Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Growing your own mushrooms at home!

I love mushrooms! I love them with bacon and eggs, in a soup, in a stew, stuffed, on pizza, raw in salads and straight out of the ground for that matter!

Back in the dim and distant past, I worked for a few months, getting up before the sparrow, to pick mushrooms on a mushroom farm. We would arrive before the sun came up, wrapped up nice and warm (it was a NZ winter) and get into the sheds as soon as we could so that we could warm up. It was really peaceful sitting on the wooden trolleys and sliding along in the quiet dank dark sheds, reaching across the dark soil and plucking the glowing white mushrooms from their warm beds with a twist of my wrist.

I soon learnt not to have breakfast as I would simply feast on fresh mushies for the first 1/2 hour anyway! (one for me, one for the box, one for me, one for the box) The boss did mention that my first picks of the day were always a bit on the low side...

A while ago, I managed to convince my wonderful husband to buy me an "indoor mushroom growing kit" for Christmas (or a Birthday - it was a while ago) and with great anticipation of an endless supply of fresh mushrooms, we opened it, set it up, misted it with water and popped it in the hall cupboard.

And got about ten mushrooms over three weeks before the whole thing refused to give up another mushroom and sat smell-ily in the hall cupboard for a month or so more while we hoped and it sulked. I know we have tried this a couple of times with the result that its cheaper to buy mushrooms than it is to grow them!

However - recently I inadvertantly discovered a great cheap way to grow your own mushrooms at home!

Heres what I did...

First I bought some 'spent mushroom compost' for the garden. It's $2 a bag and it comes from the local mushroom farm. I drive past it about once a week and if they have some I try to grab a bag or two and pop it on the garden. Its mainly composted (horse I belive) manure topped with mushroom growing meduim.

Normally, I get home and throw it into the wheelbarrow as it pongs out the car pretty quickly if you don't, and then wander around the garden breaking of peices and flinging it whereever I think needs a bit of a boost.

This time it was raining so I threw the lot into the wheelbarrow and put it in the garage until I had time or it stopped raining. And this is what happened!!!

That $4 worth of the best value mushroom growing kit right there!

So I picked a bowl full...

And stuffed 'em with feta cheese and bacon and baked 'em for ten minutes

And then we gobbled them all up!!!

We got four meals for three people out of these bags - I did stuffed mushies, a mushroom tart and fried mushies for breakfast twice (with fresh eggs from the chookies of course).

If you can track down a local mushroom farm (try google-ing mushroom farm in your area) you will find that most of them sell the spent mushroom growing meduim direct to the public via an honesty box system. Its a great booster for the garden even if you don't grow and eat the mushrooms - and you will find the mushrooms will come up wherever you put the top layer in the garden anyway.

But if you pop the bags in a darkish place and mist them everyday with a waterspray, you will get a decent crop of mushies out of them as well as the booster for the garden plants! Thats gotta be good value! 

Score card:
Green-ness: 5/5 Good for the garden, the belly and the grower!
Frugal-ness: 5/5 A two4one deal you are unlikley to get anywhere else!
Time cost: Probably a week for your crop to appear.
Skill level: Just watching and waiting (and drooling)
Fun-ness: Great fun to get a harvest and cook 'em up!!!


Kathryn Ray said...

Oh my gosh, what a splendid discovery!

I love mushrooms and we happen to have an organic mushroom farm about 5 miles from our house. I will definitely check for spent growing medium. Thanks!

Practical Frog said...

Its a very happy accident from my point of view! I have just got a second crop/harvest off these bags a day or two ago but about half the amount of last time. Still a free feed of mushies is a free feed of mushies! Let me know how you go! - K xx

Mack Shepperson said...

Wow, your homegrown mushrooms look great! I bet you have a lot of delicious recipes for mushroom dishes by now. Maybe you’d like to share some in the near future? Since you like growing your own mushrooms, look up chanterelles. They’re very beautiful, very aromatic, and very delicious and are actually quite healthy! They also smell and taste more like flowers than actual mushrooms.

Angela Marsh said...

this is fantastic! im an Ipswich local, im wondering where abouts this mushroom farm is?

Practical Frog said...

This one is in Gumdale, Angela. Try Googling "mushroom farms Ipswich" and see what you get. I am under the impression that many of them sell the left over base to the public from the farm. Theres still enough mushroom spore in them for the home gardener/cook for $2, thats for real! Good luck! - K xx

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