Mushrooms are now playing a larger part in our diets but the cost of buying some of our favorite varieties means they are often served at special meals or not as often as we may want.
If you have parents old enough you may have heard stories about their going to the woods and gathering wild mushrooms but unless you have a decent amount of skill and training this is not something you want to try on your own.
So what can you do?
If you are like most of us you resort to using the white button cap mushrooms in many of your meals to cut the cost of your grocery bill.
Another choice if a wide variety of mushrooms are not available in your area would be to use canned mushrooms sometimes found in the Chinese food section of your store but if you are looking for something other then straw mushrooms your selection will be pretty limited.
Growing Your Own Mushrooms
If you would like to try growing your own mushrooms there are a variety of different starter kits that will help you grow many different types of mushrooms.
The kits often include starter mushroom plugs similar to buying plants and flowers at your garden center in trays.
You will also need a soil that is good for your mushrooms and this may mean a certain type of wood material will need to be added in a high concentration to simulate the same qualities found in the wild where mushrooms often grow on fallen trees or stumps.
You will need to investigate the soil conditions needed before you make your starter kit purchase for each individual type of mushroom that you intend to grow.
Should you grow Indoors or Outdoors
You will probably find that the best results will come by growing your mushrooms indoors.
Mushrooms can grow in a variety of light setting but even in the wild where they are not protected in mushroom houses used by commercial growers you will find mushrooms do not like direct sunlight.
Temperature for proper mushroom growing
Mushrooms enjoy temperatures of cool to warm or from about 60F to 80F. You will often notice that if your lawn or garden does produce mushrooms they will grow in the spring and fall. This will also be the growing time for your eatable mushrooms.
This will mean that your harvest will need to be timed correctly so that your crop does not fail due to summer heat or late fall cooling.
The Risk of Growing Outdoors
If you grow your mushrooms in a completely open environment you risk the chance that a wild mushroom may join your crop. If this happens you could endup getting sick if you harvest the wrong mushroom and consume it.
Most wild mushrooms found in your garden will be in a variety that is easily discernible from a cultivated portabella mushroom but when you get into other exotic varieties you may find that to an unskilled eye the similarities are not as great.
For this reason you should probably grow mushrooms outdoors only in a dedicated shelter or small grow house. This will not totally eliminate all harvesting problems but it will also protect your crop from direct sunlight and harsh climate conditions.
Growing mushrooms indoors is an option however you can not grow them in an air tight container so you will risk the chance that some of the mushroom spores will get into your indoor air.
If you have people in your home with special needs this can be a concern for you.
You may find that even a large tub type storage container will provide all the growing area that you need. By using a few of these containers you can produce a variety of different mushrooms or start new mushrooms.
This is not to mean that the mushrooms will cause the growth of black mold which is a health concern but the moisture required to keep your mushrooms in good health could contribute to mold growth.
If you do intend on growing mushrooms within your living area you should consult someone who has specific details about how to construct a grow room or area in your basement or other location.
Final Note on Growing Mushrooms
Although there may be a lot of preparation needed to start your mushroom growing once you get started you should be able to harvest mushrooms for about 15 weeks without need to restart your crop.
It will be important that you learn about how to propagate mushrooms and make use of the spores that will allow you continuous growth over many years.
Mushroom growing can save you hundreds of dollars over a years time and they can allow you and your family to enjoy healthy meals that you produced yourself.