This Mushroom Adventures box had been sitting on the dining room table since Christmas, when Carrie’s folks gave it to me as a present. I had let it gather dust for a number of reasons: the deep layer of newly inoculated compost had not matured enough to start the growing process; I really didn’t have time to focus on it; and, most important of all, I have the green thumb of a two-toed sloth.
My home is where herbs and potted plants come to die. They quiver in my very presence.
Little did I know, until I got into the heart of this box, that growing your own mushrooms is idiot-proof. I guess I should have guessed as much. I mean, I regularly grow fungus in the fridge without much effort. I just don’t usually eat it.
The jury is still out, of course, whether my Portabella ‘shrooms will sprout. But here’s the process (slightly modified), courtesy of the four-page instruction sheet that accompanies the Mushroom Adventures kit. If you like to play with dirt, you’ll love “growing your own mushrooms.”
Step 1: Open the box, remove the bag of peat moss mixed with calcium carbonate (called casing), and stare at the white moldy growth around the edges. Then thank God that somebody else has already figured out which mushroooms are poisonous.
Step 2: Take a nail or fork and “scratch” the entire layer of compost, to a depth of 1/2-inch. Then take a 1/2 cup or 1 full cup (the more compost, the smaller the mushrooms) and dump it into the casing bag. (Personally, I split the difference: I used about 3/4 cup. I hate Portabellas that are the size of hubcabs.)
Step 3: Add 5 cups of room-temperature tap water to the casing mixture.
Step 4: Let the mixture sit for 15 minutes until most of the water is absorbed.
Step 5: Make sure to set a timer or you’ll forget about your casing mixture as you crack open another beer (which, I neglected to mention, is part Step 1: drinking Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale).
Step 6: Apply the wet casing mixture evenly over the entire surface of the compost.
Step 7: Find a location in your house between 60 and 74 degrees Fahrenheit. Portabellas, according to the instructions, grow best at temperatures between 63-68 degrees Fahrenheit. The location should be away from direct sunlight, since direct sunlight “can dry out, overheat, and even kill your kit.” (Ambient light, on the other hand, will cause your Portabella caps “to become darker brown in color.”) Once you’ve selected a spot (mine is located in the home office on our hand-me-down antique “smoker,” which I thought appropriate for some reason), all you need to do is keep the casing moist with a light spraying of water every other day.
Step 8: Assign a fierce attack dog to guard your ‘shrooms.