Wine cap mushroom in outdoor garden bed

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.  No need to wait until the danger of last frost has passed as fungal mycelium is very cold hardy and can handle some freezing nights under a “blanket” of straw or woodchips.  Early planting gives the longest season for making mushrooms that year, however Wine Cap an also be planted outdoors anytime spring through fall.

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 fungal mycelium will be visible, feeding on your wood chips or straw, gradually spreading throughout the entire bed.  When kept well watered, giant burgundy mushrooms will sprout throughout the summer and fall.

Roping mycelium of the garden giant mushroom growing on hardwood chips.
Wine cap cluster grow in hardwood chip bed

In most of Canada, Wine Cap mycelium will overwinter and produce year after year.  Each fall mulch with a thick layer of fresh straw or hardwood chip to provide shelter from the harsh winter, and food for next year’s crop.  Expand your patch by transplanting handfuls of mycelium into new beds at any time.

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Wine cap mushroom in outdoor garden bedRoping mycelium of the garden giant mushroom growing on hardwood chips.

Wine Cap Outdoor Mushroom Kit

$33.49 $28.47

Wine Cap mushrooms (also known as Garden Giants) are great for beginner growers.  Transplant spawn into straw or hardwood chips in a shaded planter box, or mulched around the base of fruit trees, perennial plants and garden pathways.  Learn how to grow them here.

Stropharia rugosoannulata in the frying pan for dinner

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!

How to Identify Wine Cap Mushrooms (Stropharia rugoso-annulata)

  • Large cap is wine red colour when young, fading to tan as it ages or dries out in the sun.
  • Surface of cap is sticky or slimy when moist; bald with no hairs or adornments
  • Gills are attached to stalk, at first grey or purple grey, maturing to black as the mushroom begins to release dark purple to nearly black spores
  • Stalk is at least 1/2″ thick, white when fresh
  • Veil is present, at first covering gills in your mushrooms, then breaking as the gills expand to leave a prominent ring on stalk
  • Ring on stalk is grooved or ridged on upper surface, forming a unique “cogwheel” shape
  • Flesh of stalk is white, not discolouring appreciably when bruised
  • White threads often emanating from base of stalk, no volva
Garden Giant (Stropharia rugosoannulata)mushrooms harvested from hardwood chip bed

Watch Steve Gabriel on Forest Farming with Wine Caps

Enjoy Paul Stamets's video on growing and cooking Wine Caps!

Learn about Growing Wine Caps in Containers