What It’s Like To Grow Your Own Mushrooms Indoors
Growing mushrooms indoors is something of a cult pastime for those in the know. Mushroom growers whisper about indoor logs and mushroom patches with the same kind of affection typically reserved for children or small pets, and with good reason: growing your own mushrooms is fun, and it’s significantly easier than foraging, because you know exactly what you’re eating. An indoor mushroom patch is like the modern equivalent of a chia pet, only the results are much more delicious.
Fungi Perfecti makes a line of gourmet and medicinal mushroom patches that can be used to grow mushrooms inside. The patches consist of pure mushroom mycelium growing on a sterilized substrate, which will vary depending on the mushroom being grown. (The Shiitake Mushroom Patch grows on a mixture of enriched hardwood sawdust and wood chips, for example, while the Pearl Oyster Mushroom Patch grows in a bag of pasteurized wheat straw.) All of Fungi Perfecti’s indoor and outdoor Mushroom Patches are Certified Organic by the Washington State Department of Agriculture, but the best part is that they are also very low maintenance: most mushroom patches are perfectly happy at room temperature, and they don’t require sunlight– they just need a daily misting from a spray bottle of water that has been boiled or otherwise purified. (Chlorinated water can kill the mushroom mycelium, and distilled or heavily filtered water lacks vital nutrients that your mushrooms need to grow.)
After about two weeks, the mushroom patches will sprout, at which point the mushrooms can be harvested and consumed. On occasion, a specific mushroom patch might require refrigeration or a cover of ice cubes, but in those instances the directions make it easy to follow along.
Over the course of a few weeks Garden Collage took on a variety of mushroom patches, including Enokitake, Shiitaki, Pioppani, Oyster Mushrooms, and more– and grew them in various apartments around New York City. The results were delicious and easy to obtain. Here are our thoughts and recommendations.
Zoe Camp, Writer
I balked a bit when Garden Collage came to me with the offer of growing mushrooms. I feel bad when one flower perishes – how was I supposed to care for an entire fungal colony? Then I saw my two patches – one for Pioppino, and one for Shiitake – and decided to change my ways, if only to be able to boast to my friends that I successfully grew my own sustenance. Sequestered inside my record cabinet, the clumps of hay and dirt became my two cities on a hill, so to speak, and every day I set multiple alarms to remind me to mist the habitat periodically. Alas, after one week of seemingly impeccable care, the patch still lay barren. “I guess I don’t have a green thumb,” I muttered, and then went to bed. Like some sort of horticultural miracle, I woke up the next morning to find about a half a pound of mushrooms sprouting over both patches, glistening like little white umbrellas. Within two days they were ripe for picking, with additional flushes occurring every few weeks. The only thing better than tasting my own homemade, partially-burnt mushroom butter was relishing the sweet satisfaction of establishing a routine and sticking to it: a necessary skill for all gardeners.
Molly Beauchemin, Editor-in-Chief
When I told my friends I was going to be growing mushrooms in my New York City apartment, it was difficult to keep them from laughing when I assured them that no, I wasn’t growing those kind of mushrooms.
I have been a foodie and a fire escape gardener for years, so the prospect of growing my own mushrooms indoors was really exciting to me, especially since my last trip to Portland was spent hunting the illusive Morel and learning about the weird, cool, intense world of mushroom foraging in the Pacific Northwest.
The idea of growing my own mushrooms had never really occurred to me, but I’m happy I invested in the Enokitake and Pearl Oyster mushrooms– they grew in about two weeks after I dumped a tray of icecubes onto the Enokitake mushrooms and continued misting the Pearl Oyster mushrooms daily with a little spray bottle of bottled water. Other than that, I just left them alone under my desk, and the patch became sort of like a live-in pet. Each Fungi Perfecti mushroom patch is designed to give about two hefty yields, but I got about 6 servings of Pearl Oyster mushrooms that I promptly cooked with grass-fed butter and seasoned with Rosemary Salt. It was amazing! So easy, so delicious, and I felt like I had a hand in growing my own food without the risk inherent to foraging. Because these mushrooms grow indoors, you can get them in any climate, year-round. I’d recommend investing in whatever mushroom varieties you like to eat, and taking it from there– the results will not disappoint.