
  • inspire culinary marvels!

Why grow your own mushrooms?

Growing mushrooms is fun! They’re cool to look at and kids love the daily misting that keeps mushroom kits moist. It’s exciting to watch them grow from fuzz into varied and surprising shapes, from cute button mushrooms to waterfalls of enokitake mushrooms, mini-terraces of shitakes or giant king tuber mushrooms.

Good mushroom kits are productive, supplying up to 2kg over several months. With mushroom grow kits you can produce multiple harvests of nutritious mushrooms and experiment with the textures and flavours of mushroom types that are difficult to find in the supermarket. They grow quickly, making them great gardening activities for kids.

Mushroom nutrition

Mushrooms pack in a lot of flavour, and different varieties offer a choice of textures and tastes. They have very little fat or calories and are high in fibre. The nutritional value of mushrooms is strong as they are an excellent source of B group vitamins, and also contain vitamin D and potassium. 100g of mushrooms provides over 50% daily requirement of niacin, which is about the same as a small lean steak.

Types of mushroom growing kits

Mushroom kits come in various types, depending on what kind of mushroom you want to grow and where you want to grow it.

It’s easy to grow mushrooms inside using basic mushroom growing kits and they’re probably the best way to start. You can watch the mushrooms growing and keep an eye on their moisture levels. These kits have been colonised by mushroom spawn and comprise boxes containing layers of compost and peat, enriched sawdust blocks or bags of sterilised straw. These kits typically produce 2-4 kg of mushrooms over 4-5 months of multiple harvests. The spent mushroom compost can then be used to fertilise your garden.

For longer term mushroom production, check out mushroom log kits. Mushroom logs are usually kept outside in cool, damp, shady conditions and can last for 3-5 years. Logs have been inoculated with mushroom spawn by injecting them with wooden plugs covered with mycelium, which then draws nutrients from the log as the mushrooms grow. Log kits produce up to 2kg over multiple harvests.

Basic mushroom growing kits

Basic box mushroom growing kits produce white button or portabello mushrooms. Portabello mushrooms are button-shaped, light brown and have a firmer texture and stronger flavour than regular white button mushrooms.

Box kits generally weigh about 6 kg and are approximately 35-40cm in length, 25-30cm wide and 15-20cm deep. They typically contain:

  • box and lid (often polystyrene)
  • compost already ‘impregnated’ with mushroom spawn
  • covering layer of peat or soil
  • growing instructions

Basic instructions for using a box-style mushroom growing kit

  1. Make 3-4 drainage holes in the bottom of the box.
  2. Lay out compost in box (may be white and fuzzy already with mushroom spawn.)
  3. Cover compost with peat layer.
  4. Keep moist (water daily with a mister/spray bottle.)
  5. Cover for lid for a week until white spots appear, then keep in cool dark place with the lid off.
  6. Ideally keep inside at 16-20 degrees Celsius. Lower temps (to 12 degrees) will slow growth.

Where to keep a box-style mushroom growing kit

Keep your box-style mushroom growing kit somewhere dark but accessible, so you don’t forget about watering it once a day. Keep away from heat, temperatures shouldn't be higher than 25 degrees Celsius. A position out of direct sunlight and clear of drying draughts and heaters is ideal. I’ve heard of people keeping them under the bed, but a cupboard shelf or laundry space might be more practical!

Harvesting mushrooms

Twist rather than pull mushrooms out so that you can keep the compost and covering layer intact. You can harvest soon after starting your mushroom growing kit. It usually only takes about 2-3 weeks for a crop to appear, although some varieties will take up to 3-5 weeks. Kits should crop several times, with the earliest crops being the heaviest. After the first crop, kits should crop every two weeks for up to 4 months. If you look after your kit you should get 2-4kg of mushrooms out of it.

Tips for using mushroom growing kits

  • Pick early harvest mushrooms while they’re smaller or they’ll crowd others out
  • Keep your mushroom growing kit moist, but not soggy. Using a spray bottle to mist the compost daily is the best way to water.
  • If your mushrooms seem slow to start, check that you're keeping your mushroom kit in the ideal temperature range. A maximum-minimum thermometer is handy.
  • Start using your kit as soon as you can after you get it, otherwise it may go mouldy. Longer than 2 weeks is borderline.
  • Look for freshly made up kits that haven’t been sitting boxed for ages.
  • Instead of immersing mushrooms in water to wash them before eating, try wiping with damp paper towel to remove any dirt. After all, you do know where these mushrooms came from and what they’ve been growing in!
  • Choose an organic kit. The Gardens Alive! button mushroom kit is organic, and they also have gourmet portabella mushroom kits.
  • You can also grow more exotic mushroom varieties using kits, such as shiitake, enokitake, pioppino, maitake, turkey tail, espresso, pearl, reishi and nameko mushrooms.
  • Once your kit has finished fruiting, use the compost on the vegetable garden.

Click here for more information about mushroom logs.

Spent mushroom compost

Once your mushroom grow kit has stopped fruiting, you can re-use the contents as compost in the garden. A layer on top of a garden bed improves soil structure and provides food and shelter for earthworms and micro-organisms. Mushroom compost retains moisture, suppresses weeds and is a source of nutrients for thriving plants.

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