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Connecticut Garden Journal
Connecticut Garden Journal is a weekly program hosted by horticulturalist Charlie Nardozzi. Each week, Charlie focuses on a topic relevant to both new and experienced gardeners, including pruning lilac bushes, growing blight-free tomatoes, groundcovers, sunflowers, bulbs, pests, and more.

Connecticut Garden Journal: Mushrooms In A Box

Fungi aficionados can easily grow mushrooms indoors.
Dominick Guzzo (Flickr)
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Creative Commons
Fungi aficionados can easily grow mushrooms indoors.

Collecting wild mushrooms is a great treat, if you go with an experienced veteran who can distinguish good fungi from bad fungi. You can also cultivate your own mushrooms outdoors in beds, but that takes time. To get a quick fix of the taste of wild mushrooms without hunting or cultivating, grow them from kits indoors.

Indoor mushroom kits have come a long way from button mushrooms in a box. Fungi aficionados now offer a wide variety of wild mushrooms that are easy to grow indoors even in the dead of winter. You can now try mushrooms such as wine cap, blue oyster, shiitake, reishi, and lion’s mane.

Growing indoor mushrooms couldn't be easier. Even the black thumb in the family can handle this one. Once you receive your mushroom box in the mail, open it up. The substrate or medium where the mushrooms grow may be sawdust or compost and is inoculated with mushroom spore. Most mushroom types only require you to mist the substrate with water and place it in a 63 to 70 degree room.

In a matter of weeks you'll see small mushrooms or pins growing on the substrate. Harvest when they're big enough to eat. Mushroom kits can fruit for various periods of time depending on the type. Oyster mushrooms will fruit for a few weeks; winecap mushroom kits for a few months. Shiitake mushroom kits will fruit on and off for up to four months. Once the substrate is exhausted you can compost it or, if you grew oyster or wine cap mushrooms, use it to inoculate an outdoor mushroom bed in spring.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.

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