Tag Archive: growing mushrooms


That is to say, that the mushroom growing kit has not lived up to expectations. (see also “We have a cow pat in the living room“) The blurb on the box promised 2-3 crops. Strictly speaking that was accurate. Unfortunately, far from a boxful of mushrooms, we only raised two or three each time. A total of seven mushrooms works out at just under £1 mushroom.

The spent soil is now behind the garage and the box thrown onto the weedy compost heap. I took a look a week or so later on the off-chance that there might be some more mushrooms. No, not one.

Was this a waste of time? From the point of view of self-sufficiency, economics and obtaining a healthy crop, the whole experiment was a bit of a failure. I shall not be in a great hurry to try growing mushrooms again. For the record, the potatoes, strawberries and peas seem to be coming along fine.

Having said that, I don’t think that this was a complete waste of time. Failure is a natural part of life and it is important to foster a healthy attitude towards it. Failure happens from time to time for all sorts of reasons. We are not doomed to failure but neither are we always guaranteed success. To borrow a phrase from the old Preacher: there is a time to succeed and a time to fail.

You could go so far as to say that there are even times when doing something badly gives us freedom from the tyranny of perfectionism. It is normal to fail from time to time – it does not make us a failure. In the particular example here, the mushrooms failed to grow well. That does not mean that I am a failure. It does mean that I have a choice whether to have another go some time or to try something else or to stick with what I already do well.

To expect perfection all the time can be like expecting to be able to run and catch the wind, as that old Preacher might have said.

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Yes, I do mean cow dung and no, I haven’t told the rest of the family yet. You see, it was one of my Christmas presents. Well, part of a Christmas present, and it is possible that I am mistaken.

I was given a mushroom growing kit but did not get round to setting it up until some time in mid-January. The instructions seemed straight-forward at first glance until I read the details. I had imagined you simply put soil and mushroom seed/spores/powder into a box, put the lid on and forgot about it until the mushrooms were ready to pick. It turns out not to be so simple.

There were two sorts of soil/mud: one with the mushroom stuff in and then “casing” which went on top several days later. It was only after I had squidged and squashed the brown stuff into the bottom of the mushroom box that it occurred to me that it looked remarkable like cow dung. Unfortunately, we had already decided that the best spot to grow the mushrooms (away from food and also the right general temperature) was a corner in the living room. Well, I made the best of it and, until now, I have kept my suspicions to myself. In the meantime the mixture has to be kept moist (not overly wet nor allowed to dry out) and we have had a small plague of fruit fly (another clue to what the brown stuff might be).

I was right about the mushrooms needing to be kept in the dark – the lid of the box has taken care of that. As for myself, I prefer the light (unless I’m trying to sleep).

I have really enjoyed having bright sunny mornings this week here – it really lifts my spirits. Light makes things seem so much more cheerful – so it may seem strange that I would like the idea of turning off the lights this evening. Thanks to an advert in the Radio Times and a C of E news headline, we have had Earth Hour brought to our attention. There’s more on the WWF website and it is not just about light pollution and the convenience of astronomers (much as I may be sympathetic to them). There are the effects on wildlife whose natural daily and nightly rhythms are affected. Plus there is the issue of so much wasted energy. I understand why people want to light up their garden for a greater sense of security but I don’t need my garden illuminated by the lights of a business which is a mile away. There has got to be a more energy-efficient way of doing things.

We are not mushrooms but we do need the right balance of light and darkness in our lives. I’ve already mentioned Earth Hour (starting 8.30 a.m. GMT) to the rest of the family. I may leave the cow pat question till after we’ve harvested a few more mushrooms.

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