Growing Mushrooms isn’t exactly straightforward, but with good mushroom grow kits, it can be! There are dozens of brilliant mushroom grow kit brands out there, and the choice can be a little perplexing at times, so we thought we’d run through some of our favourites.
In this article, we’ll share our thoughts on how to choose mushroom growing kits, and what mushrooms are best for different uses too, because, like everything in the garden, variety makes all the difference!
What are Mushroom Grow Kits?
Mushroom grow kits are designed to make growing mushrooms easy, without the unnecessary confusion of lighting and temperature control.
While more complex mushroom grow kits produce better harvests, for beginners, it’s always better to start small and build up, using affordable mushroom grow kits that anyone can master.
How do Mushroom Grow Kits Work?
Mushroom grow kits, particularly those for more common varieties like button or shiitake mushrooms, are essentially just boxes, packed full of inoculated growing mediums.
The growing mediums contain all the essential nutrients for mushrooms to develop quickly, and the inoculated materials contain active spores that will start to grow when they are exposed to moisture.
One really important thing to remember, with any mushroom grow kit, is that you should start using it as soon as it comes through the door. The sooner you use it, the better it will work!
What are the Best Mushroom Varieties to Grow in the US?
Any US mushroom growers will tell you to start small. Choose simple varieties like button mushrooms or Oysters to get started. As you get more used to the process, move into bigger and better things, like Lion’s Mane or Wine Cap.
Whether you’re growing indoors or outdoors, most mushrooms cope well with all ranges of US climates, so don’t feel limited by your garden's light levels, or kitchen temperatures.
Just go for it. The worst that can happen is a small harvest, but if everything goes to plan, you could be harvesting mushrooms for the next five years from a single inoculated log!
Best Mushroom Grow Kit Brands in the US
There are too many great mushroom grow kits in America for us to list them all, but a few of our absolute favourites are below, with some basic info on what you can expect from each:
Field & Forest
Field & Forest is probably the most wide-ranging supplier of mushroom grow kits in America. Their kits come pre-packaged for indoor growing, or outdoor growing, with varieties to suit all situations.
What’s extra special about them, is that you can choose pretty much any growing medium, and get the tools you need to match; from plugs and pegs to sawdust and even mushroom planters that are pre-built and ready to go.
For anyone who’s tried to grow mushrooms before and failed, try Field and Forest for guaranteed results.
Of all the mushroom grow kits we’ve come across, Taylor’s Mushrooms is perhaps the least well-known. But, they are also one of the best. They sell a wide range of mush varieties, and their kits are stunningly easy to use.
They take up a little bit more space and can be quite a big commitment, but you’ll get longer harvests, and can expect several years’ worth of mushrooms from most Taylor’s Mushroom kits.
Fungi Ally are more than just mushroom grow kit suppliers, they sell mushroom extracts and all sorts of other products derived from their own mushroom farms.
If you’re after more unusual varieties, Fungi Ally is the place to go. Their kits and spawn include rare types like Almond Agaricus and the delicious, but odd-looking, Chicken of the Woods.
Back to the Roots
If you’re just starting out with mushroom grow kits, try Back to the Roots. Their brand is all about making gardening simple. While they’re not mushroom specialists, their kits are well-made, and come with everything you need to get started.
Back to the roots mushroom grow kits are suitable for kids as well as adults, and are fun to use, with loads of different mushrooms to choose from.
Branding isn’t everything, but if you’re looking to buy a mushroom grow kit as a gift, North Spore mushroom grow kits are beautifully presented and make an ideal gift for any keen gardener or foody.
My personal favourite from North Spore is the Wine Cap sawdust grow kit, which grows pretty much anywhere and produces some of the most delicious, firm mushrooms you could imagine.
Hodgins Harvest mushroom grow kits are really well produced. They sell on Amazon as well as direct from their website, but you’ll find more variety by shopping direct.
Their kits and extracts are limited to Oyster Mushroom, Pink Oyster, and Lion’s Mane, but we’d suggest Lion’s Mane if you want to grow something truly unusual that you won’t find in grocery stores, simply because it tastes incredible.
Mushroom Growing Kit FAQs
How long does a mushroom grow kit last?
When you receive your mushroom grow kit, it will usually last for about 3 weeks before it stops working. The longer you leave your mushroom grow kit unused, the less likely it is to work, so use it straight away if possible, and store it in an air-tight container in the fridge if you can’t use it straight away.
What are the most valuable mushrooms to grow?
Shiitake mushrooms are the most expensive mushrooms in grocery stores, but there are a few more valuable rare mushrooms you can grow at home once you’re used to the methods.
Start with shiitake though, if you want quick results and valuable mushrooms on your first try!
What is the best place to put a mushroom grow kit?
Mushroom grow kits need light, but not much. We usually place ours on top of the refrigerator, where there is light exposure, but never direct sun.
That keeps humidity at reasonable levels, and the warmth of the kitchen is perfect.
Are mushroom grow kits worth the money?
Mushroom grow kits are always worth trying. If you’ve never used one before, aim for something simple like button mushrooms, which are affordable and productive.
For more experienced growers, the more you spend, the more you get.
Do mushroom grow kits keep growing?
Simple mushroom grow kits, grow bags, or grow boxes, tend to produce mushrooms for around 3 months. Inoculated logs last longer and can come back year after year.
Do mushroom plugs come back every year?
Mushrooms grown from mushroom plugs will grow back every year for four to five years. Limit their exposure to frost and wind where possible, to elongate their life span.
How long does it take for mushroom grow kits to grow to full size?
Mushroom grow kits, particularly the smaller types of mushroom, are surprisingly fast-growing. They can grow from nothing to full mushrooms in about 3-4 weeks in the right conditions, and we’ve even had mushrooms from budget-friendly grow kits grow from box to harvest in as little as a fortnight.
Should mushroom grow kits be kept in the dark?
Mushroom grow kits should not be kept in complete darkness. They need light and a little bit of heat to work properly. Find somewhere as shaded as possible, with no direct sunlight, but avoid completely dark situations like cupboards.
What do you do with mushroom logs in the winter?
In winter, mushroom grow kits can still work indoors. If you have mushroom logs, bring them inside, or away from bitter winds. Wind can dislodge spores, and frosts can ruin growth in the New Year, so bring any loose mushroom logs into the garage or shed to protect them.
For more on growing mushrooms, don't miss our in-depth guide to growing portobello mushrooms both indoors and outdoors.
Start Growing Your Own Mushrooms with these Mushroom Growing Kits
If you’ve never grown mushrooms before, the best mushroom grow kit for you, is going to be a lot cheaper than one for someone with a bit more expertise. Choose a fast-growing variety, like button or shiitake, and take good care of it.
One successful harvest is all it takes to get to know the basics of mushroom grow kits. And who knows? You might be an expert by this time next year, and move up to the more in-depth mushroom grow kits, spore kits, and hardwood logs.