If you’ve been shopping lately, you already know that gourmet mushrooms are one of the most expensive types of produce out there! This is part of the reason that so many people are choosing to learn to forage for their own wild mushrooms or to cultivate them at home. While finding mushrooms in the wild requires a good deal of expertise in identification and types, growing them at home is a much easier option.
Growing mushrooms in Florida is even simpler, as the moist climate is conducive to their growth, allowing gardeners to cultivate both indoors and outdoors. Read on for our complete guide to growing your own mushrooms in the Sunshine State!
Growing Mushrooms in Florida: Types of mushroom
The edible mushrooms that grow wild in Florida are also the ones that will be the easiest for home gardeners to cultivate on their own. Mushrooms thrive in humid and cool environments. While Florida has more than enough humidity – and rain – to go around, the warm temperatures can prove a challenge for growers. Thus, most of the wild mushrooms in Florida are found on the forest floor in the coolest, shadiest areas at the base of trees.
Several types of Belete, or porcini mushrooms, are native to Florida, so these are a great choice for Floridians to cultivate on their own. Famed for their large size and full flavor, they are a favorite of chefs. Other types of mushrooms that grow naturally in Florida include chanterelles and “chicken of the woods.”
The latter mushroom is much-coveted for its meat-like taste and texture, which is said to resemble chicken. It’s rare to see this mushroom sold in groceries, and when they are available, the price is typically prohibitively high. This would be another great choice for a Floridian looking to cultivate their own crop. Chanterelles are also prized by chefs and food fans of every stripe.
If you do decide to go mushroom hunting for these wild varieties, it is absolutely vital that you have the information to correctly identify these species, as there are lookalike mushrooms which are toxic to humans and should not be eaten. If in doubt, it is possible to consult with a local farm extension office, or find a mushroom-hunting/cultivation group in your area.
How to grow your own mushroom
Mushrooms can be grown in your home, in a spot in your yard, or in a greenhouse. Growing mushrooms in Florida can be challenging, owing to the high temperatures. How long it takes mushrooms to grow is going to depend on the type you are growing and the conditions you are growing them in. You’ll want to research the ideal condition for the particular type you’d like to grow, and then try to find a spot in your yard or home that is conducive to that.
In general, as mentioned above, they grow best in a cool moist area. If you have lots of trees, your yard may be the best option. It’s also possible to grow them in a greenhouse, but it will require care to ensure that they do not get too hot.
Mushrooms are grown from mushroom spawn, which is the mushroom colony base, rather than seeds. For indoor growing, you will need to obtain some of the spawn for your desired species. Spawn can be purchased or even transferred from another existing mushroom colony. You’ll need to put a bag or tray of organic matter, such as a rich soil mixture, or a mix specifically for mushrooms. While it’s gross, mushrooms even grow in poop. You then insert the spawn into the soil/organic matter and allow it to grow. It will spread out of the bag or tray and can typically be harvested at about 3 to 4 weeks.
To grow mushrooms outdoors, you will use the same method, but instead of putting the spawn into a bag or tray of soil, find a shady spot outside to spread the spawn. Many people choose to use an old log or branch, which creates a perfect environment for fungus to grow and spread. You can expect that once you start harvesting, the mushroom colony will continue to reproduce for about seven to eight weeks. If you do not use a log, a shady spot with moist soil may also work.
Growing Mushrooms in Florida: Final thoughts
Growing mushrooms in Florida is easy. You can add additional spawn to your colony to supply yourself with gourmet mushrooms year-round!
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