CA Mushrooms
CA Mushrooms

Book Review

DIY Mushroom Cultivation: Growing Mushrooms at Home for Food, Medicine, and Soil

By Willoughby Arevalo
2019, New Society Publishers
208 pages; paper; 7.4 x 0.6 x 8.9 inches
ISBN-10: 0865718954;
ISBN-13: 978-0865718951
$24.95 USA/Canada

There have been a number of mushroom cultivation books hitting the shelves in just the past couple of years and I have to say, all have been very good. All have one thing to distinguish so you wouldn’t be faulted for choosing more than one (and all are very affordably priced, too). And I’m pleased to announce one more foray into the world of wild mushroom cultivation with the brand new DIY Mushroom Cultivation by Willoughby Arevalo.

Are you the type looking to do more than simply cultivate shiitake or oyster mushrooms with the goal of having a few exciting meals? Then this book may be for you. Urban farming, permaculture, and home-scale mushroom cultivation for profit are all areas that are really taking off right now in North America. DIY Mushroom Cultivation is an excellent source of information—the writing is clear and very easy to follow, the photos are large and clear (and plentiful). This book would be useful for complete newbies. DIY Mushroom Cultivation presents reliable, low-cost techniques for home-scale cultivation that eliminate the need for expensive equipment you may have thought necessary but found only in university labs or large-scale mushroom farms. And the book is geared for just about anyone, anywhere in North America; growing techniques are applicable year-round, for any space from house to apartment, and for any climate, budget, or goal.

Chapters include: Introduction and Mushroom Basics, which overviews what fungi are and how they grow, their role in the environment; Overview of the Cultivation Process; Workspaces, Tools, and Equipment with a lot of great DIY info here on how to construct at home for cheap (assuming some basic skills); Sanitation and how to deal with vectors of contamination; Culturing and how to make media for cultures; Making Spawn; Fruiting Substrates; Outdoor Growing and Mushroom Gardening (a personal favorite of mine); Harvest and Use of mushrooms, including tips on cooking as well as preservation, also has information on working with “medicinal” mushrooms and their health benefits. An Appendix on mushroom Species Profiles is excellent and very handy—this section briefly explains ease (or not) of cultivation, their basic needs, and what to do with them if you get lucky during cultivation.

Although maybe not widely known down here in the States, the author is quite well known in the Pacific Northwest—especially so in British Columbia where he currently calls home. In his words, Willoughby Arevalo is a “mycologist, artist, kitchen wizard, father, and educator who made friends with mushrooms as a young child and has been showing people how to work with fungi for the last decade.” Arevalo has been a presenter and taught how-to workshops at the Radical Mycology Convergence as well as several other mushroom festivals and for mycological societies. When he’s not educating mycophiles, Arevalo works on an organic vegetable farm, makes art in relation with fungi, and grows mushrooms at his home in Vancouver, BC. Mushroom growing is a fun and rewarding experience. It’s not difficult (once you learn a few basic techniques). And it’s sustainable and good for the environment. And the world needs more mushroom farmers. So pick up this book and join in the fun!

— Review by Britt Bunyard
— Originally published in Fungi