Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Back To The Roots: Growing Mushrooms

There's a fungus among us! And they're called mushrooms - Oyster mushrooms to be more precise. I learned about these Mushroom Growing Kits while I was researching Earth Boxes. I have no idea how exactly one led to the other, but I found myself on the Back to the Roots website reading all about their Mushroom Growing Kits. Here is a time lapse video they have posted on YouTube:

The "Kit" is a plastic bag of 100% recycled coffee grounds (I usually toss my coffee grounds in my houseplants or compost) inside a cardboard box. You remove the bag from the box, cut a "+" slit in the front face of the bag, soak it in water for a day, insert the bag back into the box, place on a window sill with indirect sunlight and spritz 2 times a day (the spray bottle is even included). In as little as 10 days, you can harvest your mushrooms! You can repeat the process again for another harvest, too!

On December 6th, I ordered one of these kits for my kids to share. Unfortunately, the kits were so popular that they were back-ordered but I did receive it in time for Christmas. About 2 weeks (or so) after Christmas, we started the process.

Well, by January 26th, we STILL had no mushrooms. We weren't sure if this was because of too little indirect light (it has been REALLY cloudy in Colorado lately), a possible draft (the directions say not to use in an air conditioned space so maybe a draft slowed things down...), too dry conditions (the air was literally sucking the moisture out of everything).

Looks pretty gross, doesn't it? :)

I wound up using a larger spray bottle to give a heavier dose of moisture. I also moved the mushroom kit into the base cabinet of our aquarium. I know that sounds like an odd place, but the aquarium has no back and it backs up to a couple of windows so the interior gets sunlight.The aquarium base also protects the kit from any drafts and is warmer than the main room. What can I say, after a whopper of a heating bill, the house has been kept at an even 60 degrees this winter. The cabinet is warmer because of  heat lamps we have attached to the aquarium for our tortoise and from a heating vent beneath the cabinet.

Through most of February, the most mushroom action I got were 2 little sprouts of something that were so small I might be mis-identifying them as baby mushrooms.

By March 1st, I pulled the bag out, soaked it again and started the process AGAIN thinking maybe the bag dried out in the beginning. I even sprayed the bag more often to keep the soil from drying out.

At the end of March I got fed up (but didn't give up) and pulled the bag out of the box, punched holes in the bottom and set it in a plastic container of water. 2 weeks later on April 12th I opened the cabinet and was startled to see MUSHROOMS growing!

It wasn't long before we had a whole crop of them!

We've opened the back of the bag to see if we can do it all over again...

As an added bonus, if you post a picture with your kit fully grown on the Back to the Roots facebook page, they'll send you a free replacement bag or donate a kit to an elementary classroom of your choice to support youth sustainability education! How cool is that? As much as I would like a replacement bag, I'm having a kit sent to The Girl's science teacher.

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