Edible garden: Home grown fungi

By Janice Marriott

If the wind's too cold and the soil too wet there are still ways to grow delicious food without straying far from the heat pump. Herbs such as chives, thyme, basil and parsley can be grown in small pots in the kitchen. I'm still using bright red chillies from a plant that's growing in a teapot on my kitchen bench.

Or be more adventurous and try growing mushrooms. Start with oyster mushrooms. You can buy kits from garden centres and hardware stores for $40. This will give you at least three harvests of the tasty fungi. The kits come with instructions and everything you need to grow the mushrooms, and include recipes as well. For variety, you can grow the mushrooms on bales of straw or logs or even on tea bags. They'll be ready to eat in two to three weeks - an ideal school holiday project.

Or try growing shiitake mushrooms, used in Asian cooking. You drill holes in a log, insert the spore, and wait a couple of weeks. Self-contained kits are available in hardware stores or visit crash.ihug.co.nz/~mushspor which is a good site for information on all types of mushrooms, and for buying bulk growing packs for a group, like classrooms, or clubs.

And a tip for cooking mushrooms: Don't wash them before cooking because they'll soak up the water and this ruins the flavour. Use a soft brush or paper towel.

- Herald on Sunday

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