Mushroom growing kits not only bring a source of endless fascination, but they can also put a delicious meal on the table in the right circumstances. The edible mushroom enthusiast can find a mushroom kit suited to the most amateur of operations from oyster mushrooms to shiitakes.
In this article, we’ll go over some of our top picks that include the best mushroom growing kit for beginners and talk a little about the what and why of mushroom growing kits. If you’re thinking about taking up the delightful hobby of fungiculture, read on!
What to Know About Mushroom Growing Kits
Just like any horticultural experience, mushroom growing kits do not come with 100% guarantees. Getting a great kit and following the instructions to a T might still produce no results.
Even though genetically, mushrooms have more in common with animals than plants, many of the same rules-of-thumb applied to plants will apply to mushrooms.
They have the same specificity requirements in terms of light, water, and soil. Certain mushrooms will do best in certain conditions, while the same arrangement may not work for other fungi.
Kits will come with specific instructions, but your particular setup may demand a little flexibility. By and large, though, you should have a great crop of mushrooms provided you closely follow the instructions.
What Kind of Kits Are There?
Mushroom kits come in a few different varieties. Some come as complete packages with a growth medium and spores. Others have an inoculated “log” with the mushroom spores already embedded, awaiting the right conditions to sprout.
More experienced growers can even order the mushroom cultures and growth mediums separately. Some companies offer a complete setup with lights, cultures, growth mediums, and everything else you need. But the most accessible kits come ready to go – just water, watch, and harvest!
Some kits grow well indoors, while others will do best outside. What kind of kit you choose should depend on the spots you have available to grow mushrooms; take care to inspect the growth requirements before selecting a specific kit.
Mushroom Growing Kits
Okay, so you want to grow some mushrooms. But the world of mushroom kits seems overwhelming. Don’t worry; we can help. Without further ado, let’s dive into five mushroom growing kits that are great for beginners!
1. Back to the Roots Organic Oyster Mushroom Kit
Back to the Roots’ Organic Oyster mushroom kit provides a simple, no-frills mushroom growing experience. Unlike the other kits on our list, this one comes with an extra focus on the process’s educational side.
The “discovery book” includes a full curriculum on the science of mushrooms, making this an excellent product for kids or incredibly inquisitive adults. The curriculum takes you through the science of what happens day by day in your mushrooms.
These mushrooms grow aggressively even if you forget to follow the instructions correctly. A few issues have cropped up with contaminated samples – i.e., the mushroom starts sprouting before the package gets opened – but the company does a good job of replacing faulty kits.
With flushes coming out of both sides of the box, this kit provides ample opportunity to feast on delicious, organic mushrooms while learning about how they grow.
- Clean, fun packaging
- All organic soil
- Comes with “discovery book” to teach about mushrooms
- Thrives even with some neglect
- Must pick soon after fruiting
- Some quality control issues
2. Michigan Mushroom Company Reishi Mushrooms Kit
Reishi mushrooms come with a variety of culinary and medicinal benefits. The mushrooms have a distinctive flavor and texture, having a long history in traditional Chinese cuisine. It has a meaty taste, though it also has a little bitterness with the wrong preparation.
This mushroom kit allows you to really see the growth and development of the mushroom. The mycelium from which the mushrooms will “fruit” expands throughout the growth medium, and with the transparent packaging, you can see the whole thing.
Which is good, because compared to some of the other kits on this list, Reishi mushrooms can take a while to produce a crop. Once it does start to fruit, this kit won’t produce with quite the vigor some other kits do, but it still provides a worthwhile fungi cultural experience.
- Delicious Mushrooms
- Easy caretaking
- Fascinating process
- Very hardy
- Takes a while to grow
- Relatively small harvest
3. Michigan Mushroom Company Lion’s Mane Mushroom Kit
Wild mushroom foragers have long prized the Lion’s Mane mushroom. They have a delicate but distinctive taste reminiscent of seafood. Typically, eating Lion’s Mane has required either scouring the woods at the right time of year or paying through the nose at a fancy restaurant.
But with this fabulous kit, you can quickly get a taste of one of the most choice wild mushrooms and get a little education at the same time. A brick of wood chips provides just the right growth medium, and in a week or so, the brick starts fruiting with the strange-looking fungus.
However, you’ll want to take care and let the first flush grow large before harvesting. Many users have reported a bitter taste on the 2nd or 3rd flush, even if they produce many mushrooms. The humidity tent also has little structure to keep it in the right position.
Overall, Michigan Mushroom Company has created an excellent, reliable growth kit. If you don’t have success, they will happily replace the product so you can try again.
- The same mushroom strain used in gourmet restaurants
- Outstanding customer service
- Only needs misting once a day
- Very productive
- Flimsy tenting bag
- Less palatable 2nd and 3rd flush
4: 2Funguys Shiitake Mushroom Plugs
The 2Funguys Shiitake mushroom plugs represent something a little different from the other kits on our list. Instead of an all-in-one package with the growth medium and humidity tent, this product includes a bunch of wooden dowels covered with Shiitake mushroom spores.
You grow the mushrooms by drilling holes into a log, inserting the plugs, and keeping the log moist. While the process requires a few more elements not included with the kit (log, drill), the instructions make the whole thing very clear.
By growing the mushrooms on a real log, they have a more natural feel and look very neat growing in the yard if you choose to have them outside.
- Copious amount of plugs
- Suitable for outdoor growth
- More of a “DIY” feel
- A slightly more complicated process
- Requires an oak log (or other hardwood)
5. Forest Origins Pink Oyster Mushroom Grow Kit
This mushroom growing kit from Forest Origins comes with everything you need to start growing mushrooms right away. By following the simple instructions – water a specific portion of the substrate brick – the mushrooms begin to sprout in just a few days.
After that, the mushrooms will come fast and often with the right care. However, this part of the process can bring some considerable time demands and sensitivity. The mushrooms get very thirsty, and instructions for a second flush have mixed results.
But thankfully, Forest Origins has fantastic customer service and an excellent return policy. A minor misstep with cutting open the plastic packaging or watering can cause mold to grow instead of mushrooms, but the company will readily replace a product that fails to produce.
- Beautiful Colors
- Abundant flushes of mushrooms
- All-natural materials from the USA
- 100% growth guarantee or your money back
- Short harvesting window
- Demanding once the flushing begins
Why Grow Your Own Mushrooms?
Store-bought mushrooms have their limitations. The little button mushrooms of portabellas may not cost too much, but an excellent fresh batch of gourmet mushrooms will have a hefty price tag.
Moreover, many mushroom growing kits offer species not commonly found in your local grocery store’s produce aisle.
Growing mushrooms, just like growing vegetables, can provide a real sense of satisfaction. But even if the harvest comes up a little short of your wildest dreams, the process of watching mushrooms develop and mature will bring out your sense of wonder.
Growing your own mushrooms provides a fascinating look into the world of fungus. It feels almost magical to watch a little inoculated block or plug suddenly come alive with fruiting bodies. Under the right conditions, mushrooms grow very fast, so these kits provide a much different experience than the season-long struggle of growing veggies, flowers, or shrubs.
On top of that, the mushrooms from all of these kits taste amazing! High-quality, organic mushrooms will generally cost more from a store – for fewer mushrooms – than what comes out of these kits. It takes a little more work, but you cannot beat the experience of growing your own food.
Overall, the Back to the Roots Organic Oyster Mushroom Growing Kit gets the nod for the best mushroom growing kit for beginners. The combination of easy growing (with a great return policy), supplemental education, and tasty mushrooms means it checks all the boxes for a rewarding experience.
Related: Growing Mushrooms Hydroponically