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Course CodeBHT310
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Learn about growing, harvesting, marketing, storage, pest and diseases and even ways of cooking and using mushrooms. 

There are thousands of different fungi which have at some stage or other through history been tried as a food by some group of people. Obviously, some people have been poisoned at times in the process of working out what is and what is not edible.

It is the fruiting bodies (called "Sporocarps") from the more advanced (ie: complex) types of fungi which are eaten. Some of these sporocarps are deadly poisonous, so be careful not to eat anything which is not first accurately identified. All edible fungi fall into either the "Ascomycetes" or "Basidiomycetes".

While the Agaricus species (Champignon) is the main focus of this course, other commercially important edible fungi (eg. Straw mushroom, Oyster Mushroom, Shiitake, etc) are also studied as a foundation for any scale of serious production. 

Many of the principles are similar in growing, spawn production and/or harvest and post harvest treatments. Gaining a foundation with the culture of any type of edible  mushroom is in this way a step toward knowing how to approach production of others.
Get Serious about Mushroom Growing


Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • How Fungi are Named: Review of the system of plant identification
    • Characteristics of all Fungi
    • Three Fungi Kingdoms: Zygomycota, Basidiomycota and Ascomycota
    • Agaricus campestris and Agaricus bisporus
    • Review of significant edible fungi including; Coprinus fimetaris, Flammulina velutipes, Letinus erodes, Pleurotus, Stropharia, Volvariella,Auricularia auricula
    • Synonymous Names
    • Distinguishing edible fungi, Mushroom structure, tell tale characteristics of the genus Agaricus, etc.
    • History of Mushroom Cultivation
    • Commonly Cultivated Edible Fungi
    • Agaricus bisporus, Agaricus bitorquis
    • Coprinus fimetarius
    • Flammulina velutipes
    • Kuehneromyces mutabilis
    • Lentinus edodes Shiitake.
    • Pholiota nameko
    • Pleurotus spp "Oyster Mushroom"
    • Stropharia rugosa annulata
    • Volvariella volvaceae Edible Straw Mushroom.
    • Auricularia spp
    • Tremella fuciformis
    • Tuber spp.
    • Tricholoma matsutake
    • Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi)
    • Grifola frondosa (Hen of the woods, Maitake)
    • Resources, information/contacts
  2. Mushroom Culture
    • Options for obtaining Spawn
    • Steps in Growing Agaricus species: Preparation, spawning, casing, harvest
    • What to Grow Mushrooms in; growing medium
    • Growing media for different edible fungi: Agaricus, Auricularia, Copreinus, Flammulina, Letinus, Pleurotus, Volvariella, etc
    • Understanding Soil and Compost, components and characteristics
    • Acidity and Alkalinity
    • Making Compost
    • Making Mushroom Compost, and mushroom compost formulations
    • Moisture Level in Compost
    • Cultivation of Agaricus bitorquis
    • Cultivation of Coprinus fimetarius
  3. Spawn Production and Spawning
    • Finding Spawn Supplies
    • Overview of Spawn and Spawning
    • Obtaining Smaller Quantities of Spawn
    • The Process of Spawning
    • Spawn Production; typical rye grain method
    • Storing spawn
    • Problems with Spawn
    • Using Spawn
    • Comparing temperature conditions for spawning and fruiting in most commonly cultivated edible mushroom species
    • Cultivation of Pleurotus
    • Cultivation of Stropharia
  4. Making and Casing Beds
    • Growing Methods; Caves, bags, houses, outdoor ridge beds, troughs, etc
    • Casing; biological process, characteristics of casing material, procedure
    • Techniques; spawned casing, ruffling, scratching
    • Review Auricularia and Volvariella
  5. Growing Conditions for Mushrooms
    • Fungi Nutrition: carbon, nitrogen, essential elements, vitamins and growth factors
    • Casing to Harvest of Agaricus
    • Growing Indoors
    • Components of a Built System and Determining Your Needs
    • Factors Influencing Fungal Growth
    • Environmental Control, equipment to measure and control the environment
    • Siting a Growing House
    • Managing the Growing House or Room, cleanliness, heating, cooling, humidity, etc
    • Review of Tuber (Truffle) and Tremella
  6. Pests, Diseases and Growing Mushrooms Outside
    • Overview of Pests, Diseases and Environmental Disorders
    • Prevention of Problems
    • Review of Bacterial and Fungal Diseases and their Control
    • Review of Insect Pests, Mites, Nematodes and their Control
    • Weed Moulds
    • Safe, Natural Sprays
    • Summary of Problems found on Agaricus bisporus and other edible fungi covered in this course
    • Cultivation of Flammulina velutipes and Kuehneromyces mutabilis
  7. Harvesting, Storing and Using Mushrooms
    • Harvesting Buttons, Cups and Flats on Agaricus bisporus
    • Fruiting patterns for Agaricus bisporus and other edible mushrooms
    • Cool Storage of Mushrooms
    • Freezing Mushrooms
    • Dry Freezing Mushrooms
    • Drying Mushrooms
    • Canning Mushrooms
    • Harvesting Agaricus; method of picking
    • Handling Agaricus after harvest
    • Controlled Atmosphere Storage
    • Cultivation of Letinus (Shiitake), Pholiota, Tricholoma
  8. Marketing of Mushrooms and Special Assignment
    • Review of Marketing options for mushrooms
    • Fresh Mushroom Sales
    • Processed Mushroom Sales
    • Production and Marketing of Shiitake, Oyster Mushroom and Straw Mushroom
    • Research and Determination of Marketing Opportunities and Strategies in Your Region

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Classify different varieties of fungi which are commonly eaten
  • Determine the techniques used in the culture of edible mushrooms
  • Explain the harvesting of a mushroom crop
  • Explain the post-harvest treatment of a mushroom crop
  • Explain marketing strategies for mushrooms

What You Will Do

  • Compare the scientific with common definitions for a “Mushroom”
  • Explain the classification, to genus level, of ten different commercially grown edible fungi
  • Produce a labeled illustration of the morphological characteristics which are common to different edible fungi of the genus “Agaricus”
  • Compare the physical characteristics of different commercially cultivated edible fungi
  • Distinguish edible Agaricus mushrooms from similar, inedible fungal fruiting bodies
  • Compile a resource file of sources of information regarding edible fungi, including: *Publication *Suppliers *Industry associations/services
  • Determine the preferred conditions for growing two different specified mushroom genra
  • Describe the stages in the growing of Agaricus mushrooms
  • Develop criteria for selecting growing media, for two different genra of edible fungi; including Agaricus
  • Describe an appropriate compost for growing of Agaricus bisporus
  • Explain how spawn is produced for two different genra of edible fungi
  • Explain the use of casing in mushroom production
  • Compare different methods of growing edible fungi,including where appropriate: *Outdoor beds *In Caves *In buildings *In trays *In bags *In troughs
  • Describe different pests and diseases that affect mushrooms
  • Describe appropriate control methods for ten different pests and diseases of mushrooms
  • Analyse hygiene and exclusion regimes used in mushroom production
  • Prepare a production plan, based on supplied specifications, for Agaricus bisporus, including: *Materials required *Equipment required *Work schedule *Cost estimates
  • Grow a crop of Agaricus bisporus
  • Identify the stages at which Agaricus mushrooms can be harvested
  • Explain how mushrooms are harvested
  • Develop guidelines to minimise damage to different types of mushrooms, during and immediately after harvest
  • Describe ways to extend the shelf life of two different mushrooms crops
  • Explain three different techniques for processing mushrooms
  • Produce dried mushrooms from fresh ones
  • Analyse industry guidelines for the post-harvest handling of a specified mushroom variety
  • Determine the different ways mushrooms are packed for retailing
  • Outline industry generic marketing strategies for mushrooms
  • Suggest strategies for marketing a separately identified mushroom product (e.g. branded, regional)


Lentinus edodes (Shiitake)

Shiitake are a commonly cultivated edible fungi from Asia (the most common after Agaricus).
  • Lentinus is grown on logs and sold either fresh or dried (but not canned).
  • Drying both enhances the taste and allows it to be kept for a very long time.
  • They are cultivated in Japan, China and Korea, but in other Asian countries is mainly collected growing in the wild.
  • Cultivation is known to have occurred over 800 years ago. There are various varieties, normally divided into spring growing and autumn growing types.
  • Carried out on wood of dead deciduous trees (mostly from Fagaceae family)
  • Ideal species for cultivation are Quercus serrata and Q. acutissima
  • Logs 5-15cm diameter and 1-1.5m long are ideal.
  • Pure cultured spawn are introduced to sawdust, or small wedge shaped wood pieces (commonly late winter/early spring).
  • After mycelium has grown through the wood plugs or sawdust, logs can be “planted” (one method is drilling holes and filling with wood plugs or sawdust) and the fungus begins to grow
  • Between 15 and 20 holes are made in each 1-1.5m long log.
  • Holes and impregnated wood or sawdust is generally sealed to prevent moisture loss after planting with a dab of hot wax on a paint brush.
  • Logs are next laid out in a laying yard (stacked or stood up
  • Logs must remain moist, so if humidity is low or wind high, they may be covered to prevent moisture loss
  • After mycelium has grown throughout the wood (between 6 and 18 months) logs are moved to a raising yard, for fruit to develop and be harvested.
  • In the raising yard, logs are typically stood upright against a fence.
  • With temperatures ideally between 12 and 20 degrees C (usually early spring or late autumn), the fruiting bodies develop
  • During this final stage moisture levels must be higher, and usually shade is provided


NOTE: This course teaches you principles that will relate to a wide range of different types of edible fungi; as well as introducing you to differences between most of the more commonly grown edible fungi, found in different parts of the world.


Meet some of our academics

Adriana Fraser Adriana has worked in horticulture since the 1980's. She has lived what she preached; developing large gardens and always growing her own fruit, vegetables and herbs; and making her own preserves. In 1992 she formalised her training by graduating with a certificate in horticulture; and a few years later, completing an Advanced Diploma in Horticulture. Adriana has worked across a broad spectrum of the horticulture industry; and has developed a strong network of contacts in horticulture around Australia and beyond. She has written and contributed to many books and magazine articles; and at one stage managed the national collection of Thyme. She has a passion for plant knowledge and sustainability and an inert understanding of how people learn about horticulture. Adriana has been a tutor with ACS since the mid 90's and based on the feedback from past students has been an overwhelming success in helping people develop their skills and further careers in horticulture.
Dr. Lynette Morgan Lyn has a broad expertise in horticulture and crop production. Her first job was on a mushroom farm, and at university she undertook a major project studying tomatoes. She has studied nursery production and written books on hydroponic production of herbs. Lyn has worked on horticultural projects in countries from the middle east to the Americas and New Zealand to the Phillippines. Lyn has been a tutor with ACS since 2003 and has contributed to the development of a range of hydroponic courses.
John Mason Parks Manager, Nurseryman, Landscape Designer, Garden Writer and Consultant. Over 40 years experience; working in Victoria, Queensland and the UK. He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world; author of more than 70 books and editor for 4 different gardening magazines. John has been recognised by his peers being made a fellow of the Institute of Horticulture in the UK, as well as by the Australian Institute of Horticulture.
Maggi BrownMaggi is the classic UK "plantswoman". She can identify thousands of plants, and maintains her own homes and gardens in the Cotswolds (England), and near Beziers (in Southern France). Maggi is regarded as a leading organics expert across the UK, having worked for 20 years as Education Officer at the "Garden Organic" (formerly HDRA). Some of Maggi's qualifications include RHS Cert. Hort. Cert. Ed. Member RHS, Life Member Garden Organic (HDRA) .

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