Mushrooms are delicious. We are lucky (or not depending if you live down wind of the Loveday mushroom plant) that the majority of mushrooms in Winnipeg grocery stores are grown locally. If you are keen you could pick wild mushrooms, of which Manitoba boasts 1000 varieties. Of course, you should exercise extreme caution when eating wild mushrooms.
Another alternative is to grow mushrooms in your backyard. There is no foraging in wet, mosquito ridden or recent forest fire terrain. You simply inoculate some freshly cut logs with mushroom spores, cover with wax, soak and wait. Depending on what variety of mushroom you choose to grow, either Shiitake or Oyster, you could have mushrooms in a few months to a year.
Ken Fosty is the Mushroom guy in Manitoba. He gives workshops and sells the mushroom kits, and if you are really nice he will sell you some freshly cut logs to inoculate.
Oyster mushrooms are native to Canada, whereas Shiitake are not. I went with Shiitake because they are delicious. One quick email to Ken and he was dropping off the logs and mushroom kit to my house within a couple of days.
The first step is to drill holes in the logs. They should be about 3 inches apart, and alternating on the log. You need a drill but the drill bit is included in the mushroom kit!
After all the holes are drilled, you can insert the mushroom spore dowels. I left mine for a couple of days in the fridge so some of them seemed soggy and would not tap into the hole very well. I would recommend inoculating your logs quickly after you get the mushroom kits. Once all the mushroom spores are inserted into the holes, you can heat up the wax and cover the dowels with a thin layer (prevents drying and pests). The best time to do this is in Spring very soon after the logs have been cut. I found it was cool so my wax hardened before I could finish, so I had to reheat it a couple of times.
Once you are done covering with wax, you should place the logs in a shady area, directly on the ground. Keeping them wet and turning them every once and a while will aid the inoculation process. Shiitake mushroom logs take a year to produce mushrooms, but can produce for 5-7 years depending on conditions.
Growing your own food has multiple benefits, and my aim is to have variety of producing plants (and logs!) in my yard. Contact Ken Fosty to get your own mushroom logs!