If there's one thing I could change about my one-bedroom apartment, it wouldn't be the square footage or the carpet or the weird handle-less kitchen cabinets. It would be the lack of natural light, which sadly stymies my dream of covering every available surface with greenery and growing fresh herbs right in my kitchen.
But it turns out there is actually one thing I can grow successfully in my cave of a kitchen: mushrooms. Yep, mushrooms love the dark, and it turns out they're actually pretty easy to grow, even for inexperienced gardeners. Plus they're awesome to look at!
Indoor Organic Oyster Mushroom Farm from Amazon; $17.10 with free Prime Shipping
If you're new to growing mushrooms, order yourself a mushroom log or box kit. These make growing mushrooms fun and easy and don't require an advanced DIY project: Getting your hands on a hardwood log, drilling holes, and injecting said log with mushroom spores. (But, if you are interested in going the DIY route, check out these instructions).
You can find kits in various common mushroom varieties like shiitake and oyster. They cost about $15-$30 and are typically good for two to three harvests.
Ready to have some fun growing fungi? Here's what to expect once you receive your mushroom kit.
Shiitake Mushroom Log Kit or Oyster Mushroom Log Kit from Williams Sonoma; $29.95 plus shipping
Location and Temperature are Key
Dim rooms are a mushroom log's best friend. They also love damp and cool spots, so a basement is really ideal if you have one, though definitely not necessary. Find a corner of your kitchen counter that doesn't get much light, or even use the cabinet under the sink.
Your mushroom log won't produce if the temperature is too warm (higher than 55-60 degrees), so you may want to make mushroom growing a fall and winter project, particularly if you don't have AC in the summer.
Keep Them Moist
You'll want to follow the care instructions on your kit's package, but generally you'll need to soak or mist your mushroom log regularly in order to trigger growth and maintain the damp conditions that mushrooms require.
When Can I Eat Them?
The amount of time it takes before your mushrooms are ready to harvest varies depending on the type of mushroom you grow, and the date your log was inoculated with mushroom spores. In general this could be anywhere from two weeks to a few months.
Your mushrooms will be ready to eat about a week after you first notice tiny white dots appearing on the surface of your log or box. Mushrooms are ready to harvest with the cap has detached from the stem. Pinch or cut them off at the base rather than pulling them. Pulling can damage new mushrooms that are just beginning to form.