Wine Caps, also known as Garden Giant or King Stropharia, are easy to grow. Early spring is an ideal time to start your outdoor mushroom bed, when the ground has thawed and the days are warming up to around 10C. Fungal mycelium is very cold hardy and can handle some freezing nights under a “blanket” of straw or woodchips – so no need to wait until the danger of last frost is past.

Select a location under a fruit tree, between vegetable rows, or anywhere with shelter from the direct hot sun. Lay down cardboard, moistened straw and/or hardwood chips about 10 cm (4″) deep. Our Wine Cap sawdust kit will inoculate an area approximately 1 m x 1 m (3 ft x 3 ft).

Crumble up the wine cap spawn and mix throughout. Keep well watered, particularly in the dry summer months.

After a few weeks white stringy strands of mushroom mycelium will be visible spreading in your mushroom garden bed. Eventually the fungal mycelium with cover the entire bed and giant burgundy mushrooms will sprout throughout the spring, summer and fall (depending on when the mushroom bed was planted).

The mushroom bed will over winter, and as you keep feeding them more straw or wood chips, will provide mushrooms year after year. Expand your patch by transplanting handfuls of mycelium to new beds.

Wine Caps can also be grown indoors in containers throughout the year.

Warning:

Other types of mushrooms may also fruit in your outdoor mushroom garden. Some mushrooms are deadly poisonous, so make sure to correctly identify your Wine Cap mushrooms before eating. But that’s not hard as they are very distinctive!

King Stropharia Identification Features (Stropharia rugoso-annulata)

  • Cap is wine red to red brown when young (but often fading to tan as it ages)
  • Surface of cap is sticky or slimy when moist; bald, medium to very large
  • Gills are attached to stalk, at first grey or purple grey, becoming black in old age
  • Stalk is at least 1/2″ thick, white when fresh
  • Veil is present, at first covering gills, then forming prominent ring on stalk
  • Ring on stalk is grooved or ridged on upper surface
  • Spores are deeply coloured dark purple, brown or black
  • Flesh is white, not discolouring appreciably when bruised
  • White threads often emanating from base of stalk, no volva