Winter months present a unique set of challenges for preppers and homesteaders. Issues such as staying warm, dealing with snowfall and buildup, and (in colder climates) even sewage management (digging an outhouse in permafrost anyone?) are bad enough on their own.
But what about food? Fewer crops grow well in freezing weather, and, if you’re stuck inside for whatever reason (whether just a nasty blizzard or, on the more cynical side, a nuclear winter), you need to make sure that you can feed yourself and your family. You can try to stock up to outlast the cold weather until warm weather makes it easier to find food. But, if that’s not a good option for you, you can try to find food production methods that work in cold weather.
One of the two options for winter food production is to go primarily carnivorous. Many will choose this path, and it works. Eskimos and other indigenous cultures subsist on a primarily (or completely) meat diet. For those who are not hunters, do not want to become hunters, or are vegetarians, this isn’t an option.
In which case, the ultimate winter crop for you may be mushrooms. Yes, mushrooms. They grow quickly in dark areas in cool temperatures. And they happen to be carb-free and gluten-free, too, which matters for some people.
Fortunately, for people like me who weren’t born with a green thumb, mushrooms are actually easy to grow, too. Jacki Andre gives a quick seven-step process for growing your own mushroom crop:
1. Buy a mushroom kit or spawn.
2. If you’re not using a kit, prepare the substrate, and then inoculate it with spawn.
3. Place the inoculated substrate in the best possible environment for the variety. Most mushrooms grow best if the temperature is around 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit, but some varieties will perform better in temperatures that are slightly cooler or warmer. Some light is OK, but keep the substrate away from direct sunlight. Basements often work well for growing mushrooms, as does the space under your kitchen sink.
4. Keep the inoculated substrate moist by covering it with a damp cloth or a sheet of plastic that has some holes punched in it for air circulation. Remove the covering and spritz with non-chlorinated water two to three times a day.
5. Depending on the variety chosen, the quality of the spawn, and the suitability of the growing environment, tiny mushrooms may begin growing within a few days to a few weeks. This process is called “pinning.”
6. Once your mushrooms begin pinning, they will mature quickly, usually within a few days.
7. The method of harvesting your mushroom depends on the variety you are growing. Some should be cut at the stem; others should be broken off in clumps.
That’s it. Within a matter of a few days or weeks, you could be eating mushrooms that you have grown yourself.
Is this the ultimate winter crop for you or do you prefer growing other food in colder weather? Tell us below.