“Mushrooms are weird”, the Prof said as he started to get to grips with his grow your own mushrooms Christmas present. This followed on from the (sort of) joke he cracked when he opened them along the lines of “how is growing mushrooms like management?” If you haven’t heard it before it involves keeping people in the dark.
He was writing the jokes for our home made ‘crackers’ at the time. Mostly unknown in the US, they’re a twist of paper wrapped around, in our case, old toilet paper holders with a small explosive ‘snap’ running the length of the ‘cracker’. The idea is that two people pull from either end, the ‘snap’ makes a crisp bang and all manner of goodies fall out, usually a party hat, trinket and cheesy jokes.
Never one to pass up a deal – on something I was going to get anyway – I chose a ‘buy two get one free’ offer. So grow your own chestnut mushrooms, grow your own oyster mushrooms and grow your own shiitake mushrooms.
Each came with its own growing medium, propagator and instructions – all different depending on the type. The chestnut mushrooms come with a bag of ‘colonised compost’ and a bag of cover soil. A temperature of 20-25°C will turn the ‘colonised compost’ white with fungus or mycelium. Soak the cover soil, spread over the top of the white stuff and watch the little ‘pins’ grow though. We have one so far with a couple peeping through!! We may get three crops if we’re lucky according to the instructions.
We’re a bit behind the curve with the other two sets, which could be good as they’re a little more complicated it seems. Both are grown on a substrate of straw. I had to look this up, it means an underlying substance or layer, or the substance on which an enzyme acts. Then there’s a whole regime of packaging, temperature, light and wetness.
The shiitake substrate looks like sourdough bread! If we get all this right and we get happy mushrooms, then we’re promised several harvests with the shiitake being the most prolific with 5-8 harvests in six months.
I don’t think that we’ll never have to buy mushrooms again, but it’s an interesting experience and we’re looking forward to tasting our home grown ones. Now how to eat????