Mushroom-picking in the wild is only for the experts, but you can grow your own at home with a specialist kit. Some come in the form of dowels impregnated with mycelium that you plant into logs; others, like the one used here, are simple kits in boxes, ideal for beginners.
When to start: Early spring.
At their best: Summer.
Time to complete: 1 hour.
You will need: Mushroom kit, measuring cup.
Fill box with soil
Box kits come with mushroom soil that has been injected with mycelium, and a “casing layer” that holds water and protects the developing mushrooms. First, line the box with a plastic bag (most kits come with this too) and add the mushroom soil.
Add water to the casing
Open the bag of casing and slowly add 1 pint (0.5 liters) of water. Leave for about an hour to allow the moisture to soak in. Take a small handful of the mushroom soil and mix it into the casing layer in the bag.
Ruffle the surface
Empty the contents of the bag onto the soil in the box. Spread the casing evenly over the soil and ruffle the surface with a small fork. This creates a microclimate where the young mushrooms can form. Rest the lid at an angle on the box so that air can circulate.
Place the box in a warm spot at 68–75°F (20–24°C), but not in an airing cabinet or by a radiator. After a few days, white mycelium will form on the surface. Remove the lid and place in a dark spot at 61–68°F (16–20°C). Mist to keep the soil moist. Mushrooms should appear after six days.