How to grow your own fungi

Mushrooms growing from a log

Fungi in the wild have a life of their own. It can be very difficult to identify mushrooms (or any fungus), at least without a microscope and a good guidebook.

For this reason we strongly recommend not picking mushrooms you find in the wild!

However if you’re really interested in growing fungi that will produce mushrooms you can eat over the long term, you could try cultivation.

Cultivation is also a great way of encouraging fungi to grow that you find particularly beautiful or interesting, if you don’t want to grow them simply for food.

Cultivating fungi

Cultivating fungi means creating a protected environment where you can control which fungi grow and produce mushrooms, to reduce the risk of unfamiliar or unsafe fungi growing instead.

What you need is:

  • a place for the fungus to grow
  • a substrate (i.e. food) on which the fungal mycelium feed and grow – it’s very important this substrate is treated correctly by pasteurisation or sterilisation
  • fungal spawn, which is the mycelium for whichever strain of fungi you would like to grow

In the case of choosing a place for fungi to grow, this can be found in your own home or garden, for example, you could even grow your fungus in a book! Although you must make sure its not been printed with ink that could pass on harmful properties…

One of the most popular places to grow fungi is on logs, known as “mushroom logs”, although there are other options.

Read more about the different ways you can cultivate fungi (external link)

Fungus cultivation suppliers

Please be aware that we are not responsible for the quality or experience of any third party suppliers. This is a suggested list for your own research purposes; other suppliers are also available.

Important notices:

  1. Not all of the fungi these suppliers provide are native to or cultivated in the UK, so you may want to ask them about this. As with plant species, there is a risk that non-native species compete with our native population, so we recommend cultivating fungi responsibly.
  2. Be careful if you do decide to try cultivating Chicken of the Woods, as this has been known to poison some people in Britain.
  3. We don’t recommend growing Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus) as it is a protected species in the UK.

Ann Miller’s Speciality Mushrooms

Dobies

Gourmet Woodland Mushrooms

Mushroombox

Your supplier should provide guidance on using their products. Always follow the supplier's instructions!

When is the best time to cultivate fungi?

Unlike sowing seeds or planting trees, there isn’t an optimum time of year to start cultivating fungi.

Temperature, humidity and the substrate you’re using will all affect your success, so follow the instructions provided by your supplier and keep an eye on how your fungus is doing.

What if I just want some mushrooms?

Oyster mushrooms growing from straw

If you’re more interested in producing a one-off crop of mushrooms, rather than nurturing a fungus that could produce mushrooms over several years, there are different types of kit available.

These kits have the fungal mycelium already developed and in a state where creating a warm, wet environment will encourage mushrooms to fruit.

Please note that you will have to dispose of the used substrate once you have harvested your mushrooms. Always follow the instructions on the kit!

Mushroom growing kits

Please be aware that we are not responsible for the quality or experience of any third party suppliers. This is a suggested list for your own research purposes.

GroCycle

Espresso mushroom company

Merryhill mushrooms

Urban mushrooms (by YMCA Newcastle)

Protected species

“Protected species” means that a species is protected by law, due to it being rare or endangered. If you do want to undertake any activity that might affect a protected species, you would need a licence to do so, or risk breaking the law.

Any questions?

We are not experts on growing fungi, so cannot give advice. However we do have a Facebook group for fungus growers, where you will find like-minded people to share experiences and ideas.