Home gardening doesn’t get any easier, or much quicker, than this!

Somewhere in the course of the past few weeks of planting trees and flowers in Animal Crossing, we decided we wanted to try growing something in the real-world. Unfortunately, we don’t have a private island, and this being Japan, none of us even live in a house with a spacious yard.

But still, the seed of the idea to see how green our thumb is had been planted, and with a little bit of searching, we found something we could not only grow inside our compact apartment, but eat too!

The Shiitake Cultivation Gift comes from Gunma Prefecture’s Forrest Shiitake Farm, and as you’ve probably guessed, lets you grow your own shiitake mushrooms. We got ours on online marketplace Rakuten here for 2,180 yen (US$20), and were happy to find that it’s a comprehensive bundle, with pretty much everything you need to get started right away (the only thing you’ll want that’s not included is a spray bottle).

Opening up the box, we found the “cultivation block,” a tree stump-like fungus bed on which your mushrooms will grow.

The first thing to do is remove the block’s wrapper, then rinse it with water. After that, set it inside the cultivation container that also comes in the kit.

That’s all you have to do to get started, and things don’t get much more complicated after that either. The key to helping your mushrooms grow is to keep the cultivation block moistened, so twice a day you’ll want to give it a few spritzes of water from a spray bottle.

We sprayed ours when we woke up in the morning and again when we finished work. For the first two days, it didn’t seem like anything was happening, but when we woke up on the morning of Day 3, dozens of shiitake had started sprouting around the block! From that point on, every time we went to spray it, we found new and thicker growth.

▼ It was kind of like watching the results of our coworker Seiji’s baldness treatments.

By Day 8, there were so many mushrooms we could barely see the cultivation block itself anymore, so we figured it was time to harvest our crop.

Now while you could just start ripping them out with your bare hands, using scissors is the much smarter method (we’ll explain why a little on). Even with scissors, though, you don’t want to go hacking away at random. Mushrooms are pretty individualistic as far as the exact shapes and sizes they grow, so while cutting at the base of one shiitake’s stalk, make sure that you’re not bisecting the cap of another.

So, when all was said and done, how many shiitake mushrooms did we manage to grow in just eight days?

42, which we’ve got to say is a nice haul for about 20 seconds of care each day. As a matter of fact, we had so many mushrooms that it’s going to take us a while to eat them all, so we’re happy that they can be frozen or dried with no problems.

We did, however, immediately grill up a few of the shiitake and seasoned them with black pepper. We’re sure the flavor got a psychological-effect boost from the satisfaction of having grown them ourselves, but we genuinely felt they were delicious, fresher and firmer than what you can find at the supermarket.

Oh, and remember how we said you’ll want to use scissors when harvesting? That’s because that helps avoid damage to the cultivation block, which is reusable. While you can’t start growing more shiitake right after your first harvest, if you mist the block daily for two or three weeks, then soak it in water for 18-24 hours, you can repeat the cultivation process for a second, and maybe even a third, batch.

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