Table Top Farms are an incredible introduction into the world of fungi! They are available in several unique varieties (Shiitake, Oyster, Lion's Mane, Comb Tooth, Reishi, and Chestnut). All are fun and easy to grow. The Chestnut is a beautiful rustic brown colored mushroom that grows in large bountiful clusters. It's a culinary delight that can be easily incorporated into any dish. Use the entire mushroom - both cap and stem maintain their crunchy texture even after cooking. Follow these five easy steps for setting up and fruiting your Chestnut Table Top Farm.
Setting Up Your Table Top Farm:
1. Preparation and Setup
Remove the mushroom sawdust block from the shipping box. Keep the block in the thick plastic filter patch bag (the bag has a white square patch). Grasp the top flap of the bag just above the seal. Fold it over several times and tape it firmly to the top of the block (Figure 1). Gently try to remove as much air as possible so all the plastic fits snugly around the block.
Now flip the block over, so the top with the fold-over patch is now on the bottom. With a sharp utility or paring knife, make a 6" long diagonal cut into the plastic on each of the two larger sides (Figure 2). These cuts are where the mushrooms will begin developing. If you cut into the sawdust of the block, don't worry, it will repair itself.
Poke a skewer into each of the four corners on the top of the block. Press them in 1-2 inches (these skewers act as tent poles to hold the humidity tent aloft over the kit). Drape the tent over the kit, tucking the edges of the tent under the block to keep in humidity (Figure 3). The two corners of the plastic tent have been clipped to allow for fresh air exchange.
2. Fruiting Location
Your Table Top Farm is aptly named. It can be grown on your kitchen table, countertop, shelf, or other surface that receives indirect sun or incandescent light. A grow light works equally well (at least 8 hours a day). Room temperature should be between 55-70°F.
3. Maintaining and Monitoring
Mushrooms require high humidity to develop, so water the farm daily by lifting up the humidity tent and spritzing the inside of the plastic with water using a plant misting bottle. If some of the water droplets get on the kit, that's okay. Maintaining the humidity at this stage is very important. There should be water droplets on the inside of the tent most of the day. If it is too dry, your farm may not be capable of fruiting. In extremely dry conditions or if you will not be able to water the kit for up to a week, do not use the wooden skewers. Instead, drape the humidity tent over the entire block loosely without support of the skewers. This creates a very small pocket of humid air right around the cut where the tiny mushrooms will develop. Continue to lift the plastic and spray underneath to maintain humidity at the cut site. It will typically take 12-28 days for mushroom pins to begin forming (Figure 4). If they were not used initially, the skewers can now be added to support the tent and provide space and fresh air for the developing mushrooms to grow. Continue to mist daily.
On occasion, mushrooms will begin developing in the trapped humid space between the block and the bag, away from the cuts (Figure 5). If you notice any mushroom pins developing in this way, gently cut the plastic open over the small pins to allow them to develop properly.
On occasion, mushrooms will begin developing in the trapped humid space between the block and the bag. If you notice any mushroom pins developing underneath the plastic bag, gently cut the plastic open over the small mushrooms to allow them more growing space.
4. Harvest Mushrooms
While the mushrooms are developing, monitor your farm closely. Harvest them when the edges of the cap are still curled downward. Overly mature mushrooms do not store as long. To harvest, simply grab the cluster of mushrooms, twist, and pull them off the block, trimming away any sawdust from their base. Store your harvest in the refrigerator for up to 10 days in a brown paper bag or other semi-breathable container.
Chestnut mushrooms are mild in flavor but have an exceptional ability to hold their amber-red color and crunchy texture during cooking. When ready to use, separate the clusters into individual mushrooms — no other preparation is needed. If washing seems necessary, rinse briefly and pat dry just before cooking. These mushrooms do not need to be sliced, as the long edible stem is part of the mushrooms' culinary appeal.
5. Additional Fruiting
We only guarantee the first fruiting of our farms, but second fruitings of Chestnut can be equally as productive as the first! For subsequent fruiting, simply continue to spritz the farm every other day. The second fruiting can take an additional 21-45 days to develop after the first harvest. Mushrooms may develop from the original cuts, but often times, pinning occurs underneath the plastic where the humidity is higher. Cut away the plastic over developing pins if necessary (Figure 5 & 6). Continue to monitor until harvest. For a possible third fruiting, use a sharp utility or paring knife to cut a new 6" long diagonal cut across the top of the block and proceed with Step 2 above. When your farm is done producing, add it to your compost pile!