Many forms of mushroom are in cultivation today. Mushrooms are a popular addition to many dishes. They are eaten raw in salads, or cooked in sauces, soups, side dishes and stuffings. The field mushroom is Agaricus campestris, while Agaricus bisporus is the cultivated mushroom sold in the shops. There are many types of fungi quite similar in appearance. However, while many are edible, some are extremely poisonous, so it is not safe to eat wild gathered mushrooms unless their identity is known. Today, mushrooms are grown commercially in special premises, whereas they were once grown in disused railway tunnels and cellars. Apart from the common mushroom, there are many fancy varieties grown for the boutique market. These include oyster mushrooms, chanterelles or egg mushrooms, straw mushrooms (Volvariella volvacea) and shiitake mushrooms (Lentinus edodes).


Mushrooms need still air, high humidity and a constant temperature to grow well. Home-growers are probably best to grow their mushrooms from pre-packed mushroom 'farms' sold in garden centers. These are easily managed and produce very satisfactorily. Mushrooms can be harvested at the preferred size but often the bulk of the crop is ready at one time.


Cool, damp conditions are preferable.

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Muscari      Mussaenda