Mushroom Cultivation Methods


Mushrooms are grown commercially and by hobbyists. The cultivation method depends on the species. Wood chip/sawdust mixtures, logs or compost are common substrates. An understanding of mushroom life cycles and physiology is also required.

The Mushroom Growing Cycle

The first stage of mushroom growing is the spawn run, during which the mushroom mycelium completely colonizes the selected mushroom growing substrate. Then, fruiting is usually triggered by a cold shock, fresh air and high humidity. Light may be required.

Spawn Production

A sufficient quantity of pure mushroom spawn must be produced before actual growing commences. Spawn is usually grown on sterilized grain, wooden dowels or in liquid culture.

Compost Culture

Compost made from horse manure and straw is used to grow button mushrooms and other species that naturally grow in the ground. Compost sometimes must be "cased" with a peat-based layer after the spawn run before mushrooms will form.

Log Culture

Wood-inhabiting species can be grown on logs of suitable wood. The logs are inoculated with wooden dowels (plug spawn) colonized with the fungus. Logs can produce mushrooms for up to three years.

Wood Chip/Sawdust Culture

In place of logs, bags of suitable wood chips/sawdust can be inoculated with grain spawn, plug spawn or liquid spawn. Bags have the advantage of being lighter and easier to handle than logs.


  • Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms; 1993, Paul Stamets; Ten Speed Press; Berkeley, CA

Who Can Help

  • Mushroom Growing Supplies at Fungi Perfecti

About this Author

Philip McIntosh has more than 30 years of experience as an equipment engineer, scientific investigator and educator. He has been writing for 16 years, and his work has appeared in scientific journals, popular science magazines, trade journals and on science and technology websites. McIntosh holds a B.S. in botany and chemistry, and an M.A. in biological science.

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