04 September 2018

Shopper Diary: Growing Shiitake Mushrooms

Did you know that you can grow your own mushrooms?

Last winter, Portland Farmers Market shopper and PSU student Akiyo Arakawa purchased a mushroom block from vendor Springwater Farm so she could experiment with growing her own shiitake mushrooms.

Akiyo is originally from Nagoya, Japan. She studies Economics and Political Science at Waseda University in Tokyo and from September 2017 to June 2018, she studied Environmental Studies at Portland State University. While studying at PSU, she volunteered at the Oregon Food Bank, PSU community orchard, Portland Farmers Market, and The City Repair Project. She loves the PSU Farmers Market because of its energetic atmosphere, interesting products, and nice vendors!

Written by Akiyo Arakawa

This is my experience of growing my own shitake-mushrooms last winter.

When I found a shiitake mushroom block at the PSU Farmers Market, I immediately decided to grow shiitake mushrooms. I love to observe mushrooms. I love to grow mushrooms. I love to eat mushrooms. Actually, I had an experience of growing “wood ear mushrooms” before in my home country of Japan so I was familiar with what a mushroom block looks like. 

There are several mushroom vendors at the PSU Farmers Market, and some of them sell mushroom blocks, including Springwater Farm, where I purchased mine. The mushroom blocks are made of sawdust with mushroom mycelia, for growing your own mushrooms.

Last January, I bought a shitake-mushroom block for $12 from Springwater Farm. 

Following the instructions, I gave my mushroom blocks water every day, and left the block in my backyard.

Almost a week after I began taking care of the mushroom block, the first small mushroom showed up. In succession, other mushrooms came out one after another. Every day, they grew faster than I expected. I was so excited to see how much they grew.

The mushrooms increased in number, and became larger in another week. There were 10-15 big mushrooms on the block. In my case, almost all the mushrooms grew at the same pace, so I harvested at once. I felt so happy that I could gain these many mushrooms.

Finally, I used the shiitake-mushroom and made Japanese food: takikomi rice, and miso soup. The flavor and the texture of the mushrooms was so great. It left me satisfied with making a dinner using an ingredient I grew myself!

Try it!! It’ll be a fantastic experience!!

Are you interested in growing your own mushrooms? Springwater Farm sells a variety of mushroom blocks at the PSU and Shemanski Park markets. Stop by their booth to check on availability. Prices vary by variety and size.