Everything You Need to Grow Mushrooms Indoors, According to an Expert

Mushroom cultivator Carrington Kernodle Epperson tells us what you'll need to get started.

Design by Chineme Elobuike for Thrillist
Design by Chineme Elobuike for Thrillist
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The plant kingdom is so yesterday. Okay, maybe not quite—but if you’ve mastered houseplants and herbs, why not give edible fungi a try? Cultivating mushrooms indoors is pretty easy, cost-effective, and as labor-intensive as you want. Whether you prefer to buy a simple “spray and grow” kit or invest in an entire tent habitat, mushroom cultivation is a satisfying and rewarding hobby. With just a bit of effort, you can have a multitude of delicious shrooms—from oyster to lion’s mane—right at your fingertips. The only downside? You might have more mushrooms than you know what to do with, so we’d advise doing some recipe research beforehand.

In order to round up the most essential tools for indoor mushroom cultivation, we reached out to Carrington Kernodle Epperson, an entrepreneur and mushroom aficionado based in Charlottesville, Virginia. Seeking an outdoors respite from work during the pandemic, Kernodle Epperson began hiking daily, and spent time learning to forage. Hunting for mushrooms outside eventually led to growing mushrooms inside the apartment she shares with her husband. They started with a simple kit but, after realizing how fun and gratifying mushroom cultivation can be, soon expanded to more innovative and in-depth techniques. Below, Kernodle Epperson offers some tips and recommendations so that no matter how much space, time, or effort you want to give this project, you can get started with confidence.

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Commitment level: You want to dip your toe into mushroom cultivation, but you’re not ready to go all out yet.

When it comes to beginner-level mushroom cultivation, your best bet is a spray and grow kit. All you have to do is remove the front panel of the box and spray the sawdust block (which is already colonized) a few times a day. In two weeks, you’ll have fully grown, ready-to-eat mushrooms. These kits are pretty foolproof, Kernodle Epperson says, as long as you keep the kits moist. “If you let your mushrooms dry out halfway through, they’ll just stop growing,” she says. “That was something I messed up on at the beginning.” She notes that if you’re looking for the easiest variety to cultivate, oyster mushrooms should be your go-to.

If you live in a particularly dry climate, you may want to make a humidity tent around your kit. It’s easy—just cut some holes into a plastic bag and place it around the block. That way, you can ensure a humid environment with adequate airflow.

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Commitment level: You’ve earned your green thumb, and you’re ready to step up your game. You know the basic ins and outs of mushrooms, so a monotub is the logical next step in your mushroom journey.

If you’ve conquered the realm of spray and grow kits, you might want to level up with the monotub method. With a bit more upfront effort and a trip to the home improvement store, you’ll end up with lots more mushrooms. Kernodle Epperson advises buying a plastic tub, drilling holes in it, and filling it with soil, mushroom spawn, and sawdust—and watering frequently. You can make things a bit more intensive if you choose to inoculate the grains yourself, or you can just purchase premade spawn if you prefer. The nice thing about growing mushrooms like this, Kernodle Epperson notes, is that you can make them as large as you want, and you can even keep the tub outside if conditions allow. For helpful tips and a walkthrough of the monotub process, you can refer to Kernodle Epperson’s blog or the Northspore site.

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Commitment level: You’re no stranger to mushroom cultivation, and you’re ready to dedicate ample time and space to this hobby (although, is it really just a hobby anymore?).

If you’re looking to get the most out of mushroom cultivation, it’s worth investing in a grow tent, which essentially works like a greenhouse for mushrooms. You can DIY the tent or buy a complete kit such as North Spore’s BoomRoom. A grow tent can accommodate spray and grow kits, fruiting kits, and a monotub, so it’s a great way to upgrade from your existing setup. “It’s pretty much like a humidity tent,” Kernodle Epperson says. “It’s a whole production. A grow tent guarantees ideal conditions, ensuring the proper temperature, humidity level between 70% to 90%, and lighting conditions to give your mushrooms the best chance possible to thrive.”

You’ll have better luck cultivating finicky varieties like shiitake or wine caps in the controlled environment of a grow tent. A fully outfitted grow tent will include a built-in, adjustable humidifier, a fan to promote air flow, and durable yet flexible construction that allows you to place the tent almost anywhere in your home. If you’re cultivating in a windowless area, you might consider supplementing the environment with an LED strip.

Caroline Curran is a Thrillist contributor.
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