Ready to learn the way of the mushroom? Here’s a How-To for growing mushrooms in buckets at your place! Plus a beginner’s guide to fungi ID.
Fungi are an entirely separate kingdom of life – they’re not a plant, nor an animal. They’re a little bit weird and also deeply amazing. And without them, life on earth might not exist.
Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of some types of fungi. A mushroom- producing fungi spends the majority of its life cycle hidden under, or inside, other substances – substances like wood, soil or straw – in the form of mycelium, which slowly colonises and eats that substance, before fruiting into mushrooms.
It’s thought that there are about 10,000 species of mushroom-producing fungi worldwide. Of these, about 30 species are commonly cultivated – you know, portobellos, oysters, reishi and all the rest.
This video is one of 40+ lessons taken from our Permaculture Living online course – a 12 week program of new skills, habits and ongoing support – to enable you to kickstart your household + community resilience, and start living like it matters! You can join the waitlist for the next class here.
Making friends with Fungi
First off, before you start learning to forage or to cultivate mushrooms, get to know them!
It’s not necessary to forage mushrooms to begin to understand them. In fact, tuning up your powers of observation and getting your fungi ID on, is the first step to making friends with fungi, so we recommend that you start there (lots of book recommendations below), before learning which ones are good to eat, where you live.
As with any wild food, ID is crucial. Learn, read, ask, learn. Don’t ever eat a mushroom that you are not absolutely sure is an edible species.
Here’s a video lesson from our Permaculture Living course on all things mushroom, to lead you through the basics… plus a How-To on bucket cultivation.
Mushroom Growing & Gathering – a How-To…
Ok then… does this sound like something you’d like to do? Great! We’ve created a foraging guide and a DIY bucket cultivation guide for you, to get you started…
Cultivating mushrooms at home
Learning how to grow mushrooms from scratch is a little bit like learning a magic trick. And yet, once you have the basic skills and principles sorted out, it’s really very doable.
Fungi are both complex and simple. They need certain things to grow well, and if you don’t provide these they will sulk and produce no mushrooms. But the kingdom of fungi is also hugely generous and capable of producing incredible amounts of nutrient-rich mushrooms from simple waste substances – again, and again, and again. You just need to get to know them.
The guide above will get you started with no-waste bucket cultivation, so go read that first! After that, there’s a whole chapter on this type of mushroom cultivation in our Milkwood Book, and lots more resources below.
All the best with your adventures, and may the mycelium be with you!
A note that our No Waste Mushroom Cultivation online course will be coming up later this year! You can join our mushroom growing course waitlist here, and we’ll let you know when it’s ready for you.
Here’s our live Q&A…
This Q&A was held live on our Facebook page, on Friday June 12. And be sure to check out the resources down below to help you along the way to fungi happiness.
Firstly, if you have any questions on the above, please comment below, and we will help you puzzle out an answer! Any cultivation or foraging questions you have are welcome.
- All our articles and How-Tos on Mushrooms
- Our Facebook Community Group is here – ask any questions you have, and we will help you out!
- Consuming Shiitake Daily Improves Human Immunity – study showing immune boosting properties of shiitake
- Death Cap Mushrooms: What do they Look Like and Where are they Found?, ABC News – death cap mushroom, Amanita phalloides, a deadly fungus commonly mistaken for edible mushrooms
- Functional Properties of Edible Mushrooms, NCBI, Pubmed – study showing 50% of cultivated edible mushrooms contain functional ‘nutraceutical’ or medicinal properties
- Grow Mushrooms – What Is a Substrate?, Mushroom Appreciation – types of substrates you can grow mushrooms in
- Medicinal Mushrooms – links to many studies showing benefits and conditions they may help
- What is the Nutritional Value of Mushrooms?, Medical News Today – health benefits
- Wild Mushrooms: What to Eat, What to Avoid, Tom Oder, Mother Earth News – read this carefully
- Eating Fly Agaric (the red and white ones) – do your research before attempting this. They are delicious when prepared properly, however
- Mushroom Foraging Tours, Diego Bonetto – NSW AU
- Workshops/Events, Alison Pouliot – VIC AU – Alison also has some rad local fungi ID guides, like this one.
- Australian Wild Mushroom Hunters – excellent FB group for Australian foragers
- FungiMap – map of fungi (Australia), articles, stories etc
- The Mushroom Identification Group – US based
- Milkwood: Real Skills for Down-to-Earth Living, Kirsten Bradley and Nick Ritar – Chapter 2: Mushrooms
- All That The Rain Promises And More, David Arora – this is a great pocket guide to fungi. Although specific to the pacific northwest of the USA it will help you identify mushrooms wherever you are – Booktopia / Amazon
- Mushrooms Demystified, David Arora – a companion to the above book with much more detail – Booktopia / Amazon
- A Field Guide to the Fungi of Australia, Tony Young, Kay Smith – a great book to use in conjunction with the two guides above if you are in Australia – Booktopia / Amazon
- Edible Mushrooms: A Forager’s Guide to the Wild Fungi of Britain and Europe, Geoff Dann – similar great book to use with the books by Arora above – Booktopia / Amazon
Thank you to Dylan, our videographer. Thanks to Charlie Mgee of Formidiable Vegetable, for the music used throughout. Thanks to Brenna Quinlan for beautiful illustrations, diagrams and titles. And thanks to all the rest of our team who helped make this Permaculture Living course and all its resources possible. You are awesome.