The Best Mushrooms to Grow at Home for Beginners

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If you have ever been intrigued by the idea of growing mushrooms in your garden, this list of the best mushrooms to grow at home will help get you started. Even if you are a beginner mushroom gardener, there are a few delicious culinary mushrooms that you can easily grow. You don?t even really need a lot of space, because they can be grown indoors and in jars, as well as out in the garden. 

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When it comes to growing vegetables, many don?t consider adding mushrooms to their list. Okay, technically they?re fungi and not a vegetable but we sure do treat them like one! They?re so tasty in stir-fries, pasta, and even fresh from the garden.

I?ve been interested in growing mushrooms at home for many years, and have grown them successfully outdoors in both bags and on . I?ve tried shiitake and oyster mushrooms and after reading about the other easy-to-grow types of mushrooms, I want to grow them all!

Permaculture farmers Kristen Bradley and Nick Ritar have a whole chapter of their book,  (Murdoch Books, 2019) on growing mushrooms. It?s filled with the biology and history of mushrooms and projects to cultivate mushrooms at home like mushroom bags, jars, and holey buckets. They were kind enough to share their go-to mushrooms to grow at home at the end of this post, so be sure to read on!

Learn the best methods for growing mushrooms at home below, applying these practices inside or outside.

Milkwood Book

How to Grow Mushrooms Inside

Did you know it?s actually easier to grow mushrooms inside?

Because you can control the conditions, they grow much quicker indoors than they would outside. When it comes to growing mushrooms, you can buy growing kits to makes things easier or start from scratch on your own. Just make sure to purchase from reputable dealers only.

Spores Vs Spawn

You can buy either spore or spawn. Think of mushroom spores like seeds and spawn as seedlings. Spawn will be much easier to grow for beginners.

Location

Mushrooms enjoy a cool, dark, and damp location best. A basement or inside a cabinet or closet are all good locations.

You can use a container to grow them, such as empty salad containers you get at the grocery store. Just make sure the container is at least 6 inches deep to allow the mycelium (a mushroom root system) to grow.

hands holding shiitakes

Starting Mushrooms

Different mushrooms will like different mediums. Some like to grow in coffee grounds while others prefer sawdust. Refer to the fruiting substrates in the section below on different types of mushrooms to know what to use for each.

To start your mushroom, place the spawn on its preferred growing medium. You will want to start your mushrooms at 70?F. You will want to use a to ensure you have the right temperature for your mushrooms.

If necessary, you can place their container on a to help warm them up. For the first little while, mushrooms need to remain undisturbed. Limit their exposure to heat, light, and drafts.

Once they have rooted, you can lower the temperature. This will take a few weeks. Like growing mediums, each mushroom has a preferred temperature that you can also find listed.

When you lower the temperature, you will want to cover the spawn with an inch of potting soil. Cover the soil with a damp cloth and spritz the cloth to keep it wet.

Harvesting Mushrooms

Your mushrooms will be ready to harvest when the cap has fully opened and separated from the stem. This takes 3-4 weeks on average.

Avoid pulling your mushrooms as this may damage the surrounding fungi.

man picking homegrown shiitake mushrooms from a log

FAQ About Growing Mushrooms

Is it Difficult to Grow Mushrooms?

Not at all! In fact, it?s easier to do at home inside than outside. You can harvest mushrooms in about 3-4 weeks inside after you cover the spawn with soil. Outside, this process can take anywhere from 6 months to 3 years depending on the type of mushroom!

You can learn more about outside on this post.

Do Mushrooms Need Sunlight?

Since mushrooms don?t contain chlorophyll, they don?t require any sunlight to grow.

Will Mushrooms Grow Back After You Pick Them?

Once you harvest a mushroom, its stem will rot away. New mushrooms may emerge and grow from other spawns or spores. To ensure you have a continuous crop, you may need to add more spawn.

Should You Pull or Cut Mushrooms?

Avoid pulling mushrooms to harvest. This can damage surrounding fungi and the mycelium below. Instead, cut the mushroom with a sharp knife right on the stalk.

The Best Types of Mushrooms to Grow at Home

by Kristen Bradley & Nick Ritar

Published with permission from Murdoch Books Australia and Quarto Homes; photographs courtesy of Kristen Bradley, Kate Berry, and Ann F Berger (CC). 

Clusters of Pearly Oyster Mushrooms

Pleurotus ostreatus (Pearl Oyster)

The species we recommend starting with for bucket or jar cultivation is the pearl oyster. There are lots of Pleurotus (oyster) species, including Pleurotus djamor (pink oyster), Pleurotus eryngii (king oyster), and Pleurotus citrinopileatus (golden oyster).

However, some of these other varieties are slightly more fiddly than Pleurotus ostreatus, so pearl oyster is a good starting point.

Preferred Fruiting Substrates

Oyster mushrooms prefer pasteurised straw or sawdust, but will fruit well on most farm waste products containing cellulose and lignin. They also like hardwood logs or stumps for outdoor cultivation.

Waste coffee grounds are becoming popular among urban growers of oyster mushrooms, but note that they must be used while very fresh as they have a relatively high nutrient content and can be prone to contamination.

Climate

Pleurotus ostreatus are awesomely adaptable and will tolerate a range of growing conditions. They should fruit anywhere from 7?25?C (45?77?F).

Time from Inoculation to Fruiting

These mushrooms grow quickly. From 2 to 3 weeks for indoor cultivation, depending on ambient temperature and the inoculation rates of substrate.

Pleurotus rryingii (King Oyster)

Considered by many to be the best tasting oyster mushroom, king oysters are a meaty, full feast that can be sliced and barbecued. They crisp up when stir-fried, yet stay wonderfully chewy and nutty.

They can be grown in a similar way to pearl oysters, but their superior flavour makes them worth mentioning. Once you?ve mastered pearl oysters, give them a go.

Shiitake mushrooms emerging from eucalyptus log

Lentinula edodes (Shiitake)

Shiitake is a great species to use when you are starting outdoor cultivation. They will grow on logs in your garden. Although they?re a lot slower to fruit than oyster mushrooms, if you inoculate a batch of logs every year (or even better, every season), you can soon have a regular supply of shiitakes.

Preferred fruiting substrates:

Hardwood logs of almost every type, though yields will vary according to the log species. Eucalypts work well if you can?t find oak, beech, or alder. They can also be grown on sawdust.

Climate

There are different strains of shiitake, but the main strain that we use fruits between 14 and 20?C (57 and 68?F), which is a wide enough bracket for most temperate climates. There are both colder and warmer strains that fruit below, and above, that temperature envelope.

Time from Inoculation to Fruiting

Long. On logs: from 6 to 12 months (or longer), depending on climate and inoculation rates of the log. On sawdust blocks: 7 to 10 weeks. Worth the wait!

Agrocybe aegerita (Velvet Pioppini)

Native to poplar wood, this is a delicious mushroom with a nutty bite. It?s great for stir-fries and other cooking methods.

Preferred Fruiting Substrates

Hardwood sawdust is best. This one is great for jar cultivation. It also does well on logs and stumps.

Climate

Keep it cool ?pioppinos like to stay around 13?18?C (55?64?F), and tend to fruit in the spring, after the colder months.

Time from Inoculation to Fruiting

Long ? 8 to 12 months for outdoor log cultivation or about 6 weeks for indoor cultivation.

Stropharia_rugosoannulata copyright Ann F. Berger

Stropharia rugosoannulata (King Stropharia or Garden Giant)

This is our favourite mushroom to grow in wood chip gardens. It?s easy to grow and delicious to eat.

Preferred Fruiting Substrates

Hardwood wood chips are preferred, but, like oyster mushrooms, king stropharia will grow in straw and many other farm waste products.

Climate

King stropharia grow in a very broad range of temperatures, from about 5?35?C (41?95?F), so they?re great for both temperate and subtropical climates. They do need good moisture, however, so make sure this is supplied consistently.

Time from Inoculation to Fruiting

Long. About 4 to 6 months, depending on inoculation rates and which substrate you use.

More Mushrooming Fun

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Made from the mighty cedar tree, cedarwood essential oil creates a relaxing aroma that can?t be ignored. Once combined with the sweet yet tart fragrance of lime, you have a slightly masculine and refreshing soap. Delicately speckled with spirulina powder for colour, add this lime and cedarwood soap recipe to your winter crafting list.

Lime & Cedarwood Soap Recipe

If you?re looking for a masculine essential oil blend for soap, you can?t go wrong with the combination of cedarwood and lime. It?s got the bright and fresh scent of lime coupled with the earthy, deep, and woodsy scent of cedarwood.

The blend creates a nice scent for the fall and winter months and makes a great gift for those who like those earthy masculine scents. This is a very clean and fresh soap that is good for deodorizing, but also cozy and nourishing.

stacked homemade cedarwood soap

What Does Cedarwood Soap Smell Like?

When I think of , my mind goes to a newly built deck, a fresh layer of mulch, an antique cedarwood chest, and perhaps most of all, pencils! Cedar trees have one of the strongest scents in nature and once it?s cut, you can smell it from many feet away.

Over the years, cedarwood has turned into a more masculine scent as it is used in many aftershaves, deodorants, and other products tailored to men. While some may consider this a manly soap, I adore the scent and will use it any day of the week on myself.

The best way I can describe the scent of cedarwood would be the feeling of a deep walk through the wood. Sweet and woody, it has balsamic undertones and smells a little spicier than other wood oils. Keep in mind, there are many different types of cedarwood trees and each oil will smell a little different.

I can?t get enough of cedarwood. In fact, I have another cedarwood-inspired perfect for the holiday season.

cedar and lime soap recipe

What is Cedarwood Soap Good For?

We can put a big checkmark next to the scent of cedarwood soap, but what exactly is it good for? The cedarwood essential oil is playing double duty in this recipe, providing both a refreshing scent as well as plenty of skin benefits.

The scent itself is extremely strong and works well for deodorizing. You can use the soap to refresh after the gym or a long day working outside in the garden. Your skin will carry a lighter version of the scent and leave you smelling like a walk in the woods.

The antibacterial properties of cedarwood essential oil also help to improve acne and other skin irritations by reducing pain, swelling, and inflammation.

Some people also use the scent for meditation. It is said to have metaphysical properties that can help increase a spiritual connection. The oil is known for being a sedative, working to decrease anxiety and encourage a night of better sleep.

lime and cedar soap

The Benefits of Lime Soap

Now we can?t forget about the other half of this super duo! Much like its taste, lime has a zesty and slightly sour scent. And just like lemon, it?s packed full of antioxidants that certainly can?t hurt to apply to the skin.

A , lime is known most for its astringent and antiseptic properties. Many use it to purify and cleanse, as it?s known for treating skin irritations such as acne and soothe inflamed surfaces.

While you can use this soap any time of the year, I especially like it for use in the winter.

This recipe is a very moisturizing lime soap that will help to keep your hands from drying out. After all, winter has a nasty habit of sucking out every ounce of moisture from our skin. This can result in cracking skin, which can fill with unwanted bacteria and create more skin problems.

But in comes the cleansing lime to save the day! Your winter skin will be more than happy to soak in the lather of this lime and cedarwood soap.

cedarwood and lime soap stacked together

Lime and Cedarwood Soap Recipe

Delight the senses with this lime and cedar soap, perfect for mimicking the freshness of the cool season. This is one of the many I have on Garden Therapy! For more detailed instructions, be sure to check out my basic .

This cedar soap is coloured with . Spirulina powder has a deep blue-green colour as it?s dried algae. Keep in mind that the colour does fade over time.

Add it generously (I use 1 tsp) knowing that the colour will become less prominent the older the soap gets. I also topped it with and , both of which hold their colour really well in soap!

a block of homemade soap made from a lime and cedar soap recipe

Ingredients

This recipe makes 2 lbs of soap. See the recipe card for exact measurements.

  • Lye
  • Distilled water

Materials

  • , a pot of water, and
  • Immersion blender
  • Safety gear such as apron, glasses, and gloves.

lime and cedar soap Make It!

Before you get started, measure out all your ingredients beforehand with a kitchen scale.

Melt all your oils and cocoa butter together over low heat. You want a temperature of 115? F.

While your oils are heating, make your lye water in the heatproof glass. Stir continuously in a well-ventilated area until completely dissolved. Move the glass to an ice bath until it also cools to a temperature of 115? F.

cedarwood soap recipe

Ensure your oil and lye water are at the same temperature, and then slowly add the water to the oils in a large bowl. Use the immersion blender and blend until it reaches a light trace. Add in your essential oils and blend in well.

Next, I add a teaspoon of spirulina to one side of the bowl and use my spatula in small circles just along the edge of the bowl. This mixes the spirulina with the soap without spreading it throughout the entire mixture. Once the powder is mixed into a dark green circle at the edge of the bowl, I pull it through the soap once or twice before pouring it into the soap mold.

Sprinkle the top with calendula petals and dried parsley. Move the soap somewhere warm for 48 hours before unmolding the soap. You can then cut it into sections and let it cure in a cool dark place for 6 weeks before lathering up.

More Soap-Making Posts

cedarwood soap

Lime and Cedarwood Soap

Take a walk through the woods with this sweetly masculine lime and cedarwood soap recipe. This recipe makes 2 lbs of soap.

Equipment

  • Soap-making pitcher, a pot of water, and stainless steel double boiler
  • Safety gear (glasses, glove, apron, etc.)

Supplies

  • 227 g
  • 189 g
  • 95 g
  • 95 g
  • 76 g
  • 95 g
  • 200 g
  • 10 g
  • 10 g
  • 1 tsp

Instructions

  • Measure out your ingredients on the scale.
  • Melt oils and cocoa butter to 115?F over low heat.
  • Make your lye water by combining lye and water in a heatproof glass. Stir until dissolved and then cool in an ice bath to 115?F.
  • Slowly add lye water to oils in a large bowl. Blend until it reaches a light trace.
  • Add in essential oils and blend again.
  • Add the spirulina powder to one side of the bowl. Use a spatula to make small circles along the edge of the bowl until the powder creates a dark green circle around the edge of the bowl. Pull the dark green through the soap once or twice.
  • Sprinkle dried calendula and parsley on top.
  • Pour into soap mold and move somewhere warm for 48 hours.
  • Cut into equal sections and let soap cure for 6 weeks before use in a cool, dark place.

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Without a doubt, pumpkin spice has taken the fall world by storm. I love the way it smells, instantly making me feel cozy and ready for the sweater weather season. This pumpkin spice candle is the embodiment of the seasonal favourite, filling your home with the signature scent in the cutest DIY pumpkin container.

Pumpkin Spice Candle in a Real Pumpkin

Just about everywhere you turn in autumn, you will find pumpkin spice everything. I?m not just talking about coffee, either. From lip balm to car diffusers, to yes, candles, pumpkin spice is in the air! You can easily make your own DIY pumpkin spice candle using a signature blend of oils and a tiny pumpkin itself.

A candle burning is much more up my alley when it comes to pumpkin spice. The warm notes of cinnamon, ginger, clove, cardamom, and orange are perfect for the fall. They fill the house with coziness and allow you to settle into shorter days and longer nights.

It?s a scent combination that doesn?t feel as comfortable in the spring and summer, so enjoy it while you can. This pumpkin spice candle is a celebration that is meant to be enjoyed before the season passes.

This pumpkin candle is one of many fun and unique candle projects that come from my book, . All of the 12 artisan-inspired projects are designed to help you learn your own candle-making techniques so you can make your own beautiful creations.

Thank you to Leisure Arts for providing these photos of the pumpkin spice candles from the book.

pumpkin spice candles

What is in Pumpkin Spice?

When making the best smelling pumpkin spice candle out there, the best way to achieve enough fragrance is by using essential oils (no, not the actual pumpkin spice mixture you get at the grocery store!). For my pumpkin candles, I use an essential oil blend of , , , , and .

Can You Use Essential Oils in Candles?

Candle scent is differentiated by hot throw (the scent that a candle gives off when burned) and cold throw (the scent that an unlit candle gives off). Both essential oils and fragrance oils can be used to scent your candles, however, I prefer essential oils.

Essential oils are natural scents extracted from plants and they are sometimes better tolerated by people with scent sensitivities or allergies. Used in aromatherapy, they have different healing effects (such as relaxation or focus) being ascribed to the aromatic diffusion.

Essential oils typically have expected cold throw but can be inconsistent with hot throw as each oil type and oil manufacturer will produce oils with differing qualities.

This is because some essential oils will evaporate at the high temperatures needed for binding the scent with the wax. When the candle cools, the scent could evaporate and leave the candle with very little scent. So when purchasing your essential oils, look for ones of high quality or designed specifically for use with candles.

DIY pumpkin spice candle

How to Make Pumpkin Spice Scented Candles

Now that you have the pumpkin spice candle fragrance all figured out, the next part is coming up with the cutest container. I love to use actual tiny pumpkins to make my candles.

These pumpkin candles are ideal for entertaining or give as gifts, as they last as long as the pumpkin. Since pumpkin spice is such a short-lived scent for the fall, it works out well!

When using perishables as a candle container, it?s best to choose the fruits before they completely ripen, so they last the longest time possible after pouring the candle.

Make the candle just before you give it as a gift or use it at a party. The wax will seal the open flesh and prevent some decomposition. Use a or a plate under the candle to protect the surface below and never leave a burning candle unattended.

There are a whole host of wonderful natural containers like citrus rinds, apples, gourds (like these festive ), and pumpkins that can be used to make a container candle. So let your imagination go wild!

3 gourds that have candles burning in the middle of them

 

DIY Pumpkin Spice Candle

Makes one 8 oz (225g) candle

Usher in autumn with the signature pumpkin spice scent. This pumpkin candle project is meant to be used soon after it is made because the container is a real pumpkin, and therefore perishable.

Materials

For exact measurements, see the instruction card below.

  • Miniature pumpkin
  • Pumpkin spice essential oil blend:

3 pumpkin candles on wood slices

Equipment

  • Paring knife
  • Tablespoon or melon baller
  • Sharp scissors
  • Old towel
  • Paper cup
  • Chopsticks or clothespins

Make It!

Prepare the pumpkin as if you were making a small jack-o-lantern: use a paring knife to cut into the pumpkin and remove the top; then use a tablespoon or melon baller to scrape out the seeds and fibers.

scooping out pumpkin guts

Weigh the soy wax and add it to a double boiler on medium heat.

When the melted wax has reached the specified temperature for adding essential oil (e.g. 160?F ? see the instructions that came with your wax), add the essential oils. Stir well to bind.

Cool the wax to 140?F and pour it into the pumpkin.

pumpkin candle with hot wax

When the candle wax starts to turn opaque, insert the wick. Use the chopsticks to hold the wick in place as the cancel cools. Wrap the candle in a towel and place it in a warm room to slowly set.

pumpkin candle cooling

Allow the candle to cure for 24 hours undisturbed. Once cured, trim the wick with scissors to ? inch above the surface of the wax.

mini pumpkin with candle in the middle of it

Make this pumpkin candle the day before you intend to gift it and with the understanding that the recipient will use it soon after receiving it. Place the pumpkin on a wood slice or a pretty ceramic plate and wrap it with a linen bow. Attach a little tag with coordinating baker?s twine.

pumpkin spice candle

More Ways to Add Scent to Your Home:

pumpkin spice candle

DIY Pumpkin Spice Candle

This recipe makes one 8 oz candle in a miniature pumpkin container.

Equipment

  • Paring knife
  • Melon baller or tablespoon
  • Double boiler
  • Thermometer
  • Scissors
  • Old towel
  • Paper cup
  • Clothespins or chopsticks
  • Heatproof container cup with pour spout

Supplies

  • 1 miniature pumpkin approximately 6' in diameter
  • 8 oz  (225g)
  • 11 ml
  • 5 ml
  • 3 ml
  • 3 ml
  • 3 ml

Instructions

  • Carve out the inside of the pumpkin like you would a jack-o-lantern. Use the paring knife to cut open into the pumpkin and then use the melon baller to scrape out the guts.
  • Use the kitchen scale to weigh your soy wax. On medium heat, add it to the double boiler.
  • Wait until the wax has reached the required melting temperature to add the essential oils (it should say on the package). Add in the essential oils and stir well.
  • Let the wax cool to 140?F and then pour it inside the pumpkin.
  • When the candle wax turns opaque in color, insider the wick and use the chopsticks to hold it in place. To slowly set the candle, wrap the candle in a towel and place it in a warm room.
  • Let the candle sit for 24 hours. Trim the wick to 1/4 inch above the wax.
  • Gift right away as the pumpkin is perishable. To protect the surface, place a decorative wood slice or ceramic plate below the candle while burning.

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