ACTIVITY

Mushroom Grow Kits

Mushroom grow kits are a great way to cultivate edible mushrooms in your own home. Using a combination of spores and a growing substrate (such as wood chips, sawdust or straw) the kits are designed to grow gourmet mushrooms in six to eight weeks. Mushrooms are resilient and can fruit in a variety of substrates, but the chances for success increase substantially when the grow kit is prepared and maintained under optimal conditions.

The first step in the process is to sterilize the growing substrate, often by boiling it. Once the substrate has cooled, spores are mixed into it. The spores germinate, taking up the nutrients in the substrate, and the mycelium takes over, eventually forming a colony and then producing mushrooms. The kits are then packaged, shipped and sold.

Some kits are geared more toward new mushroomers, such as this one from Midwest Grow Kits, which grows morel mushrooms and includes a video that walks you through the entire process. These kits are less expensive than the more sophisticated kits and are a great place to learn about mushroom cultivation before investing in a larger scale operation.

Other kits are more hands-on, such as this one from North Spore that uses a wine cap mushroom variety and comes with a log-style container. This kit requires a little more attention than others, as it has to be misted daily during its six- to eight-week growth cycle. It also has a built-in indicator that lets you know when you’ve oversprayed by watching for the mist to evaporate. This is one of the more specific instructions that the companies provide, and it’s a nice feature to have.

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