Tony O’Neill, gardener and author of the popular “Composting Masterclass” and “Your First Vegetable Garden,” combines lifelong passion and expert knowledge to simplify the art of gardening. His mission? Helping you cultivate a thriving garden. More on Tony O’Neill
A straw bag is like a mushroom log. Growing mushroom on straw means you will have the mushroom crop ready within 2-3 weeks; it’s the fastest method to grow mushrooms. Straw can be used as a stand-alone substrate for mushrooms, or you can introduce supplement ingredients to increase the nutrient content of the growing medium.
Oyster mushrooms are by far the easiest to grow on straw. Also, mushrooms like enoki, shiitake, pioppino, wine cap, morel, and lion’s mane can be cultivated on straw if the right growing conditions are maintained.
Mushrooms are a high-yield crop for home growers, and there are several methods to grow them at home. This article shares information about different mushroom varieties that grow successfully on straw.
Different Types of Mushrooms to Grow on Straw
Oyster Mushrooms or Pleurotus Ostreatus top this list because they are the most rewarding variety to grow on straw. They are the easiest to grow for new mushroom growers. They are not just versatile in terms of taste and looks, but they are also rich in nutrients. These mushrooms grow fast in a short time of two weeks.
These should be planted outdoors where they receive plenty of fresh air to grow the large caps. Remembering Oyster Mushrooms that are delicate with a short shelf life would be best.
Grow oyster mushrooms in an airy location because a lack of sufficient air will result in tiny mushroom caps and weak stems.
Growing Conditions for Oyster Mushrooms on Straw
- Light – low levels of indirect sunlight
- Temperature – 60 to 86 oF (10 to 30 oC)
- Humidity – 80 to 95 %
- Growing Season – indoors, they thrive year-round
There are many varieties to try with striking colors and tastes, but some of my favorite Oyster Mushroom varieties are listed below.
Yellow Oysters or Pleurotus Citrinopileatus – Yellow Oysters need less fresh air than Blue Oysters, great for indoor planting. They have a high tolerance for CO2.
Blue Oyster or Pleurotus Ostreatus var Columbinus – Blue Oysters give a large harvest and colonize quickly. These are recommended for cooler temperatures.
Pink Oyster or Pleurotus Djamor – These pink beauties are easy to cultivate on the straw with high heat tolerance. They do not perform well in cold temperatures, which makes them difficult to store in the fridge.
King Oyster or Pleurotus Eryngii – Its meaty texture has the best shelf life compared to other Oyster mushrooms. This one does not grow in clusters. They can adapt to a variety of growing conditions. Therefore, you can grow them under low light levels with high CO2 or high light levels with low CO2.
Pearl Oyster– This pearl-colored variety resembles the Blue Oyster but with a central stem. These have a woody but sweet taste.
The Enoki Mushrooms are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They look like noodles and grow in small clusters. The thin strands add crunch to your food, whereas the mushroom has a delicate and savory taste.
These mushrooms are also known as Golden Needles Mushrooms or Enokitake. They need high CO2 to grow the thin stems, and the mycelium growth will occur within 2-4 weeks.
Growing Conditions for Enoki Mushrooms on Straw
- Light – Prefer shaded spots or dim light
- Temperature – 72 to 77 oF (22 to 25 oC)
- Humidity – 90 to 100 %
- Growing Season – indoors all year long
Shiitake Mushrooms are slightly challenging to grow compared to Oyster Mushrooms, but they are worth all the effort. Straw is the popular medium to produce some of the Shiitake Mushroom varieties.
Growing this variety demands lots of patience, but it has both edible and medicinal uses as these mushrooms are high in Vitamin D and antioxidants. The best part is these mushrooms have a long shelf life and can be grown indoors or outdoors.
Growing Conditions for Shiitake Mushrooms on Straw
- Light – Indirect light or shade outdoors
- Temperature – 45 to 75 o F (7 to 21 o C)
- Humidity – 80 to 90 %
- Growing Season – Outdoors, they produce the best crop during the summer season, but indoors they can be cultivated throughout the year.
Pioppino Mushrooms are also known as Agrocybe aegerita, Shimeji, Beech, or Black Poplar Mushrooms. This wild mushroom grows in forests across Asia, specifically in Japan.
This exotic mushroom variety has long stems, small dark-colored caps, and an earthy or nut-like flavor. These uniquely shaped mushrooms add texture, nutrients, and antioxidants to recipes.
This variety needs a controlled growing environment to maintain high humidity and temperatures below 60°F or 15°C. Outdoor cultivation is carried out on the mushroom bed. Please make sure you spray it every day to keep the humidity at the high end.
Growing Conditions for Pioppino Mushrooms on Straw
- Light – low light or indirect sunlight
- Temperature – 60 to 65oF (15 to 18oC)
- Humidity – 90 % or higher
- Growing Season – 100-day growing season with outdoor fruiting in the fall
Wine Cap Mushrooms
These ground mushrooms are an ideal choice for outdoor mushroom beds. Wine Cap mushrooms have other names like the Garden Giant or King Stropharia. These hardy mushrooms will spread fast outdoors because they can grow with almost any substrate, including straw.
These mushrooms grow in soil instead of trees, so they can make your garden soil rich. They have a mild but flavorful taste and, when added to recipes, will increase fiber content. The outdoor growing habits make it rich in Vitamin D as well.
Wine Cap mushrooms can grow in sunny or shaded locations, but the moisture requirements will increase when grown under the sun.
Growing Conditions for Wine Cap Mushrooms on Straw
- Light – Partially shade
- Temperature – higher than 50oF or 10oC
- Humidity – 70 to 75%
- Growing Season – Spring and Autumn
Morel or Morchella Mushrooms have a honeycomb pattern, making them weirdly different from ordinary mushrooms. These mushrooms do not have any seeds or roots. There are around 70 species available, but only a few are recommended for growing at home.
Most growers consider Morel Mushrooms challenging to grow because of their unpredictable growing habits. They need a replica of their natural growing conditions to grow successfully. This mushroom variety will compromise sunlight because the sun only helps heat the growing medium; however, it needs regular moisture through misting.
If you want a quick crop, this variety is not for you because it takes a long to grow the mushrooms.
Growing Conditions for Morel Mushrooms on Straw
- Light – Indirect light
- Temperature – 60 to 70 oF (15.5 to 21oC)
- Humidity – 85 to 95%
- Growing Season – Spring and Summer
Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
The large fruiting body and easy growth method make the Lion’s Mane Mushroom a must-try variety. The scientific name for this variety is Hericium Erinaceus. The fruit looks like white snowballs. A young mushroom might look small, but as it grows, it elongates.
It is perfect for growing at home because it can begin fruiting even before complete colonization. It will also last longer in storage. This unusual-looking mushroom should be grown in a fruiting chamber for excellent results.
Growing Conditions for Lion’s Mane Mushrooms on Straw
- Light – Shaded areas
- Temperature – 60 to 68 oF (15 to 20oC)
- Humidity – 90%
- Growing Season – indoors year round
Step-by-Step Guide to Growing Mushrooms on Straw
You can grow the mushrooms with a mushroom kit or DIY mushroom log. You will need straw (wheat or oat straw), mushroom grain spawn, container or fruiting chamber, ties, and a pasteurization method. Follow the steps below to grow mushrooms on straw to explore the true art of growing mushrooms. You will need straw (wheat or oat straw), mushroom grain spawn, container or fruiting chamber, ties, and a pasteurization method.
- Make sure you cut it down to about 3 inches in length. This will help the mycelium colonize the straw faster and more easily. Chopping of the straw can be done in a bucket or barrel, depending on the quantity, using a weed cutter.
- Wash and soak the straw in dish soap to minimize the risk of contamination and bacteria growth.
- Pasteurize the straw, exposed it to a high temperature ranging from 150 to 180oF (65 to 82 oF). You can create a hot water bath and let the straw heat in a wire mesh basket for an hour or two. Straw can also be pasteurized using hydrated lime.
- Dry and cool down the straw without contaminating it. Now inoculate the straw by mixing the dried straw with mushroom grain spawn; the ratio is variable but uses at least a 10% spawn ratio.
- After mixing your selected mushroom spawn, you have to select a container for the mixture. Plastic bags or buckets work best for straw-based mixtures.
- Punch a few holes in the container for air circulation and fruiting because lack of air circulation increases the risk of contamination.
- Incubate the straw bags under the growing conditions recommended for your planted variety. This includes providing the right temperature and humidity. Do not let the internal temperature get higher than 90 oF
- If the plastic bag is hung, you can punch holes at the bottom to help the excess water escape from the bag.
- Depending on the variety, the mushrooms will colonize in about one or two weeks, but you have to check every few days to ensure no contamination occurs.
- Before the mushrooms start fruiting, you will see white mycelium in the holes. Soon pin-like fruit bodies will start appearing. These fruiting bodies grow fast; therefore, do not let the mushrooms dry out during this stage.
- Mushrooms can be grown on straw both outdoors and indoors. For indoors, you must create ideal conditions for fruiting by increasing humidity, decreasing temperature, and introducing light.
- The mushrooms are ready to be harvested once they have dropped the spores. This happens when the mushroom caps start curling upwards.
- The same straw log will yield more harvests if the right moisture level is maintained. The bag can last for several weeks or months, so do not just throw away the bag after the first harvest.
Mushrooms are an excellent choice for a balcony garden, and you can read my article about other vegetables you can grow on a balcony to add diversity to your indoor vegetable garden.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is it essential to pasteurize straw?
Pasteurization is essential as it reduces the number of microscopic competitors in your mushroom substrate. Pasteurizing the straw will also increase the growth rate of the white mycelium. In other words, it increases the mushroom fruit.
What happens if the moisture level in your straw bag is too high or low?
High moisture levels will encourage mold growth. Whereas low moisture means the mycelium will not fruit and die. If you feel the straw is dry, mist it a few times throughout the day to keep the moisture and humidity high.
What is mycelium?
Mycelium extends the area in which fungi can find nutrients. Think of mycelium as extra-long fingers. Mycelium can sometimes grow into a plant root cell to tap into other plant nutrient pools and exchange nutrients with the fungi and plants as needed.
What is the quickest mushroom to grow?
Oyster mushrooms are by far the easiest to grow. They will yield within 3 to 5 weeks and can be harvested for months as long as nutrients, temperature, and humidity are maintained perfectly.
How long does a mushroom grow kit last?
Most kits will have multiple flushes. Some will grow mushrooms every few weeks for two months up to a year. You may still get some use out of your kit after it stops producing. Just because the nutrients in the substrate have been used up does not mean that the mycelium is not still alive.
The best approach to growing mushrooms on straw is by researching the variety before starting, which gives you a better understanding of what your mushrooms need for healthy growth, and you have a high chance of success.
We hope that the information in this article encourages you to start your first mushroom crop on straw. You can also check out my guide about growing mushrooms in logs.
Straw is an essential ingredient for Lasagna Gardening as well, and you can read the benefits of Lasagna Gardening by clicking here.