Once you get hooked on foraging for wild mushrooms, you begin to wonder why you can’t just farm them. Picking mushrooms from your backyard or basement would sure be a lot easier than roaming the hinterlands. Well, so far about 30 different kinds mushrooms can be cultivated, although none of the techniques are trivial. The delicate operations needed to produce sterile “soil” and inoculate the spores has been streamlined for some species (by using pre-inoculated plugs), but there is still a lot of skill and laboratory expertise needed to grow the rest. Most of what is known about mushroom cultivation has been distilled into the 3rd edition of this irreplaceable book. This is simply the best guide to growing edible, medicinal, and psychoactive mushrooms.
This is a fast-changing field where enthusiastic amateurs lead the way. To keep up with new possibilities, check the authors website at Fungi Perfect. Farming mushrooms is also becoming a business, and the Mushroom Growers’ Newsletter is the hub.
In one of my outdoor wood-chip beds, I created a “polyculture” mushroom patch about 50 by 100 feet in size. In the spring I acquired mixed wood chips from the county utility company–mostly alder and Douglas fir–and inoculated three species into it. One year after inoculation, in late April through May, Morels showed. From June to early September, Kind Stropharia erupted with force, providing our family with several hundred pounds. In late September through much of November, as assortment of Clustered Woodlovers (Hypholoma-like) species popped up. With noncoincident fruiting cycles, this Zen-like polyculture approach is limited only by your imagination.