What are the best mushrooms for vegetable gardens?

Vegetable gardens, no matter the size, yield more food by growing the right type of mushrooms in mulch, between crops. Not only will you get a bigger overall haul of food, but you’ll also be feeding your soil on the spot!

Not all mushrooms, however, will thrive in a sunny and bacteria-dominated vegetable garden. So you’ll need to look at growing mushrooms that grow on an appropriate mulch for vegetable gardens.

Oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus spp.) grow best on straw which is suitable for a vegetable garden. Vegetable gardens thrive with bacteria-dominated soil and straw is able to be broken down by both bacteria and fungi, unlike wood.

Mushrooms are fungi, so a substrate such as straw is perfect since it’s compatible with both types of consumers (fungi and bacteria).

Start Here: Grow a Mushroom Garden at Home in 4 Steps

Most gourmet mushrooms require wood mulch to grow well. The wood material is not appropriate for a thriving vegetable garden, as fungal domination works too slowly for the fast-paced needs of demanding vegetables. Wood mulch is appropriate for a permanent perennial garden.

We grow various mushrooms on multiple types of substrate, so we’ve seen what works where and what doesn’t.

Below, you’ll learn all about the best mushrooms that grow on straw, the criteria for growing mushrooms in a vegetable garden, the benefits of doing so, how to integrate mushrooms into a vegetable garden, and more!

Some mushrooms are better suited for specific climates, so read on to find out which mushrooms you should grow in your garden.

Blue oyster mushrooms grown on straw beds

What mushrooms grow best on straw?

The best mushrooms for a vegetable garden grow well in straw mulch. Only certain types of mushrooms thrive best on straw alone, and the good news, is they are all beginner-level to grow!

Snow oyster, golden oyster, blue oyster, Italian oyster, and pink oyster mushrooms grow best on straw beds or bags compared to any other mushroom strain. They grow well on straw beds outdoors, or in straw bags indoors.

This study, in fact, demonstrated that oyster mushrooms grew better on straw than sugarcane molasses, sawdust, and paper.

An appropriate substrate, such as straw, is an important piece of criteria for growing mushrooms in a vegetable garden. But other elements need to be considered as well to ensure your mushrooms can thrive.

Use QUALITYSPAWN coupon at checkout when ordering any mushroom spawn, substrates, or tools.

Cultivation criteria for mushrooms in veg gardens

Vegetable gardens are generally too sunny, too dry, and too often disturbed for most edible mushrooms to grow.

With 5 considerations in mind, your oyster mushrooms can thrive alongside your vegetables.

1. Moisture:

If your vegetables don’t tower over the soil yet, you’ll need another way to retain moisture in the straw.

Organic straw is to be applied 6-8 inches thick to benefit vegetables and host oyster mushrooms. I recommend, moistening and inoculating 6 inches of straw with oyster mushroom spawn, and topping that off with 2 inches of moist plain straw. This ensures the lower 6 inches of straw stay moist so the mushrooms can grow and thrive.

2. Compatible mulch/substrate:

Vegetables grow best in bacteria-dominated soil since bacteria tend to make nutrients available at a quick pace.

Most mushrooms (fungi) grow best on wood, but bacteria cannot break down wood, only fungi can. Since wood mulch breaks down too slowly for vegetable gardens, it isn’t a compatible mulch for vegetables.

Straw is the best of both worlds! Oyster mushrooms have demonstrated high yields on straw and bacteria are also able to break down straw, unlike wood.

Therefore, oyster mushrooms and vegetable gardens are compatible, as they benefit from the same type of mulch.

wheat and oat straw seem to have the best structure for growing mushrooms. But most importantly, only use organic straw for the sake of both the oyster mushrooms and your vegetable garden.

3. Sunlight & companion planting with oyster mushrooms:

Three things;

  1. All soil benefits from mulch.
  2. Vegetables that easily bolt, benefit most from mulch.
  3. Vegetables that cast shade are ideal for starting an oyster mushroom bed with straw.

Firstly, straw mulch will benefit the soil in any spot of your garden. Mushrooms, however, need consistently moist mulch to colonize and fruit from it. If it dries up at any point, the mycelium may die.

For the sake of keeping the straw bed moist, pre-soak the straw and inoculate it in any shady or partially shaded spot in your garden.

In full-sun areas, you can still have mushroom mulch if you use a shade cloth! Shade cloth is ideal for any vegetable in the summer heat, especially cool-loving crops.

Shade cloth over cool-loving brassicas in mid-summer. Oyster mushroom mulch would thrive here.

Secondly, vegetables, such as lettuce, spinach, kale, and other brassicas tend to bolt when it gets too hot. Therefore, straw-based mushroom mulch is a perfect companion.

  • When the temperatures are cooler in spring and fall, the mushroom mulch won’t be scorched by the sun, nor will your cool-loving crops.
  • In summer, your cool-loving crops are best planted in partial shade!
  • For the time that your cool-loving crops are in the sun, the mushroom mulch will reduce temperature swings in the soil. This keeps the roots of your plants consistently cool, which reduces the likelihood of early bolting.
  • Brassicas also grow large enough to provide shade for the oyster mushrooms.

Finally, tall or wide-growing vegetables such as tomatoes, corn, squash, peppers, and more will cast enough shade to retain moisture in the straw mulch.

Any vegetable that grows up a trellis, even heat-loving plants, can also have mushroom mulch at the base. The trellis will cast enough shade on the straw to retain moisture.

For cool-loving crops, make your mushroom beds in early spring, by summer, the plants will be grown enough to cast shade over the mushrooms during the heat. By late summer to early fall, you’ll get mushrooms when the weather is right.

For heat-loving crops, make the mushroom beds in mid-summer when shade is already cast on the soil by the height of the plant. In autumn you’ll get mushrooms when the weather is right.

See: What is a Mushroom Bed? (When to Start & Where to Put it)

4. Humidity:

Oyster mushrooms will fruit when humidity levels are increased by recent rain.

A humid spot, beneath the canopy of plants, is perfect for mushroom mulch.

5. Temperature:

  • Pink oysters and golden oysters fruit in warmer temperatures between 65-80°F (18-26°C).

In cold climates, these oyster strains can be grown seasonally, as annuals. In warm climates, you can grow them for more than one year in an undisturbed bed.

Tropical climates can grow these strains outdoors for more than one season in an undisturbed area.

  • Blue oysters and snow oysters fruit in warm but cooler temperatures. Snow oysters between 45-65°F (7-18°C) and blue oysters between 55-75°F (13-24°C).

These two strains can grow in cold climates for more than one season in an undisturbed position.

Tropical climates won’t yield blue or snow oysters very well during hot seasons. The cool “winter” season, however, may work with blue oyster mushrooms in zones 8-10 as an annual.

  • Italian oysters are in the middle and fruit in temperatures between 65-75°F (18-24°C). You’ll need to experiment to know for sure if you can grow them as a perennial in your climate. They are somewhat cold tolerant—more than pink and golden oysters, but less than blue and snow.

Benefits of Growing Mushrooms in Vegetable Gardens

Straw for the vegetable garden and oyster mushrooms
  • Organic mulch is a current water-saving technique used to increase the production of fruits and vegetables (source).

As mentioned by the Current Agricultural Research Journal, CARJ, straw is an ideal mulch for vegetable gardens and fields as it’s “easily applied in the field, stays in place, and reflects sunlight.” Vegetables are more productive with less work as these qualities prevent weeds, keep soil cool, and retain moisture.

In general, straw is often used in gardens for both summer and winter soil protection. Climate-appropriate mushrooms can grow for multiple years on consistently replenished and moist straw mulch.

  • With actively composting on-the-spot mushroom mulch, you’ll lower maintenance needs and enhance the ecosystem of your vegetable garden.

Available nutrients are released into the soil for the plants as the oyster mushrooms decompose the straw. Rather than hauling in new compost every time, oyster mushrooms can make some of it on the spot, for you, all while producing extra delicious food.

Fungi, including oyster mushrooms, also have vegetative growth called mycelium. Mycelium forms a symbiotic relationship with the roots of plants. This relationship has been known to enhance the nutrient uptake of plants and crops.

Nutrient uptake and soil protection result in plants that experience a more ideal environment. This reduces pests and diseases as healthy plants aren’t easily infiltrated.

Now that you’re convinced that oyster mushrooms will do nothing but benefit your garden and increase yields in your space, let’s take a deeper look at each one!

Best Mushrooms for Vegetable Gardens

To get started with growing oyster mushrooms in or alongside your vegetable garden, you’ll need to order “spawn.”

Oyster mushroom spawn is available for various types of species:

Gold Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus citrinopileatus)

“Golden” oyster mushrooms are a tropical strain that is bright yellow in color. They can grow as annuals in cold or warm climates and as perennials in tropical climates.

  • Fruit prolifically in humid tropical summers
  • Fruit in temperatures from 65-80°F (18-26°C)
  • Grain spawn is used to make straw or woodchip beds
  • Sawdust spawn is used to make logs (in bulk) or beds

Pink Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus djamor)

Fresh pink oyster mushrooms

Pink oyster mushrooms are another tropical strain that is bright pink in color! This striking oyster mushroom is typically described to be like ham when fried. They too can grow as annuals in cold or warm climates and as perennials in tropical climates.

  • Pink oysters are dense in texture and fruit in tropical climate summers
  • Fruit in temperatures from 70-80°F (21-26°C)
  • Gain spawn is used to make straw or woodchip beds
  • Sawdust spawn is used to make logs (in bulk) or beds

Blue Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus var. columbinus)

Blue oyster mushrooms are a cold-climate strain that isn’t bright blue in color… Rather a dull, but satisfying grey-blue. This strain won’t perform well in the high heat of the tropics. They prefer cooler temperatures for fruiting and tolerate cold snowy winters.

  1. Are high-yielding and considered one of the most productive species
  2. Fruit in temperatures from 55-75°F (13-24°C) and seasonally cold-tolerant
  3. Grain spawn is used to make straw or woodchip beds
  4. Sawdust spawn is used to make logs (in bulk) or beds

Snow Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus)

Snow oyster mushrooms are a bright shade of pearl white. This strain won’t perform well in the high heat of the tropics. They prefer even cooler temperatures for fruiting and live well through cold snowy winters.

  • Are an early firm fruiter as they do best in cool temperatures
  • Fruit in temperatures from 45-65°F (7-18°C) and seasonally cold-tolerant
  • Grain spawn is used to make straw or woodchip beds
  • Sawdust spawn is used to make logs (in bulk) or beds

Italian Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus pulmonarius)

Fresh Italian oyster mushrooms

Italian oyster mushrooms are grey in color and are known for being thick and meaty. Their frilly caps grow quite large and taste earthy but mild.

  • Grows well in moderate climates.
  • Fruit in temperatures from 65-75°F (18-24°C)
  • Grain spawn is used to make straw or woodchip beds
  • Sawdust spawn is used to make logs (in bulk) or beds

Potential Challenges and Considerations

The main challenge of growing oyster mushrooms in a vegetable garden is keeping the substrate (straw) moist. As outlined above in the article, you’ll need to implement good timing, placement, or companions to achieve this so it doesn’t cost you tedious watering or maintenance.


Oyster mushrooms are a great addition to a vegetable garden!

Up Next: 4 Fail-Proof Mushrooms to Grow Outside


While Rachelle's hands are clean for the keyboard, she enjoys writing and designing creative content and resources. You will most likely find her outside planting a cabbage, foraging berries for breakfast, and collecting herbs for year-round tea or making food.

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