Have you ever been interested in growing mushrooms?
I’ll be totally honest. I’ve thought about learning to identify and forage for mushrooms for quite a while- but I’ve never even considered growing my own. In fact, I found the idea somewhat intimidating.
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I was offered a copy of Growing Mushrooms for Beginners: A Simple Guide to Cultivating Mushrooms at Home by Sarah Dalziel-Kirchhevel in exchange for my honest review on Amazon. When given the opportunity, I decided to say yes. After all, I might learn a new skill- and, as the author says, “Once you have a skill, no one can take it from you, it’s yours.”
I was so glad I said yes. Really, I was the perfect test subject to read this book, since I have never before attempted to cultivate fungi of any sort. After reading through Sarah’s book, I felt much more confident that I would be able to grow mushrooms at home.
I was not asked or required to write this blog post, but I really enjoyed the book and felt that some of you might benefit from it.
What is covered in Growing Mushrooms for Beginners?
This book is a beautiful, inspiring guide that covers everything you need to know to begin growing mushrooms in almost any imaginable space.
Sarah begins with a step-by-step cultivation guide, explaining everything about the process of growing mushrooms, from choosing the right variety for your circumstances, to harvesting and cooking with your fungal bounty. If you’ve never heard the words “substrate,” “spawn,” “plugs,” or “inoculation,” never fear. Sarah tells you everything you need to know without overwhelming you.
There’s a special section of the book called, “Meet the Mushrooms,” where you can read profiles on several common varieties for growing at home. There, you will learn the characteristics of each mushroom, its beginner friendliness level, the time commitment required for growing, and other details.
From there, the book dives into different growing mediums and fun projects that suit any type of space. Whether you’re growing on a log, in a bag of compost, in a mason jar, or even on a clean roll of toilet paper, Sarah covers what types of mushrooms do well in each environment and walks you through the cultivation and harvesting process.
Finally, the book wraps up with information on processing, cooking, and creating medicinal recipes with the delightful fruit of your labor.
What I loved about the book
I loved that this book was beginner friendly. A few reviews on Amazon from more experienced growers mentioned that the book was not the most extensive out there; however, the book was universally praised as a guide for beginners. That’s exactly what the book claims to be, and exactly what I needed.
I personally found the book inviting, disarming, informative, and very helpful. It introduced me to a new skill without intimidating me- and I call that a win.
I also adored the illustrations throughout the book. Liam O’Farrell’s quaint but accurate representations of mushrooms and growing mediums were just lovely. I kept paging through just to look at the pictures again and again.
What I’m trying based on what I learned in the book
I have decided to try growing oyster mushrooms as a first timer. This is because oysters are known for being beginner-friendly. They’re relatively fast colonizers, typically outgrow other competing fungi, and are easy to find from spore suppliers.
They may be considered the standard newbie choice, but I am okay with that! One success will lead me to trying another growing project, and eventually I might learn to work with different mediums and varieties.
Where to find the author
Sarah Dalziel-Kirchhevel is the founder of Wearing Woad, and is a partner at Joybilee Farms. She is a fiber artist and gardener from rural Canada who loves to help others grow and cook their own food.
You can purchase Growing Mushrooms for Beginners here.