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June 23, 2022

Growing mushrooms in winter

With a little care, you can continue growing mushrooms in winter. Here are some tips to show you how.

While vegetables will slow down, or stop growing during winter, many mushroom varieties will continue to perform. For first-time mushroom growers, grow kits are perfect for growing mushrooms in winter as they are:

  • Grown indoors (providing an almost perfect temperature)
  • Fast to grow
  • Take up little space
  • Require little light.

Tips for growing mushrooms in winter

1. Best mushroom varieties to grow in winter

A) Grey Oyster mushroom

Because these mushrooms can cope with large temperature fluctuation, the Grey Oyster mushroom is a great performer over winter. We generally say, if you are comfortable the they will be comfortable.

Note: The strain that we use is very good and continues to perform for us even at low temperatures of 8 degrees. 

Ideal temperature:

  • Incubation: between 18°C to 25 °C (64°F to 75°F)
  • Initiate Pinning: A fluctuation of at least 5°C (41°F)
  • Fruiting: Above 15°C (59 °F)

B) Shiitake

The Shiitake responds very well to cold temperatures. It's okay to go down to freezing (and below freezing during incubation). An increase in temperature to 10 degrees should be enough to initiate pinning.

Ideal temperature:

  • Incubation: 18°C to 25 °C (64°F to 75°F)
  • Initiate pinning: 5 °C (41°F) for several days
  • Fruiting: 12-18 °C (53-64 °F)

C) Enoki Mushroom (Flammulina velutipes)

The Enoki is often referred to as the winter Mushroom and starting to become popular to grow at home in NZ. An excellent variety to grow in winter means they may struggle during mid-summer.

Ideal temperature

  • Incubation: between 18°C to 25 °C (64°F to 75°F)
  • Initiate pinning: About 8 °C (46 °F)
  • Fruiting: maintain about 15°C (59 °F) after a day or two
  • Temperatures above 34 °C (93 °F) may kill the mycelium

D) Pink Oyster mushroom [not good]

These can be grown but need additional care. They can tolerate temperatures above 15 celsius. Due to their warmer heat requirements, if the warmth is supplied using a heat source that dries the air, then maintaining humidity will become an issue.

  • Incubation: 20°C to 25 °C (68°F to 75°F)
  • Initiate pinning: Fluctuation of about 5 °C (41°F)
  • Fruiting: 18 °C 25 °C (64 °F to 75°F)
  • Temperatures below 5 °C (41°F) may kill the mycelium.

2. Maintaining high humidity for the growing mushrooms

The problem: With central heating and heat pumps running, the house will become extra dry. So, managing humidity will be a priority. Inadequate humidity will lead to stalling.

The fix: The easiest way to deal with this, is to choose a location far from the heat source. Preferably a spot that you can also keep humid. Note: You will only need to do this during the growth stage of the mushrooms.

Guide to managing Humidity for mushrooms.

3. Providing a wide temperature Variation

The problem: A wide temperature fluctuation is often required to trigger the mushrooms to grow. In winter, it may seem counterintuitive. However, central heating keeps a constant temperature creating small temperature variations. This can cause the grow kit to have a prolonged dormancy.

The fix: Put it outside for about 3+ days, then bring it back inside for warmth. This should be enough to trigger it.

4. Best location to grow the mushrooms

While the bag is dormant, it needs to be kept warm. A temperature that you would find comfortable is about right. They are generally happy between 15 and 24 celsius but will tolerate a few degrees above or below that. This may mean it needs two different locations depending on the growing stage.

While it is dormant: it should be okay somewhere like on a kitchen bench. A place where you can keep an eye on it in case it starts to pin.

Growing stage: as soon as it starts to pin you will need to quickly put it somewhere away from sources of dry air. We recommend putting it in the bathroom.

Tip: It’s more important to maintain high humidity than high heat. Once growing, the Grey Oyster will continue as long as it's above 10 degrees. 

See our guide to learn about best locations to grow mushrooms.

5. Foraging for edible NZ mushrooms in winter

There are also many varieties of NZ Mushrooms that grow well in winter. Many of these are triggered by the cooler temperature and high rainfall. The two listed below are very distinctive, so unlikely that you would miss-identify. See the read more section below for some links.

Turkey tail mushroom

Try looking for these on old tree stumps. In NZ they will often be growing on old deciduous trees (including fruit trees). You may find these in older parks or play areas where an old Oak tree had been cunt down a decade or so ago.

Wood ear mushroom

These will spring up after heavy rain. You may find wood ear growing on native NZ tree species such as Lemonwood. They are often on a dead branch of an otherwise healthy tree.

Want to try growing mushrooms in winter? choose here

Learn more

Mushrooms: The Perfect, Indoor, Fast-Growing Winter Crop

Some articles about foraging edible mushrooms in winter.

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