A major consideration to figuring out which mushroom to grow depends on whether or not you want to grow them outdoors in a natural environment, or indoors where you can control the environment. Most new growers start by cultivating mushrooms outdoors, leading to high success rates because the outdoors is "home" to many types of cultivated fungi.
Outdoor Cultivation: Choose a Space and Stacking Method
Mushrooms usually prefer shade and humidity for both incubation and fruiting, so choose a shady spot. Growers become aware of shade quality with experience in respect to the species they cultivate because certain mushrooms like high humidity (Nameko, Lion's Mane, Oyster, Olive Oysterling ) and others like more air flow (Wine Cap, Shiitake Maitake, Blewit). Growers learn to tweak the microclimate through use of blankets and stacking methods, especially relevant to Shiitake.
Click here to view our PDF on stacking and force fruiting.
Indoor growers often have different goals. Commercial growers are willing to set up space specifically for growing mushrooms that can handle high humidity and free water, adjustable air flow and controllable temperature. Hobbyists are usually successful indoors with manipulation of microclimate with plastic tents and home humidifiers. Many market farms grow Oyster mushrooms on pasteurized straw indoors, as well as other types of mushrooms such as Shiitake, Maitake and King Oyster on prepared sawdust blocks. Most hobbyists start out with Teepee Kits and Table Top Farms.
Getting a Head Start in the Winter
If you want to get a head start on mushroom production, you can inoculate logs in the late fall/winter and incubate them indoors during the coldest months (unless you live where winters are in the 50's or warmer, then there is little temperature advantage to be gained). Store these logs indoors loosely packed in plastic bags so they can breath and check them periodically to make sure they are not wet or have a great deal of green mold on the bark. Logs done in the totem method are typically stored indoors this way. Winter inoculated logs should then be taken outdoors as soon as spring is in full swing to take advantage of their natural environment.
Large scale growers of shiitake often incubate logs both indoors and outdoors, depending on space, and fruit them in special indoor growing rooms to maintain perfect environmental conditions. Attention to detail and experience is critical to success.