Everyone wants to learn how to grow crops and herbs for homesteading, especially the particularly easy veggies. But they’re overlooking a beneficial and tremendously easy resource: Mushrooms. The world of fungi is full of edible (and often tasty) options. And best of all, they’re super easy to grow yourself, lasting nearly forever.
For the unfamiliar, mushrooms are part of the fungus family. They are the “fruit” of mycelium. Think of those as the “roots” of a fungus. They are often too small to see on your own. The primary source of food for mycelium is decomposing material, either dirt or wood. Wood is particularly common.
What does this mean?
It means that once you have a source of fungal spores growing on some wood, you can have a steady supply of mushrooms forever. All you have to do is feed it more wood. As long as you keep it in a healthy environment, it’ll continue to produce more mushrooms.
Where to begin?
Fortunately, since mycology is a somewhat trendy hobby for nature enthusiasts, it’s relatively easy to find a grow-it-yourself mushroom kit. These kits provide a growing medium (often a small log or block of sawdust) that has already been infused with fungal spores. It will often come with a misting spray bottle, and any other tools needed to tend to the growing fungus. Following its instructions, you can start your own mushroom colony. When it starts to run out of the wood, you can transfer it to a new supply (or add more to it, if it’s sawdust or wood chips).
What Mushroom Growing Kits Should I Look Into?
Each kit will provide more information about the specific care for whatever strand of mushroom you decide on. Be sure to read them and follow the instructions. That said, here are some popular edible mushroom growing kit options.
- Enoki Mushrooms
Tall and thin, the yellow color makes them look a bit like french fries. They are often recommended as an accent to soups or salads. Better with drier climates, one grow kit will produce about two pounds of edible material a month.
- Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
These look strange, consisting of white strands that hang downward. But the flavor is an excellent substitution for seafood flavor, often being compared to crab. And like meat, it’s a great source of protein. Keep the medium moist and you’ll see harvest in about a month. It re-seeds quite easily, too.
Often sought after for their flavor, they have an earthy/nutty taste. They can be eaten outright when smaller, steam and all. If they grow large, most folks recommend keeping to the caps, since the stems can get a woody flavor. They are particularly good for dehydrating. These are a soil mushroom, and can be perennial if tended for correctly.
- Oyster Mushrooms
Arguably the most common hobby mushroom, they come in a variety of variations (named by color), each with differences to their flavor. They’re popular in Asian dishes and grow in abundance.
- Shiitake Mushrooms
Earthy and rich, these grow off of wooden logs directly. They’re relatively easy to care for and provide a lot of flavor. Popular in Japan, they can make for a fantastic soup.