Before we get into the concept of growing mushrooms at home, there are a few words and terminologies you should familiarize yourself with so you can understand what you're reading.
Flush – An abundance or bounty. In this case, a flush is the harvest of mushrooms produced. It is blooming in mushroom language.
Fungus – Any member of the group of eukaryotic organisms (having a cell nucleus) to include yeasts, molds, and mushrooms.
Mycelium (my-see-lee-em) – Are the fruiting bodies of the fungus mycelia. They develop the thread-like colonies from which the mushrooms sprout.
Spawn – Any substance that has been inoculated with mycelium, the vegetative growth of a fungus. Mushroom spawn transports the mycelium to the substrate.
Substrate – The growing medium from which mushrooms sprout (like dirt for a plant). Sawdust, hardwood logs, and wood chips as well as straw, hay, and even bark are excellent growing mediums for mushrooms.
Now with your newly acquired vocabulary, let's grow some mushrooms!
What is a Mushroom Anyway?
A mushroom is merely the fruiting body of a fungus. In the United States, there are around 5,000 species of mushrooms and many types are good to eat. These 'shrooms generally have a stem with a cap whose underside is ribbed or vented. This cap and ribs contain its spore cells for spreading out and for reproduction.
Growing mushrooms is quite different from growing vegetables. Green veggies create chlorophyll, which enables them to draw energy from sunlight making it a key component to photosynthesis. Mushrooms don't create chlorophyll and must rely on their growing medium for their nutrition. Additionally, there is no pruning or pinching or trimming involved with growing mushrooms. It's pretty much water and wait.
Warning! Don't be Confused
Before continuing I must, at this early stage of the article, warn you about poisonous wild mushrooms. There are about twelve types of mushrooms that can kill you if ingested.
The problem lies in that they can closely resemble wild, edible mushrooms in color and appearance. Unless you are a certified expert, you should never consume mushrooms you find growing in the wild.
There are types, such as the genus Amanita, which are some of the most toxic in the world and can be deadly if consumed even in small amounts. Be aware that even experienced persons like professional chefs have made this fatal mistake, so stick with the mushrooms you buy from a reputable mushroom grower or supplier.
Be forewarned, there is no cure for mushroom poisoning.
Now to the fun side of mushrooms. This article is more a why not than a how to. We merely want to introduce you to the concept of growing your own mushrooms and provide you with some helpful information on how to do that.
Growing your own mushrooms is fun, easy, and can even be profitable. There are any number of ways you can grow your own mushrooms at home but for sheer simplicity and convenience, we recommend you purchase a mushroom kit.
These kits contain everything you'll need to ensure your mushroom garden gets off to a good start and is productive and fun. Another perk of growing your own mushrooms is they can be grown in a limited space such as an apartment, or in a basement or cellar.
Just follow the instructions that come with the materials and you'll be on your way to a bountiful harvest of delicious and nutritious homegrown mushrooms.
Below are some of the most popular mushrooms people enjoy growing and eating.
Once deciding to grow edible mushrooms, there are many choices available to you. As with any type of food, different mushrooms hold different flavors and are used in a variety of culinary ways. Be aware that you can order some of these varieties in standard or even giant-size. Although there are many kinds, some of the most popular mushrooms to grow are:
- Shiitake (shi-TAH-kee)
- Creminis, or white mushrooms (the ones most seen in stores - often brown in color)
- Morels (more-ELS)
The aforementioned are generally available in mushroom growing kits, along with many other types. Do some research and discover the mushroom that best suits your taste, or grow a variety to enhance your growing and dining experience.
From the Japanese forests comes the shiitake mushroom. Shiitakes are one of the most popular mushrooms for consumers and cooks alike. In addition to multiple health benefits, shiitakes contain significant amounts of copper and antioxidants, and also boast anti-inflammatory properties. Not to mention they are delicious.
Shiitake mushrooms grow best on hardwood substrates such as oak, beech, and cottonwood. Stay away from aromatic woods such as cedar or eucalyptus as they can impart an unwanted flavor to the mushrooms.
According to some, portobellos are the steaks of the mushroom world. Stuffed or grilled, these mushrooms are of course delicious and nutritious.
These little mushrooms are generally white or brown and, like most mushrooms, are very versatile when used in cooking. These are the most common ones you see in the produce section of your local store. Also sold as “baby portobello” or button mushrooms.
Morels are probably my favorite mushroom. They resemble natural sponges in their appearance and when dipped in egg and fried in butter, offer the lucky consumer a delicious flavor that is hard to beat.
A mushroom kit is just what the names states, a self-contained starter kit enabling you to easily grow your own mushrooms. With these kits, all the guesswork has been done as they are designed and constructed to ensure that everything you'll need to get growing is there and bountiful results are practically guaranteed.
Nearly every type of mushroom you would like to grow can be purchased in kit form. Simply follow the instructions, which are essentially watering them and watching Nature do its thing. Kits make growing your favorite mushrooms fun and easy.
Here are a few links to reputable mushroom kit providers.
Mushroom People - One of North America's oldest and largest mushroom growers and suppliers. They have a variety of stock but specialize in shiitake mushrooms.
Mushrooms.org - They offer a profusion of mushroom kits from which to choose, along with excellent customer reviews.
Mushroom Adventures - They offer a diverse assortment of kits as well, and have many satisfied customers.
Should you decide to invest in a mushroom kit, please let us know how it's growing. We'd love to hear about your experience!