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Mushroom Mania

Do you live in a damp, dark basement suite and struggle to keep your plants alive? Depressed about your lack of yard? Here is the solution for you: start growing mushrooms! No, not “magic mushrooms”, but a variety of edible mushrooms.

This past Christmas, my brother gave me a couple of ready to grow mushroom kits from The Mushroom Patch in Catham Ontario. Over the last few weeks I’ve watched my mushrooms grow and have harvested my first crops of blue oyster and lions mane mushrooms.

Lions Mane Mushroom Kit

One advantage mushroom kits have is they require minimal maintenance (I mist mine with water using a spray bottle daily). Like all foods, mushrooms are tastier when they are fresh, and growing your own is a great alternative to traipsing through the forest in search of mushrooms, which requires expertise and is time consuming. That being said, if you are interested in mushroom hunting, this free software can be used to help identify fungi found in the Pacific Northwest (just ensure you consult an expert before eating any mushrooms you pick).

Kits are available for numerous types of mushrooms that are typically expensive or not readily available in grocery stores. Fungi are incredibly diverse, with over 10,000 species identified in North America (although most experts agree that only a third to a fifth of existing species have been identified).  This means that edible mushrooms have a wide variety of flavours beyond the common button mushroom (from a spicy radish-like taste to a seafood flavour). One commonality among mushrooms is they have an umami (amino acid) taste. Umami translates to a “pleasant savoury flavour” in Japanese and is one of the five basic tastes, just like sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. The presence of umami in mushrooms is often what makes people mushroom-lovers.

Blue Oyster Mushrooms

For any ambitious mushroom growers, there are alternatives available to move beyond home mushroom kits and set up your own “lab”. Another approach is to inoculate logs in your yard using mushroom plugs. If you’re keen, on  Tuesday April 23rd at 5:30 pm the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at the UBC Farm is offering a workshop on inoculating alder logs with shiitake mushroom dowel spawn.

For anyone itching to get started, The Mushroom Man in Vancouver is an option for purchasing mushroom growing products locally (I might add that mushroom kits would make wonderful gifts for children and adults alike).

Happy growing!



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About the Author - Katie McMahen

A graduate of the University of British Columbia, Katie has moved back to her home town of Williams Lake. She is passionate about the environment, food and having an excellent time while making a difference. She enjoys skiing and eating freezies in h...

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