Growing fruits, vegetables, and flowers takes a lot of know-how, but many people feel it is more accessible than growing mushrooms. When thinking about growing produce and flowers, it seems rather simple: plant seeds in a pot or in your garden, tend to it and see what happens. When thinking about growing mushrooms, there are a myriad of questions that come to mind: What species can I grow? How and where do I get spawn? What do I do with the spawn? What sort of set-up do I need? What are the appropriate environmental conditions? … and so on! Thankfully several mycologists have written handbooks to help at-home-growers and commercial cultivators navigate this journey.
The following books do an excellent job of explaining how to grow mushrooms for the home grower:
Radical Mycology: A Treatise on Seeing & Working With Fungi
Radical Mycology by Peter McCoy is essentially a textbook on everything fungi. We recommend this book to anyone who wants to experiment with fungi and really try to understand the potential of fungi beyond just growing it. This comprehensive book is divided into three parts: Expression, Connection, and Relation. “Expression” is all about naming fungi, uncovering it’s form and behavior, and highlighting it’s role in nature. “Connection” is about foraging, identifying fungi, and describing lichen. “Relation” talks about fermenting with fungi, medicinal mushrooms and how to use them, and how to wild harvest mushrooms and use the spores for indoor and outdoor growing. In the appendices you’ll find charts on fungal dyes, equipment lists, information on working with psychoactive fungi, mycojokes, ID forms, etc. This book truly has it all. We recommend this for people who want a deep dive in exploring the world of fungi and ways for us to cultivate and experiment with these amazing organisms.
Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation: Simple to Advanced and Experimental Techniques for Indoor and Outdoor Cultivation.
Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation by Tradd Cotter is our favorite book on mushroom growing. We like it because it is tangible and easy to digest. It is perfect for beginners looking to grow mushrooms outdoors.
This book is divided into four parts: The Fundamentals of Mushroom Cultivation, Mushrooms for Life: Innovative Applications and Projects Using Fungi, Advanced Techniques and Research, and Meet the Cultivated Mushrooms. It explains how to choose what mushrooms to cultivate, outdoor cultivation techniques, different projects where you can include fungi, basic laboratory construction, equipment, and procedures, starting cultures, and discusses numerous species. We highly recommend this book for beginners to intermediate growers wanting to experiment with growing outdoors or indoors at home.
DIY Mushroom Cultivation: Growing Mushrooms at Home for Food, Medicine, and Soil
DIY Mushroom Cultivation by Willoughby Arevalo is the book we recommend the most for people looking to grow mushrooms indoors. It does an excellent job of describing the cultivation process, the infrastructure, tools, and equipment needed, the sanitation techniques required, how to start and maintain cultures, how to use grain spawn, and it details how to fruit your substrate. It does contain a section on outdoor growing and mushroom gardening, but the focus is mainly on indoor growing. The book goes into how to harvest, process, and use the mushrooms, including basic cooking techniques, preservation methods, and using mushrooms and mycelium for medicine. The last several pages outline further applications for substrates, including mycopermaculture, mycoremediation on a home scale, mycoarts and fungi as a functional material, and community-based cultivation efforts. Lastly, there is an appendix profiling numerous mushroom species. This is a must-read for anyone looking to grow mushrooms low-tech indoors.
The Mushroom Cultivator: A Practical Guide to Growing Mushrooms at Home
The Mushroom Cultivator by Paul Stamets and J.S. Chilton focuses on how to grow mushrooms at home. This book includes information on the mushroom lifecycle and mushroom genetics, guidelines for the construction of a mushroom growing room, sterile culture and mushroom spawn preparation techniques, procedures for strain selection and development, practical preparation methods for compost and bulk substrates, and a trouble-shooting guide. It is limited in the fact that it only includes growth requirements for 15 species of mushrooms but is advanced in its techniques and instructions. We recommend this book for the experienced at-home-grower.
Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms
Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms by Paul Stamets is very similar to The Mushroom Cultivator; however, this book was written a decade later than The Mushroom Cultivator and includes the growth parameters for 16 more species (31 total), updated production techniques for home and commercial cultivation, gardening tips, some recipes, and over 500 photographs. This book is very comprehensive, and we recommend it for the intermediate to advanced at-home-grower or mushroom cultivator.
Home-Grown Mushrooms from Scratch: A Practical Guide to Growing Edible Mushrooms Outside and Indoors
The focus of Home-Grown Mushrooms from Scratch by Magdalena and Herbert Wurth is on indoor and outdoor mushroom growing. It discusses cultivating mushrooms in the garden, cultivating mushrooms indoors, cultivating mushrooms in fields and woodlands, and container-grown mushrooms. It also describes how to propagate mushrooms from spores, how to use mushrooms in medicine, how to manage pests and competing organisms, how to market organic mushrooms on a small-scale, and includes some recipes. This book is laid out nicely, and because it includes a section on marketing, it is a great choice for any small-scale farmer looking to grow mushrooms.