5 Mushroom Decisions for New Cultivators


Blue Oyster Mushrooms
Blue Oyster Mushrooms

Did you know mushrooms don’t need light to grow, and they are our only natural source of vitamin D?

Of course, they obtain that vitamin D from the light, so growing them in your dark closet without light will not provide the same benefits, but yes, they are that easy to grow!

This is not a full proof instruction sheet but rather a guide to take you through the process of getting started cultivating, and directing your decisions according to your skill level. Please do further research on each decision, always be sure to carefully identify any mushroom you choose to eat before hand for safety.

1) Strain

Begin by deciding what mushroom types you would like to grow.

These mushrooms are an easy grower for newbies looking for quick success!

  • Oyster—Pink, Blue, Gold, Phoenix

  • Lion’s Mane

  • Shiitake

  • Winecap

Once you have gained some experience and are ready for more options, here are some popular ones.

  • Chanterelle

  • Chestnut

  • More Oysters—Black Pearl, King

  • Pioppino

  • Portobello

These mushrooms tend to have more complex requirements, so know what you are getting into!

  • Chicken of the Woods

  • Enoki

There are so many more types you can grow, these are just a handful of the popular ones you might come across, due to their wide availability, well tested methods, and common successes.

 2) Structure

This is the housing in which you will contain your growing mushroom mycelium.

Of course there is nothing easier than cutting open a prepared box kit or grow bag, and you can add to their efficiency by housing them in a shotgun growing chamber. But if you are looking for more reward, the next best thing is drilling holes and popping inoculated plugs into hardwood logs (not soft like conifers).

  • Log—Aspen, Beech, Birch, Elm, eucalyptus, Mulberry, Oak, Palms, Pear, Sugar Maple, Sweet Gum, Willow

  • Box Spray Kit

  • Grow Bag

  • Shotgun Growing Chamber

If you are ready to broaden your options of flavors, it may be time to grow with one of these other fairly easy methods that take just a little prep work

  • Bucket

  • Garden Bed

  • Greenhouse

  • Monotub

  • Poly Bag

Many of the intermediate methods can be combined in a large grow tent or room, but the key here is monitoring and controlling your humidity and fresh air exchange, which can increase your costs and efforts tremendously, but can open doors wide to more interesting mushroom choices.

  • Grow Tent or Room

There are many ways in which people will grow their mushrooms, but these are, of course, some of the most popular, and in some cases can even be combined for more success!

Structure Preferences for Beginner Mushrooms
Structure Preferences for Beginner Mushrooms

 3) Spawn

Consider this a merge in which you will receive your strain, and baby food on which your mushroom mycelium begins its’ life.


  • Box Spray Kit

  • Grow Bag

The key to the ease here is in buying already inoculated spawn, so that the risk of contamination is very low.

  • Grain—Millet, Oat, Rye, Sorghum, Wheat, (inoculated)

  • Sawdust—inoculated

  • Plugs—inoculated

Any time you are working with fresh un-inoculated substances, you need to take very careful effort to keep a sterile environment with very minimal airflow. You will also need to make sure you first sterilize your grains before using them.

  • Grain—Millet, Oat, Rye, Sorghum, Wheat, (un-inoculated)

  • Sawdust—un-inoculated

  • Plugs—un-inoculated

  • Fresh Mushrooms

  • Culture Syringes

  • Agar Cultures

  • Slants

Starting from a box kit will always be the easiest, but as they run out of nutrients, you can even try to continue the life of your boxed mushrooms by adding the material into new grain to reproduce and feed on, and then moving them next into a new substrate to fruit on.

 4) Substrate

After eating it’s way through the baby food, you add your spawn to a substrate to live out it’s life.

This is a great time to make use of simple productive substrates you may have excess of, but always make sure to sterilize or at least pasteurize it first.

  • Cardboard

  • Peat

  • Straw

  • Wood—Chips, Logs, Mulch, Pellets, or Sawdust

These substances also do a great job growing mushrooms but usually need additional supplementation to create success.

  • Coffee Grounds

  • Grass

  • Natural Fabric

  • Sugar Cane Waste

Advanced substrates here run a high risk of contamination so they not only need sterilized, but also need additional supplementation. And be extra dutiful about mushroom identification before consuming what you grow.

  • Compost

  • Horse manure

  • Vermiculite

Mushrooms each have their own prefered spawns, and substrates—either a wood base, or a horse manure base. Usually the best substrate combines additional supplements, such as peat moss, coco coir, vermiculite, paper, or straw.

Mushroom Preferences on Spawns and Substrates
Mushroom Preferences on Spawns and Substrates

 5) Supplies

If you are creating your own housing structure, here are the supplies you will need to do so.

These are the easiest methods to create larger flushes of mushroom production and require little work.

  • Logs—drill & drill bit for plug (8.5mm) or sawdust spawn (12.5mm), wax, dauber or brush

  • Shotgun growing chamber*—drill, Perlite, tub

  • General Supplies—alcohol spray, purified water, spray bottle

The methods here are all still very easy to create, thought hey do require a little more time and effort

  • Buckets—drill & bit, bucket, cover

  • Monotubs—hole saw, clear tape, paper filters, black spray paint for bottom, (upgrades—hygrometer, humidifier, computer fan)

  • General Supplies—hydrated lime, pasteurizing tub

These advanced supplies won’t be necessary until you are getting into producing your own spawn or substrates.

  • Still Air Box (work area,not a growing structure)—hole saw, pvc for arm hole edges, gloves,

  • General Supplies—autoclave, poly bags, pressure cooker, scalpel,

Want to print out an easy version of this guide?

Mushroom Decisions page 1 of 2
Mushroom Decisions page 2 of 2

Still want to learn more about cultivating all kinds of mushrooms and more methods? Check out the book we carry, How to Grow Mushrooms from Scratch: A Practical Guide to Cultivating Portobellos, Shiitakes, Truffles, and Other Edible Mushrooms.

Note: Good Grow does not endorse growing illegal psychoactive mushrooms or other illegal substances.

You can download our Mushroom Decisions guide here!