Posts Tagged ‘Mushrooms’

Mushroom Kits or Mushroom Compost?

fungiblock1I’ve been doing a bit of research and have been coming to the conclusion that growing mushrooms is pretty hard work and that it seems that the Mushroom kits are generally not worth trying. Most people seem to have had no luck at all with the standard button-mushroom kits bought from supermarkets, and the only really positive story was about a Shiitake mushroom kit from Ardna Mushrooms, who really seem to know their stuff. The simplest way to get one of their kits is from West Highland Crafts, and there is a great motivational video from Gardeners’ World showing how to grow Shiitake and Oyster mushrooms with kits and dowels – makes it look very easy. Even so I’m thinking mushrooms might be a second-year project rather than an initial, easy dalliance.

The only consistent way people seem to get crops of button mushrooms seems to be from spent mushroom compost – so I’m wondering whether it’s possible to get spent mushroom compost (containing the mushroom mycellium), and “top-it-up” with new, home-made, mushroom compost to reinvigorate it. Seems to be the cheap-and cheerful way to mess about before getting serious and buying “Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms” by Paul Stamets, over at Fungi Perfecti.

There was a great description on how to make your own Mushroom Compost over at Allotment.org.uk, even simpler than my previous post on Mushroom Compost:

The perfect ‘substrate’ on which to grow mushrooms is well rotted horse manure. Either purchase ready, pre-packaged manure or if you can obtain fresh manure simply add 20% wet straw and leave outside in a heap, the centre of the heap should become hot within hours. Turn it over weeky and keep moist but not wet. When the heap has rotted sufficiently it will no longer be hot in the middle. When it has been composted and become dark brown with little or no smell it is ready to use. You will need approx 5kg of well rotted manure for one packet of mushroom spawn. Mix the spawn into the well rotted manure and place in a sturdy plastic bag or crate, firming it down well. Then mix equal quantities of sieved garden soil (from just below the surface) with ordinary multipurpose compost and use it to cover the manure and spawn mix witha a 2.5cm layer known as ‘casing’.

Keep the bag or crate in an airy garage, shed, greenhouse, cold frame or cellar at a temperature of approx 15 – 20C. Ensure the earth layer or ‘casing’ remains moist but not wet. The first mushrooms should begin to appear in 20 -30 days, often in flushes 8 to 10 days apart, until the substrate is exhausted. To harvest your mushrooms grasp the base of the stem and rock them free from the compost, avoid pulling as this damages the mycelium for further crops. Button mushrooms are at their best when the caps just begin to open.

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Priorities

As we get closer to the D-Day of actually having a garden to work on it’s time to start setting some priorities. My current thoughts are that I want to spend the first year getting the gross, permanent structure of the garden in place: the fruit and nut trees, asparagus, fruit canes (raspberry, blackberry etc), edible hedges, and to get our Aquaponics setup started.

In the second year I want to get our core vegetables going and then start to dally with some of the more esoteric options: mushrooms, peanuts etc. But lets just get through the first year first!

Shiitake Hazelnut Vegetarian Pate

With two of my recent themes being Hazelnuts from edible hedges and growing our own mushrooms, imagine how delighted I was to find this recipe over at Fungi Perfecti:

Shiitake Hazelnut Vegetarian Pate

4 oz Shiitake Mushrooms
1/8 tbsp thyme
3 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts
2 tsp dry sherry
3 oz Neufchatel cheese
1 tsp fresh parsley

Trim and discard woody ends from mushrooms. In a food processor, finely chop mushroom caps and stems. Melt butter in a medium skillet. Add mushrooms and garlic and saute for at least 5 minutes. Stir in thyme, pepper and salt. Chop parsley in food processor. Add hazelnuts and process. Add Neufchatel cheese and process until smooth. Add sherry and mushroom mixture, and process until well-mixed. Spread or mold in serving dish. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour. Serve with crackers. Yields 1 cup. Other mushrooms can be substituted for or combined with Shiitake.

Isn’t that just the perfect use for all my nice garden produce? (not sure how to grow a Sherry tree yet though 🙂 ) It’s a recipe from Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms by Paul Stamets – which is definitely on my to-buy list.

Making Mushroom Compost

Mushrooms are one of my little peccadilloes – so it was great to come across a good article over at Food from the Garden on creating mushroom compost and using it to grow your own mushrooms – a much more resilient solution than depending on bought Mushroom-growing kits. So that I have a copy in case the original page goes missing I have also reproduced parts of it below the fold, but go here to read the article while it is still there.

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A confession . . .

Morel MushroomsI have a confession to make . . . a secret desire that has been with me for many years . . . a quiet obsession, rarely glimpsed . . . I have a “thing” for mushrooms.

I think it must have started when I was a student, when large serves of fried mushrooms and onions seemed to be my vegetable of choice, although, casting my mind back further, I can remember my father frying panfuls of them and insisting that lashings of butter were the key. One of the things I have missed since we left the UK is the easy availability of Chestnut Mushrooms, which Sainsbury’s used to stock right next to the generic Buttons. They used to be just-exotic-enough to keep my habit in check, but it’s been nearly a decade since we left so now I am having real cravings for good, cheap exotic mushrooms.

With mushroom prices skyrocketing, our dreams of a decent kitchen garden in the UK have lead me to believe there could be a green, budget solution to my vice: grow-your-own mushroom kits. These seem to be available for a whole range of my favourite exotics – Chestnut, Shiitake & Oyster – and you can even get kits to grow Morels! That’s right – the most sought-after of wild mushrooms can be grown at home. I must admit, I’ve never tried one . . . that’s right . . . a confessed mushroom fanatic that has never eaten a Morel – Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall would be shocked, and so would the thousands of Morel lovers around the world. So I am going to make amends – they will have a place in our new kitchen garden and I’ll finally be able to try them without choking on the $40/kg price tag. The kit I’m looking at is this one – Kit for growing Giant Morels – it’s £40 but looks like great fun, with a good foodie result at the end of our hard work.

I think the Morels can go on my wishlist for now, while I find out how truly easy/impossible they are to grow, and find some great recipes.