Growing Mushrooms!




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Mushrooms are a pretty good source of protein and other nutrients, as well as being pretty tasty. I've chosen to grow shiitake and oyster since I like them best and they are also really different in terms of texture and taste, and prefer different types of growing media. However, there are tons of different types of mushrooms that can be cultivated, and many of them can be grown pretty easily using the same principles (be sure to check though on if the variety you want to grow does better in a particular growing media).

Different growing media can also be used, depending on the space that you have available and the variety of mushroom you select. Since I live in a one-bedroom in the city (which unfortunately lacks outdoor space), I don't have a ton of room to grow things (I do have a pretty nice little setup though). There are a ton of kits and things online that would allow for growing some delicious 'shroomies via (please note: I am totally not promoting any of the companies who's websites are linked below, it's just to show what I'm talking about):

1. Sawdust, corn, or woodchip filled bags
2. Sawdust, corn, or woodship filled boxes
3. Old logs (you can either get pre-inoculated (as shown here) or if you have the time (several months!) and space (lots of space!) and access to cherry or oak logs (I don't, unfortunately) you can inoculate your own logs with spores)
4. Various other media, including (as also shown here) a roll of toilet paper

Thanks so much to giardinaggioindoor for translating this to Italian!

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Step 1: You'll Need. . .

I've opted for shiitake and oyster mushrooms, and I'll be growing them using two different growing media - shiitake with a pre-inoculated log (I'll run down how to inoculate your own though, in case someone is lucky enough to have the resources to do so), and oyster with a roll of toilet paper.

For Shiitake:
- a log inoculated with shiitake mushroom spores (I used a 6" one from here) - if you want to make your own logs, check out step two
- a large container for soaking
- a box to keep the log contained and moist, as well as a place to keep the box where it's cool and not too bright (step three explains how to construct a pretty simple plexiglass box, an aquarium could probably also be used)
- though not needed, a lazy Susan or other turntable is helpful for keeping the whole log moist
- a dish slightly larger than the diameter of the log
- a spray bottle
- lots of non-chlorinated water (kept cool) - I prefer to just get some of the big jugs from the grocery store

For Oyster:
- a roll of toilet paper
- a "tee pee kit" (contains oyster mushroom spores, bags, and rubber bands)
- a box to keep the roll contained and moist, as well as a place to keep the box where it's cool and not too bright
- though not needed, a lazy Susan or other turntable is helpful
- a dish slightly larger than the diameter of the roll
- a spray bottle filled with non-chlorinated water (kept cool)

Step 2: To Make Your Own Logs

If you happen to have some logs handy, and you want to make your own shiitake logs, here's how:
1. Obtain a log roughly a foot to 2 feet in length and at least 4 inches in diameter. For shiitake, oak, cherry, or other fruit woods and hardwoods are preferable. Though I haven't tried it, this might be a source for wood. Because mushroom spores are a little picky, you'll want the wood as freshly cut as possible.
2. You'll also need to get your hands on some mushroom plugs (see link in the intro) and some sealing wax (most people prefer cheese wax since it's easy to melt down).
3. Drill holes with a 5/16 bit about 2 inches deep and 4 inches apart. You can drill them in rows and columns, or in a spiral pattern, depending on your preference.
4. Push the plugs into the holes and gently tap them in with a hammer or rubber mallet (be careful not to damage the bark). Seal each with melted cheese wax (heated to about 145 degrees F).
5. Stand the log in a shaded area where it won't get too hot or get too much sun - it's best if the log can be outdoors.
6. Water the log regularly (at least every 2 weeks) in order to keep it damp. Make sure to use only non-chlorinated water.
7. Repeat for 6 months to a year. Eventually your log will start to sprout some 'shroomies!

note: the images in this step are from and are used only to help illustrate how to inoculate a log with shiitake plugs.

Step 3: Plexi-Boxing

To make a nifty plexiglass box for your mushrooms to grow in, you'll need:
  • - 1/8 inch thick plexiglass cut into six pieces in order make a box which will fit around your growing media (I was able to get some cut for me at the hardware store - the pieces used here are: 2@12"x10", 2@10"x19", and 2@12"x19").
  • - 2 hinges (the ones I used are 2"x1 3/16" solid brass butt hinges and have 3 holes in each)
  • - 26 small screws (round head, slotted #10-24 x 3/8" used here)
  • - 26 nuts or nut caps (#10-24 nut caps used here)
  • -10 L-brackets (1" are used here - 2 on either side of the back piece, 1 on each of the others, and one on each side of the left and right ends)
  • - Some epoxy or other adhesive (I used marine adhesive) - I also used a neat little corner edging tool, but you don't really need it
  • - A dremel or drill

Once you've got all that on hand, you'll just need to:
  1. Lay out your pieces and decide which will be the front and which will be the top
  2. Mark and drill holes for the hinges on both the front and the top. Making a hinged portion will allow for easier access to water the mushrooms, while still keeping them enclosed to prevent moisture loss.
  3. Mark and drill holes for the L-brackets.
  4. Assemble the box by affixing the pieces to one another with the L-brackets.
  5. Apply the glue/epoxy to the inside of the seams of the box and smooth it down.
  6. Screw the hinges onto the top and front pieces to affix the front of your fully formed box
  7. Find a dark and cool (dim and cool also works, but try not to have it too cold) area to house the box and get to growing your mushrooms!

Step 4: Shiitake Mushrooms (Pre-inoculated Log As Growing Media)

According to the directions that accompany the pre-inoculated shiitake log, you'll need:
  • - the log
  • - a container large enough that the log can completely fit inside
  • - enough cold, non-chlorinated water and ice made with non-chlorinated water to cover the log
  • - that other stuff mentioned in step one

note: the stuff you would need if you inoculated your own logs is basically the same, as are the steps.

Preparing the log and growing 'shroomies:
  1. Place your log into the container and enough non-chlorinated ice and water to cover it. Pop it in the fridge for at least 12 hours. Because it's wood, it'll likely float so it's a good idea to put something heavy over top in order to keep it submerged.
  2. After the log has soaked in cool water, place it on the dish and in the box. You'll want to put the box somewhere cool where it will be exposed to only indirect light.
  3. Within 6-10 days, small buds or "pins" will form. Make sure to keep the log moist during this time and once the mushrooms begin to get larger. It helps to keep a spray bottle of non-chlorinated water in the fridge to mist the log if it starts to look dry at all.
  4. Harvest your shiitake mushrooms once they're about 2-4 inches in diameter by cutting them at the base.
  5. After harvesting, you can shock your log again in non-chlorinated ice water for 12 hours and repeating steps 2-4 again.

Step 5: Oyster Mushrooms (Toilet Paper As Growing Media)

According to the directions that accompany the "TeePee Oyster Kit" you'll need:
  • - the spores, bags, and rubber bands that come in the kit
  • - a roll of toilet paper (preferably without any inks or dyes involved)
  • - a large pot to boil water in
  • - kitchen tongs
  • - a cooling rack or other surface to allow the roll to cool and drain slightly
  • - that other stuff mentioned in step one

note: the kit comes with enough bags and spores for 15 rolls. This seems like a bit much to me, so I'll only be inoculating one roll at a time.

Preparing the roll and growing 'shroomies:
  1. Fill the pot with water and bring it to a boil.
  2. Remove the cardboard tube from the center of the roll. This will help to speed up the inoculation of the spores.
  3. Once the water is boiling, remove the pot from the heat and dip the roll into the water, holding it with the tongs - you'll want it to get fully saturated.
  4. Remove the roll from the water and place them on the rack or other surface to cool slightly and drain a bit.
  5. When steam no longer rises, with clean hands, feel the inside the center of the roll. If it is not too hot to the touch, transfer the roll to the plastic bag that came with the kit.
  6. Pour enough of the provided oyster mushroom spores into the center of the roll to fill it.
  7. Close the bag around the roll and seal with the rubber band, making sure that the closure is above the filter patch.
  8. Place the bagged roll on the dish and into the prepared plexiglass box. Put the box in a cool (65-75 degrees F), dim/dark area - this mimics the conditions under the bark of trees where oyster mushrooms usually grow.
  9. Within three weeks, the roll will be covered in white mushroom mycelium. At this point, you can let them sit a bit longer, or put the bagged, incubated roll into the fridge for 48 hours to stimulate the fugus to fruit. If you've inoculated extra rolls that you don't want to fruit yet, you can keep them in the fridge at this point for up to 6 months.
  10. Remove the rolls from the fridge and place in a well lit area at room temperature. Take the rubber band off of the bag and fluff the bag to increase airflow.
  11. Within a week, mushrooms should be growing from the roll and may be ready for harvesting. To harvest them, either grab and twist or cut them at the base.If the roll starts to seem dried out, mist it with non-chlorinated water to dampen it.
  12. After harvesting, you can close the bag and place it in the dark again and repeat 9-12 until the roll won't fruit again.

Step 6: And Now, We Wait. . .(with Updates!)

Since it might take a bit for the mushrooms to fruit, I've added a few pictures (from my phone, sorry!) from a similar setup I had about a year ago in another small apartment. As these grow, I'll add more pictures. If you decide to give it a shot, please feel free to post your own images too!

June 24th - Mini-Update: The third and fourth pictures show the progress of the process after just a week. Pins have started forming on the log (after being misted daily), and the top of the roll of toilet paper has covered over with mycelium (it's now in the fridge for 48 hours to induce fruiting).

Step 7: Updates!

July 4th -
The pins on the shiitake log have continued to grow (slowly, but they are growing) and there are a few more than there were previously - no full-blown mushrooms though. . .yet. Since the plexi box is under a table in my living room, I've kept a towel over it. In addition to blocking out a lot of light, this seems to help keep the inside of the box a little warmer (but just slightly) than the rest of the room.

The oyster roll just didn't seem ready to fruit so I sealed the bag again to encourage the spreading of more mycelium (it kind of looks like the startings of mold, but I promise it isn't). It's now totally coated (before was just the top - I think I rushed to chill it too soon) and back in the fridge for a few days to encourage fruiting. Hopefully it will be able to stay moist this time, since drying out seemed to be a major issue.

July 15 -
The pins on the log continue to grow. . .very, very, very slowly. However, the oyster roll has sprouted it's first full-blown shroomies (see the fourth picture)!

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    34 Discussions


    Has any one tried laying an inoculated log on a layer of clean damp sand, and let the log wick up what moisture it needs. I live in the very hot south, and this keeping the shiitake log cool is going to be a problem. The wife also has a problem with logs in the icebox. I can keep it in the shade under the porch, no direct sunlight, but it will still be warm. Just a helpful thought for the distilled water. The frost or ice build up in you freezer is distilled water.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I have been talking about growing some assorted mushrooms with a teacher for some time now and he recently gave me a few inoculated dowels he ordered. I have yet to see results on that. I also took several closed button mushrooms, which I've heard are the just unopened shitake, and sliced them, wrapped them in paper towels, put them in plastic sandwich bags and saturated them with well water. I checked them the other day and around the edges of the paper towel are fuzzy little white things protruding from the paper. I am almost certain this is the mycelium. I have yet to inoculate anything but I think I've successfully produced my own spawn from grocery store mushrooms!

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    If those "closed button mushrooms" are from the store, they may just be common brown or white mushrooms. In stores in the USA the Portabella mushrooms really are just the big common mushrooms. Shitake look different, and certainly taste different. Shitake is the third most sold mushroom in the USA but they are not very common here. (1.) Brown/White, (2.) Portabella, (3.) Shitake, in order of sales and popularity. But once a "foodie" tastes Shitake, they often update their preference and start buying Shitake when they can afford the higher cost. The more interesting flavor of Shitake mushrooms (especially those grown on oak) may continue to become more popular in the marketplace over time.


    10 years ago on Step 5

    Spores are the microscopic reproductive structure that falls from the gills of mature mushrooms. Individual spores are not visible to the naked eye and spores can either be seen as very fine smoky dust falling off mushrooms or as spore prints taken from a mushroom cap. What you are referring to as "spores" in this article are definitely not spores. These are actually a grain based spawn. Probably rye grain inoculated with mushroom mycelium.

    10 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Step 5

    In the package that they came in, they were labeled as "spores" - I do understand that there is quite a big difference though. Thanks for pointing that out.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Morels don't grow ON trees, but rather with trees. They are famously allusive and mysterious. They like burn sites, low ph, old orchards. I've tried growing them on burned apple wood mixed with wood chips, saw dust, gypsum and perhaps some other things. I think they have not grown because I didn't give them enough shade, but it is possible that the morels i found for the first time about 50 feet away was the patch a started last year. (they tend to move around)


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Our unexpected Morels grew under a layer of cardboard atop some wood chip mulch we purchased from a forest based logging mill. Their wood came from the wild. We used the mulch for enhancing our garden soil. The cardboard layer was to stop weeds, which it did, and the humid darkness with wood chips became a Morel spawning ground!


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    wow that was a fast reply lol. hey thank you! OH! I dont know if your interested or not but i  have a recipe for Stuffed Portabella's! all you have to do is scrape out gills (obviously you want the BIG mushrooms), put cream cheese in the lil bowl u now created, put pieces of bacon in and diced green peppers on it (or mix it with the cream cheese before you put it in the cap) and pop it in the oven at ....well i guessed about 350 for 15 to 20 minutes and WALAH! ...AMAZINGNESS! i made mine too big so i had to eat it with  a fork but still SOOOO GOOD!....and as i said before whether or not you care idk but i thought id share it : ) take care and thanks!


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! That sounds really good - though I'd have to find a way to replace the bacon. I've made stuffed button mushrooms baked with cream cheese and jalepenos - also really good!


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    OOOO that sounds good too!, oh i am guessing your a vejasaurus? (vegitarian), are you completely Vegan or ...idk the others besides vegitarian but ya you get my point : )   the only thing i can think of is tofu then..or turkey bacon but thats still meat lol, idk if there is such thing as tofu bacon so ya lol good luck on that one! lol


    Reply 10 years ago on Step 5

    No probs. Maybe they meant that the grain was inoculated with spores collected from print.. I'm guessing that makes the most sense.. if youre interested in mycology you should check out the forums* and/or some of Paul Stamets' books... if you get into growing your own mushrooms on a regular basis you can collect your own spores or liquid culture and save yourself a bit of money :)

    *(just ignore the fact that the majority of posters there are interested mainly in psychoactives! lol)


    Reply 10 years ago on Step 5

    Thanks for the book suggestions! I had seen (and waded through the psychoactives) - not sure that I'm ready quite yet though to collect my own cultures - soon I hope!

    ninja cat 09

    9 years ago on Introduction

    has anybody tried growing shiiitakes on toilet paper, i'm trying now but no obvious colonization, although i do see these small wrikles on some sides of the jar.

    4 replies

    I haven't, and I'm afraid I don't know if it would work or not (please let me know if it does though!). I'd assume that it'd be best not to have the roll touching anything though, and if you're keeping it in a jar, you may want to keep the top off to allow air to circulate.

    it turns out the liquid culture i made from a dry shiitake was bad, nothing grew, wasn't even able to get it going on grain, but i have seen pics of people using phone books as substrate for them, i just spent all my money on oyster liquid cultures, so i wont be finding out any time soon.

    eerebusninja cat 09

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    You need a healthy fresh specimen to clone if you want to make your own liquid cultures. Cloning from dried mushrooms won't work. Try a small piece of a fresh mushroom on agar. You can use your oyster cultures to grow oysters on phone books. I am doing it on a large scale this summer:

    Is there any way to use Grocery Store Fresh Mushrooms to obtain a starter spore? I swear that my grandma started hers that way every spring in the '60s but I never saw how she did it.