Part 2: How to Grow Mushrooms in Your Garden — Central Texas Mycological Society (2024)

Mycology in the Garden

In this six part Mycology in the Garden video series, we will show you five low-cost and low-tech ways to grow edible mushrooms outdoors in shady areas where plants would not thrive. You can grow them alongside your vegetables, perennials, or in the shade of trees. These basic techniques require no special equipment or electricity, and can all be done outdoors using organic materials found such as straw, leaves, wood chips and logs which all make for great mushroom substrate.


Late Fall or Winter into early Spring is the best time in Texas to grow mushrooms outdoors. Typically mushrooms fruit after the rain and require high humidity and temperatures between 55 and 75°F depending on the species. It’s best to try to time it up with the seasons that mushrooms grow in nature and with the rain that usually comes in the fall and spring. If you are unsure of when certain mushroom fruit is in the wild, you can use the app iNaturalist. Just search for a mushroom species, location, and filter by dates.


  1. Substrate: You will need wood chips, straw and leaves as your growing substrate to feed the fungi with the nutrients they need to fruit a mushroom. Soft wood chips are preferred and avoid using conifers or pines like the loathed juniper or cedar tree.

  2. Cardboard & Hardwood Logs: (optional)

  3. Mushroom Spawn: The most important material you need for growing mushrooms is the spawn which is the equivalent of seeds. You can purchase bags of spawn from your local mushroom farm or buy it online for around $30. We Recommend: North Spore, Mushroom Mountain, and Field & Forest. We recommend the following mushroom spawn because they are delicious and do not require a sterile environment to grow.

    • Wine Caps, King Stropharia, Garden Giant (Stropharia raguso-annulata): The Wine Cap is one of the easiest mushrooms to grow outdoors and sometimes grows as large as a plate. It helps in building soil, retaining water and helping your plants thrive, creating a symbiotic environment. Wine Cap mushrooms are crisp with a mild, earthy, and nutty flavor with hints of potatoes and red wine. This mushroom grows best partial shade but can tolerate some direct sun and grows well in straw and soft wood chips.

    • Oysters (Pleurotus ostreatus): Oyster Mushrooms grow well outdoors and readily outgrow competitors and potential contaminants. This mushroom grows in several bright colors such as pink, blue, and yellow. Blue tends to be the best for growing outdoors. The taste of oyster mushrooms is very mild, and some describe it as subtly woody or like seafood. Oysters grow in partial shade and prefer straw to denser woody substrates.

    • Blewits (cl*tocybe nuda): Blewits are a lavender purple mushroom that can be found naturally fruiting during the fall and winter months in Texas. They need a heavy frost or freeze to initiate fruiting, so Blewits will not fruit in tropical climates below Central Texas. Fresh wood blewits are great with eggs in breakfast tacos. They prefer growing in composted leaves, manure and straw.


Many times mushroom farms have used sawdust blocks that have grown mushrooms once, and then end up getting tossed in the waste stream. Check with your local mushroom farm to see if you can help them reduce waste and use the spawn in your organic garden. If you are in Austin, we are collaborating with a new local mushroom farm Small Hold to help keep used mushroom blocks out of the waste and help get them into gardens around Austin and building more soil! Small Hold farms delicious, specialty mushrooms that are available for purchase at Central Market.

The mushroom blocks are for free but you can also support our mission of helping the crew that is making sure they stay out of the waste by making a donation or becoming a member.


STEP 1: Choose an Area

Find a shady area and keep in mind that one 5 lb bag of spawn can inoculate a 16 square foot area. If you are making a new bed, you can add a hardwood log frame around the bed. You can even use inoculated logs, which we will show you how to do as well in a later video. You can also use the footpaths in your garden to create more organic matter and suppress weed growth. Or you can use an existing garden bed that is already mulched or one that needs fertilization and more organic material. Also choose an area close to water either from irrigation or natural water flow. An area where water flows slightly downhill, pools up, or where you might have nitrogen-rich run-off from livestock is also a good area.

STEP 2: Cover Area with Cardboard

If there is a lot of vegetation growing in the area, cover the entire ground with cardboard from flattened boxes that have tape removed. Water the cardboard until it is saturated.

STEP 3: Add Mushroom Spawn

Next you will need to sprinkle the mushroom spawn lightly onto the cardboard.

STEP 4: Add 3” of Substrate

Now add 3” of substrate and mix in a generous amount of spawn. Remember wine caps like wood chips and oysters like straw. While wood chips work well in paths and around perennials, we recommend using straw mulch in vegetable beds. As it decomposes, straw uses up fewer nutrients in the soil than wood chips.

STEP 5: Compact the surface

Pack the surface to get rid of any air pockets. Avoid branches or other very large pieces of wood as these take longer to colonize and can create too much air space.

STEP 6: Water the Area

Next you will sprinkle lightly with water.

STEP 7: Add Layer of Torn up Cardboard

Add another layer of torn up cardboard, so that the moisture can make it to the bottom layer.

STEP 8: Add More Spawn and Wood chips

Repeat steps 3 and 4, until you have reached a height of a little less than 6”.

STEP 9: Cover with straw or leaves

Cover with straw or leaves to a depth of 1-2” to help preserve moisture and to shade the substrate.


Water every day for the first week, every other day for the 2nd – and then the same amount you water your vegetable garden. Don’t let your mushroom bed dry out! The first few weeks are critical, while the mycelium spreads. You don’t want soaking wet, because it creates an anaerobic environment where bacteria flourish. You can also cover your wood chips with straw to act as a mulch layer for moisture retention. Or, a tarp or other plastic sheeting can be used to prevent the bed from drying out. This is useful for straw beds or in especially hot or dry climates.


Once established, mushroom beds require little maintenance outside of occasional watering during droughts. You can check on your bed every week or so to monitor moisture levels and how well the mycelium is growing. Once the mycelium has completely grown through the chips, you may notice tiny mushrooms, or pins, forming. If you’ve covered your bed with a tarp or plastic, that’s a cue to remove it so mushrooms can form.

The growing process can take anywhere between 4 weeks to a few months after inoculation, depending on your climate, substrate, and how heavily you spawned. After mushrooms fruit they will spread their spores and the cycle starts over again. Fresh woody material can be added each year to maintain the health of the bed, and give it some extra food to eat. ALWAYS properly identify the mushroom before you eat it.

You can also take some of the inoculated material from one bed and use it as spawn to inoculate new beds, or you can pass it along to a friend like a sourdough starter. Keep spreading the spores!

RELATED videos in the series:

Part 1: How Fungi Benefits the Soil

Part 2: Grow Mushrooms on Wood Chips in The Garden

Part 3: Grow Mushrooms in a Straw Bale

Part 4: Grow Mushrooms in Containers

Part 5: Grow Mushrooms on Logs

Part 6: Grow Mushrooms using Trench Composting Method

Part 7: Composting with Mushroom Blocks

Part 8: Sheet Mulching with Mushroom Mycelium Blocks

Part 2:  How to Grow Mushrooms in Your Garden — Central Texas Mycological Society (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Margart Wisoky

Last Updated:

Views: 5880

Rating: 4.8 / 5 (78 voted)

Reviews: 93% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Margart Wisoky

Birthday: 1993-05-13

Address: 2113 Abernathy Knoll, New Tamerafurt, CT 66893-2169

Phone: +25815234346805

Job: Central Developer

Hobby: Machining, Pottery, Rafting, Cosplaying, Jogging, Taekwondo, Scouting

Introduction: My name is Margart Wisoky, I am a gorgeous, shiny, successful, beautiful, adventurous, excited, pleasant person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.