Discover How Mushrooms Are Grown: Indoor & Outdoor Cultivation

Learn how mushrooms are grown on grain, coffee grounds, logs and stumps, featuring the following species: cordyceps, oysters, shiitakes, and black kings

There are a variety of cultivation methods for how mushrooms are grown. Some methods require more effort and attention while others are easier. 

Today I am going over some information on how mushrooms are grown and how you can be producing your own delicious food at home or on a commercial level.

How mushrooms are grown on logs, stumps, totems, and rafts 

Logs, stumps, and totems are some of the most common methods used for growing mushrooms outside on hardwoods. You can inoculate the logs with either plug spawn or sawdust spawn. Plug spawn may be easier to use but will take longer than sawdust spawn. 

Shiitake mushrooms are frequently grown on logs. Log cultivation is one of the first methods discovered for growing mushrooms and was perfected in Japan over the last 800 years. Log cultivation is slow but requires little start up capital and maintenance. When starting mushroom cultivation, log cultivation is a great method to learn how to grow mushrooms outside. Learn the complete process in this article

If you have stumps in your yard then you can inoculate them or make totems. Totems are best made with large diameter logs of oak, beech, or sugar maple logs with a diameter greater than 8” can be used for this method.

To make a totem, start with a 3’ log and cut it into three pieces. The first piece should be 1.5’ in length, the second piece should be 1’ 4” in length, and the last piece should be 2”.

Then drill about 20 holes in the face of your longest log. Put your spawn into the drilled ones. 

Place this piece directly on the ground and put the next longest piece on top and secure the two together with a few nails. 

Next, drill another 20 holes in the top of the log and inoculate with more spawn on top of the log. Finally, attach the 2” piece with another few nails onto the top of the second log. You have now made a mycelium sandwich! The log should be reassembled to how it was before you cut it but now it has mycelium in the middle. The mycelium will grow up and down through the log sections. Totems can last for 10 years or more due to the larger diameter of the logs. 

If you are interested in making a mushroom raft, take a look at the video below:


How mushrooms are grown: Cordyceps on grain

Picking a good media recipe is crucial to getting good yields from cordyceps. During all trials we used the formula below, recommended by William Padilla-Brown. 

  • 1 gallon water
  • 1/2 cup starch
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp azomite
  • 5 scoops baby food

This makes 72 pint jars.

First, 2 TBSP rice was placed in wide-mouth pint jars. Next, all other ingredients were mixed in a large mixing bowl until they were dissolved. Finally, a ¼ cup of the liquid was poured into each Mason jar. The lid with a polyfill filter is placed on top of the jar and screwed on. The jar is then loaded into the sterilizer. Polyfill is used to stuff many pillows and can be purchased at most big department stores. A hole is punched into the top of the lid of a jar using a screwdriver and then a ball of the polyfill is pressed into this hole so it is sticking out of both the top and bottom. This acts as a low-budget air filter. 

Sterilization was done in a 28-quart All American sterilizer. The temperature was brought up to 250 degrees Fahrenheit and maintained for about 3 hours. The cooker was then allowed to cool overnight before inoculation. If attempting to commercialize cordyceps cultivation, another possibility for this step is to use atmospheric steam to treat the media instead of a pressure cooker or autoclave. Continue on to this page to learn about cordyceps incubation, pinning, fruiting, and harvesting. 

How oyster mushrooms are grown on spent coffee grounds

You will need a plastic container with a lid and several holes poked in the bottom of the container, oyster mushroom spawn, and used coffee grounds. 

  • First, brew your coffee. Once the boiling water has run through the grounds and filter, place the coffee grounds into the plastic container.
  • Add spawn on top of the freshly brewed coffee and filter. Close the lid.
  • Repeat daily or throughout the day, layering oyster mushroom spawn and spent coffee grounds. Keep the mushroom spawn in the fridge between uses.
  • Once the container is full, allow it to sit for 2-3 weeks. Poke 4-5 holes in the side of the container and mist once daily. Mushrooms will begin fruiting within a week of misting.

Learn how mushrooms are grown for home growing or commercial cultivation 

If you are interested in learning a lot more about growing mushrooms, then you should consider taking one of our mushroom cultivation courses online. 

We have a home growers course that is perfect for the up-and-coming mushroom farmer who wants to produce 2-20 pounds of fresh mushrooms weekly at home. A variety of cultivation methods are discussed for numerous species. Learn more and sign up here

There is also a more comprehensive commercial cultivation course for the farmers who want to set up a professional farm while finding viable revenue streams. Learn all about this course here

Both courses are available at any time as recorded classes so you can learn at your own pace. The courses come with lifetime access so you can watch again and again to perfect your growing process. 

What methods have you used for growing mushrooms?


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