During a presentation I attended by Roberto Ramirez — owner of one of the few mushroom farms left in Southern California, Mountain Meadow Mushrooms in Escondido — he mentioned that they had started selling kits. You could buy one and grow your own mushrooms at home.

My wife loves mushrooms so one day while I was in the area I stopped by and bought a couple kits: one for oyster mushrooms and one for shiitake mushrooms.

I don’t recall what I expected the kits to look like, but both looked different from each other and totally surprising. The oyster kit looked like a plastic bag with brown and white goo packed inside. The shiitake kit looked like a styrofoam log.

The kits on day 1.

But I followed the directions that came with the kits and magic soon happened. 

Oyster mushroom kit, day 2:

Oyster mushroom kit, day 4:

Oyster mushroom kit, day 6:

On March 29, day 7, family visited from out of town. We gawked at the amazing fungi. Then it occurred to me to incorporate them into our dinner. I harvested some oysters, and my wife sliced, seasoned, and sauteed them.

Best mushrooms I’ve ever eaten. Of course they were! Just like every tomato from the garden is the best.

And there were so many more left for harvest. Oyster mushroom kit, day 8, showing both sides of growth:

Still so many!

So it was that simple. Buy a kit, follow the directions, and in around a week you’re harvesting oodles of your own mushrooms.

Except that you really do have to follow the directions.

I didn’t perfectly do so with the shiitakes. It was a busy week. Nevertheless, we got a handful from the shiitake log.

Shiitake mushrooms.

Three birds with one stone

As my wife and I educate our kids at home, we’re always looking for lessons. The kids learned about mushrooms alongside me while I cared for the kits, and they also helped keep them moist and within the right temperature range. That’s one way in which these mushroom kits fulfilled an additional role besides filling our bellies at harvest time.

Another way I killed two birds with one stone — a third bird with the mushroom kit stone — is that during my stop at Mountain Meadow Mushrooms I picked up some of their compost. They make all of their own compost on which to grow their mushrooms, and after harvest they give away for free the spent compost. The whole operation is certified organic, by the way.

I loaded up my truck bed, and I’ve been using the mushroom compost in my yard in various ways for the past month. It has shown itself to work well in every application I’ve made so far. For years I’ve heard from other gardeners in the area who love the Mountain Meadow Mushrooms compost.

Soon I’ll post about an experiment I’m doing sowing vegetable seeds directly in the Mountain Meadow Mushrooms compost compared to some other composts.

Mountain Meadow Mushrooms website

Mountain Meadow Mushrooms address: 26948 North Broadway, Escondido, CA, 92026

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