The Guide • 3-25-20
Mushrooms 101: Putting the Fun in Fungus!
Did you know that mushrooms are not technically plants, but are fungi?
Fungi are classified as their own kingdom that are separate from plants or animals. Even though mushrooms
are usually part of the vegetable group when buying them from stores or ordering them from
restaurants, they are not a vegetable based on their cellular organization and composition.
Mushrooms are grown and harvested all year long. The most popular variety grown in the U.S. are white
button. Other widely harvested varieties are crimini (brown or baby bellas), portabellas, enoki, oyster,
maitake and shiitake.
Did you know that number one grower of mushrooms in the U.S. is Pennsylvania?
Even though mushrooms are grown in nearly every state, Pennsylvania accounts for approximately 60
percent of total U.S. mushroom production. That’s a lot of fungi!
Mushrooms are nutritious and healthy to eat! All mushrooms are high in vitamin D. They are also fat-free,
low-calorie, nutrient-dense, low in sodium and contain natural antioxidants. Talk about a yummy treat!
How do mushrooms grow?
The mushrooms we eat grow indoors, they don’t even need light to grow and they double in size every
Growing mushrooms begins with substrate (an underlying substance or layer) that is made up of nutritional
material to serve as a growth base for mushrooms. Next is spawning, mushroom spawn is used
by mushroom growers and is like how seeds are used by farmers and gardeners. Then the mixture is
transferred to several hundred beds or trays in a process called bedding. Next comes casing and pinning;
a casing is spread over the mushroom bed to hold in moisture. It is followed by pinning, where “pins” of
mushrooms push up through the casing. Finally comes the harvesting! Mushrooms are harvested by hand
throughout a 16-35-day cycle.
Mushrooms grow in a small space; 1 acre
can grow and harvest 1 million mushrooms
It’s amazing that mushrooms grow in beds
of composted agricultural materials, but
mushroom compost (substrate), the soillike
material remaining after a crop of
mushrooms, is high in organic matter and
can be used as a soil amendment, soil conditioner
or even potting soil!
“Mushroom Compost”, is rich in organic
matter and has high value for conifer tree
production, turf grass managers and landscape
contractors. Mushroom Compost
can also be used for runoff mediation and
river bank buffer projects, green roofs,
certain wood-decaying fungus suppression,
evergreen farms, athletic fields, and
landfill caps for establishing vegetation.