Advanced gardening is all about maximizing your time and resources, and this includes growing plants in the winter, not just the summer. If you are interested in growing mushrooms in the winter, keep reading to find out how.
Will mushrooms grow in winter: Most wild mushrooms will enter a dormant state in the winter to conserve their energy. However, there are some varieties, such as shiitake and winter oyster mushrooms that are available. You can grow mushrooms during the winter if you start with a substrate or a growing kit. These should be placed in a cool but not cold area with adequate light levels.
Types of mushrooms That Grow in Winter
Some wild mushrooms will grow in the winter but the majority need warmer conditions to grow. Still, if you are out in the forest, you may be able to forage for some mushrooms.
Even cold-hardy mushrooms will prefer to find the warmest areas to grow in the winter. This includes near tree trunks where they have the warmth of the wood and the bark and have more protection against ice and snow.
Being so close to tree trunks also means mushrooms will have access to more nutrients. The soil in the ground will freeze, which means mushrooms won’t have access to the depth of nutrients stored in the soil.
Here are a few common types of mushrooms that you can find growing in winter.
Native to Europe and North America, these mushrooms are found in more northern areas and primarily live on the floors of forests. They also like mulch piles where they can gain extra heat.
Blewit mushrooms are distinguished by their light blue coloring that can look like a pale purple. However, as the mushrooms age, their color will take on a light brown color.
These mushrooms will have a smooth stripe and cap and no veil or ring around their base. They have a high moisture content so if you are cooking, sauté them first to release the moisture.
Winter Oyster Mushrooms
There are other types of oyster mushrooms that grow in the spring and summer and, unfortunately, winter oyster mushrooms are not as tasty. Still, if you need a mushroom fix, these can be enjoyed.
Winter oyster mushrooms have a rubbery texture and can taste a little bitter. They have yellow gills with a grey-green cap that can be a bit slimy.
Winter Chanterelle Mushrooms
Located in damp logs, shady areas, and the base of trees, winter chanterelle mushrooms can be found in abundance if you look in the right places. These small, golden-colored mushrooms can be confused for other, less edible varieties, so collect them with caution.
Look for thin stems that are hollow on the inside and umbrella caps. You can harvest them with clean scissors.
A favorite among mushroom connoisseurs, shiitake mushrooms can adapt to colder climates. They have caps in the shape of umbrellas and thicker stems that are light brown in color.
Shiitake mushrooms have a rich, buttery flavor to them and their texture is rather meaty. They are very versatile and can be used in many different recipes.
Orange Jelly Fungus
This variety of mushrooms seldom tops the list of mushroom favorites. However, it does grow in the winter and is edible, although you may want to take extra care when cooking them.
Orange jelly fungi look just like their namesake as they have a bright orange color and look gelatinous. They grow in damp areas and have a texture that is rather slimy.
While you can eat them raw, it’s best to cook them up with plenty of seasoning. These aren’t the most appealing mushrooms but because of their bright color, finding them in the winter is fairly easy.
Ways to grow mushrooms in winter
A mushroom kit is a great starting point, whether you want to grow mushrooms in the summer or winter. These kits are easy to use as they come with all the necessary tools.
One of the benefits of a mushroom kit is that they don’t take up very much space. So, even if you have a small space, you can still find success.
If your winters are incredibly cold and you don’t want to spend more time outside than necessary, you can use an indoor mushroom kit. You will want to place it somewhere that gets enough light, however. This can either be near a window for natural light or you can purchase an artificial light if you want to keep your kit somewhere dim like a closet or basement.
Following the instructions for a mushroom kit should be simple. You will first need to decide if you want to grow the mushrooms in a container or hang them.
Most mushroom kits will have bags full of the substrate, which is how the mushrooms begin. You can lay these bags horizontally in a container or on the ground. You can also hang them from the ceiling if you are short on ground space.
How many kits you use is completely up to your discretion. If you love mushrooms, consider using as many as you can in space.
A mushroom kit will include various resources for growing mushrooms but if you have experience and want to put your own spin on growing mushrooms, you can instead purchase substrate. Also known as mushroom spawn, this is the substance that is needed to grow mushrooms.
After purchasing your substrate, either from a local gardening center or online, keep it refrigerated until you are ready to use it. It only has a shelf life of one month, however, so you don’t want to wait too long.
In addition to the substrate, you will need a natural material to house the spawn and allow the mushrooms to grow. There are many options but popular choices include straw, coco coir, manure, and hardwood dust.
Spread the substrate over the natural material. You may need to add water, depending on where you are keeping your mushrooms, so the process can get a bit messy.
If you can, set the whole system outside or at the very least, in a shed or garage. You can use your basement for the process but you want to set up a tarp and ensure the process doesn’t leave you with a gigantic mess afterward.
Inoculated mushroom logs
Finally, if you have patience and want a neat DIY project, you can try using inoculated mushroom logs. You will have to start with a freshly chopped log and then drill holes throughout.
Similar to a substrate, you will need to use dowels that have mushroom mycelium in them. Over time, the mycelium invades the log and the result is a new habitat for mushrooms.
Again, this process is best done outside but can be done in the basement if you need to. The mycelium will gradually take over the log but you might not have enough mushroom growth for harvest for a few years.
Do mushrooms die in the winter?
Like many other plants and animals, mushrooms don’t die in the winter but do become dormant. The growing season stops in order for the plants to retain as much energy as possible and not waste precious nutrients.
There is simply not enough sun, water, or nutrients in the soil to sustain mushrooms in the winter. While most mushrooms will continue to grow in the spring, if you have a very cold winter, it may be too shocking for the mushrooms, so there is always a chance they can die off during this time.
Can you grow mushrooms outside in the winter?
Where you place your mushroom growing apparatus will be entirely dependent on what kind of climate you live in. It’s important to know not only what sort of winter you are forecasted to have but also winter conditions from previous years.
Generally, mushrooms will become dormant as soon as the temperature falls below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that most people won’t be able to grow their mushrooms outside in the winter.
Placing them in a sheltered area, such as a greenhouse, shed, or garage is a good alternative if you don’t like the idea of growing mushrooms inside your house. Just monitor the ambient temperature of these areas to ensure it doesn’t get too cold.
Light is another factor to consider when growing mushrooms outside. Even though we can think of the fungus as growing in dark conditions, it still needs some source of light.
Natural light can be unreliable in the winter thanks to dense cloud cover. It may be best to use artificial light, especially if you are growing your mushrooms in an area like a garage or storage room.
With a bit of planning, there’s no reason not to enjoy mushrooms during the winter. While many varieties of mushrooms become dormant in the cool season, there are still some that are fine with cold temperatures. You can grow mushrooms via a kit or with a substrate and can do so in a greenhouse, shed, or garage.