Mushrooms are the rule benders of garden-to-table eating and a perfect compliment to indoor gardening. Call it apartment therapy, not enough space for a garden therapy or simply mushroom obsession therapy. Grow them any time of year under your sink; in a cool, forgotten corner of your house; or in your garage or basement. They’re really pretty amazing. 1. because they grow in places you wouldn’t otherwise use for gardening (expanding your growing horizons) and 2. because they’re simple to grow. Just add water to a bit of medium (sawdust, straw, coffee grounds, soil, crazy manure combo, etc.) containing the spawn of the mushroom of your dreams, wait a few weeks and presto, mushrooms. Ready to eat.
Mushroom kits are the place to start. You quickly learn which varieties you prefer and vice versa. Your particular indoor climate may be better suited to some than others. I suggest trying your top 3 favorites and go from there. If you get hooked branch out from store bought kits and design your own mini mushroom farm perfect for you.
Most mushrooms like to grow in cool, moist (or humid), low light conditions. Optimal temperatures range from 55 to 60 degrees but some mushrooms like Enoki prefer temperatures closer to 45 degrees, making it an excellent winter selection.
These Oyster mushrooms were delicious but my next plan is to inoculate parts of the garden with Shaggy Manes and stick to White Button mushrooms indoors. At least for now. One batch of White Button spawn can produce enough mushrooms for daily harvesting for up to 6 months! I don’t know why this sounds like magic.
Here’s what you do:
- Choose the mushrooms you’d like to grow (the type you’d most like to eat). Start with a DIY kit or purchase mushroom spawn (not spores) at your nursery or seed company.
- Prep your growing environment. White Button’s like to grow in composted manure but Shiitake’s like sawdust and Oyster mushrooms like straw.
- Sterilize your growing medium. Dampen your composted manure, straw or sawdust and cook in a microwave for 2 minutes. Manure can be sterilized in a conventional oven. Bake at 180 to 200 degrees for 30 minutes. Be prepared to sterilize in batches.
- Mix the spawn and growing medium in a shallow pan like a baking dish and place on a heating pad, warming it to 70 degrees. Place your pan in a dark environment and continue to heat at 70 degrees for 3 weeks.
- After 3 weeks move your pan to a cool, dark environment. 55 degrees is optimal. Cover the growing medium with a thin layer of soil and moisten by spraying it with water. Thoroughly dampen and continue to keep it evenly moist.
- In another 3 weeks you should start to see the buds of mushrooms. Keep them moist and harvest when caps start to separate from their stems. Cut free with a sharp knife, being careful not to disturb the surrounding area — more mushrooms will grow.
- Wash and eat or store in your fridge for up to a week.