How to Grow Mushrooms at Home in an Indoor Compost Bin (2024)

There's no need to be in the dark about how to grow mushrooms. These tasty chameleons of the food world are extremely healthy: they're fat-free, low in calories, and filled with vitamins, antioxidants, and other nutrients. They can even help keep your brain healthy. For how to grow mushrooms at home, establish the right growing conditions, and acquire mushroom spawn, the material used to propagate mushrooms to get started. Use these step-by-step instructions to grow oyster mushrooms, portobellos, shiitakes, and others.

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How to Grow Mushrooms at Home in an Indoor Compost Bin (1)

How Do Mushrooms Grow?

Mushrooms grow from spores (not seeds) that are so tiny you can't see individual spores with the naked eye. In the wild, mushrooms grow on both soil and other substrates like wood, but no soil is necessary for growing them at home. Instead, they'll grow on substances like sawdust, grain, straw, or wood chips for nourishment. A blend of the spores and these nutrient sources is called spawn. Mushroom spawn acts a bit like the starter you need to make sourdough bread.

The spawn supports the growth of mushrooms' tiny, white, threadlike bodies called mycelium. The mycelium grows before anything resembling a mushroom pushes through the soil.

The spawn itself could grow mushrooms, but you'll get a lot better mushroom harvest when the spawn is applied to a growing medium. Depending on the mushroom type, this might be straw, cardboard, logs, wood chips, or compost with a blend of materials like straw, corncobs, and cocoa seed hulls.

Where to Grow Mushrooms

Mushrooms like dark, cool, and humid growing environments. When you're growing mushrooms at home, a place like your basem*nt is ideal, but a spot under the sink could also work.

Before you start growing, test out your spot by checking the temperature. Most mushrooms grow best between 55°F and 60°F, away from direct heat and drafts. Enoki mushrooms grow better in cooler temperatures, about 45°F. Learning how to grow mushrooms is a good project for the winter because many basem*nts will get too warm in the summer for ideal conditions.

Mushrooms can tolerate some light, but the spot you choose should stay mostly dark or in low light. If you decide to grow mushrooms in your basem*nt, putting them in a closet where they won't be disturbed might be best. Some mushroom types still grow best outdoors in prepared ground or logs, a much longer process (six months to three years) than in controlled environments inside.

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How to Grow Mushrooms at Home in an Indoor Compost Bin (2)

Types of Mushrooms to Grow

Many varieties of mushrooms grow in the wild, and you can grow most of them at home (sorry, you can't grow morels at home—they only pop up in nature). One of the benefits of growing your mushroom varieties instead of wild-harvesting them is that you can be sure you're not picking a toxic mushroom.

Cremini, enoki, maitake, portobello, oyster, shiitake, and white button mushrooms can all be grown indoors, but each type has specific growing needs. For example, white button mushrooms must be grown on composted manure, shiitakes on wood or hardwood sawdust, and oyster mushrooms on straw.

Sourcing Spawn

Only source mushroom spawn from a reputable seller that can confidently identify the type of mushroom. Some mushrooms can be deadly, so you always want to be sure about the type of spawn you have, and NEVER collect spores from unknown sources.

How to Grow Mushrooms

When planning for how to grow mushrooms indoors, there are a couple of options for materials you can use for planting. You can buy a mushroom grow kit packed with a growing medium inoculated with mushroom spawn. Mushroom growing kits are a good place to start if you're new to the process because a kit will provide everything you need. If you start without a kit, the type of mushroom you choose to grow determines the substrate you grow the mushrooms on, so it's essential to research each mushroom's needs. Button mushrooms are one of the easiest to grow if you're learning how to grow mushrooms for the first time.

How to Grow Mushrooms at Home in an Indoor Compost Bin (3)

How to Grow Mushrooms at Home in an Indoor Compost Bin (4)

Step 1: Fill Trays With Compost

Use 14x16-inch trays about six inches deep that resemble seed flats. Fill the trays with the mushroom compost material and sprinkle spawn on top.

Step 2: Use a Heating Pad

Use a heating pad to raise the soil temperature to around 70°F for about three weeks or until you see the mycelium (white, threadlike growths). At this point, drop the temperature to 55°F to 60°F. Cover the spawn with an inch or so of potting soil. Use a household thermometer placed at soil level to monitor soil temperature.

How to Make Homemade Potting Soil

How to Grow Mushrooms at Home in an Indoor Compost Bin (5)

How to Grow Mushrooms at Home in an Indoor Compost Bin (6)

Step 3: Keep Soil Moist

Keep the soil moist by spritzing it with water and covering it with a damp cloth, making sure that you keep spritzing the cloth as it dries.

Step 4: Harvest Mushrooms

Button mushrooms should appear within three to four weeks. Harvest them when the caps open, and the stalk can be cut with a sharp knife from the stem. Avoid pulling up the mushrooms, or you risk damage to surrounding fungi that are still developing. Harvesting every day should result in a continuous crop for about six months.

Once you learn how to grow mushrooms in your home, it's super easy to keep them growing. Eventually, you might need to add fresh spawn to grow more mushrooms, but as long as you keep the cloth damp and harvest the mushrooms as they appear, you should have a steady supply. Once you've got plenty, make sure to use them up in your favorite mushroom recipes within a few days of harvesting since most will only keep for a few days in the fridge.

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How to Grow Mushrooms at Home in an Indoor Compost Bin (2024)


Can I grow mushrooms in my compost bin? ›

In the wild, they grow in decaying leaf litter in mixed woodland and prefer feeding on organic matter that is already slightly decayed. This preference makes them perfect for growing in your compost pile or even straight in a well-mulched garden bed.

How quickly can mushrooms grow indoors? ›

Mushrooms usually grow, or “fruit,” within a week or two. They nearly double in size daily until they are finished growing. Depending on the kind of mushroom, they will be ready to harvest, with their tops fully open. That will be in roughly three to four weeks.

How do you make mushroom compost at home? ›

Make Your Own Mushroom Compost

Simply mix cow manure and straw. Eventually, naturally occurring fungi and bacteria will arrive on the scene to break down the ingredients. Keep moist and mix regularly until the pile cools down.

What conditions are needed for a mushroom to grow? ›

Substrate: They aren't picky, but they do best in straw or hardwood sawdust. Humidity: High humidity levels are essential, around 80-90%. Temperature: A temperature range of 55-75°F (13-24°C) promotes healthy growth. Light: They require low levels of indirect light to trigger fruiting.

What kind of mushrooms grow in compost? ›

You can find the best-known of the compost-grown mushrooms in every supermarket across the country: the white button, crimini or portobello (Agaricus bisporus). (Yes, these are all the same species of mushroom. The mushrooms are just breaking down the organic matter in the compost to make it available to the plants.

What is the easiest way to grow mushrooms for beginners? ›

Start with a grow kit

Spray-and-grow kits, a block of colonized substrate inside a small box, make for the easiest way for beginners to get started. “They're inexpensive. You get a lot of mushrooms out of them. And they're super easy,” says Lynch.

What are the easiest mushrooms to grow indoors? ›

The 3 types of mushrooms that are easiest to grow at home are oyster, white button, and Shiitake. The method for growing each mushroom is similar, but the ideal growing medium differs.

Where is the best place to grow mushrooms inside? ›

Mushrooms like dark, cool, and humid growing environments. When you're growing mushrooms at home, a place like your basem*nt is ideal, but a spot under the sink could also work. Before you start growing, test out your spot by checking the temperature.

What is the cheapest way to grow mushrooms? ›

Another easy, inexpensive option for growing mushrooms at home is inoculated sawdust in a plastic bag. These come in kit versions, but you can also make them yourself. Store them in a bathroom where it is dark and moist and you'll start to see flushing pretty quickly.

What is an alternative to mushroom compost? ›

As an alternative, green waste composting provides a more sustainable and environmentally friendly option. That also promotes healthy soil and reduces the need for synthetic fertilizers.

What is the difference between mushroom compost and mushroom soil? ›

Unlike the name suggests, mushroom compost does not a contain any mushrooms—it is a by-product from mushroom farming; the growth medium of mushrooms that is removed after the mushrooms are harvested. The more apt name for it is mushroom soil.

What is the mixture for mushroom soil? ›

Mushroom compost can comprise a variety of materials, including peat moss, chopped straw—usually rye, wheat straw, or horse bedding straw with horse manure—gypsum, chicken manure, urea, potash, and ammonium nitrate. Mixtures may also include cotton seed hulls, winery grape crushings, and soybean meal.

What is the best light for mushroom growing? ›

Fluorescent. Fluorescent lights are a popular choice for growing mushrooms because of their energy efficiency, low heat output, and affordability. T5: T5 fluorescent lights have a thin, tube-like design and are known for their high light output and efficiency.

Is it safe to compost poisonous mushrooms? ›

Mushrooms and other fungus grow in your compost pile naturally. It is fine if poisonous mushrooms grow in your compost pile. You will not be eating the compost. The mushroom will break down in the compost and in the soil and pose no danger.

Can mushroom compost be used as potting soil? ›

As it has raised concentrations of soluble salts, mushroom compost is not suitable for use on its own as a potting compost, or for growing seeds or cuttings. However, you can use it to grow outdoor plants in containers by mixing one part mushroom compost to three parts garden soil.

What can you not plant in mushroom compost? ›

Mushroom compost is also high in salt, which can be problematic for some plants such as blueberries, camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas. These soluble salts along with other nutrients in fresh mushroom compost are too concentrated to germinate seeds or plant young seedlings.

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