Until relatively recent research revealed that mushrooms were cultivated with spawn and that a variety of species were edible, only a single type of mushroom was available for purchase in the Western world: the button. According to the University of Hawaii, the button is still the most popular mushroom cultivated around the world, and if buttons are a staple of your diet, it may pay off to grow the mushrooms for yourself at home.
Spread a 5- to 6-inch layer of fresh compost on the ground in an area of your property protected from sun and wind. Trees and buildings can provide optimal protection for mushroom growing areas. The amount of compost you actually need depends on the number of button mushrooms you want to grow.
Inculcate your compost with button mushroom spawn, available in loose form from many garden centres, nurseries, online retailers and extensions services. Spread the spawn evenly across the compost and lightly moisten the material with lukewarm water.
Maintain the compost pile at a temperature between 18.3 and 23.9 degrees Celsius, the optimal temperature for button mushroom growth. Remember that the pile must not undergo direct sunlight or strong wind, or the spawn can be ruined. As the compost cools, it will take on a thick consistency and the mushrooms will begin to grow.
Observe your compost until you see the white mycelium, or strings of connective mushroom tissue, begin to grow. This is the first indication of growing, and can take between two weeks and two months, depending on the compost and the climate. Add a casing layer of rich, clay soil, covering the entire compost area with 2 to 3 inches. This layer will help to protect the mycelium and promote fruiting of the mushrooms.
Reduce the temperature in the growing area to between 13.9 and 18.3 degrees Celsius to encourage fruiting. After you add the casing layer and reduce the temperature, full button mushrooms will appear within two to three months.
Find compost from a variety of sources, including garden centres, nurseries and extension services, or create compost yourself with manure, organic waste and a composter. Compost must be allowed to reach its high temperature and then cool a little before the mushrooms can grow. Button mushrooms can also grow on straw. If you have any questions regarding growing button mushrooms in your area, contact a local garden centre, nursery or extension service.