Gourmet mushrooms are gaining popularity as people become aware of their delicious umami tastes and health benefits.
But finding fresh gourmet mushrooms is not always easy, and many stores only stock common button, cremini and portobello mushrooms.
Mushroom grow kits are a great solution as they’re easy to use and allow even the most inexperienced growers to produce fresh gourmet mushrooms year round.
But not all mushroom grow kits are equal, so it’s advisable to research and find a reliable supplier who offers a grow guarantee.
Read on to learn what mushroom grow kits are, how they work, what mushrooms you can grow, what to consider when choosing a kit and what to look for in a good mushroom grow kit.
What is a Mushroom Grow Kit?
These kits often come in the form of colonized substrate blocks, boxes or bags or inoculated logs and are a fun and uncomplicated way to grow mushrooms.
There are different types of mushroom grow kits, but the ones with ready-to-fruit colonized substrate are the easiest to use.
With these kits, a large portion of the mushroom growing process is already done for you, including sterilization, inoculation and incubation.
All that’s left is the fun part of the mushroom growing process, called fruiting.
Why Buy a Mushroom Kit?
Using a mushroom kit saves you a lot of time and hassle. It’s great for beginners or those who want to grow mushrooms but don’t have enough time for the entire growing process.
Even if you buy mushroom spawn, the most time-consuming and crucial part of growing mushrooms is preparing and inoculating the substrate.
Depending on the substrate you’re using, you’ll either need to pasteurize or sterilize it, which often involves high temperatures and takes time and energy.
Inoculation needs sterile conditions to help prevent contamination, and you’ll also need to ensure that the substrate has the correct moisture content.
Incubation is not labor intensive but can take a few weeks, during which you’ll need to monitor the fruiting blocks for any signs of contamination.
When you buy a ready-to-fruit mushroom grow kit, this work is all done for you.
Here are some of the benefits offered by mushroom grow kits:
- You save time and will usually harvest your first mushrooms within 14 days of opening the kit
- You save on costs as you don’t need any specialized equipment.
- You get access to gourmet mushroom species you can’t buy in your area.
- Safer than foraging for wild mushrooms.
- Provides great learning opportunities for children.
- You don’t need a sterile space for inoculation.
- You don’t need to source and prepare substrate.
Different Types of Mushroom Grow Kits
Several types of mushroom grow kits are available that allow you to grow mushrooms indoors or outdoors.
Some kits come with spawn and prepared substrate or logs and instructions on how to inoculate them yourself.
With these kits, you save having to source mushroom spawn and substrate, but still need to go through the inoculation and incubation phases of mushroom growing.
The most popular kits, and easier for most people, are the ones that come ready to fruit with fully colonized substrate.
And, it’s not just beginners or small-scale mushroom growers who enjoy the ease of mushroom grow kits.
Many commercial mushroom growers are discovering the benefits of buying ready-to-fruit substrate blocks that they can place directly into their fruiting chambers.
Indoor Mushroom Grow Kits
When it comes to growing mushrooms indoors, you have a range of kits and mushroom species to choose from.
Most indoor mushroom grow kits come as bags, blocks or boxes of colonized ready-to-fruit substrate.
When you get your grow kit, follow the instructions for opening it, and then place it in a spot with good fruiting conditions.
With easy-to-grow mushrooms, like oyster and shiitake mushrooms, the ideal spot could be a kitchen windowsill or countertop.
Different mushroom species need different growing conditions, so pay careful attention to the instructions that come with your kit.
Outdoor Mushroom Grow Kits
You get two kinds of mushroom grow kits for growing mushrooms outdoors.
The first type is for mushrooms that you can grow in mushroom beds in your garden, and these usually come with mushroom spawn and growing instructions.
The second type is mushroom log kits. These kits usually contain inoculated logs that need to incubate for around 12 months before you get your first harvest of mushrooms.
But, you also get mushroom log kits that contain mushroom spawn plugs, ready to inoculate hardwood logs, wax and instructions for inoculating the logs yourself.
How Do Mushroom Kits Work?
Most ready-to-grow mushroom kits are low maintenance and come with easy-to-follow instructions.
Because a kit comes with all the initial phases of mushroom growing completed, the mycelium in the mushroom grow kit is ready to produce mushrooms.
All you need to do is provide fruiting conditions to trigger pinning and maintain these conditions while the mushrooms grow.
How Do You Start a Mushroom Grow Kit?
Important factors are light, airflow, temperature and humidity and for easy-to-grow mushroom species, it’s not difficult to provide these conditions.
For airflow, you’ll need to cut an opening in the substrate bag or, in some cases, remove the substrate block from the bag altogether.
A warm spot near a window with 12 hours of indirect light will generally provide the required temperatures and lighting.
And misting the mycelium, mushroom pins and mushrooms as they grow will help maintain the high levels of humidity required for mushrooms to grow.
Some mushroom species are fussier than others, and you’ll need a fruiting chamber to create and maintain the fruiting conditions they need to grow.
We recommend starting with an oyster mushroom grow kit, as oyster mushrooms are hardy and fast-growing.
Do Mushroom Grow Kits Regrow?
Most mushroom grow kits will produce more than one flush of mushrooms, meaning you could get multiple harvests out of one block before it stops producing.
A good kit will come with instructions on how to get a second and sometimes even a third flush, and some people have reported getting up to 5 harvests from a single kit.
You usually have to wait a couple of weeks between flushes, but the wait is worth it, and the reward is more mushrooms.
Do Mushroom Kits Last Forever?
No, they don’t. Depending on the type of mushroom, you’ll usually get 2 to 3 flushes, and then the block will no longer produce mushrooms.
Mushroom kits also don’t last forever in storage before fruiting, as the dormant mycelium in the substrate loses strength over time.
Your mushroom grow kit may not produce mushrooms if you store it for longer than the recommended time frame before use.
What Mushrooms Can You Grow with a Mushroom Grow Kit?
Several types of gourmet mushrooms are available for home cultivation using mushroom grow kits.
Many of these are mushrooms you won’t find in local stores, and mushroom grow kits are a great way to add new mushroom tastes and textures to your meals.
Here are some of the mushrooms you can grow with a mushroom grow kit:
- Oyster (several varieties)
- King Oyster
- Lion’s mane
- Wine Cap
What to Consider When Choosing a Mushroom Grow Kit
Which kit is best for you depends on your experience, the type of mushrooms you want to grow and where you plan on growing them.
Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing a mushroom grow kit:
Most kits come with one type of mushroom, and with several varieties to choose from, you may not know where to start.
Some people use mushroom kits to provide a constant supply of mushrooms they’re familiar with and enjoy, while others use them to grow unusual species and experience new tastes.
Depending on where you live, you may have a limited choice of mushroom grow kits available locally.
We recommend new mushroom growers start with oyster mushrooms and then try some of the other more exotic species.
Different mushrooms require different growing conditions, and some species require more monitoring and care than others.
Before deciding on a mushroom grow kit, check the level of skill and time commitment the mushrooms require and ensure you have the time and resources to care for them.
Growing Location and Conditions
Most suppliers produce ready-to-grow mushroom grow kits for indoor use, but there are a few kits that you can use to grow mushrooms outdoors.
Whether you plan on growing your mushrooms indoors or outdoors, check what growing conditions the mushrooms need to fruit and ensure you can provide them.
Maintaining ideal humidity levels indoors can be tricky, but it’s easier to adjust temperatures if required.
There are two parts to timing. The first is how long the mushrooms take to grow, as this varies from species to species, and you’ll need to be around while they’re growing.
Don’t start a mushroom grow kit if you’re going to be away from home in the next two weeks, even if it’s only for a day or two, as they need daily misting.
You could get around this by finding someone to mist the mushrooms for you, using a humidity tent or, in the case of mushroom farmers, using an automated fruiting chamber.
The second timing factor is how soon you need to use the kit after you receive it.
Some kits don’t keep, and you need to use them immediately, while others will last a couple of months in a cool, dark location.
If you have an unpredictable schedule, a kit that can be stored for a while is a good idea.
Check the contents of the mushroom grow kit before purchasing it, as it’s important to understand what you’re getting and if you’ll require any additional materials or tools.
Ready-to-grow kits come with a colonized substrate, while other kits may come with separate substrate and spawn, and some only provide mushroom spawn.
A good kit usually comes with everything you need to grow mushrooms and should have detailed instructions.
What Makes a Good Mushroom Grow Kit
Many suppliers offer mushroom grow kits online, but not all are good quality, reducing your chances of successfully growing mushrooms with these kits.
If you are new to growing mushrooms, it can be confusing and hard to know where to start when choosing a mushroom grow kit.
Here are the things to look for when selecting a mushroom grow kit:
- A ready-to-fruit kit – We recommend beginners get a ready-to-fruit kit with all the preparation already done for you.
- Reliable supplier – Use an established supplier and check their customer reviews to see what other people say about their service and the quality of their kits.
- Easy-to-grow mushrooms – Start with easy-to-grow mushrooms like oyster mushrooms, as this increases your chances of success. Once you have a little experience, you can move on to other fussier species.
- Grow guarantee – Most reputable suppliers offer a grow guarantee of some kind.
- Clear, easy-to-follow instructions – Any good mushroom grow kit should come with clear step-by-step instructions.
- Additional resources like FAQ or videos – It’s always nice to have extra information and support, especially if you’re concerned things are not progressing as they should.
Are Mushroom Kits Reliable?
High-quality, recently colonized kits from a reputable supplier are very reliable.
Many reputable suppliers, like us, have such confidence in their products that they offer a growth guarantee as long as you follow the instructions provided with your kit.
Top Picks for Beginner-Friendly Mushroom Grow Kits
Not all mushroom grow kits are equal. It’s worth checking to ensure the one you’re buying comes from a reliable supplier and meets the criteria we listed in the section above.
Here are some of our top picks for beginner-friendly mushroom grow kits that meet the requirements of a good grow kit:
If you live in the UK, you are fortunate enough to be able to buy one of our guaranteed-to-grow oyster mushroom grow kits with free 48-hour delivery.
We make our kits using a substrate of coffee grounds and straw and guarantee it will produce at least 1 crop of oyster mushrooms, but you usually get 2 to 3 flushes.
Our kits don’t take up much space and are exceptionally easy to use. You just need to cut a hole in the bag, spray with water daily and watch the mushrooms grow.
And, if you want to try other types of mushrooms, Merryhill Mushrooms have a shiitake mushroom grow kit that’s also great for beginners.
For those who live in the United States, North Spore offers spray and grow mushroom kits to grow pink, blue and golden oysters and lion’s mane mushrooms.
These come with a grow guarantee and are as quick and easy for beginners to use as our grow kits.
And, if you’re in the US and want to grow shiitakes, Cascadia Mushrooms have an easy-to-use shiitake mushroom grow kit with complete instructions and recipe ideas.
Nackros Garden is a Finnish-based mushroom farm that offers made-to-order mushroom grow kits with detailed instructions and a harvest guarantee.
They offer kits for a range of oyster mushrooms, lion’s mane and a mushroom they call the black pearl, that’s a hybrid between a king oyster and a gray oyster.
These hybrids produce large chewy mushrooms like king oysters that grow as fast and abundantly as gray oysters.
Beginner mushroom growers in Australia can get started with a ready-to-fruit mushroom grow kit from Little Acre Mushroom Farm.
They have kits to grow several types of oyster mushrooms and lion’s mane mushrooms.
Common Mushroom Grow Kit Issues + Troubleshooting
Here are some of the most common issues you could experience with an oyster mushroom grow kit:
1. Long Stringy Stems and Tiny Caps
This is a result of not enough light or fresh air exchange.
If you keep your grow kit in an enclosed space like a tub or cabinet without enough airflow, CO2 can build up and cause malformed mushrooms.
Move the block to a location with better conditions, and if after 24 hours you are not seeing a difference, remove the malformed mushrooms and wait for the next flush.
2. Pale Caps
Oyster mushrooms need indirect daylight or artificial blue light to have a nice cap color.
If your mushroom caps are pale or almost white instead of the expected cap color, try moving them to a location with better lighting or provide 12 hours of artificial light daily.
3. Edges of the Mushrooms Yellowing
This is commonly caused by the mushrooms drying out as they’re growing.
To prevent this, mist your mushrooms at least twice a day. In dry weather, you may need to mist them up to 5 times daily.
Another reason for yellowing is mist sprayed directly onto the cap. Ideally, you want to set the spray bottle nozzle to the finest spray possible and spray from at least 30cm away.
4. Mushroom Pins Form but Stop Growing
This will happen if your mushroom pins completely dry out. High humidity levels are crucial, especially during the pinning stage of mushroom growth.
Mist your mushrooms regularly or use a humidity tent or fruiting chamber to help maintain humidity levels of 85% or more.
Are mushroom grow kits worth it? Yes, they are, and they’re perfect for beginners who want to learn to grow mushrooms but don’t want to start from scratch.
They’re a great way to introduce fresh gourmet mushrooms to your daily meals, learn the basics before going all in or as a fun educational project for children.
Anyone who enjoys growing their own food will find a mushroom grow kit rewarding, and we highly recommend them.
If you have successfully grown mushrooms using a mushroom grow kit and want to learn how to grow them from scratch, visit our Mushroom Growing Hub.