I LOVE mushrooms, and have been intrigued with the idea of growing my own for a while now.
The trouble is the little table-top growing kits are usually priced around $20 or so, and for that price you aren't saving any money by growing them yourself. A few years ago my mother-in-law got one of those logs where you add the mushroom spores, but it required a lot of hassle, it took a long time, and she didn't end up getting that many mushrooms from it. Sad panda :-(
So it seemed like maybe growing one's own mushrooms wasn't worth it...
That is, UNTIL one of my neighbors called to see if she could borrow my dehydrator. It turns out she's growing Shiitake mushrooms and she got SO MANY she didn't know what to do with them all! When I asked her how she was growing them, it was like an epiphany!
She told me all they did was take oak logs, add Shiitake mushroom spores, stack the logs up and forget about them. Then after enough time had passed for the spores to successfully colonize the logs, she soaked them in a tub of water for 24 - 48 hours, and banged them on the ground (to simulate a tree falling in the forest). BLAM! A few days later the logs were COVERED with mushrooms!
Mushroom gardening by neglect. Wow - that certainly seems like something I can do!
Not only that, but these logs can continue to produce mushrooms for YEARS. The rule of thumb I found "is an inch in diameter equals one year, so a 5-inch log will last 5 years before it breaks down".
So yesterday I went out in the woods with my mother-in-law looking for a tree. They recommend you use hardwood trees like oak, and we found the perfect one! She cut it down (which is absurdly exciting for me - I've never seen a tree cut down before) and broke it down into 10 3-foot-long logs.
We dragged them back to her house and stacked them up, then I ran home and ordered the Shiitake mushroom spawn from Field & Forest Products. I was excited to see on their site they actually have a bunch of different strains of Shiitake mushrooms - with names like "Chocolov", "Miss Happiness", and "Snow Cap" they ALL sounded delicious!
Since we have 10 logs, and you can soak a log to force it to produce mushrooms every 2 months, we should be able to do a log a week and just stay in mushrooms!
I'll let you know how the mushrooms project goes. :-D