Mushrooms are delicious and nutritious fungi that you can grow in your backyard. Mushroom farming is a lucrative venture since mushrooms are easy to grow, require minimal space, and have high yields. But have you ever wondered which mushroom species are the easiest to grow outside?
Here are the 8 easiest mushrooms to grow outside:
- Oyster mushrooms
- Wine cap mushrooms
- Shiitake mushrooms
- Lion’s mane mushrooms
- Almond agaricus mushrooms
- Pioppino mushrooms
- Nameko mushrooms
- Enoki mushrooms
The rest of the article will explore some of the easiest mushroom species to grow outdoors. So, read on to learn more!
1. Oyster Mushrooms
If you’re a newbie when it comes to gardening, oyster mushrooms are a perfect choice since they’re fast-growing and easy to cultivate. The mushrooms can grow on various substrates, including straw, tree logs, agricultural byproducts, and coffee grounds.
These vigorous mushrooms are very competitive (against other fungi), hardy, and require minimal care.
Several oyster mushroom species exist, including the pearl oyster (Pleurotus djamor), king oyster (Pleurotus eryngii), and the golden oyster (Pleurotus citrinopileatus). These brightly-colored mushrooms are also delicious, providing a meaty flavor and texture to any dish. Once mature, you’ll harvest a bounty of oyster mushrooms for months.
Oyster mushrooms flourish outdoors in temperate regions. Moreover, they require a temperature range of 10 – 21 °C (60 – 70 °F) to start fruiting.
It will only take about 2 – 4 weeks after inoculation to have the first flush of oyster mushrooms.
Straw chips are the preferable substrates. So, avoid cultivating them on hay, as it may contain weed seed heads.
After choosing the substrate, identify an ideal cultivation site such as your backyard garden, the edge of woods (or fields), and around tree bases.
Oyster mushrooms prefer a semi-shaded area, away from plants and debris. So, the pathways in your backyard garden can be a perfect area to create your mushroom growing bed.
To cultivate oyster mushrooms, follow these steps:
- Prepare your garden bed and remove any debris.
- Soak your straw beforehand and place it at the base of your bed.
- Sprinkle oyster spawn (grain or dust) evenly on the straw.
- Cover the spawn with a light straw layer.
- Water the bed and keep it moist as the mushrooms continue growing.
- Harvest your mushrooms when mature, but make sure that you distinguish them from any invading (non-edible) fungi.
2. Wine Cap Mushrooms
Wine cap mushroom (Stropharia rugosoannulata) is a popular delicacy and one of the easiest mushrooms to grow outdoors. Also known as the King Stropharia or Garden Giant, the wine cap mushroom is a high-yielding species that produces large-sized caps. The mushroom has a complex flavor and a meaty texture.
Wine cap mushrooms can grow outdoors on different media, including hardwood chips, straw, compost, and sawdust.
Just like the oyster mushrooms, wine caps flourish in partially shaded areas, though they can withstand direct sunlight. They also thrive in temperate and tropical regions, requiring a temperature range between 5 – 35 °C (41 – 95 °F).
The best time to inoculate wine cap mushrooms is in spring since they mature fast. The ideal fruiting temperatures are 16 – 21 °C (60 – 70 °F). Depending on the region and type of substrate, fruiting occurs 4 to 6 months after inoculation.
Here are the steps to grow the wine cap mushrooms outdoors:
- Find a shaded area away from plants and debris and clear any debris to reveal the bare ground – wine caps prefer being in contact with the soil.
- Prepare the growing beds (raised or in-ground) and spread your substrate over the soil (about 1-inch (2.54 cm) high).
- Sprinkle the wine cap sawdust spawn on the substrate and continue stacking the bed with the substrate and spawn layers (lasagna method).
- After getting to your preferred bed height, cover the spawn with a substrate layer and water the bed.
- Keep the garden bed moist (but not waterlogged) during the growing period and harvest the mushrooms when they mature.
3. Shiitake Mushrooms
Originally a staple in Asian cuisine, Shiitake mushrooms have quickly become a popular delicacy worldwide.
Shiitake mushrooms (Lentinula edodes) are not only edible but also medicinal, as they’ve been utilized in traditional Chinese remedies for decades. These mushroom species are among the easiest to grow both indoors or outdoors.
Shiitake mushrooms occur naturally on Asian Oaks and Beeches. However, you can also cultivate them on other non-aromatic trees, including Sweet Gum, Eucalyptus, Birch, Alder, Ironwood, Rock Maple, Poplar, and Willow.
Apart from tree logs, you can cultivate shiitake mushrooms on wood chip beds using sawdust or sawdust pellets.
Shiitake mushrooms require a sterile and shaded environment to grow. So, if you prefer using straw or fresh sawdust, pasteurize it by soaking it in hot water (149-176 °F or 65-80 °C) for approximately two hours. Alternatively, soak the substrate in a high-pH lime bath for 12-18 hours.
Shiitake mushrooms grow from spawn –like how plants grow from seedlings. The spawns come from several strains that don’t differ much in color, shape, and size. WR46 is the best spawn strain for newbies, while the sawdust spawn is perfect for veterans.
If you’re a mushroom-growing hobbyist, the plug (inoculated wooden dowel) spawn is ideal since you can easily hammer it on drilled holes on a log.
Here’s how to grow Shiitake mushrooms:
- Choose the ideal spawn and substrate.
- Prepare the substrate – by soaking the logs or sterilizing fresh sawdust.
- Inoculate the substrate with the mushroom spawn.
- Incubate the substrate in a shaded area for 6-12 months and keep it moist.
- Initiate fruiting (if using logs) by deep-soaking them in fresh water for 24 hours.
- Harvest the mature mushrooms by cutting the base with a knife.
4. Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
If you love seafood, lion’s mane mushrooms should be on your must-grow list. The unique white-colored mushroom has a mild, subtle mushroom taste with a crab or lobster flavor and texture.
Lion’s mane mushroom grows well outdoors in temperate regions on hardwood chips, logs, or sawdust.
Apart from being a delicacy, the lion’s mane is also renowned for its health benefits. It has long been used to remedy stomach ailments and tumors in Chinese medicine. The mushroom grows like a large puffball with hanging spines (teeth-like) and appears as a giant pom-pom.
Although some strains can withstand high temperatures, lion’s mane mushrooms prefer cooler climates. However, the preferable fruiting temperature range is 18 – 24 °C (65 -75 °F). Moreover, they require a balance between high humidity and sufficient airflow to thrive.
Like shiitake mushrooms, lion’s mane mushrooms grow best on hardwood logs such as oak and birches. Additionally, they prefer a shaded area or wooded location (like your backyard). The ideal time to inoculate the mushroom spawn is early spring or late winter.
The cultivation process of lion’s mane mushrooms is almost identical to how you would grow shiitake mushrooms. But, here are a few things to note:
- It’s advisable to dig the growing bed up to around 6 – 8 inches (15.24 – 20.32 cm) deep and cover it with wood chips.
- Don’t use decaying logs.
- Arrange the logs in a pile and make an X pattern by criss crossing them. Bury one-third of the log pile in the wood chips.
- Keep the logs moist during the incubation period.
- Harvest the mature mushrooms before they turn yellow or pink.
5. Almond Agaricus Mushrooms
A warm-season mushroom, almond agaricus is one of the easiest mushroom varieties to grow outdoors.
Almond agaricus varieties include Agaricus subrufescens, Agaricus brasiliensis, and Agaricus blazei. They are typical compost mushrooms with few care requirements.
If you have a backyard garden and are wondering what to interplant with your veggies, almond agaricus mushroom is a beneficial fungus to consider. While it benefits from the plant shade, this mushroom species provides nutrients and facilitates effective gaseous exchange.
Depending on land availability and your preferences, you can either cultivate the almond mushrooms on small-scale or large-scale bases. If you’re thinking about going commercial with this mushroom variety, you won’t be disappointed, as it is high-yielding while requiring minimal input.
For small-scale farming, you can either grow the mushroom in containers or window boxes. So, you only have to make sure that the selected area is well-shaded and easily accessible (for watering and monitoring).
For large-scale growers, mushroom beds within high tunnels are preferred.
The best time to inoculate almond mushroom spawn is immediately after the last frost date – May to early July in the South (or earlier in the North). Although the growing mycelia can withstand very low temperatures, the baby mushrooms will require some warmth to mature.
Cultivating almond agaricus is extremely easy, and it somehow resembles the cultivation of wine cap or oyster mushrooms. So, here’s the simple procedure:
- Gather all the essentials, including the mushroom spawn, compost, a watering can, and mulch.
- Choose an appropriate cultivation site, such as your backyard garden where the mushroom will enjoy some shade from leafy vegetables, including tomatoes, kales, and zucchinis.
- Build the mushroom growing beds. Use decomposed organic matter (compost) and a good substrate such as straw and sawdust. The recommended height for the growing beds is 5 inches.
- Break open the spawn bags and inoculate the spawn into the growing beds.
- Cover the beds using mulch and water them.
- Monitor the beds and keep them moist to facilitate the fruiting process.
- Harvest the mature mushrooms at intervals of 2 to 3 weeks.
6. Pioppino Mushrooms
Pioppino mushrooms (Agrocybe aegerita) are a sought-after delicacy in rice, meat, and risotto dishes due to their rich nutty flavor. They grow naturally on poplar trees and are also known as black poplar mushrooms. They’re also one of the easiest mushroom species to cultivate outdoors.
Pioppino mushrooms have light brown-colored caps, growing on slender, white stems. Although you can grow them indoors on pasteurized straw, it’s difficult to maintain Pioppino mushroom’s ideal growing conditions. Therefore, it is advisable to cultivate the mushroom outdoors on growing beds using straw or wood chips.
Pioppinos flourish in areas protected from direct light. The cultivation site should also be humid, and you can achieve this by keeping the mushroom growing beds moist. The mushroom species also prefers a temperature range of 8 – 16 °C (46 – 60 °F) – pioppinos usually start fruiting in spring after colder months.
For newbies, it’s preferable to purchase a pioppino growing kit to cultivate the mushrooms. Here’s how to grow Pioppino mushrooms outside successfully when using pioppino mushroom spores:
- Prepare the substrate (cardboard) by misting it.
- Spread the spores (embedded in sawdust) on each side of the cardboard. Ensure to follow the instructions on the kit keenly to ensure that the sawdust layer is sufficient.
- Press the sawdust (containing the spores) gently on the cardboard, allowing it to stick to it.
- Ensure there are no pockets between the layers by rolling the cardboard – like a jelly roll. However, be careful not to roll it too tight, as this will hinder the spores from growing adequately. Then, tie the ends by tucking them under the roll to close.
- Carry the cardboard rolls to your pre-selected cultivation site and lay them on the growing bed. Keeping a thermometer near the cardboard logs to monitor the temperature is wise since pioppino mushrooms require a consistent temperature range to grow.
- Keep the growing beds moist to ensure that the mushrooms grow sufficiently. You should start noticing mushroom bumps after approximately three months. However, keep misting the cardboard logs to accelerate the fruiting process.
- Mature pioppino mushrooms will appear in clusters – like how bananas grow. You can harvest them when the clusters are about 3 – 4 inches (7.62 – 10.16 cm) long by cutting the bunches where the mushroom stems emerge. Since you can’t reuse the cardboard logs, use them as compost after harvesting the last bunch of your pioppinos.
7. Nameko Mushrooms
You’ve probably never heard about the Nameko mushrooms since they’re native to Japan. However, these uniquely beautiful mushrooms are not only attractive but also delicious. Nameko mushrooms (Pholiota microspora) are also easy to distinguish from poisonous varieties.
Nameko mushrooms are appealing due to their encased caps. The amber-colored mushrooms are covered in a gelatinous layer that makes them sparkle (or glisten). The encasement comes in handy when making broth, as it is a natural thickener.
Unlike shiitake mushrooms that naturally occur on oaks and other hardwoods, nameko mushrooms grow on Jack Pine, Sweet Gum, Black Cherry, Cottonwood, and Willow, just to mention a few.
They’re also considered late fall mushrooms, having a wide fruiting period from late fall to winter. So, their harvest period coincides with the Whitefish spawning phase in the Great Lake states.
Like shiitake mushrooms, the cultivation of nameko mushrooms is best suited on fresh logs. Therefore, you’ll follow a similar procedure which includes log preparation, inoculation, incubation, fruiting, and harvesting. But, here are a few things to note when growing nameko mushrooms outdoors:
- Cut healthy trees to make logs during their dormant stage and let them sit for about two weeks before inoculation. Additionally, don’t let them dry out since the spawn requires moisture to grow.
- The diamond pattern is preferable when drilling inoculation holes on the logs. The holes should be 1-inch (2.54 cm) deep.
- You can either use a plug or sawdust spawn to grow nameko mushrooms. It is advisable to seal the inoculated holes with hot wax (but not too hot).
- Label the inoculated logs, indicating the date of inoculation and the mushroom species to keep track of your mushroom-growing practice.
- Logs inoculated with nameko spawn have a longer incubation period than other mushroom species. However, keep them moist to aid the fruiting process.
- When fruiting begins, you’ll notice the mushroom growing in clusters. So, elevate the logs to prevent growth in the duff layer.
- Harvest the nameko mushrooms while still young – when caps have the gelatinous layer. To extend their shelf life, you can refrigerate them for up to 14 days.
8. Enoki Mushrooms
Looking for an easy-to-grow mushroom variety during winter? Enoki mushrooms (Flammulina velutipes) are long, thin, and pearly white. They make great additions to soups and salads when partially cooked. But, you can also consume them raw as snacks.
Like shiitakes, enokis grow naturally on hardwoods in cool regions. However, the wild variety has a typical, stumpy mushroom structure. Moreover, it forms brown, orange, or red caps and grows in clusters.
You can cultivate enoki mushrooms outdoors on hardwood sawdust. The species prefer a dark and humid environment to produce the white noodle-looking fungi. They also require low temperatures to induce fruiting (10 – 16 °C or 50 – 60.8 °F), so growing them in temperate areas can be challenging.
Therefore, if you’re a newbie, using a mushroom-growing kit is preferable to overcome these temperature issues. Most kits contain:
- An appropriate substrate.
- A growing medium or container.
- Guidelines on how to grow mushrooms.
Some kits even come with the mushroom spawn, either liquid or solid.
To cultivate enoki mushroom:
- Select an appropriate site to grow your mushrooms. It should be a shaded area where you can control light and temperature for optimum growth.
- Sterilize a glass container (if you’re not using a kit) using hot water for ten minutes or so.
- Wet your substrate (preferably hardwood sawdust) with clean water and mix it with the mushroom spawn.
- Fill your sterilized glass container with the substrate-spawn mixture.
- Place the glass container in your selected growing site and cover it with a plastic shield to prevent light from penetrating, which can increase carbon dioxide levels. Ensure that the area is humid and the temperature between 22 – 25 °C (72 – 77 °F). Additionally, keep the container moist by watering it frequently.
- After 2 – 4 weeks, you’ll start noticing some thin strands in the glass jar. If so, move the container to a cooler area (10 -15 °C or 50 – 60 °F) to accelerate the fruiting process. If you want your mushrooms to maintain their white color, shield them from direct sunlight. In about 2 months, the enoki mushrooms should be ready for harvesting.
You can read my other article on how to grow mushrooms in your garden here: How To Grow Mushrooms in Your Garden (DIY Guide)