Fresh is best.
The fresher your food is, the better it tastes. There’s nothing like eating food that you know has been well grown and prepared with care.
It's easy and convenient to buy all your produce at the supermarket. Growing vegetables takes time and effort. However, while it may be the slower route, you have the reward of eating plants you've grown yourself.
This means you also get to control what goes into growing your vegetables. You can choose whether you spray them or not. Homegrown, organic produce often tastes better than its store-bought counterpart.
Let’s take a look at one vegetable in particular, the mushroom, and how to grow it yourself.
WHAT ARE MUSHROOMS?
So, what is a mushroom?
Wikipedia explains that mushrooms belong in the fungi family.
There is a wide range of varieties. Some are edible, while others shouldn’t be ingested at all.
The white button mushroom is the most common type of fungus to use in cooking and food cultivation. The mushrooms sold in supermarkets are often cultivated on mushroom farms.
Strictly speaking, mushrooms aren't a vegetable. While they're neither meat nor a vegetable, they're considered the ‘meat' of vegetarian cuisine due to their chewy, full-bodied texture.
Korean, European, Chinese and Japanese cuisine use mushrooms extensively. The reason why white button mushrooms are considered safe for human consumption is that they're typically grown in sterilized, controlled environments.
Within this particular species of mushroom are many sub-species that are also grown for human consumption. These include Portobello and crimini.
While mushrooms have been used in Asian and European cooking
for hundreds of years, Western countries have recently taken a shine to using
mushrooms more, hence their commercial development.
It is recommended that you avoid eating mushrooms you find in the wild – they may be poisonous. Let’s take a look at how to grow your own edible mushrooms.
The Right Season For Growing Mushrooms
Before we talk about growing your mushrooms, let’s quickly run through the best time of year to be growing this fungus.
SF Gate explains that while you can grow mushrooms all year round, the best time of year if in the fall.
The growth in cultivating mushrooms for cooking has enabled them to be available at any time of the year. However, most mushrooms that you come across in the wild will only exist in the autumn season.
Most stores sell mushroom growing kits that allow you to grow them at any time of year. However, it’s still recommended that you consider the temperature of the environment you’re choosing to grow your mushrooms in.
Let’s take a look at how to grow mushrooms yourself.
How To Grow Mushrooms With A Dowel
If you’re planning on growing your mushrooms outside in your garden, there are two main ways to do this. Thompson Morgan explains that the first way to grow mushrooms outside is on a log, with a dowel.
If you’re planning on growing your mushrooms on a log, you will want to pick up a dowel from your local plant store. A dowel is a small piece of wood that will be impregnated with mushroom spawn.
This dowel is then placed in your chosen log at home. While dowels are available at any time of the year, you need to be careful when selecting your wood. Ideally, cut your log during the tree's dormant season.
This is typically between the middle of autumn and beginning of spring. We recommend that you place the dowel into the log within six weeks of cutting your wood from the tree. This is to prevent any other fungi potentially contaminating the germinating spores.
When it comes to choosing the wood for your log, we recommend a hardwood log. This can include birch, hazel, beech, oak, and willow. It's important to keep the freshly cut log out of direct sunlight and strong wind to preserve it before planting.
To plant the dowels in the log, drill holes along the top. Insert the dowels into these holes. Seal the entry to these holes with wax. Small white nodes will appear on the surface, and within a week of these, you'll see mushrooms.
Grasp your mushrooms at the base of the stem and twist to remove them from the log.
How To Grow Mushrooms From Spawn
Thompson Morgan continues by explaining how to grow mushrooms from spawn.
Grain spawn is another growing commodity that is available at any time of the year from your local plant store. Using spawn to grow mushrooms is the more traditional way.
To grow your mushrooms outside from spawn, you'll need a neglected lawn or active compost heap. This type of mushroom growth is most successful in soil that is rich in organic matter.
To plant your mushroom spawn, simply lift a 4cm layer of compost off the top. You want to bury your spawn to a certain extent, but not too much.
Once you’ve been able to dig down into the surface, you can scatter your mushroom spawn in even layers. Add extra organic matter to cover the spawn if you think it needs it.
It's important that you don't use chemical fertilizers when growing mushrooms like this, otherwise they won't develop. When implementing this type of planting outside, the growth of your fungi depends entirely on the
If you plant your mushroom spawn properly, you should see
groups of growth every ten days.
How To Grow Mushrooms Indoors: Basic Method
If you prefer to have your mushrooms indoors with you, there are two ways to do so. Let’s look at the first method. Wikihow explains that you can grow your mushrooms indoors using straw and sawdust.
First, buy your mushroom spawn from your local plant store. You can also purchase straw or sawdust from here – whichever growing medium you prefer.
Once you’ve bought your basic ingredients, sterilize the straw or sawdust. You can do this by placing it in a bowl with enough water to cover it, before microwaving on high for two minutes.
This will kill off any competing microbes that could potentially kill off your mushroom spawn.Place your straw or sawdust into your chosen container. You’ll want to do this while it’s still warm – this will encourage your mushroom spawn to grow.
Place this mixture in a dark environment for three weeks. This will allow enough time for the spawn to permeate your chosen medium.After three weeks, check to see if the spawn has created a white fuzz across the surface.
If this has occurred, it means that your mushroom spawn has colonized, and you can move it into a cooler, darker environment.After three weeks you should start to see mushrooms.
Continue to keep them in their existing environment to encourage their growth.
How To Grow Mushrooms Indoors With Coffee Grounds
Now that we've looked at how to grow mushrooms indoors the traditional way let's see how you can do the same thing with coffee grounds.
Coffee grounds are an excellent medium for growing mushrooms in. They're full of nutrients and are already sterilized due to the coffee brewing process.
Find a suitable container for your mushroom growing. One option is a coffee filter bag. Place your coffee grounds and mushroom spawn into the bag. Wash your hands thoroughly before mixing the mushroom spawn throughout the coffee grounds.
Seal this mixture tightly in your chosen container. Place your coffee ground mixture into a warm, dark environment – a cabinet or wardrobe is ideal. Leave your mixture in this environment for anywhere between two and four weeks.
Once this time is up, you can take your filter bag out of its warm, dark location and check for colonization. Remember that this will have taken place if there is a nice, fuzzy white layer across the surface of the coffee beans.
Move your bag into an area that gets a bit of sun – but not too much. Cut a small hole in the bag for aeration and spray the contents twice a day with water to prevent them from drying out.
It will take roughly five to seven days after this for mushrooms to appear. If you continue to mist them with water, they should double in size each day.
Growing And Eating Mushrooms From Scratch
Learning how to grow mushrooms can be fun and easy.
As we have discussed, there are multiple ways to do this. If you prefer to grow your plants, fungi, and vegetables outside, you can use a log or compost heap.
If you like growing flora indoors, there are a number of ways to get creative with it. You can even be resourceful by using the old coffee grinds that you would otherwise just throw away.
Lots of cafes happily give their grinds away at the end of the day, too.
Choose the mushroom growing method that’s right for you.
Featured Image via Pixabay