Help me get my wife into fungus farming
November 20, 2014 7:08 PM   Subscribe

My wife is interested in a grow your own mushroom kit and can you help guide me turn this gift up to 11?

The details:

1. We love cooking together.
2. We love cooking with mushrooms.
3. She expressed an interest in one of those grow mushroom kits.
4. I love this idea, but I don't want it to be just a kit in the box.

Does anyone have experience with growing mushrooms indoors and suggestions about building an easy to maintain starter kit?
posted by cmfletcher to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
I always start with this stuff with Mother Earth magazine (ignore the print dialog box) who has a lot of great stuff about homesteading and suggest a few kits on that page. They also suggest contacting your local mycological association to see what's good in your area. Here is their list. If you want to read up on the blabla stuff that is actually happening when you cultivate mushrooms, this article from Fungi Perfect gives a good overview even though it's 20 years old. I don't know anything about them otherwise but I sort of love the idea of growing your own mushrooms on logs and stumps using plug spawn. Hopefully someone with more firsthand experience can let you know if this is actually a viable idea.
posted by jessamyn at 7:22 PM on November 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

I've grown portobello and shiitake, and the shiitake were way cooler because logs > boxes of manure.

Both were from kits, but you still have to activate the log/box of poo yourself and house and mist them yourself, so the "kit" aspect is pretty much moot once you unbox. I mean, doing it yourself is still basically the same, you just have to source the log and the cultures instead of having them pre-packaged (and potentially already inoculated) together.
posted by vegartanipla at 8:09 PM on November 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

A log is awesome if you have the space for one inside (and patience!) - although outdoors is probably easier.

I've only grown one kind indoors and it was oysters using a DIY kit from my local mushroom group. Oysters are probably the most forgiving mushroom to grow yourself. I personally don't find them that tasty, sadly. This is the method we used.

As far as easy to maintain, I don't know - it's not like a houseplant. You can take the spent mycelium as spawn for the next batch of mushrooms.
posted by O9scar at 8:15 PM on November 20, 2014

Permaculturist Michael Judd has this nice post on cultivating edible mushrooms, and recommends the book Mycelium Running by Paul Stamets for much more in-depth info.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:16 PM on November 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

I think you can do lions mane mushrooms. Unique taste cool visuals.
posted by Ferreous at 8:26 PM on November 20, 2014

Plug spawn takes a long time. What's wrong with a "kit in a box"? Indoors, a box keeps the substrate and spawn together in a neat package. When spent the box is easily disposed of.
posted by telstar at 9:45 PM on November 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Fungi Perfecti has a LOT of them, and lots of advice, too. (Also, the guy who started it, Paul Stametz, is a hoot if you ever get the chance to hear him speak.)
posted by small_ruminant at 10:31 PM on November 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

A word of caution... mushrooms are living things with specific requirements. I know you want to go DIY with this, but if you have no experience growing mushrooms you may want to reconsider a premade kit. Choose a nice kit-- the shiitake one from Fungi Perfecti looks good, for example. Then supplement with your own DIY ideas or maybe a book about mushroom cultivation. This way you will sooner get some nice edibles to share from your gift.
posted by zennie at 8:33 AM on November 21, 2014

We bought a premade oyster mushroom kit and then used it for almost a year to re-spawn (is that the word?) tubs of coffee grounds so we got perpetual oyster mushrooms.

I love oyster mushrooms. The flavor doesn't knock you over, I admit, but they have a great texture and take on the flavors of anything you add to them, and they are voluminous! So you have have a huge pan full of mushrooms for breakfast if you want.

Why aren't we doing that now? Must fix that.
posted by small_ruminant at 8:58 AM on November 21, 2014

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