Tuesday, January 04, 2011
The diversity of fungus on this planet is astounding. Scientists usually say there's about 1.5 million species according to www.sciencedirect.com, but other estimates go as high as 9.9 million. That's diversity! Some of this fungi lives in the form of mushrooms and some of these mushrooms are edible. Interestingly, mushrooms are the sex organs, or fruiting bodies, of much larger organisms living below the surface in the soil. Of the thousands or even millions of mushrooms in the world, about 10% are edible. Of these 10% only a few types make it into our grocery stores.
I've always liked eating mushrooms, but they are one thing I've never grown on my own, and I'm not knowledgeable enough to harvest wild mushrooms. So, yesterday I ordered some shiitake mushroom mycelium (the undergrown root-like fungi) living inside sawdust that will supposedly begin fruiting within two weeks of being watered. I'm excited to try it out. It should be a way to grow something healthy in January. I will take some of the mushrooms to our forth grade classroom at Fort Pitt Elementary School so the children can learn about the growth process. We teach a class there once a month on ecology, nutrition and social responsibility.
Check out Fungi Perfecti for all their different indoor mushroom kits. I'll keep you up to date on how this works out.