It’s a little late to start growing mushrooms outdoors at this time of the year, but it can be done on beds of straw or wood chips if you start the process in the fall. You can also grow mushrooms such as shiitake and oyster types on logs which have been impregnated with mushroom spores or spawn.
If you are new to mushroom growing, then you could start with the easiest ones to grow, which are shiitake or oysters and then move on to chanterelles and morels or other mushrooms in the gourmet class. At the moment growing mushrooms in your home is the best option, depending of course, on where you live. If the temperatures in winter where you live do not fall below a comfortable temperature, then you can grow mushrooms outside at any time of year.
You will need mushroom spores (seeds) to start off with and of course you can buy logs and mushroom kits to start you off from suppliers online or in your local area. Mushroom cultures can be kept warm outside by insulating them in a bed of straw and even a snow fall will keep them cozy.
If you start now you may need a log which has been freshly cut, as the ones on forest floors will be covered with fungi already, even if only with invisible spores. The best time to cut a log from a live tree is in spring, however when the sap is rising. Hard wood such as oak is best for mushroom-growing purposes. You will need to drill holes in the log to around one and a half inches deep and five inches apart in rows four inches apart. Then you inoculate the logs with your mushroom spawn and plug the holes either with Styrofoam or melted wax. The log can be placed under some bushes in shade in your garden and left for some months, again, depending on temperature. In North America, where temperatures are cold in winter, it could take between 6 months and a year for the spawn to have run through the log and be ready to fruit. This will happen when the log is exposed to rain or to a shower from a hose. You can get several crops a year from a mushroom log although it has to rest between crops.
Another way of growing mushrooms outdoors is to plant saplings where you already have a mushroom patch, as these will assist growth. You can also inject mushroom spores into the roots of established trees, or spread mushroom spawn at the foot of them.
Different types of mushrooms fruit at different times of year, so it is best to check out the times they fruit before deciding on which to start now.
You can, of course, start off a mushroom culture indoors and transfer them outside when the temperatures start to rise. If you live in a country where the winter climate is cold, then this would be the best idea.
Home-grown mushrooms are wonderful as you can get your favourite gourmet ones and feast on them almost all through the year.