Back at Christmastime, I gave Robb two grow-your-own-mushroom kits. These were made of large blocks of sawdust and (I think) buckwheat hulls, wrapped in plastic bags. We were supposed to keep the blocks damp, and harvest crop after crop of delicious mushrooms.
But somehow, it didn't quite work out that way.
We got a good first harvest of both the Shitake and the Oyster mushrooms. And then, by totally different methods, we killed both of our mushroom blocks.
We kept the Shitakes too damp, and the whole block grew fuzzy mold. I followed the instructions, carved off the mold, and banged the block of mushroom spawn on the kitchen counter. (Not making this up! The instructions actually advised how high we should lift the block, before we dropped it on the counter.) The block shattered into moldy chunks, and I threw it on the woodpile.
The Oyster mushrooms had the opposite problem, in that we couldn't keep them damp enough. We spritzed them with a plant mister. We moved them into the bedroom, and parked them in front of the humidifier. We'd get a flush of tiny baby mushrooms, which would subsequently shrivel up and die.
Eventually, I we got sick of having a huge clump of dead mushrooms decorating our bedroom. We shoved the mushrooms in the office, and forgot about them.
And yesterday, Robb sent me a text message with the following image, and the words "Benign Neglect."
That, ladies and gentlemen, is an eight inch Oyster mushroom.
And yes, Robb arranged that lovely still-life, with one of our many vintage scale-rulers. We may suck as mushroom farmers, but we do the best job possible, documenting our suckitude.