We attempted to grow a number of different mushroom varieties in our garden over the years, but didn’t have much success until we grew Wine Cap mushrooms, which are also known as King Stropharia Today, I’ll share six tips to help you easily grow Wine Cap mushrooms in your garden and keep them coming back year after year. Let’s start by taking a look at the Wine Cap mushrooms we have growing in wood chip mulch here in the shade behind our hoop house. They’re called wine caps because of the burgundy red wine color of the younger caps. They’re also called King Stropharia because of the crown that grows around the stem near the cap The caps turn brown when the mushrooms mature and their taste and texture is similar to portobello mushrooms. We enjoy them grilled, sauteed, in pastas and stir fries, and in mushroom burgers. They’re found in North America and Europe and have been introduced in Australia and New Zealand. Now let’s get started with today’s six tips to successfully and easily grow wine cap mushrooms in your garden. The first tip is that you’ll need the right kind of substrate, or growing medium, and fortunately wine caps aren’t all that picky. We’re growing ours in wood chips, but they don’t require any particular kind of wood chip. We’re using free arborist wood chips which consist of chips from a wide variety of trees. You can also grow wine cap mushrooms in straw. You can often get wood chips from an arborist for free. If you live in the US There’s a service called chip drop that connects gardeners with arborists for free or low-cost wood chip delivery. I’ve included a link to this service in the description. Depending on where you live you may also be able to find free straw in your area. Whether you choose straw or wood chips wine caps speed up their decomposition, and you’ll need to refresh the substrate every now and then. We apply new wood chips at least once a year. The second tip is that you’ll need to inoculate your wood chip or straw substrate with wine cap mushroom spawn. Mushroom spawn is simply a substance like sawdust has been inoculated with mushroom mycelium. You can then apply the spawn to your substrate to inoculate it. We inoculated our wood chips with King Stropharia sawdust wood chips spawn purchased from fungi.com. This site is owned by mushroom guru Paul Stamets. If you inoculate in the spring, you should have your first harvest by the fall. All we did to get started was to spread wine cap mushroom spawn over the wood chips here in the shade of our blackberries. That was several years ago and since then the wine caps have spread all over the garden on their own to wherever there’s woodchips. I’ll talk more about that later. Tip number three is to make sure you have the right growing conditions for your wine cap mushrooms. We already talked about the fact that they like to grow in wood chips and straw. They also prefer partial shade, plenty of moisture, soil temps above 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and ambient temperatures mostly in the 60s and 70s. Our wine caps pop up all over the garden but do best under our blackberries and in the shade behind our hoop house. We get enough rain here that we usually don’t have to water the substrate, but if you get less rain, make sure to water enough to keep the substrate from getting bone-dry between watering. Finally, as I mentioned earlier, wine caps like a soil temperature above 50 degrees Fahrenheit and relatively cool ambient temperatures mostly in the 60s and 70s For us this means we get two harvest each year – one starting in late spring and another starting in late summer. It’s too hot mid summer for wine caps to grow. Tip number four will help you correctly identify wine cap mushrooms so you don’t confuse them with other mushrooms growing in your garden that may not be edible. Fortunately, wine caps have some unique characteristics and are fairly easy to identify. When they first emerge, they look like this. The cap is rounded and it’s a color similar to port wine. When they mature, the caps flatten and turn light brown. The gills on the bottom of the cap have a gray or purple gray color. And there’s a ring around the stem below the cap that looks kind of like a king’s crown. This crown is called an annulus and is the inspiration for the king in the named king stropharia. Finally, their stems swell at the base. The fifth tip is when to harvest your wine cap mushrooms. I prefer to harvest wine caps when they’re in the button stage. I like their taste and texture best at this size. But sometimes I don’t get to them in time and harvest when they’re the size of a medium portobello mushroom. They still taste good at this size, but I wouldn’t want to wait much larger. Wine caps grow very fast and can get very large, but when they do, their texture and taste isn’t as good Finally tip number six is to not harvest all of your mushrooms. Instead, let some grow to full maturity and decompose. These mushrooms will develop and release spores. Some of these spores will be blown around the garden, and hopefully they’ll inoculate other areas where you have wood chips and straw. This way you’ll have mushrooms year after year without having to buy more mushroom spawn. So, if you’d like to grow mushrooms in your garden, wine caps are a great choice. They’re easy to grow, easy to identify, and taste great. Follow these six tips and you’ll be well on your way to growing wine cap mushrooms in your garden. If you found the video helpful Please give it a thumbs up, and if you haven’t already, please subscribe for more videos on how to grow a lot of food on a little and without spending much or working harder than you have to.