I purchased a mushroom growing kit late last year. It had been an idea I had toyed with from time to time but the price for a retail kit was pretty steep for the result indicated, so it was only when I found a cheaper one that I finally gave in. I had partial success but before I could reap the full benefits it started to dawn on me that it wasn’t a very efficient way of doing things.

Let me explain: growing mushrooms in a bag implies several times a day watering despite the fact that outside it’s raining. It is not a difficult chore, don’t get me wrong, it just struck me as non-efficient, and that, more than hard work, has the power to stop me in my tracks. Just as an aside, I don’t mind hard work, as long as it’s smart and the results are visible in a reasonable amount of time… or the long term results have good ROI 🙂

I liken this to growing chicks with an incubator: hard work, good results (if not perfect) and cheaper than the other way. What other way? Get a hen, of course! Then and only then, when the hen sits on fertilized eggs, will you figure out how far away from nature (therefore inefficient) incubators are. Not bad, I repeat, but a clumsy attempt at a short cut.

I am not the type of person who advocates a complete return to nature. I like my comforts and am grateful for the era in which we live. But I do like to tweak my life to make it MORE comfortable, and that, ironically, implies getting back to more natural ways. Another personal example: most supermarket soaps, creams, detergents etc. dry and irritate my skin. I could go the standard way and get some more stuff from my doctor to soothe it, instead I chose to go more natural in my cleaning choices and it has become a way of life for me. I am also saving more money than I expected, even with the few products I do buy being more expensive that the standard ones. These choices have also led me to many, mostly happy, mostly cheap experiments: anyone fancy a nice galenical concoction of beeswax, olive oil, rose water or orange blossom water and just a tiny bit of borax to fluff it up? I garden a lot, so that has been my saviour these few years, which reminds me, I need to make another batch!

I hate waste, so re-usable nappies for the little one also struck me as an efficient choice at the time.

The thing that puts most people off doing things efficiently seems to be a higher initial investment cost as opposed to the cost being spread out otherwise. Going back to the cleaning products described above, natural soap is more expensive than the standard one (why, I ask myself sometimes?), beeswax, extra virgin olive oil, flower waters, essential oils, re-usable nappies don’t usually come cheap, instead of opening a jar you actually have to melt the wax in oil, stir in the other ingredients, then stir again until the three, usually incompatible, main ingredients actually agree to stay together. Hard work? I think I mentioned above that I am not afraid of it… and it’s not, just out of our comfort zone. Worth it for me – and it makes nice presents, too 🙂

How about the mushrooms, you might wonder? Plan: invest in some wood chips and a different sort of mushroom (one that prefers the ground as opposed to the trees), mulch a shaded area of my garden that would otherwise remain fallow; inoculate the wood chips with the mushroom; go away and do something else for a while; water the garden as usual or enjoy the rain and let nature do the hard work for me 🙂


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