Yes I’m posting this on Christmas eve – just taking a moment to consider next year’s projects. Fungi is featuring large at the moment!
Growing mushrooms at home is very do-able, with the right growing conditions, to produce a bumper crop. Fungi are just as nutritious as vegetables and don’t have to be treated as a luxury crop.
They have their own particular seasons, and different species of fungi require different conditions to thrive. They taste good too 🙂 and can be grown in kit form throughout the year. Add them to the family meal every night .. mm, how good is that!
Growing mushrooms – Collecting wild species:
There are hundreds of different species of fungi. Fungi have an important role to play in the natural world around us. Some aid growth of other plants and trees, some will poison those same plants.
NB: Never eat any form of fungi without a positive identification first. Some wild varieties really are highly dangerous and should not be eaten.
However, once you know what to look for, collecting wild food is a rewarding and tasty experience! As a family, we have collected and eaten chanterelles, giant puff balls, shaggy ink caps, field mushrooms, and, my particular favourite, ‘chicken-of-the-woods’. The chicken-of-the-woods fungi lives on the bark of trees like the beefsteak fungi.
One sizeable ‘chicken-of-the-woods’ will feed a family for 2 days. And it really is delicious!
Growing mushrooms – Life cycle:
Mushrooms are the fruit of a fungi, as a pear of a pear tree. The fungi lives under leaves, in grassland, under the bark of trees and anywhere else that suit them!
When conditions are right fungi will produce its fruit -which starts to deteriorate almost as soon as it’s fully grown and therefore should be picked and eaten while still young.
Wine growers have to be very precise in the timing of their harvest of grapes and fungi enthusiasts need to develop that same skill. But luckily it’s not that hard!
Watch how they develop and decay. It all happens over a couple of days. A scientific experiment and a little research won’t take up much of your time and will benefit you and your family in the long run.
Using a kit will demonstrate the life cycle beautifully… the three stages are:
-spawning: the spawn is established in a growing medium
-pinning: Tiny pin heads of mycelium appear
-fruiting: the developing mushroom
Growing Mushrooms – the kit:
If you’ve never grown them before, a kit really will help with the fungi learning curve!
Each stage of development requires different conditions. Button varieties will develop without light, while other species may require light during one or more of its stages of development.
They can also be grown in those out of the way dark corners in the garden, where nothing else will grow. Many varieties can be grown outside in mild climates. They rarely cope with very low temperatures though and should be grown indoors during cold weather conditions.
There are loads of kits on Amazon. This one caught my eye!
Unique viability guarantee – 100% success every time
Grow your own delicious mushrooms at home
Excellent educational product for children
Growing mushrooms for Nutrition:
Growing mushrooms not only adds a special taste to every meal, mushrooms also have plenty of nutritious qualities!
They are relatively high in protein, low in fat, high in fibre, and they also contain a range of vitamins. Lots of great reasons to grow your own.
They have been found to have anti-cancer properties and can help with all kinds of medical conditions, from menopausal problems to immune system deficiencies. If you are really getting into growing mushrooms you may want to find out more about them.. try The Mushroom Council – Their factsheets are fascinating. And they’ve got loads of mushroom recipes!
And this looks interesting – Although it’s been out for a few years now, this book is still a best-seller of it’s genre. On my wishlist!
Mycelium Running: A Guide to Healing the Planet Through Gardening with Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms
Mycelium Running is a manual for the mycological rescue of the planet. That’s right: growing more mushrooms may be the best thing we can do to save the environment, and in this groundbreaking text from mushroom expert Paul Stamets, you’ll find out how.
Let me know how you get on if you decide to have a go at saving the world with fungi!
Best wishes for a happy holiday 🙂