Most supermarket mushrooms are bland and boring; products of an industrial process which typically relies on expensive equipment and harmful pesticides. Many people would like to add more flavorful and diverse fungi to their diets, but lack the knowledge or confidence to gather their own. Do-it-yourself cultivation is a fun, exciting way to incorporate a variety of mushrooms into a sustainable lifestyle.
Mycelial Mayhem is a straightforward, no-nonsense resource for the aspiring mushroom grower. This practical guide cuts through much of the confusion surrounding methods and techniques, helping the hobbyist or farmer to:
Select regionally appropriate species for the home garden, farm-scale production, or an edible landscape
Practice sustainable, environmentally friendly cultivation techniques, such as companion planting, to combat common garden pests and diseases
Choose a successful, proven business approach to maximize profit and minimize frustration.
Many people find that DIY mushroom cultivation is not nearly as complicated as they expect, but a knowledgeable and experienced mentor is crucial to success. Whether your goal is to harvest homegrown gourmet mushrooms for your table, supplement your income by selling to friends and neighbors, or start a full-fledged niche business, Mycelial Mayhem is packed with the advice and resources you need to succeed with this rewarding and valuable crop.
This is an ideal book for beginners to the world of growing mushrooms. It will take you right from first steps to planning and managing your own business, or anywhere in between. It's written in a lighthearted manner, not at all daunting, but still goes into all the detail you need to understand the subject fully.
The first section of the book introduces us to the world of mushrooms, explains our relationship to them, and gives us a rundown of the biology needed to understand how they work and how to grow them. The second section is probably the most important to most readers, covering both indoor and outdoor cultivation, taking an in depth look at various species and how to grow them, advising about collecting and selling wild mushrooms. The information about creating a grow room was particularly timely as we are just putting the final touches on our own. There is also a wonderful chapter on fitting mushrooms into a permaculture system. This chapter alone would make the book worth buying for anyone reading this on permies.com.
Despite the easy reading style of the book, the detail given is abundant and relevant. Here's a sample, about Wine Caps (Stropharia rugoso annulata).
"Stropharia only get their rich burgundy color when they are shaded. When they are exposed to sunlight, they will take on a buckskin or tawny look. In April or May, before our garden has taken off, the wine caps will often pop up with burgundy/red caps that soon fade to the buckskin color. Stropharia are very tasty mushrooms. We prefer them in the button stage, which sometimes means we have to act fast. They will grow to maturity quickly, and once the veil breaks open (cap separates from stem and spreads out flat), the spores will start to mature, rapidly turning to a grey color. Once they hit this stage, we find them bitter. When conditions are right, you can walk out in the morning, gather a bag of buttons, and then collect more again in the afternoon. You’ll also see the ones you missed. Their caps will be lighter in color and flattened out, with the gills turning grey. In the fridge, protected in a brown paper bag, your wine caps will last for a while, probably close to a week."
But the best section is probably section three. After chapters about the delights of eating mushrooms and the nutrition they offer, there are two chapters about setting up a business and marketing your mushrooms and an appendix with an abundant supply of sample advertising materials. For someone like me with the marketing skills of a dinosaur, this is exceedingly valuable and paves the way from just a desire to grow mushrooms to a viable business.
Here's the list of contents, to give you a better taste of the subjects covered.
1. Why Mushrooms - Why Not Mushrooms?
- Mushrooms Are Part of Our Fabric
- Mushrooms for the Future
- On the Mushroom Path
2. Mushroom Basics - Fungi: A Kingdom of Its Own
- Mushroom Structure and Life Cycle
- Relevance of the Life Cycle to Cultivation and Harvest
- Facilitating Growth and Reproduction
- Fungi in Our Ecosystems
- Mushroom Life Cycle and Ecology as Teacher
3. Growing Mushrooms - The Assessment
- Outdoor Cultivation
- Wine Caps (Stropharia rugoso annulata) - Oysters
- Nameko (Pholiota nameko) - Pioppino or Black Poplar (Agrocybe aegerita) - Lion’s Mane or Hericium (Hericium erinaceus) - Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) - Maitake
- Black, Yellow, and Grey Morels (Morchella angusticeps, M. esculenta and M. deliciosa) - Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) - Indoor Cultivation: The Mayhem Within
4. Wild Collecting and Purveying - Tenets to Follow When Collecting Wild Mushrooms
- Tenets to Follow When Purveying Wild-collected Mushrooms
5. Companion Planting and Other Sustainable Methods - Systems Thinking: It’s Not Just About the Mushrooms
- What’s the Difference? Economics vs. Ecology
- What’s the Difference? Sustainability vs. Resilience
- Permaculture Principles
- Putting It All Together: Resilient Design
- Applications for Mushroom Growing
- Composting - Recycling Spent Growing Medium
- Materials and Energy Reduction
- Business Resilience
- Sharing Your Bounty
6. Umami of Edible Mushrooms - What Is Umami?
- From Harvest to Feast: Handling Mushrooms for the Best Umami
- Complementary Food Pairings for Umami and Health
- The Taste, Texture and Presentation of Specific Mushrooms
- Culinary Supplements
7. Nutritional Benefits of Mushrooms - Nutrition and Medicine
- Nutritional Content of Mushrooms
- The Known Benefits
- The Super SevenMedicinal Mushrooms
- Mushrooms’ Major Health Improvement Functions
- How to Maximize Nutritional Content
8. Niche Business or Supplemental Income - Mushrooms As a Business?
- Knowing How to Grow
- Formulating Your Idea
- Evaluating Your Market: Conducting a Market Analysis
- Getting Started
9. Marketing Mushrooms - Challenges and Opportunities
- Developing Your Story
- Traditional Advertising
- Target Marketing and Understanding
- Your Unique Market
- Crafting Your Online Presence
10. Conclusion: Spread Your Spores - Appendix: Marketing and Communications Materials
- North American Resources by Subject
All in all, this book is a great introduction and will get you experimenting and figuring out exactly how far and in what direction your mushroom growing can go, giving you the information, skills and tools to get there. I can highly recommend it!