With current trends vastly emphasising homegrown and organic, there can be little surprise that edible mushroom-growing kits have come to be a market staple for the keen gardener looking to expand their reach. Mushrooms are, after all, the chef’s best friend. While mushrooms can be safely grown as a unique part of a home veggie garden, however, there are some dangers- remember, just because something is ‘home-grown’ or ‘organic’ doesn’t mean it’s automatically free of danger! It’s all in how you grow and prepare it. Today, Saragossa Game Reserve bring you some top tips to help you stay safe.
What mushroom, anyway?
Firstly, it’s important to realise that the same precautions apply to growing mushrooms as do when collecting them in the wild. It’s absolutely critical that you know exactly what species of mushroom you are growing, and that you have absolute confidence in the source. There’s a bunch of mushroom growing kits available on the market, with oyster, shiitake and button mushrooms the most common. While all of these varieties are safe to eat, many others are not- and some look very similar. Use only trusted sources of spores, and make sure you are knowledgeable about the product you are growing. Do be aware, too, that growers of psychedelic mushrooms often use edible mushrooms as a front to disguise their true business.
1. Spore allergies are common
Many commercial mushroom cultivators use filtration masks when handling their mushroom spores, as it’s not uncommon for people to develop allergies to the spores they release (especially for oyster mushrooms). This happens even among those who can eat them without issues, so be sure to take adequate care in your own greenhouse too. Mushrooms should not be grown in the home, or somewhere where you spend a lot of time daily.
2. Mushrooms grow in non-ideal environments
Mushrooms love growing in warm, dark, wet spaces enriched with decomposing veggie matter. This does produce the tasty veggie we all know, but it’s hardly an ideal environment for people! The high moisture load needed, and the types of soil used for cultivating mushrooms, can both present a bacterial risk if not handled right. It’s important to protect yourself well and to clean the produce well before consuming. Finding the right balance of sterile (for safety) and not (for growth) can be a difficult line to walk.
3. It’s a labour-intensive job
It’s a lot harder to grow mushrooms than it is for many other veggies. They need a lot of care and attention and can be a finicky item to try and cultivate. Make sure you’ve done your research well, and know how to cultivate them properly and safely. This isn’t a veggie that takes kindly to shortcuts and neglect. If you’re keen to try it, be sure to start small so you don’t get overwhelmed and the farm doesn’t get out-of-control.
While growing your own mushrooms can be a rewarding further step for the seasoned veggie grower, it’s not quite as easy, or immediately safe, as many amateur sites make out. From the stigma of being classed with recreational drug users to the danger of bacterial contamination, if you’re going to try it you need to be prepared to do it safely and in an informed manner. You can always skip the hassle, of course, and come try some of Saragossa Game Reserve’s delectable mushroom dishes without the need to get down-and-dirty growing them first, too!