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Best Beginner Mushroom Varieties

 
garden master
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If you were recommending a mushroom variety or varieties for a beginner, what would it be and why?
 
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I might have success with wine caps grown in spent coffee grounds. I would recommend that for a first timer. Sterilization is a byproduct of making coffee. It can be done indoors in a bucket. The timeframe is quick and you can easily see the progress.

I say " might" cause they haven't fruited but it looks like it is getting close. I have failed with morels in the ground and shitakes in oak logs. That's the limit of my attempts. I have tried for years.....
 
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I'm trying wine caps in my garden right now and I want to try growing oyster mushrooms in fall leaves but I still need to get the area setup. Both are supposed to be easy to grow--I did grow oyster mushrooms from a kit that I got for my birthday and that worked well but it was just a basic indoor kit.
 
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Steve,

I have to agree with Daron and go with Wine Caps.  My reasons are as follows:

1). They are easy to grow.  They grow on just about any non-pine wood.  They are not especially picky about growing conditions.  They actually prefer to have some moderate sunlight so they don’t have to be kept in total darkness.  They thrive on neglect.

2). They grow aggressively.  It might well take a full year to get actual mushrooms, but when they decide to pop up the actual mushrooms, they do so with abundance.  

3). They are incredibly easy to identify.  For those worried about picking a poisonous mushroom, relax.  Wine Caps are absolutely huge!  They easily get to the size of a hand with fingers outstretched.  They might get to the size of a dinner plate.  Granted, they don’t taste great when they are huge, but for the sake of identification, these are a piece of cake.

4).  They are tasty, but pick them before they get huge.

5). They leave behind an amazing compost.  Wine caps leave behind an amazingly fertile, bountiful bedding material.  This in fact is the main reason I started with wine caps in the first place.  All of my garden beds are raised beds and at present either filled with wine cap compost or are in the process of converting to wine cap compost.  Two years ago I had a huge abundance of wood chips left over from a major brush clearing project.  I quite seriously did not know where I was going to put these chips nor how I was going to get them to break down.  Initially I was going to use some left over 10-10-10 fertilizer to encourage rapid bacterial decomposition.  The reaction I got from Permies was to go the fungal route and I never looked back!  Not only did those wine caps aggressively break down the chips, but I am wondering how I can get more chips.

In case you can’t tell, I overwhelmingly support wine caps!

Eric
 
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It depends. (LOL) I did oysters, worked well in straw. Indoors... Might be easier in winter. But... What Eric says sounds better than just easy.
Why i would vouch for Wine caps in general is because i've seen a you tube of the edible acres, and that man managed to keep them going all through his garden over a year if i remember well. He said that he just buries mycelium everytime he dumps a load of woodchips on a path or as a mulch. It stays alive, agressive and productive. And that is a cheap option. Something to consider Steve, keeping costs down to buy more plants, what's not to like.
 
pollinator
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I grew oysters in bags, and also inoculated garden beds made of used coffee grounds and straw. The beds produced that year, but the next year they didn't produce anything even though there was plenty of un-colonized material in the beds still.

Over that summer, the birds and other critters took to turning the beds over, maybe eating the mycelium, or worms I'm not sure. But by fall there was very little mycelium to be found in those beds.

So although I was successful growing oysters, they didn't turn out to be viable long term. Log inoculation is probably much better suited for them, however it's a lot of work.
 
Eric Hanson
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Nick, that is curious!

I don’t have any personal experience growing oysters, but I am thinking about trying some oysters next year or the following.  The would be applied to the wine cap leftovers.

My wine cap compost was amazingly fertile last summer.  I am in the process of converting all of my garden beds into mushroom compost beds.  In practice, the plan is to top off each bed every year with fresh layer of chips that will serve as food for new wine cap spawn and replace the bedding losses from the previous summer.

I was really considering the use of oysters to follow the wine caps as I hear they like to play nice together.

At any rate, I think that wine caps are a pretty bulletproof starter mushroom.

Eric
 
Steve Thorn
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Thank you all for all of the great recommendations so far! Excited to try some of these soon hopefully!
 
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I would say wine caps are easiest. Very simple to just mix spawn and chips and create a few colonies. I would put them as a 3/10 on the flavor scale, though, and they are hard to clean. I always have a bunch of grass pieces in them.

If you have open cell wood like poplar oysters are almost as easy and incredibly productive. I had a bad summer for most species but the oysters went fine and we are eating a whole bunch.
 
Eric Hanson
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Hugo,

At present I have active growing colonies of wine caps growing in all three of my beds.  I plan to introduce blue oyster mushrooms to the composted remnants of the wine cap compost in the near future.  I have been told that this is one of the rare instances where the two mushroom species actually play nice together.  Further, I have been told that they make the resulting compost even better.  This is almost hard to believe as the present compost is pretty amazing, but I am certainly game for it.  Finally, I want to see what the blue oyster mushrooms taste like!  I have never had one before but I have been told that they are great for eating, and that from an actual mushroom standpoint (as opposed to the underlying spawn/mycelium) they are extremely productive, better than even my current favorite the wine cap!

From the time standpoint, I am probably looking at sowing with blue oyster mushrooms the summer after next (2021).  In my bed #3 (third bed to get inoculated), I half-heartedly sowed some wine caps in last summer.  I had about one left-over pack of wine cap spawn so I decided to use it.  I know it needs a lot more chips, but it will be very interesting to see if I get any mushrooms at all.  If I don’t, I am not especially worried.  I will just dump a bunch more woodchips and add in more spawn.

My bed #3 had hosted a chip pile for several months.  I did this for a couple of reasons.  First, it was a convenient place to store the chips.  Secondly, the chips and underlying soil benefit one another.  The chips get inoculated with a bunch of soil biota while the soil benefits from having a bunch of woodchips decay on top of it.  After a few months of nothing more than sitting, it became difficult to discern where the chips ended and the soil began.

Bed #3 will be my final bed to completely inoculate.  Assuming that I don’t get an early flush of mushrooms then I will go ahead and add more wine caps after I make the bed edges and fill with more chips.

Assuming that Bed#3 goes according to plan I will start over in bed#1 the following spring/summer and grow blue oyster mushrooms as I add on the woodchip top off.  It will be interesting to see how the blue oyster mushrooms work!

Eric
 
Steve Thorn
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It seems like two varieties mentioned a lot so far are wine caps (Stropharia rugosoannulata) and oyster mushrooms (
Pleurotus ostreatus).

Here's a few pictures from Wikipedia of these two varieties.

Wine Cap Mushrooms



Source Wikipedia article on wine caps mushrooms


Oyster Mushrooms



Source Wikipedia article on oyster mushrooms
 
Tj Jefferson
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Steve I have four species of Pleurotus, and they are different fruiting times. There are additionally many strains of P. ostreatus and they also have differentfruiting times. Phoenix oyster (https://mushroommountain.com/products/oyster-mushroom-plug-spawn-pleurotus-spp/) P. pulmonarius will fruit on pine which is a big deal since not much will.

Yet another reason why the various oysters are my current favorite.

None of these we have discussed store very well. The easiest mushroom to dry has been shiitake, and reasonable easy to cultivate on logs. I'm trying a bunch of other species this year (enoki, nameko, piopinni) all with my fairly neglectful method and will report back.
 
Eric Hanson
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TJ,

You have a good point about storage, none of my wine caps got stored for any meaningful length of time.  To be fair, I hardly even picked any wine caps as most of them fell victim to something that ate them right out of the garden.  I did have a bunch of mostly eaten mushrooms in the bed.  I wonder how many mushrooms grew but I never saw because something ate them completely before I ever got a glance at them.

Also, I am going to have to be more vigilant about picking early and often.  I often found mushrooms that grew HUGE before I ever got to them.  And when huge they taste like leather.  Pick them smaller and they taste much better, something like a portobello but a bit woodier.

I wish I could grow shiitake mushrooms, but I am one of those people who can’t tolerate the taste of Shiite.  I have tried them only a couple of times.  Most recently it was at home.  We occasionally make our own mini personal pizzas.  I like to put mini portobellos on mine.  One day the store was out, but my wife picked up some shiitake mushrooms to see if I liked them.  I tried a couple and sure enough, they tasted pretty good so I loaded up my pizza with them.  In the middle of eating the pizza, I started to burp a little bit (TMI?  Sorry) and the aftertaste was utterly repulsive—for the next 3 days!  Yuck!  I hope to never eat another shiitake so long as I live.  Not everyone has this issue and as I understand, some people have the genetics to taste this whatever compound in mushroom.  I am certainly not an expert and if I have something off here, feel free to correct me, but for my purposes, I don’t eat shiitake mushrooms.

Too bad though as I sort of want to try it out.

Eric
 
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I wondered the same thing, I know I like the taste of Oyster mushrooms, so I went to the supermarket and found some wine caps to try. Blergh not nice at all. I did oysters on straw/rye grain in plastic bags inside the house seemed to work very nicely and was easy. Since I can't get hold of woodchips easily It's oysters all the way here.
 
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i started a seeder bed of wine caps in spring about 5 yrs. ago now. i filled a low lying shady spot with 6in. of wood chips from a firewood business. the bed was 4'x6'. i took 2   5 lb. spawn blocks. broke them up into 1in. pieces in a wheelbarrow the thoroughly mixed them into the chips . even digging up a little soil. i then mulched the beds with 6in. of straw and soaked thoroughly. i only watered when the garden needed it. the following spring the whole bed was white with mycelium. i dug it up and placed it like a much around all my trees and bushes. then covered that with 6in. of fresh wood chips. by late summer i had shrooms popping up everywhere! every spring i remulch which keeps feeding them and they give me shrooms all summer. over 5 yrs. now and they still haven't slowed down. i put some blewit spawn into my on ground compost heap. one spring. next spring i spread the compost and mulched on top the same way. now i get a mix of the 2 mushrooms! wine caps in summer,  blewits in fall. i also have summer and fall oysters from logs i inoculated then used the following spring as borders for my raised beds. flavor wise i love oysters the most. so cool to look across the yards and see flushes of shrooms after a good rain!i trade what i don't eat. i dehydrate some in the dehydrator for winter use.
 
Eric Hanson
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Steve, I owe you a special thanks as you guided through the basic steps to get both the mushrooms and compost.  Thanks mightily.  At the time I was still thinking in a bacteria mode, just substituting mushrooms for bacteria.

In thinking bacteria, I was planning on Inoculating a huge, heaping mound, just like you would make a compost heap,  Steve, you talked me into making a layer and it worked wonders!  Thanks for talking me out of my mound idea.  Mushrooms need layers.

I too am thinking about adding oysters to the mix, both for taste and for the resulting compost.  The mushrooms are nice, but I do this mostly for the compost.

Thanks again Steve!

Eric
 
steve bossie
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you're welcome Eric. good luck! post your results for others.
 
Eric Hanson
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Steve,

I have been documenting my progress here:

https://permies.com/t/40/82798/composting-wood-chips-chicken-litter#1016719

Its been a great journey thus far.

Eric
 
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