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Connecticut Garden Journal: While winter roars outside, grow lion’s mane and oyster mushrooms inside

Oyster mushroom straw growing kit with large oyster mushrooms ready to harvest.
JarnoVerdonk / Getty Images
You can grow your own gourmet mushrooms. There are now lion's mane, wine cap, shiitake and oyster mushroom-growing kits (pictured), available online.

One way to get a gardening fix in the middle of winter is to grow mushrooms. Gourmet mushrooms are hard to find in the wild and often very expensive in grocery stores. An easy way to have gourmet mushrooms is to grow them indoors with mushroom kits purchased online. Growers have expanded the varieties available. There are now oyster mushrooms, lion's mane, wine cap and shiitake mushrooms you can grow in the comfort of your home while the winter rages outdoors.

Probably the easiest mushroom kits to try indoors are the lion's mane and oyster mushrooms. Kits feature blue, pink, or golden varieties of oyster mushrooms. Once you’ve received the mushroom box with inoculated spawn inside, place it in a humid, cool room and mist the medium in the plastic bag to keep it moist, but not wet. Within a few weeks, mushrooms magically appear. Harvest when they're fully formed. If you keep the kit moist you should get another flush of growth within 2 months.

Shiitake mushrooms grow a little differently. Make slits in the clear plastic bag holding the medium and mist inside the bag to keep it moist, but not wet. Place it in a warm room with indirect light. After a few weeks the shiitake mushrooms will start forming. Harvest when the cap is domed by gently twisting and pulling the mushrooms. After the first harvest, soak the medium in water overnight. Let it dry out for another night, then place it back in the plastic bag to rest for 2 weeks. It should start sprouting mushrooms for a second round, soon after that.

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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