Brrrrr… fall/winter finally found us here in the Central Valley, but if you didn’t plant a fall garden, or even if you did and still want something fresh to eat, have no fear. Chilly weather means it is time to grow mushrooms! No, I’m not talking about the psychedelic ones… good grief. So whether you like Portabello or Shitake there’s an edible mushroom kit waiting for you and your family.
Now, some disclaimers about growing mushrooms; don’t simply go out into your yard and pick whatever mushroom is growing on your lawn or under a tree and attempt to eat it. Bad idea! Most are not edible and are in fact, very poisonous. So stick with the kits people! Stick with the kits!
Mushroom kits can sometimes be a little pricey in this economy, but I finally found some that won’t empty the wallet. I found an oyster kit for $20 at Whole Foods Market in Fresno and ordered a Portabello kit for $35 from Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply (www.groworganic.com).
I know what you’re thinking… can’t I just pick some up at the store for $4? Of course you can, but growing your own mushrooms is not only fun, it’s easy, educational for kids, and the taste is way better than something that has been sitting there for weeks in cold storage. Most kits require you to just add water and in a few weeks (or way less) …violá…. mushrooms!
Most kits include straw, sawdust, coffee grounds or compost inoculated with mushroom fungi. Based on what type of mushroom you’re growing you may need to adjust temperature and humidity. But don’t worry, mushrooms love temperatures between 50-80 degrees and can be grown inside. Mushrooms simply need many of things regular plants need: light, moisture, air circulation, and a little loving care. The kits come with plenty of instructions so don’t worry about becoming a fungi expert. Many of the kits yield several crops which means you’ll have plenty of mushrooms for everything from pizza to stuffed mushrooms, soups to salads for weeks on end.
You can also grow mushrooms using plugs that should be inserted into logs and inoculated for a designated length of time. But if you’re looking to start out with something simple for the first time I recommend ordering a White Button or oyster kit. Before you know it you’ll be harvesting fresh mushrooms and cooking up a storm.
For more information or to order a kit, check out the following sites online: www.groworganic.com, www.gardencityfungi.com, or www.fungi.com. Most of the kits on these sites are$35 or less, many of them less.
*The mushrooms in the picture above are from the Whole Foods kit I got.