Best Mushroom Growing Books

A Guide to the Top 10 Best Mushroom Growing Books

Mushrooms are gaining popularity as people discover their unique tastes, nutritional value and health benefits.

For many, the only way to get a regular supply of fresh gourmet mushrooms is to grow them at home.

But, growing your own gourmet or medicinal mushrooms can feel a little intimidating, especially if you’re a complete beginner with no idea where to begin.

One of the best ways to understand mushrooms and learn how to grow them is with a comprehensive mushroom growing book.

In this article we look at 10 of the best mushroom growing books and explore how they’ll help you to grow mushrooms successfully. 

Why a Mushroom Growing Book is a Useful Way to Learn

Personal experience is a great way to learn how to grow mushrooms. But why go through lots of trial and error when you can learn from the success and failure of others?

A good mushroom growing book, written by someone with experience, will help you avoid common mistakes and make the learning process easier.

Many of the best mushroom growing books have comprehensive instructions, step-by-step guides and detailed pictures that help you through every stage of the mushroom growing process.

If you have one of the best mushroom growing books close at hand to refer to when in doubt, it can save you lots of time and money.

10 of the Best Mushroom Growing Books

Every mushroom grower will benefit from the knowledge, tips and tricks that a great mushroom growing book provides. 

Which you choose will depend on your current level of knowledge, what you hope to achieve and exactly how far you plan on taking mushroom growing.

Here, in no particular order, are 10 of the best mushroom growing books with information to help you decide which best meets your needs:

1. “Growing Gourmet & Medicinal Mushrooms” by Paul Stamets

Growing Gourmet & Medicinal Mushrooms” is an in-depth, comprehensive guide to growing mushrooms that any mushroom grower will find helpful.

The author, Paul Stamets, is a well-known mycologist and pioneer in edible and medicinal mushroom cultivation techniques.

He has written several books on the subject.

This best-seller covers every aspect of mushroom growing and is relevant to all levels of mushroom growers. 

Everyone from small-scale hobby growers to large-scale commercial operators will benefit from Stamets’ considerable knowledge.

“Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms” has 592 pages of information split into 25 chapters covering every aspect of mushroom cultivation in detail, including:

  • Choosing substrates and supplements
  • Preventing contamination
  • Making grain and sawdust spawn
  • Production techniques 
  • Cropping containers
  • Harvesting, storing and packaging mushrooms
  • Advice on laboratory and growing room construction 
  • Tasty mushroom recipes

This book is a must-have for anyone serious about learning more about mushroom growing. 

You’ll find yourself turning to it often for information and solutions.

Pros

One of the most definitive guides to growing mushrooms, this book has numerous pros, including: 

  • In-depth information on all aspects of mushroom growing based on years of knowledge and experience
  • An invaluable troubleshooting guide and lots of tips and tricks
  • More than 500 photographs and illustrations to take you through each stage of cultivation
  • Growth parameters for 31 species of mushrooms, including information on their mycelial characteristics, suggested substrates and yield potential

Cons

Because Paul Stamets goes into such detail, beginners may find the amount of technical information overwhelming, and cons include:

  • Not easy to read
  • Overwhelming amount of information for beginners
  • Most of the photos are black and white, and some are a little dated, although still relevant.

2. “The Essential Guide to Cultivating Mushrooms” by Stephen Russel 

The Essential Guide to Cultivating Mushrooms” is an easy to read, beginner-friendly book that provides practical step-by-step guides.

Although less analytical and comprehensive than “Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms”, it’s an excellent book for people who want to advance beyond mushroom growing kits and a great resource for small-scale farmers.

The book has three easy-to-follow sections: Basics for Beginners, Intermediate Methods and Advanced Methods.

The basics for beginners section provides step-by-step photographs and clear instructions on growing shiitake, oyster, lion’s mane, maitake, and portobello mushrooms at home.

The intermediate methods section covers slightly more complicated mushroom growing techniques, including:

The advanced methods section delves into agar work and growing mushrooms on a larger scale using bulk substrates. 

Pros

This book offers lots of value and pros, including:

  • Well designed and easy to follow for beginners
  • Lots of color photographs, diagrams and illustrations
  • Detailed step by step guides and tips

Cons

Slightly more advanced growers may find it lacking, and cons include:

  • Overlooking some common practices
  • Beginner-level content without in-depth information on some of the methods

3. “Mycelium Running” by Paul Stamets

Mycelium Running” is another excellent book by leading mycologist Paul Stamets. 

Though still textbook-ish, it’s not as technical as “Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms” and explores the role mushrooms play in our environment and their unique uses.

While not solely focused on mushroom cultivation, it provides valuable information for beginner to intermediate growers on how and why to grow mushrooms outdoors.

The methods in this book don’t need expensive equipment or strict laboratory conditions, making them appealing to gardeners and permaculture farmers who prefer less technical methods of growing mushrooms.

If you’re interested in growing mushrooms to increase yields, control pests or reduce water runoff on your farm or in your garden, this book is for you.

Pros

This manual for healing the earth through mushroom cultivation has numerous pros, including:

  • Interesting as well as practical information on growing mushrooms 
  • Beautifully designed, with more than 300 glossy full-color photographs
  • Enjoyable to read and informative even for those who don’t wish to cultivate mushrooms.

Cons 

This book contains a lot of information, and its cons include:

  • Technical terminology that’s difficult for beginners 
  • Large amounts of information that can be overwhelming 

4. “Radical Mycology” by Peter McCoy

Radical Mycology” is an inspiring, in-depth introduction to fungi full of exciting ideas and practical information for mushroom cultivators and other fungi enthusiasts.

This 650-page book by Peter McCoy, a self-taught mycologist with over 20 years of experience, covers a broad range of topics.

It encompasses all aspects of mycology in a fun and accessible way and focuses on human relationships with fungi.

“Radical Mycology” explores new ways to develop and maximize the use of fungi, be it as food or medicine or to help the environment.

It begins with in-depth chapters on the structure and life cycle of mushrooms, how to identify them and the role they play in the environment.

Once this foundation is in place, a substantial portion of the book centers around mushroom cultivation. 

It starts with basic principles for novices followed by detailed methods, advice and instructions with more advanced technical details.

The focus is on DIY, low-tech, low-budget ways to cultivate mushrooms.

The author provides practical advice on making, recycling or sourcing low-cost supplies and equipment.

There’s also detailed information on something Peter McCoy calls “regenerative natural mushroom farming,” the science of mycoremediation and psychoactive mushrooms.

Pros

This comprehensive book has something for everyone, and the pros include:

  • Encompassing all aspects of fungi 
  • Interesting sidebar quotes and facts
  • Extensive resource lists, appendices and references
  • An engaging and quirky writing style that often uses human analogies to explain abstract concepts
  • Practical information and affordable techniques and ideas

Cons

No one can fault the breadth of content and information in this book, but cons include:

  • The quality of the photography and reproduction
  • The strength of the binding 

5. “Mushroom Cultivation” by Richard Bray

Mushroom Cultivation: 12 Ways to Become the MacGyver of Mushrooms” is perfect for urban homesteaders and mushroom enthusiasts who want to learn how to grow mushrooms at home.

This 148 page best seller is ideal for beginners, providing comprehensive information on how to start growing mushrooms at home.

The book has 10 chapters and starts by providing information on a mushroom’s structure and life cycle.  

It also includes information on the characteristics and growing parameters of several popular, easy-to-grow mushrooms. 

Once you know how to choose the mushrooms you want to grow, the book covers the stages of mushroom cultivation and the growing process. 

It also includes information on 12 different mushroom growing methods for both indoor and outdoor mushroom cultivation.

The last 2 chapters provide information to help you identify common problems and overcome them and details on how to store and preserve your mushroom harvest.

Pros

This book is a great starting point for urban mushroom enthusiasts, and its pros include:

  • Informative guide for complete beginners
  • Easy to read with troubleshooting tips
  • Detailed information on many of the easiest mushrooms to grow, including oyster, shiitake, button, enoki, lion’s mane, maitake and wine cap mushrooms
  • 12 different growing methods suitable for urban locations

Cons

This book is not for experienced mushroom growers, and the cons include:

  • Not covering slightly more advanced processes and sterile procedures
  • Needs more photos or illustrations to accompany the growing method explanations

6. “The Mushroom Cultivator” by Paul Stamets and J.S. Chilton

The Mushroom Cultivator: A Practical Guide to Growing Mushrooms at Home” is specifically for people who want to grow mushrooms in their homes. 

Many people consider this 415-page book the best source of information available on growing mushrooms at home. 

The authors, both experts in mushroom cultivation, hope to inspire and enable people to grow mushrooms so that they can enjoy the many health and nutritional benefits they offer.

Although the book contains lots of technical specifications and techniques, they present the information in a clear, easy-to-understand way so anyone can master the art of mushroom cultivation.

It covers everything from growing mushrooms on a kitchen table to sterile culture and spawn production techniques.

It also includes information on the mushroom life cycle and detailed growth requirements for several mushroom species.

Pros

This book contains a wealth of information for both beginners and commercial growers, and its pros include:

  • Comprehensive, in-depth information on all aspects of small scale mushroom cultivation
  • Well illustrated how-to guides with step-by-step instructions
  • Growth parameters for 15 different mushroom species

Cons

As the book is almost 40 years old, it contains some outdated information, and its cons include:

  • Not an easy read due to all the technical information
  • Some cultivation techniques are outdated and modern alternatives now exist
  • Some of the methods used are a little expensive for people who are just getting started

7. “Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation” by Tradd Cotter

Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation” is a popular book that takes a holistic approach to mushroom growing and focuses on organic techniques.

It emphasizes the role mushrooms play in today’s world and how we can use them to improve our lives. 

Tradd Cotter is a passionate microbiologist, professional mycologist and organic gardener.  

He has more than 22 years of experience and a keen interest in low-tech cultivation strategies that allow people to grow mushrooms anywhere on just about anything.

This 400-page book has 4 parts. The first part covers the basics of mushroom cultivation. It helps readers choose which mushrooms to grow and which methods to use for the best results.

The second part of the book looks in-depth at how mushrooms fit into our world and their potential uses.

The third part explores more advanced techniques for experienced mushroom growers interested in a commercial-scale mushroom growing business.

The final part of the book is a comprehensive guide to commonly cultivated species of mushrooms.

Pros 

This mushroom growing book takes a different approach from many others, and its pros include:

  • Organic cultivation practices and off-grid growing ideas 
  • Lots of interesting information and details on groundbreaking research
  • Fantastic photographs and illustrations

Cons 

This book is more of an informative, inspirational reference book than a detailed how-to guide and its cons include:

  • Not covering some cultivation techniques in-depth
  • Tradd Cotter, in his enthusiasm, tends to veer off into interesting but non-essential topics 

8. “DIY Mushroom Cultivation” by Willoughby Arevalo

DIY Mushroom Cultivation” is a book for beginners that offers a less intimidating introduction to growing mushrooms at home than many other mushroom growing books.

It uses clear language and focuses on growing mushrooms at home on a small scale with a low budget. 

Willoughby Arevalo is a mycologist and educator with over 10 years of experience growing and cooking mushrooms. 

This 208-page book is not for people interested in starting a mushroom growing business or large-scale farm.

It provides plenty of current, accessible, easy-to-follow mushroom growing techniques that anyone can try with very little equipment.

“DIY Mushroom Cultivation” provides step-by-step instructions for several mushroom growing techniques, both indoors and outdoors, accompanied by wonderful full-color photographs.

Pros

This urban mushroom growing handbook has many pros, including:

  • Easy to follow, clear instructions and excellent photos
  • Ideas for urban growers with little space
  • Low budget tips and ideas to help get people going
  • It’s both practical and inspirational.

Cons

This introduction to growing mushrooms focuses on small scale home techniques, and its cons include:

  • Not an in-depth guide
  • Not for enthusiasts who want to grow mushrooms on a larger scale

9. “Mushroom Cultivation” by Travis Lynch

Mushroom Cultivation: An Illustrated Guide to Growing Your Own Mushrooms at Home” is another book aimed at beginners interested in growing mushrooms in their homes.

Written by Travis Lynch, a mycologist with years of experience who owns and operates a large-scale mushroom farm, the book starts by helping readers understand how mushrooms grow.

This expertly written book focuses on shiitake, oyster, wine cap, Hericium, blewit, and Agaricus mushrooms and begins with what conditions each of them need to thrive.

In subsequent chapters, the book provides information on how to grow mushrooms on logs, straw, sawdust or wood chips and compost with step-by-step instructions.

The last 3 chapters of the book cover:

  • Common problems encountered and their solutions, 
  • Processing and preparing your mushrooms 
  • Cooking tips with 8 tasty recipes

After reading “Mushroom Cultivation”, you’ll learn that growing mushrooms is not more difficult than growing most vegetables. Mushrooms simply require a different set of skills.

Pros 

This beautifully illustrated guides has pros that include:

  • An easy to follow layout aimed at beginners 
  • Information that’s not too technical
  • Wonderful full-color photos
  • Detailed information with practical tips 
  • Ideas on how to use mushrooms both for culinary and medicinal purposes

Cons

A very informative book for beginners whose cons include:

  • Information on a limited selection of mushrooms
  • Not covering more advanced mushroom growing techniques
  • Pictures that are pretty but don’t show the processes as well as they could

10. “The Psilocybin Mushroom Bible” by Dr. K Mandrake and Virginia Haze

No mushroom growing book collection is complete without a book on growing magic mushrooms.

There are numerous books on the subject, but “The Psilocybin Mushroom Bible: The Definitive Guide to Growing and Using Magic Mushrooms” tops the list.

This book is an easy-to-read collaboration by Virginia Haze, a writer, photographer and mushroom grower, and Dr. K. Mandrake who did his doctorate in Psilocybe cubensis, the most commonly grown psychedelic mushroom.

“The Psilocybin Mushroom Bible” is a comprehensive 380-page book that guides you through every step of the psilocybin mushroom cultivation process.

Although focused on growing Psilocybe cubensis, it has information and techniques relevant to all mushroom species.

With over 40 step-by-step photographic instruction guides, it teaches a beginner everything they need to know.

Including how to prepare a magic mushroom growing medium, build a simple glove box and produce magic mushroom culture.

There’s also a guide to consuming magic mushrooms safely.

Pros

This popular book has many pros, including:

  • Easy to read with detailed instructions
  • Excellent color photos and diagrams that clearly show each step of the process.
  • Humorous style with minimal technical terminology

Cons

Good book as a general guide, but cons include:

  • Information that’s useful but sometimes a little disorganized
  • Not in-depth enough for advanced mushroom growers

Final Thoughts

We hope the information in this guide helps you decide which mushroom growing book is best for you. 

But, while every mushroom grower needs a good book, a mushroom growing course is definitely the best way to learn.

We’ve taught thousands of people worldwide how to grow mushrooms via our online courses and in-person workshops. 

With our mushroom growing courses, you get ongoing support, advice and a community of like-minded people, invaluable benefits that you don’t get from a book.

We offer mushroom cultivation courses for all levels of mushroom growers, so you’ll easily find one that suits you.

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