How to Grow Your Own Oyster Mushrooms: a Locavore Diary.

Recently, a friend told me about a site where you can order kits to grow your own oyster mushrooms. It seemed like a pretty cool idea, especially since the company recycles coffee grounds for soil for the mushrooms. Since the local and fresh pickings here are getting slimmer by the day, why not give it a shot? Alice Waters was quoted in a testimonial, so how much greener could it get?

  • Day 1: If you live in a dry climate, like an overheated NYC apartment, it is suggested that you soak the bundle in a bucket of water overnight. Of course living in a NYC apartment means that you probably don’t actually own a bucket. So the kind of disgusting looking thing is soaking in a big Calphalon pot, held down by a 5 pound dumbbell.
  • Day 2: Removed weight and pulled soggy mess out of pan. Shook it off and put it back in the box. Tried to put it on the shelf by the door so it would get air when the door opened and closed (it asks for a kitchen window-opened, fat chance). It dripped coffee ground stained water all over the off-white carpet, so it’s back in the windowless kitchen, and I’m calling the carpet cleaners.
  • Days 3-17: Twice a day, I remove the plastic HC (humidity chamber) mist it, and the slash in the plastic. By the end of the first week, the plastic is cracked, and the cardboard opening is tattered. I try not to pass design judgments on it, because maybe in Berkley it’s a design star. However in the Big Apple, it’s not cutting it. Meanwhile it just sits on the counter like a large coffee stained lump in a green box.
  • Day 18: It’s after Thanksgiving and I had thought my first crop might be ready by the big food day, but no. Not only was there not “up to 1 pound” of delicious oyster mushrooms, there wasn’t even the hint of anything happening. When I touched the growing area, it’s dry as a bone, and hasn’t changed a bit since day 2. Since I hadn’t referred to the pamphlet, I didn’t know you were supposed to revert to day 1 and soak it again. So I did what came naturally to me and tossed it down the garbage shoot.
  • Day 19: Today on the Fresh Direct website, two 3.5 ounce packages of oyster mushrooms are $6.00. That means for the cost of the mushroom farm ($19.95 plus $6.95 shipping) not to mention a minimum of 10 days “farming” you could have almost 2 pounds of oyster mushrooms delivered (OK, I have an unlimited delivery pass…) whenever you wanted them, in whatever quantities you needed. Doesn’t that seem like a much easier way to go?

2 thoughts on “How to Grow Your Own Oyster Mushrooms: a Locavore Diary.”

  1. I guess coffee grounds are an improvement to manure as far as growing materials, but maybe manure worked better?

  2. LOL! Mushrooms defeat the Accidental Locavore!

    Hilarious post – thanks for sharing your experience. It made me remember stories about my grandfather, who tried to grow mushrooms in his basement during the depression – and sent his kids out to collect and bring home horse manure from the streets (not a lot of cars were on the road, I guess). As you might predict, after the basement was filled with horse manure, the family’s enthusiasm for the mushroom business quickly faded.

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