Growing portabellas indoors is easy. Fill a 4 x 4 foot tray with five-to-six inches of compost, add your portabella spores, stir them in, and wait for two weeks. When you see a fuzzy white film, cover it with moist peat moss and newspaper. Your portabella mushrooms will be ready soon!
I highly recommend learning how to grow portobello mushrooms because it’s fun, it saves money, and mushrooms are so much tastier when they’re fresh.
I’m particularly fond of portabellas because of their wide caps, which look elegant on a plate and also make a diet-friendly alternative to hamburger patties.
Want to grow delicious, healthy portabella mushrooms like these at home? Read my tutorial to learn how!
- 1 Love Mushrooms? Grow Your Own!
- 2 How To Grow Portabellas Indoors
- 3 How To Grow Portabellas Outdoors
- 4 What Are Portobello Mushrooms?
- 5 Knowing How To Grow Portobello Mushrooms Is Life-Changing!
Love Mushrooms? Grow Your Own!
If you ask me, mushrooms deserve more love than they get. They tend to be treated as a culinary accessory — you can get them on your pizza, or not. Order mushrooms without the pizza, I say!
They have an earthy flavor like nothing else and some of them even taste meaty. I use them to make gravy, veggie burgers, and soups.
The mushroom growing process can fascinate adults and kids, alike. Additionally, mushrooms are an ideal indoor crop because they need little light. Apartment dwellers, rejoice!
There are all sorts of ways to grow mushrooms from the comfort of your home. Not all methods work for all mushrooms. If you’d rather grow oyster mushrooms, check out this clever bucket method:
Unfortunately, I’ve found no evidence that this method works for portabellas. But I have found three methods that do:
How To Grow Portabellas Indoors
If you’re intimidated by DIY projects, the easiest way to grow your own portabella mushrooms is with a kit, such as this one.
A kit typically has spores pre-mixed into its growing medium, so you can simply keep it in a cool, dark room, keep it moist, and enjoy a bountiful harvest in about a month. Instructions may vary from kit to kit.
But if you want to go the DIY route, there are many ways to grow delicious portabellas indoors. Here’s one way from Gardening Know How.
To grow portabellas indoors, you will need:
- A tray that’s about 4 by 4 feet (about 1 by 1 meter) and 8 inches (20 centimeters) deep
- Manure-based compost
- Portabella spores
- Damp peat moss
- Distilled water
- A spray bottle
To grow portabellas indoors, do the following:
- Fill Your Tray With Compost
Begin by filling your tray with six inches (15 centimeters) of compost.
- Add Your Portabella Mushroom Spores
Sprinkle about an inch (2.5 centimeters) of portabella spores on top, mix them in a little, and gently pat the mixture down.
- Wait Two Weeks
Leave the tray in a dark room kept at 65-70F (18-21 C). Within two weeks, you should see a fuzzy, white film of mycelium.
- Add Moist Peat Moss And A Layer Of Newspaper
When you see the mycelium, cover the compost with an inch (2.5 centimeters) of moist peat moss and top it off with a layer of newspaper.
- Keep The Tray’s Contents Moist For Two Weeks
Mist the tray with water twice a day for the next two weeks.
- If You Don’t See Any Mushrooms Yet, Wait A Little Longer
At the end of those two weeks, lift the newspaper to see if any mushrooms have begun growing. If they have, you don’t need the newspaper anymore. Otherwise, keep misting the tray daily and check under the newspaper after another week.
It takes about 3-4 weeks for portabellas to fully grow as I explain in this article about how long it takes mushrooms to grow.
- Enjoy Your Mushrooms At Any Size
Portabella mushrooms are edible at any stage. Feel free to harvest them while they’re tiny if you can’t wait!
- You’ll Eventually Have To Start Over
Over a two-week span, you can expect two-to-three flushes (harvesting periods).
Unfortunately, mushroom cultures can’t go on forever.
According to MyChampi, commercially-grown mushroom cultures only last for three-to-four harvest weeks. After that point, they grow less vigorously and become susceptible to diseases.
It’s not clear how long home-grown portabella cultures last, but kit manufacturers, such as this one, name a limit on how much you can harvest before the kit runs out of nutrients.
If your mushroom culture starts underperforming or looking sickly, the good news is that you can sterilize and reuse its compost medium for plants.
In the instructions for growing portabellas outdoors, step 3 explains how to sterilize compost with sunlight.
How To Grow Portabellas Outdoors
To grow your own portabella mushrooms outdoors, you will need:
- Four 4-foot by 8-inch (1-meter by 20-centimeter) wooden planks
- Your preferred tools to build a raised bed
- Manure-based compost
- Black plastic
- Portabella spores
- Peat moss
- Distilled water
- A spray bottle
- Make Sure It’s The Right Time Of Year
You can only grow portabella mushrooms outdoors when temperatures are mild, within the range of 50F (10C) at night and 70F (21C) during the day.
- Build A Raised Bed And Fill It With Compost
Building a raised bed is probably the best outdoor option because it gives you complete control over what you put in it.
Gardening Know How recommends that the bed be 4 by 4 feet (about 1 by 1 meters) and 8 inches (20 centimeters) deep, filled with 5 to 6 inches (13 to 15 centimeters) of manure-based compost.
- Sterilize The Compost And Order Your Spores
It’s important to sterilize your compost before growing mushrooms in it, or else you might accidentally grow a wild variety!
To sterilize the compost, cover it with cardboard and black plastic. Over the next two weeks, the sun’s trapped heat will cook the compost, so you can know for sure what mushrooms you’ll be growing.
- Add The Spores To The Compost
When two weeks have passed, remove the black plastic and cardboard. Add about an inch (2.5 centimeters) of the spores onto the compost and mix them in a little.
- Wait Two Weeks For The Mycelium To Form
If conditions are right, you’ll see fuzzy, white mycelium in a couple of weeks.
- Add Peat Moss And Newspaper
When the mycelium appears, cover the compost with an inch (2.5 centimeters) of moist peat moss topped with newspaper.
- Keep The Bed Moist
Twice a day for the next 10 days, mist the bed with distilled water. If you prefer little mushrooms, you’ll be able to harvest them very soon.
- Enjoy Button, Cremini, Or Portabella Mushrooms!
I’ll explain this in-depth in the next section, but these three mushroom varieties are actually the same species at different stages of growth. Portabellas are the most mature stage, but you can enjoy button and cremini mushrooms sooner.
- Recycle The Spent Compost
As I said in the indoor growing instructions, mushroom cultures can’t last forever. They remove nutrients from their growing medium until it can’t sustain them as well.
Fortunately, your spent compost will still be nutritious for plants. Just sterilize it again by repeating step 3, so your plants won’t have any competition.
What Are Portobello Mushrooms?
Basically, the only difference between them is their size when they’re harvested, with portabellas being the biggest of the bunch.
However, Culinary Lore explains that a button mushroom won’t necessarily mature into a portabella. In reality, Agaricus bisporus mushrooms will only mature to this size and color in the second or third crop of your mushroom bed if they are not picked earlier.
Believe it or not, portabella mushrooms used to be too unpopular to sell well. In the 80s, mature Agaricus bisporus were marketed as “portabellas” to increase their popularity.
It worked! In addition to button and cremini mushrooms, you may have encountered baby bella mushrooms — these are just creminis getting the same marketing treatment.
You might be wondering which is the correct spelling — portabella or portobello? Either is acceptable, although the Mushroom Council prefers portabella.
Why Grow Them?
Growing any fungus is a fun and fascinating alternative to regular gardening, especially since it can be done in the dark. And when you grow edible varieties, you get to enjoy them at a better quality and price than you could find in grocery stores.
Growing portobello mushrooms at home is an especially fun choice for two main reasons:
- You can enjoy three (culinary) mushroom varieties by harvesting the portabella species at different growth stages.
- Portabella mushrooms’ patty-like caps, which average six inches (15 centimeters) in diameter, are an ideal substitute for hamburger patties.
The Health Benefits Of Mushrooms
Besides being fun and delicious, portabella mushrooms are good for you. Mushrooms, in general, are low in carbohydrates, fat, and calories, while providing a modest amount of protein. Additionally, they provide about 15 vitamins and minerals, including:
Mushrooms are high in B vitamins, such as niacin, riboflavin, and pantothenic acid, which work together to protect your heart.
On its own, niacin is good for your digestive system and skin. Riboflavin is good for your red blood cells, and pantothenic acid aids your body’s nervous system and hormone production.
Just one cup of cooked mushrooms can satisfy a third of your daily copper needs, which is great news for your bones and nerves. Copper also helps in the production of red blood cells, which deliver oxygen to your cells.
Inadequate magnesium intake has been linked to osteoporosis, diabetes, clogged arteries, high blood pressure, and strokes. According to the USDA, a cup of sliced, grilled portabella mushrooms contains about 16 mg of magnesium.
Your body needs zinc to use as an enzyme catalyst, aid its immune system, heal wounds, synthesize proteins, and help with cell division.
Portabella mushrooms are a modest source of this essential mineral. The daily zinc recommendation is 8 milligrams for women and 11 for men.
A cup of grilled, sliced portabellas contains about .786 milligrams, which means they provide about 8 percent of the average person’s daily zinc needs.
Mushrooms are high in antioxidants, such as selenium and glutathione, which may protect against cell damage, inflammation, and chronic diseases.
Additionally, they’re an excellent source of ergothioneine. Research suggests that both glutathione and ergothioneine can slow aging.
Mushrooms May Preserve Brain Health
A recent study found a significant link between eating mushrooms and having a healthy brain.
By tracking 663 seniors from 2011 to 2017, researchers discovered that the ones who ate over two cups of mushrooms per week were 50 percent less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment.
Mild cognitive impairment refers to memory and language problems that don’t yet impair daily functioning. This condition often precedes Alzheimer’s disease.
The Mushroom Life Cycle
You may be surprised to learn that fungi, such as mushrooms, are more closely related to people than plants!
Though they can seem plant-like, fungi belong to a completely different kingdom. Rather than producing their own food through photosynthesis, they feed on organic matter.
The information below is mostly from this handy video:
It may be unnerving, but that organic matter isn’t always dead. Mushrooms come in two main varieties:
- Saprophytes, which feed on dead organic matter. Portabella mushrooms fall into his more gentle category.
- Parasites feed on living organisms, such as plants and insects. If you think your stomach can handle it, skip to 6:21 in the video above to see what cordyceps does to ants.
Mushrooms reproduce by releasing spores, which you may be breathing in right now. You know how your food grows mold if you keep it too long? This happens because your home is always full of fungal spores waiting to land and start a colony in the right habitat.
When mushroom spores land in their preferred organic matter, they send out root-like structures called hyphae that form colonies as they search for nutrients and water.
The networks they create are called mycelia. In the above video, GroCycle compares a mycelium to “an inside-out stomach” because it secretes digestive enzymes onto its food.
The final stage in the life of a mushroom is reproduction, after which it dies. For a mushroom to reproduce, one mycelium has to meet another. It releases billions of spores into the air from underneath its cap and the cycle begins again.
Portabella Mushroom Serving Suggestions
If you’ve only enjoyed mushrooms on pizza, you might not know what to do with the ones you grow. Here are some delicious suggestions:
- Savory mushroom gravy
- Mushroom and veggies lasagna
- Portobello burgers with caramelized onions and garlic
- Creamy mushroom stroganoff
Knowing How To Grow Portobello Mushrooms Is Life-Changing!
Fresh portobello mushrooms are a treat to have on hand because their meaty flavor goes well in so many recipes. And with the money you save from growing portobello mushrooms at home, you can enjoy them more often! Whether or not you have a yard, you can grow food!
What did you think about my tutorial? Please let me know in the comments. If you liked, be sure to share it.
This article is mainly for DIY’ers, but don’t forget that it’s easier to grow mushrooms with kits such as this one. Kits generally come pre-assembled, so you can just keep them moist and wait to harvest their fresh, delicious mushrooms.