How to Grow Wine Cap Mushrooms

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Wine caps are easily grown in shady garden spots.
Wine caps are easily grown in shady garden spots. (Image: Blue Jean Images/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Wine cap mushrooms are among the simplest mushrooms to grow. Their name comes from the fact that the caps are a wine color when they are young. They are good for cooking when you harvest them at a young age, with a subtle nutty flavor. As they mature, they lose their color and grow very large, sometimes more than 6 inches in diameter. You can buy wine cap mushroom spawn, comparable to seeds of plants, at garden centers or online retailers.

Things You'll Need

  • Wine cap spawn
  • Wood chips
  • Soil
  • Straw

Mix 3 parts hardwood chips and 1 part soil together. The chips should be less than 2 years old. Stir in the wine cap mushroom spawn to the wood chip and soil mixture.

Spread the mixture in a shady area of your garden. It should be between 2 and 3 inches deep. If you spread it in a sunny location, cover the soil with some straw for a few weeks to prevent drying out the spawn.

Water the spawn mixture to keep it moist but do not saturate it. After several weeks, you will see the white, thready mycelium growing in the chips. This is the colony of wine cap mushrooms becoming established.

Harvest the mushrooms when they are about the size of a half-dollar coin. They will appear in late summer and fall and again in the spring. If they grow too large, the flavor will suffer. You can use the larger ones for animal fodder, but they are not suitable for cooking.

Spread a thin layer of fresh wood chips in the mushroom beds after each harvest season.

Tips & Warnings

  • Plant wine cap mushroom spawn in the spring to get a harvest the following fall.
  • You can shovel small parts of established wine cap mushroom beds to different locations to start new beds.
  • You can also grow wine cap mushrooms on straw. Soak the straw in water for three days and mix with the spawn. Spread it in shady areas and cover with a layer of wood chips.
  • Wine caps grow easily on sawdust and compost, too.
  • Never eat mushrooms growing in the wild unless you are sure they are safe to eat.

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