Pandemic Hobby: Growing Mushrooms

King oyster mushrooms with green herbs in a basket.

The texture of oyster mushrooms is dense and velvety. (Image: Nataliia Mysak via Dreamstime)

Because of the global pandemic, many people have started new hobbies. One of the biggest new trends for people who are cooped up is growing mushrooms. Hobbies have an interesting way of finding their way to people. Even the busiest person can have a hobby. It can be anything from gardening to reading a book. Hobbies give a person the chance to find much-needed clarity, not just for their personal lives but also to help them solve some professional matters. It is true that when the mind is not thinking about the problem, the solution tends to come faster.

But the pandemic and the consequent lockdowns have given people another reason to take up a hobby — to have hope for a better world. In fact, since the pandemic began, many people have taken up a hobby for the first time in their lives.

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The boom of growing mushrooms

One of the benefits of the lockdown was that people collectively grew closer and started venturing into avenues that, before the lockdown, were never even considered. Be it baking, gardening, or crafts, everyone’s creativity soared during the pandemic. Open any Instagram page and you will find aesthetically pleasing pictures of people’s creations, all made with great care. Many have gone on to turn their new hobby into a small business too.

But why spend time on a fungus that can grow on almost anything, given an appropriate amount of light and water? While all mushrooms are fungi, edible fungi are a sight to behold and homegrown varieties do taste different, and better. Also, growing mushrooms is easy since they do not require specific soil types or expensive equipment compared to other organic products.

Growing mushrooms is easy to do at home.
Mushrooms are one of the easier foods to grow at home. (Image: Helinloik via Dreamstime)

An article in The Guardian mentioned that many businesses that sell starter kits for homegrown mushrooms have seen a phenomenal increase in sales, up 300 to 400 percent over the last twelve months.

What is the mushroom starter kit?

When you purchase a mushroom kit, you will be getting a pre-colonized fruiting block. This block is developed to be suitable for various types of climatic conditions which makes choosing the place you want for growing mushrooms easy. The block comes in a grow bag that helps keep the mushrooms in a dormant stage until you are ready to start growing them. Keeping it in a refrigerator can extend the time they remain dormant.

As for varieties, there’s quite a selection to choose from, including black oyster, Reishi, pink oyster, and Enoki to name a few. These have specific tastes and colors which cater to a variety of different taste buds. For example, the Enoki mushroom originates in Japan and is very popular throughout Asia. These are best eaten raw. When added to salads, the Enoki adds a certain crispy taste. The oyster varieties are resilient and grow well. They also can fruit relentlessly and you can have a room full of these fungi within a short time!

Mushrooms with mycelium substrate.
With kits, there’s quite a selection to choose from, including black oyster, Reishi, pink oyster, and Enoki to name a few. (Image: Miriam Doerr via Dreamstime)

Once you have decided on the type of mushroom you want to grow, you can purchase the kit for between US$25-$35. For some kits, you’ll need to soak them in warm water when you get them. For others, you just have to cut an opening in the side and spray it with water. In either case, keep the block in a moist place and away from direct sunlight.

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