ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

How to Grow Mushrooms at Home in Australia

Most first-time mushroom growers and home gardeners will usually start their journey with a mushroom growing kit.

Have you ever wanted to grow your own mushrooms at home? I’ve dabbled with growing mushrooms using a mushroom growing kit and the whole process was highly satisfying.

But there are other ways that you can grow your own mushrooms by creating the ideal growing environment and using plastic buckets or even timber logs.

This allows you to grow different varieties rather than just the common mushroom types but growing from scratch is a more advanced method and more time consuming.

Just one word of warning that you need to heed. Make sure that you get your kits or your mushroom spores from a reliable source and you are absolutely certain of the type of mushrooms that you’re growing.

As you’re probably aware, some mushroom varieties are highly toxic and you want to ensure that you’re only growing those that are safe to eat.

How mushrooms grow

Before you venture into growing your own mushrooms, you might be interested to learn how they grow. 

Mushrooms are not plants in that they don’t have any green growth. They are regarded as fungi and there are many different species that grow in the wild.

These interesting organisms don’t grow from seeds but rather from fungal spores. They tend to thrive in dark, damp environments and feed on decaying matter.

mushrooms growing | Fruit & Vegetables

Most of the mushroom’s growth is under the ground. If you’ve ever emptied out a mushroom grow box, you’ll notice an intricate web of white root-like structures weaving through the soil.

These are known as mycelium. They absorb water and nutrients from the soil or decaying plant material to feed the growing organism. 

The part of the mushroom that you see above the soil is actually the flower of the organism and this is the part that we harvest and consume.

Mushroom growing kits

Most first-time mushroom growers and home gardeners will usually start their journey with a mushroom growing kit. These are commonly available at certain times of the year (usually in spring and autumn) from places like Bunnings.

This is the way that I have grown mushrooms in the past and the experience is quite fascinating. 

mushroom growing kit 1 | Fruit & Vegetables

Many years ago, it was recommended that you put these kits in a dark cupboard but this is not necessary as long as you keep them out of direct sunlight.

Recently, I had a mushroom grow kit on my verandah that is fully shaded from direct sunlight and it grew lots of delicious mushrooms. 

This placing was ideal for me because I would always remember to mist them regularly which I would have forgotten about if the box had been hiding in a cupboard.

If you want to be a bit more adventurous and grow other species of mushrooms rather than the common Agaricus bisporus (white mushroom), you can also get grow kits for other species such as oyster mushrooms (image below) from specialist growers.

oyster mushroom growing kit 1 | Fruit & Vegetables

What conditions do mushrooms need to grow successfully?

Mushrooms need to be kept out of direct sunlight but they don’t require complete darkness to grow successfully.

They also grow best in mild temperatures. Depending on the variety that you’re growing, the ideal temperature range is between 14 and 25 degrees Celsius.

Mushrooms prefer a fairly humid environment which is why daily misting of the soil is so important. Bear in mind, that the surface of the soil should be kept moist at all times but it should never be wet.

I’ve found the easiest way to achieve this is by keeping a spray bottle of water beside the box that the mushrooms are growing in and misting the soil on a daily basis.

Once you get the growing conditions right, the fun begins as you watch for those tiny white heads to break through the surface of the growing medium. 

Don’t be surprised if they just pop up overnight or they double in size in just one day.

mushroom growing kit 2 | Fruit & Vegetables

What to do after you get your mushroom kit

Once you’ve purchased your mushroom kit, it’s quite easy to set it up and look after.

Make sure that you read the instructions as these will guide you in providing the correct environment. Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to do:

  • Open the box and fold the plastic liner down over the sides.
  • Spread the casing (provided in a separate bag) over the surface of the growing medium with the mycelium.
  • Place the box in a sheltered spot that doesn’t receive any direct sunlight.
  • Make sure that the environment offers a fairly steady temperature.
  • Don’t place your box near any draughts or air conditioner vents.
  • Use a small spray bottle filled with water to mist the surface of the soil.
  • Continue to mist the surface on a daily basis but don’t overdo it.

If you follow these steps, you should start to see some tiny mushrooms break through the surface within 3 to 5 weeks. 

You’ll get a continuous crop of fresh mushrooms for at least 12 weeks. Once the kit has finished producing, put the contents into your compost bin or add it to your garden beds. The spent mushroom compost is a great soil additive.

How to make your own shitake mushroom log

If you want to try your hand at growing shitake mushrooms, you can make your own growing log by gathering a few materials and purchasing some spores from a reputable source.

All you’ll need is a freshly cut hardwood log such as eucalypt, elder or oak, and some beeswax.

Using a large bore drill bit, drill some holes along the length of the log. They should be around 1 cm in diameter.

Fill these holes with the mushroom spores, commonly referred to as spawn, and cover them with beeswax. This prevents any other type of fungi from entering the prepared holes.

shitake mushroom log | Fruit & Vegetables

Put your log in a shaded spot that doesn’t get any direct sunlight. Mist the log on a daily basis to keep it moist and increase the humidity.

The log should be in a cooler spot than what you would place your mushroom kit in because shitake mushrooms require a temperature below 20 degrees Celsius to grow.

If you keep misting the log, it can take around 6 to 12 months before you’ll start to see some mushrooms growing. You should get around 5 to 6 harvests from this homemade mushroom log.

RELATED: How to Grow Lychees from Seed

What type of mushrooms can you grow at home?

Surprisingly, you can grow quite a variety of different mushrooms at home and all of these are available in kits.

Just make sure that you purchase your kits from a reputable source so that you know exactly what you’re getting.

Here are some different varieties that you can purchase in kits:

Oyster Mushrooms

You can get a variety of different types of oyster mushroom kits from a wide range of reputable suppliers. These are all very easy to set up and maintain and you can even grow these indoors on your kitchen bench.

Button Mushrooms

These are the common white varieties available at places like Bunnings.

Portobello Mushrooms

Portobellos are brown mushrooms and are similarly easy to grow from a kit.

FAQ:

What season do mushrooms grow in Australia?

In the wild, mushrooms will grow when the temperature is fairly moderate and there’s been plenty of rain. This is usually in autumn. In areas such as Tasmania and Victoria, mushrooms can grow all year round. Mushroom kits are usually available in spring and autumn. 

How long do mushrooms take to grow?

If you’re growing white button mushrooms using a kit, you can expect to see some mushrooms within around 3 to 5 weeks. The kit should continue to produce new mushrooms for around 12 weeks. Specialist varieties such as shitake can take longer, but you can also get oyster mushrooms in kits and they can start producing in just 7 to 14 days. 

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

ADVERTISEMENT

Leave a Comment