Harmony in the Garden Blog

From ‘Ewww’ to ‘Cool’ – growing mushrooms in a box

I walked into Peets Coffee the other day (sounds like the beginning of a joke, doesn’t it?)

Anyway, I walked in and saw these interesting looking mushroom kits for sale.  And since I’m an avid gardener who will grow just about anything, I was immediately intrigued.  So, I snatched one up for $15.00.  

Having a teenager, I find it’s more and more difficult to keep her interested in gardening, so I’m a sucker for anything that might grab her attention.

And that’s before I even read the amazing story behind this mushroom kit.

The company behind this product is called Back to the Roots (created by 2 recent UC Berkeley graduates) and they’ve come up with a pretty ingenious way to grow your own mushrooms while using recycled products.

They’ve mastered the art of waste reduction by transforming used coffee grounds into the substance for the mushroom kit.  And when you’re finished growing the mushrooms, you can recycle the nutrient-rich contents back into your compost pile.  All of the cardboard and plastic are recyclable, too!  

Consider the following list of impressive facts:

1.  These kits have diverted & recycled over 50,000 pounds of coffee grounds by transforming them into a rich soil used for growing the mushrooms.

2. Using the used coffee grounds, they’ve grown 7,500 pounds of oyster mushrooms sold at all Northern California Whole Foods Markets.

3. Sustained 10 urban school and community gardens by donating premium mushroom compost.

4. Created many green-collar jobs.

So you might be asking if the kit did, indeed, grab and hold my daughter’s attention?

 Absolutely!  Anything that starts out potentially weird is always a sure bet!

Day 1

It’s really quite simple.  Just cut a slit in the opening of the box, and spray it with water twice a day.

 It even comes with a little recyclable plastic cover you can attach to create a ‘greenhouse’ effect.

Not much happened for the first 15 days. Then all of a sudden – Blammo!


Day 17

Weird little blobs started to appear, along with white ‘mycelium’ which looked a little like mold.

At this point my daughter was intrigued, exclaiming ‘ewww!’ each time she passed by them.


Day 18

Fom this point on, these little blobs grew at the speed of light!  

Well, almost.  But they did double in size each day.


Day 19

See what I mean?

Day 20

 At this point the ‘Ewww‘ turned into ‘Cool!’ and we harvested the mushrooms.  

We then repeated the process all over again, using the reverse side of the box.

Was the $15.00 a good investment for 2 batches of Oyster mushrooms? Probably on the pricey side.  

But was the $15.00 a good investment to keep a teenager interested in gardening – absolutely!

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  • Wow! That’s a neat mushroom growing kit that also has impressive stats. I wonder if it would be fun to grow with my 3 yr old…

    • Yes! It would be SO fun for your 3 year old! I even know some adults who are growing it – definitely fun for all ages!

  • Oh, what fun! I wish we had a Peet’s here – I would just adore getting to try mushrooms! Though actually my partner Trevor hates mushrooms with a passion and finds them creepy, so I might not actually be allowed to grow them in the house. How he can be all manly and slightly goth yet hate mushrooms for their clammy feel and habit of growing in decay is beyond me. Goof!!

  • That is amazing. I am so impressed how the developers of that product followed the cradle-to-cradle approach to design. (Reading the Cradle To Cradle book and seeing how much is wrong with how we recycle).

    As for creating a homemade version, you’d better drink a lot of coffee. Starbucks, for one, no longer gives out free coffee grounds, they no longer separate their waste (going back to: what’s wrong with how we recycle).

    Regardless, very cool!

  • Very cool! I saw these at Peet’s the other day but as I was fixated on getting my caffeine hit did not look that closely.

    I wonder how hard it would be to create a homemade version of this product?


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