Growing your own mushrooms is an enjoyable hobby that can provide a nutritious addition to your diet. With some basic supplies and a bit of patience, you can cultivate a variety of mushroom varieties right in your own basement closet. Here’s everything I learned about how to grow mushrooms at home successfully.
Selecting a Mushroom Variety to Grow
The first step is choosing which type of mushroom you want to grow. Here are some of the most common varieties for home cultivation:
Oyster mushrooms – These have a mild, delicate flavor. They grow quickly and are a good choice for beginners.
Shiitake mushrooms – Shiitakes have a meaty, umami taste. They require a longer grow time but produce multiple flushes.
Button mushrooms – The classic white mushroom. Buttons are easy to grow and good for salads, sauces and pizzas.
Lion’s mane – Has a crab-like, seafood flavor. It has an unusual, cascading appearance.
Pink oyster – Mild tasting with a unique pink color. Fast growing like other oysters.
I would recommend starting with oyster or shiitake mushrooms if you’re new to mushroom growing. Buttons and lion’s mane are also good starter varieties.
Purchasing a Mushroom Growing Kit
For beginners, purchasing a pre-made mushroom growing kit is the easiest way to get started. These kits come with the mycelium (mushroom roots) already growing on an inoculated block.
Popular kit options include:
- Back to the Roots Organic Mushroom Growing Kit
- Emma’s Garden Deluxe Mushroom Farm Kit
- GroCycle Oyster Mushroom Growing Kit
Kits reduce the work of mixing substrates and spores yourself. Just open the box, mist occasionally and harvest mushrooms when ready!
Choosing a Location – Basement Closet
A basement closet is a perfect place to grow mushrooms indoors. Here are some key factors in setting up your mushroom closet:
Temperature – Most mushrooms fruit in the 55-75°F range. A basement stays cooler, so you may need a space heater.
Lighting – Install lighting in the closet on a timer for 12 hours on/off per day. Fluorescent lighting works well.
Humidity – High humidity above 50% is ideal. Use a humidifier if your basement runs dry.
Airflow – Use a small fan inside the closet to circulate fresh air. Proper airflow reduces risk of mold.
Shelving – Add shelving inside the closet for the mushroom blocks to sit elevated off the floor.
The closed closet environment allows you to control temperature, humidity and air circulation for optimal mushroom growing conditions.
Caring for Mushrooms in the Basement Closet
Misting – Use a spray bottle to mist mushroom blocks 1-2 times per day. This replenishes moisture lost through evaporation.
Fanning – Fan fresh air over the blocks for a few minutes daily. Proper air exchange will provide oxygen and remove CO2.
Lighting – Keep lights on a 12 hour cycle. Too much light can dry out blocks.
Harvesting – Use scissors to cut mushrooms at the base when caps open fully. Harvest regularly to encourage future flushes.
Cleaning – Remove any moldy pieces and dispose of in sealed bags. Wipe off shelves to prevent mold spreading.
Temperature – Maintain ideal temperature range. Turn space heater on/off as needed.
Proper humidity, air exchange, temperature and light will yield the best results!
Troubleshooting Common Mushroom Problems
Growing mushrooms at home comes with some challenges. Here are some common problems and solutions:
Mold – Improve air circulation and reduce humidity/misting if mold occurs. Discard molded blocks.
Small/no mushrooms – Can be from lack of humidity or over-harvesting previous flush. Soak blocks to rehydrate and mist more.
Long, thin stems – Needs more fresh air exchange. Fan blocks more frequently.
Mushrooms drying out – Increase humidity levels in the closet grow space.
Insects – Reduce openings for bugs to enter. Use yellow sticky paper traps.
Pay close attention to environmental conditions and make adjustments as needed. Don’t get discouraged with some failed attempts – mushroom growing takes practice!
Expanding Beyond the Closet
Once you have some experience growing mushrooms in your basement closet, you may want to expand into a larger operation:
Convert a spare room into a dedicated mushroom fruiting chamber with added shelving and humidity/temperature control.
Use an old refrigerator or insulated shed to create temperature controlled environments for cold-loving mushroom varieties.
Add an aquarium pump and experiment with growing oyster mushrooms on vertical hanging columns.
Incorporate automatic misters and humidifiers that turn on/off to maintain ideal mushroom grow room conditions.
Build stacked growing racks with irrigation systems for watering mushrooms on vertical tiers.
Install full spectrum LED lighting panels that mimic sunlight wavelengths that mushrooms need to thrive.
With some DIY conversions, you can scale up a professional grade mushroom cultivation operation at home!
I hope these tips help you successfully grow your own gourmet mushrooms in a basement closet. Let me know if you have any other mushroom growing questions!