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The Mushroom Miniseries: Mushrooms 101 Plus the Answer to “What is the Mushroom Growing in My Houseplant!”, Ep 178



Are you ready to dive into the magical world of mushrooms? We're excited to introduce the Mushroom Miniseries, our four-part exploration into the incredible, functional world of mushrooms. From learning about their adaptogenic nature to understanding how they grow, we're here to take you on a journey of discovery! Join me and my husband Billy as we partner with mushroom expert Louis Giller from North Spore to explore everything from how to grow mushrooms outdoors and indoors to discovering the incredible benefits mushrooms can offer our health and wellbeing. Our journey began with a simple walk in a nature preserve, and now we're bringing this passion project to you! Welcome to the wonderful world of mushrooms!

In this episode, we learn:

  • [00:56] This episode’s special guest!
  • [02:02] Billy and I started exploring mushrooms after watching ‘Fantastic Fungi’
  • [05:57] An overview of our four-part mushroom miniseries!
  • [07:57] Who is Louis Giller and why is he so crazy about mushrooms?
  • [11:31] Mushroom appreciation!
  • [12:36] How we started this passion project
  • [16:42] What is the difference between mushrooms and fungi?
  • [19:00] Are you looking for a product that improves plant growth while reducing water usage?
  • [20:40] Where can you get high-quality potato seeds this summer?
  • [22:50] What differentiates fungi from flora?
  • [25:21] What is the main purpose of mushrooms?
  • [27:08] Let’s explore the Wood Wide Web!
  • [30:54] What determines the fungus' fruiting body structure?
  • [35:38] Do potting mixes and composts with mycorrhizae help plants absorb water and nutrients faster, and how does this work?
  • [37:05] What are the little yellow mushrooms growing in your houseplant soils?
  • [39:36] What are adaptogenic mushrooms?
  • [40:40] Chaga and Reishi mushrooms: their anti-inflammatory benefits and unknown mechanisms
  • [43:43] Why mushroom have high-end protein content
  • [48:56] Ready to prioritize your health by investing in your sleep with the comfiest bedsheets
  • [51:07] Are the Cordyceps from The Last of Us TV show real?
  • [53:21] Louis’ best mushroom-related books for beginners!
  • [57:37] What are the mushrooms that Loius regularly consumes?
  • [59:31] What are some affordable ways to grow mushrooms at home?


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Meet Louis Geller

Louis Geller's journey to becoming a renowned mushroom expert began with a simple college project! After majoring in Environmental Science at the University of Denver, Louis and his friend applied for a research grant to test oyster mushrooms' ability to remove heavy metals from contaminated mine runoff. The experiment was a success, and he was hooked! Louis went on to become an expert in mushroom cultivation and foraging, eventually becoming North Spore's events coordinator and spokesperson.


Exploring the World of Mushrooms

Mushrooms are more than just the delicious toppings on your pizza. They are an incredible and intricate part of our ecosystem. Let’s explore some of the amazing facts about mushrooms and their role in our ecosystem, plant friends!

What are mushrooms?

As Louis would define it, mushrooms are the fruiting body of a fungal organism. They are the reproductive unit that produces spores for the fungus. Most of the biomass of the fungus is often underground or in wood, acting as a food source and scaffolding for the organism.

The range in size of mushrooms can vary greatly, from the size of a ballpoint pen tip to a single genetic organism that covers over three and a half square miles in biomass!

Is there a difference between fungi and mushrooms?

Fungi is a much broader term than mushrooms. The kingdom of fungi has 7 different phyla, but when we talk about mushrooms, we are mainly referring to Basidiomycota and Ascomycota.

What differentiates fungi from flora?

As you all know, plant friends, fungi are very different from plants as they do not go through photosynthesis. They exude chemicals that break down their environment, acting as an external stomach. The first fungi are thought to have inhabited the land before plants, and they are vital for breaking down biomaterial and cycling nutrients in our ecosystem.

What role do mushrooms play in nature?

Mushrooms act as decomposers, breaking down organic matter and cycling nutrients, making them more available for other organisms. They are necessary and vital for maintaining ecosystems, living in conjunction with plants and animals.

Mushrooms are fascinating organisms that play an important role in our ecosystem. From their range in size to their unique digestive process, these alien-like creatures truly deserve our attention and respect. So the next time you enjoy a slice of pizza with mushrooms, remember the vital role they play in our world!

What are those cute little mushrooms in your houseplant soil?

Have you ever noticed little mushrooms popping up in your houseplant soil? They may seem harmless, but you’re not wrong to wonder if they could harm your plant or even be toxic. Fear not! 

Chances are, the little yellow mushrooms you’re seeing are Leucocoprinus birnbaumii, commonly known as the flowerpot dapperling. This species of mushroom is known for thriving in potting soil, making it a common sight in houseplants.

While they may be adorable, the presence of these mushrooms is usually a sign that your plant is being overwatered! So if you see them popping up in your pot, it's time to take a closer look at your watering schedule. 

The good news is that these little yellow mushrooms are not harmful to your plant or to you. They’re not edible, but they’re not toxic either. They’re just a signal that you need to adjust your watering habits. If you’re not a fan of the little yellow mushrooms in your plant, you can always transfer your plant to fresh soil and give the roots a good wash!


Exploring the Wood Wide Web and the Amazing Capabilities of Mycelium

Fungi are fascinating creatures that have been around for millions of years and are found in every corner of the world. From the delicious mushrooms we love to eat to the complex networks of mycelium that connect entire forests, fungi play a vital role in our ecosystem.

Did you know that the mycelium of fungi can create an underground network that connects all the plants in a forest? This network is known as the Wood Wide Web, and it helps plants communicate with each other and transport nutrients over long distances. In fact, mycelium can even communicate the need for nutrient transport between plants!


Saprobe vs. Ectomycorrhizal Fungi

While we can farm saprobe fungi, which eat dead material, there are many fungi out there that we can't farm because they require relationships to thrive. Ectomycorrhizal fungi, for example, coat the outside of roots and exchange nutrients with the tree, providing different minerals and water, while the tree provides carbon. They are vital for the survival of the trees they interact with and cannot just eat dead material.


The Fascinating World of Fungal Evolution

Fungal organisms are constantly evolving, with new mutations taking hold and allowing them to better adapt to their environment. Some fungal organisms go through many generations much faster than others, allowing for rapid genetic combination and speciation. The possibilities are endless, and it's truly mind-boggling to think about the incredible capabilities of these amazing creatures.


Affordable Mushroom Growing Methods at Home

Are you interested in growing mushrooms in your home but don't know where to start? You're in luck because there are several affordable ways to grow mushrooms that we'll be unpacking in our little shroomie series. Here are some of the methods we'll be discussing:

  • Spray and grow kit: This tabletop kit is perfect for beginners as it allows you to grow four species of mushrooms that are fast-growing and adaptable.
  • Monotub: This method requires a bit more technique and risk, but it can yield great rewards. It involves creating a mini greenhouse for species that grow on a flat surface.
  • BoomRoom or Martha Tent: These are other methods for growing mushrooms in a controlled environment.
  • Log cultivation: This is one of the coolest ways to grow mushrooms, especially Shiitake Log, which has been used for thousands of years.
  • Beds: Did you know that you can grow mushrooms in your garden bed alongside your plants? It's a great way to incorporate everything in the ecosystem and enrich the soil.

So there you have it, a glimpse into the incredible world of mushrooms! If you're ready to start growing your own mushrooms, North Spore has everything you need to get started. Use the code at checkout for a discount on your purchase. Let's get shroomin'!


Mentioned in our conversation:


Thank you to our episode sponsors:

Espoma Organic

Espoma Organic is dedicated to making safe indoor and outdoor gardening products for people, pets, and the planet. They have an amazing variety of high-quality, organic potting mixes, garden soil, fertilizers, and pest control products that are organic and eco-friendly.

Visit to find your local Espoma dealer or check my Amazon storefront.

Territorial Seed Company

There is nothing like snacking on fresh berries, so why not grow them in your garden? With a wide variety of berries to have in spring, Territorial Seed Company has your back. Skip the lines at the garden center and let Territorial Seed Company deliver top-of-the-line, healthy and hardy vegetable plants right to your door! They have a great line of pre-grown plants, an expansive seed catalog, and over 40 years of experience delivering the best seeds and plants for everyone's garden. Whether you are looking for berries, flowers or edible plants in either seed or seedling form, Territorial Seed Company has your back.

Get 10% off by visiting – discount applied at checkout.

Cozy Earth

Sleep is foundational for optimum health, like having quality soil for our plants to thrive in, so doesn't it make sense to have bedding that reflects that? Cozy Earth's best-selling bamboo sheet set is temperature-regulating and incredibly soft, and it's made from 100% premium viscose from bamboo which makes it not only feel like silk but actually truly cooling to touch. Plus, they have a lengthy warranty and everything you need for bedding with a variety of luxury pillows, sheets, blankets and even PJS!

Check out and enjoy an exclusive offer of 35% off site wide when you use the code “GROWINGJOY”.


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