Growing mushrooms at home is a task that any gardener interested in growing their own food should attempt. Mushrooms are a healthy addition to any diet, as they are low in calories and fat, high in fiber, and contain high amounts of potassium. In addition, they are very easy to grow at home. Mushrooms are best grown indoors where the temperature and light conditions can be more readily managed. Learning how to grow mushrooms indoors is a matter of managing their growing conditions carefully.
Decide what type of mushroom you want to grow. The 3 types of mushrooms that are easiest to grow at home are oyster, white button, and Shitake. The method for growing each mushroom is similar, but the ideal growing medium differs. Oyster mushrooms grow best in straw; Shitakes grow best on hardwood sawdust; button mushrooms grow best in composted manure. These different growing media reflect the different nutritional needs of each species. However, each of these 3 species can be grown readily enough in sawdust or straw. Choosing a type of mushroom to grow is a matter of taste. You should grow the type you most want to eat.
Purchase mushroom spawn. Mushroom spawn is sawdust permeated with mushroom mycelia - essentially the root structure of the fungus. It is used much like plant seedlings to facilitate growth. You can purchase mushroom spawn from several online retailers, some gardening supply stores, or some specialty organic living stores. Make sure to buy spawn rather than spores. Some retailers will also sell spores, which are more akin to the seeds of plants (rather than seedlings). Growing mushrooms from spores takes more time and practice, and is best suited for a seasoned mushroom grower.
Heat the growing medium to spread the mycelia into it. The mycelia in your mushroom spawn need to spread into the growing medium thoroughly before producing mushrooms. A warm temperature encourages this growth. After choosing the growing medium suited for your mushroom species, place a few handfuls of it into a baking pan. A shallow pan with a large surface area will provide the most room for your mushrooms to grow. Mix the spawn into the growing medium with your fingers. Place the baking pan on a heating pad set to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius). This is the ideal temperature to encourage growth. Leave the setup in a dark environment, such as a cabinet, for about 3 weeks. This will allow the mushroom mycelia to permeate the growing medium.
Place the growing medium into the proper environment. After 3 weeks, you need to place the pan into an environment that is dark and cool (about 55 degrees Fahrenheit / 13 degrees Celsius). A basement usually works well for this, but a cabinet or drawer in an unheated room will work in winter. Cover the growing medium with a handful of potting soil and spray the entire mixture with enough water to dampen it thoroughly. You can place a damp towel over the pan to prevent moisture loss if desired. The mix should be kept moist and cool as the mushrooms grow. Check it periodically and spray it with water as necessary.