I remember when I was a child visiting my granddad in England, he would always have a few mushrooms growing in his shed. I thought it was magical that he grew them, and it’s always been in the back of my mind that I wanted to grow some as well. Just to be clear though: I’m not a fan of mushrooms. It’s like a vegetarian working in an abattoir I guess.
Regardless of my malevolence towards mushrooms, I had a fungi fantasy to live out. In the past we tried to get some in England on holiday, but a certain someone was worried that the secret mushroom police at the airport were going to whisk them away to Guantanamo Bay for smuggling spores. Canada (as far as I know) doesn’t seem to have anyone that sells the spores, so I focused on the UK. I found a great online store called Mushroom Box (http://mushroombox.co.uk/). They have great prices, selection and their customer service was great. Placed the order, and within a week or so, I had the beginnings of a new species on the kitchen table. It is perfectly legal to have mushroom spores shipped to Canada, assuming they are of the non-psychedelic variety.
Mushrooms need to grow on a substrate. The easiest to prepare is toilet roll. Yes, toilet roll. A fresh one of course, unsoiled. Loo roll on a plate, boiling kettle poured over top, cooled, and packet of spores added in the centre. If you want more detailed instructions, visit Mushroom Box.
The mushrooms grow in two stage; incubation and fruiting. During the incubation stage, the toilet roll is cover by an upturned sandwich bag which helps the developing mushrooms by keeping out competing bacteria and fungi. Of the two species I tried, the pink oyster mushroom wasn’t as resilient as the blue oysters, and were quickly taken over by a green mold. I blame the mushrooms, but most likely it was something I did wrong during the sterilizing process. Luckily for you this picture doesn’t smell like the real thing did:
The other set of mushrooms made it through the first stage and developed what looks like cotton wool mold all over the roll. At this point I removed the sandwich bag and placed the mini mushroom garden in a cooler, airy space to trigger the fruiting. A few days later and we had mushrooms growing on a toilet roll in the kitchen. If you were to see this under the couch or in the washroom, you’d be disgusted and think we were slobs, but having it on display in the kitchen made it seem less offensive:
Once they were at a harvest-able size, we snipped them back to allow their friends underneath a chance at developing. They seemed to lose their will to go on without their larger friends, and I pitched the whole thing a few weeks later. Although I’m not a fan, I had to try these amazing little things I grew, and I have to admit, they were delicious! Apparently (according to my better half) they are three times stronger than store-bought, and about 3 times cheaper. Once we had our little snack, the rest went on a pizza. Seems like most things end up on pizzas in this house. Not looking forward to the cat getting to a “harvest-able size”.