Top 10 Tips for Mushroom Cultivating Beginners
Our team here at The Monster Mushroom Company have been cultivating and enjoying mushrooms of all kinds for years. We haven’t done the math, but collectively it must amount to decades of experience. Needless to say, we’ve been around the block. If you haven’t yet, that’s perfectly all right—everyone has to start somewhere!
When we first started out, there were definitely a handful of things we all wish that we had known. Understanding some of the things we’re going to discuss in this article would have made our journey into the wonderful world of mycology and mushroom cultivation much, much easier. Therefore, we invite you to join us as we discuss our top 10 tips for beginner mushroom growers so that you can enjoy a much softer landing than we did!
#1 – Start With a Mushroom Growing Kit – And Make Sure it Comes With Everything You Need
The online mushroom growing community is made up of pretty friendly people, and most of them are willing to share their advice with you. There are also tons of books out there about cultivating mushrooms. In theory, all the information you need to buy the right equipment is out there.
… In theory, anyway.
Unfortunately, there’s so much information out there—some of it good, some of it bad—that it’s extremely common for newcomers to the hobby to get overwhelmed, or worse, take some not-so-great advice and ultimately end up having their first mushroom growing experience not work out very well. This can be demoralizing, sometimes to the point where the person feels like the hobby just isn’t for them, and they give up, never to try again. What a sad outcome!
To avoid problems like this, most experts would agree that beginners should always start out with a mushroom growing kit like The Monster Mushroom Company All-in-One Mushroom Growing Kit.
Our kit, quite literally, has everything you need to get started growing mushrooms—everything and then some. It includes a professionally made monotub (see: Monotubs Explained: Easy, Efficient, Effective), grain spawn, fruiting substrate, a digital hydrometer and temperature gauge, a drying and storage kit, sterility tools like gloves, sanitizer, and even a face mask, and more. Lots more!
Having everything you need at your disposal eliminates a lot of the guesswork, especially with regard to grain spawn and fruiting substrate, two things we’ll discuss in more detail later on in this article. Save yourself the trouble—get a kit so you can dive into the fun parts right away and have a successful first harvest.
#2 – Set Up Your Mushroom Growing “Lab” The Right Way
While you wait for your All-in-One Kit to arrive, take a moment to consider where you’ll be growing your mushrooms. This will be your “lab” (or “farm” if you prefer) and needs to have a few features. Don’t worry though—one of the really nice things about the mushroom growing hobby is that it requires little space. People have successfully grown bountiful harvests from a monotub in their apartments, bedrooms, or kitchens.
Make sure that your growing area will have access to natural sunlight for at least a portion of the day. Like people and plants, most types of culinary, ornamental, or exotic fungi you’ll be growing needs to have some light. Placing your monotub near a window will be fine. You’ll also want to limit the amount of potentially contaminated airflow, and if possible, make sure it’s an area not regularly trafficked by pets. You will also want to be able to regulate temperature in the room; many fungi require temperatures to remain relatively constant somewhere between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
As you’ll learn throughout your first grow, sterility is important. Let’s talk about that a little more:
#3 – Never Neglect Sterility – Your Mushrooms Will Thank You
See our video tutorial about inoculation. You’ll notice that Eric talks about the importance of sterility and how to go about getting the best results while performing sensitive tasks like inoculating your spawn bags. Make sure that you take this part of the growing process seriously—yes, mushrooms are hardy organisms and can live through a lot, but why take any chances?
This tip ties in with the previous one. Consider where your “lab” will be, and make sure that you’re always working on a clean surface while wearing gloves and a face mask. Avoid open windows, running fans, or anything else that could “stir things up”, such as a pet running around. This will give your fungi the best chance to survive and thrive!
#4 – Don’t Be Afraid to Read, Watch, and Learn: Utilize ALL The Resources at Your Disposal!
As you get deeper and deeper into the mushroom growing hobby, you’ll find that you naturally learn all about mycology—but in the very beginning, some of the terminology used can be confusing. We may have even used terms that you’re not familiar with yet in this very article—things like inoculation or substrate.
The best way to get a handle on all of the new words and concepts you’re going to not only encounter but need to understand during the process of your first grow is by having a handy glossary of terms nearby. Fortunately, we’ve already prepared one for you in our eBook, The Monster Mushroom Company Fungi Crash Course. Get your copy below so that you’re prepared—it also includes a ton of other really useful information that every beginner should start out knowing.
Get Your FREE Copy of Our eBook!
Get your comprehensive beginner’s guide to mushroom cultivation and find out how easy it is to grow your own mushrooms. With this knowledge in hand and our superior Mushroom Grow Kits, you will be on your way to becoming a master at cultivating your own mushrooms.
And in the process you’ll be signing up for our newsletter where you’ll get even more tips and insights to use in your new hobby. You’ll always be up to date and informed on the latest news, trends and goings-on in the world of mushrooms.
#5 – Pick the Right Kind of Mushrooms For Your First Attempt
Did you know that scientists estimate that there are roughly 11,000 known species of fungi in North America alone?
Needless to say, you have a lot of options when growing mushrooms at home. Picking the right kind of mushrooms to start with can make a big impact on your first harvest, how much fun you have as a beginner, and what you ultimately end up doing with your harvest. Not all fungi are alike: some are quite easy to grow (thanks to contaminant resistance and general hardiness) and others can present a challenge even to seasoned experts.
For example, chanterelles are quite difficult to grow—they’re best reserved for experienced mycologists/mushroom farmers who want a challenge or have the spare room to experiment. On the other hand, something like a baby bella is far less resource and time intensive.
At the time of this writing, The Monster Mushroom Company All-in-One Kit comes with a pearl oyster spore syringe. Pearl oyster mushrooms are a great choice for first timers since they’re edible, tough, and one of the most popular mushrooms to grow. These woody, sweet mushrooms are desirable by chefs everywhere, so you’ll have the end goal of enjoying a gourmet meal.
Other good options for beginners are shiitake, king oysters, lion’s mane, or wine caps.
#6 – Use Professionally Made Grain Spawn
Grain spawn is tough to get right—so even though there are tutorials online about how to make your own, at least for your first time growing mushrooms you should get spawn that’s been prepared by professionals. Some mushroom farmers, that is to say, experts in the art and science of mushroom cultivation, refuse to make their own grain spawn. Why? It’s a delicate procedure and critical to the success of your grow.
#7 – Use Professionally Made Fruiting Substrate Too – Here’s Why
Ditto the previous tip—we’ve spent years developing what we (and many professional growers) consider to be the perfect fruiting substrate. Our Super Shroom Final Fruiting Substrate is the result of lots of hard work and scientific precision. The All-in-One kit comes with 10 pounds, enough for at least 4-6 crops.
#8 – Grow the Right Amount of Mushrooms and Don’t Overdo it For Your First Harvest
We’ve seen a lot of people get interested in the mushroom growing hobby (and sometimes get dollar signs in their eyes while thinking about the profitability of growing expensive gourmet mushrooms) and then try to “go all out” for their first time around, buying multiple monotubs or investing in expensive automation systems before they’ve even had a single pin show its head ever before.
Our advice is to start out slow. Do a harvest using our All-in-One kit, learn as you go, and then expand your farming operation! Don’t try to get too crazy before you know the basics. This will save you a lot of time and, dare we say, heartache. Once you know what you’re doing you can spend some time considering how to expand.
#9 – Learn About How You Plan to Preserve and Store Your Mushrooms
Something that catches a lot of beginners off guard is just how many mushrooms they’ll be able to harvest from a single monotub. It’s probably a lot more than you think, especially if you consider that if you’ve done everything correctly you’ll more than likely enjoy more than a single flush.
If you’re not prepared ahead of time, you’ll be sitting on a pile of fresh mushrooms that could very easily spoil before you’ve had a chance to use them! Take some time to consider how you plan to preserve and store your mushrooms before growing them. That way, you won’t be overwhelmed with a particularly fruitful bounty. (Which, if you’re using our grain spawn and fruiting substrate, is a distinct possibility!).
In almost all cases, mushrooms are excellent candidates for dry storage. The quickest way to preserve them is with a dehydrator. However, if you don’t have one, that’s no big deal. The Monster Mushroom All-in-One Mushroom Growing Kit includes a drying and storage system. This low-tech system takes longer than a dehydrator, but it works just as well—plus it’s free and doesn’t use electricity.
#10 – Don’t Worry Too Much & Just Get Started – You’ll Learn As You Go
We’ll wrap things up with a short and sweet recommendation: don’t overthink everything. Try and follow the tips we’ve outlined today to the best of your ability, but don’t stress out over doing everything perfectly. The mushroom cultivation hobby (and for some, profession) is one of the most fun, personally fulfilling, and overall rewarding activities you can take part in—so just go with it and have fun!
More Resources & How to Learn More About Cultivating Mushrooms at Home
We hope that you found the tips we covered in this article helpful. Don’t worry about taking our advice word-for-word, just do the best that you can and remember—always have fun! Mushroom cultivation is one of the best hobbies in the world, not just because it’s affordable, but because it gives you near-limitless opportunities to learn and discover.
If you’d like to learn more about mushroom cultivation, make sure to check out our written guide and our video guides. We also invite you to explore some of the other resources on our website. You may find some of the following articles particularly helpful:
- DIY Mushroom Cultivation: Why Growing Your Own Mushrooms is Fun, Educational, and Cost-Efficient
- Everything You Need for Amateur Mycology at Home
- What is a Fruiting Substrate for Mushroom Cultivation?
And, of course, we encourage you to browse and bookmark the Monster Mushroom Messenger, our resident blog. You’ll find all kinds of great info there, including news about when our team will be attending conventions and conferences in the Denver area. For example, we regularly go to gatherings like the NoCo Hemp Expo and the Bind Body Spirit Expo, so keep an eye out for us and it’s more than likely we’ll get a chance to meet.
Anyway, we hope you enjoyed these tips—have a great time growing mushrooms at home!