by OCMGA Master Gardener Tom Wentzel
About a decade ago, I tried one of those button mushroom kits that show up on store shelves around Christmas. The results were far from impressive. I attribute this experience to the fact that I did not take care of the kit. This year Santa thought that it was time to give the mushroom thing another try. There were kits for Shitake, Lion’s Mane and Oyster mushrooms under the tree. This time I’m following the directions and I’ve harvested Shitakes after only one week.
At about 10 days, Lion’s Mane were ready for harvest (this variety is native to Wisconsin); the Oyster mushrooms take a bit longer to produce.
Each of the kits arrive as “bricks” wrapped inside plastic bags. Consider that the key to growing any plant is to replicate their native habitat. These conditions are typically on a forest floor where there are cool temperatures and dappled light. Light is needed to stimulate growth and “tented” to provide a humid environment. Daily misting is required to keep the humidity high.
Shitakes grow on dead oak trees, therefore the bricks are made of compressed shredded oak which is removed from the bag. Lion’s Mane and Oyster mushrooms grow on standing dead trees. The bricks are kept in plastic bags as the bags simulate the bark of a tree. The brick remains in the bag and slits are cut in the plastic — these are the points where the mushrooms emerge.
This is a fun family project. Definitely worth a try.
Check out our previous blog post on growing mushrooms here.