Waiting (+ Mushrooms!)

My posts have been sporadic this month in part because I’ve been in a near-constant state of anticipation. April has been a month of waiting — waiting for something definitive to say and share with the world, waiting for the grey skies and near-constant rain to end, waiting for the other shoe to drop after the tragedy in Boston and before the suspects were identified. Waiting for resolution on some potential Big Life Changes. Waiting for writerly inspiration.

And waiting for my mushrooms to grow.

This past Christmas, my dad gave me a Back to the Roots oyster mushroom-growing kit. I was so pleased by this gift — Back to the Roots is doing great things, and I love that my dad found that gift and knew I’d like it without my ever having mentioned it to him. After Christmas, I let the unopened cardboard box kit sit in my bedroom for months; I was waiting until the seasons started to change so that my mushrooms would get ample sunlight and warmth.

Mushroom kit!

In March, I experienced delusions of spring and decided to start growing the mushrooms. I followed the directions on the box and cut through the plastic, soaked the bag of coffee grounds and mushroom spores, replaced the bag in the box, and set the box on a windowsill. I dutifully spritzed the grounds twice daily and saw a couple tiny mushrooms appear after a few days. Sadly, those first sprouts shriveled up and died within a week or so — I figured there wasn’t enough (read: any) sunlight, or maybe I wasn’t watering them enough. Disappointed, I left the box on my bookcase and ignored it for a couple of weeks.

Then I noticed a new set of mushrooms growing, despite my inattention, and I happily took up the task of giving it its twice-daily spritz of water. Aaand then S and I went away last weekend (more on that later), and the coworker I asked to care for my mushrooms didn’t quite keep them moist enough, and the new set of mushrooms withered up into hard, inedible nubs. Sigh.

But then! Lo and behold, a third set of ‘shrooms popped up in another corner of the box! To quote a recently re-released movie, life finds a way. (Ha ha ha.)

Determined not to let this batch die, I’ve been keeping the roots extremely moist. The box has a new home on the windowsill of my brand-new office during the week and my bedroom during the weekend, and I think that the spring sunshine (which finally appeared) did the trick. Just check out their growth in a matter of three days:

I feel good about this set of ‘shrooms; they’re already growing much faster than my first two attempts did. Third time’s the charm, eh?

The cool thing about the kit is that after you’ve harvested mushrooms from the front of the box, you can repeat the process with the back! When I do that one, I’m going to be sure to soak the roots more thoroughly than I did the first time. I suspect that some of my problems were caused by me not scoring the roots deeply enough when I cut the plastic and soaked the bag. Next time, I’ll knife down deep so that the mass of roots and coffee grounds are well soaked.

In the meantime, here’s hoping that I don’t have to wait on these mushrooms much longer. Got any suggestions for a delicious oyster mushroom dish we should make with our bounty?

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