There are a lot of mushrooms that can be grown quite easily at home using specially prepared mushroom growing kits or by purchasing mushroom spawn and using your own grow materials. By growing mushrooms at home you could probably have your own crop ready to eat within a couple of weeks or months. It may surprise you to hear that it is also possible to grow your own truffles at home, using a truffle innoculated tree! The only slight drawback is that you will have to wait for a couple of years before any truffles grow, but it is such an exciting and interesting way to get hold of some really special truffles.
Not only is it a very exciting way to grow your own truffles at home but it is also an extremely cheap way of getting hold of your own truffles. Truffles are a very rare and valuable commodity, much under-used and underrated in the UK when compared to places like Italy and France. They do grow more commonly then many people realise here in the UK, which is quite an exciting prospect to think about, but they can be very tricky to discover without the use of a very well trained dog (pigs were used too, but they have a bad habit of eating the truffle once they have discovered it). The variety of truffle that grows here in England is called a Summer Truffle, and is much less valued then the ones found in Italy, France and other countries, but it is still a very delicious and interesting food delicacy.
What are Truffles?
Truffles are a type of fungi which are ectomycorrhizal which means that they usually all grow in association with trees or plants. They form a close relationship with trees, with their network of mycelium spreading out to cover vast areas underground which supplies trees with water and nutrients that would have usually been far out of reach from the trees. Some fungi actually help trees to grow, and this is very much the case with truffles. So you are highly unlikely to find a truffle that isn’t within a couple of meters away from the roots of a tree, as they nearly always grow together.
This is why if you want to grow truffles yourself you will need to get yourself a truffle inoculated tree. This is a young tree, usually hazel, which has been inoculated with the spores of a truffle. It will probably take about 5 to 8 years for truffles to grow, so growing truffles should definitely be a long term plan. The trees are usually quite inexpensive, not costing much more then the price of a tree that hasn’t been inoculated with truffle spores, usually around the £20 mark.
Taking care of your Truffle Tree
After purchasing your own truffle tree, and many of them are sold over the Internet, what you should do is plant up the tree, preferably in a well drained area and in a place where temperature change isn’t too extreme throughout the year. This could be tricky in the UK, but a sunny spot would probably be good. The trees are more likely to do well in quite an alkaline area, so it may be worth checking the pH of your soil before you plant. After a few years you may notice bulges in the earth beneath the tree, which should hopefully be the sign of a truffle emerging!
Alternatively if you don’t want to have to plant your own truffle tree and care about it yourself for the next 10 years or so, you can instead pay a company that will deal with everything involved in planting, looking after and harvesting the truffles. They can either send the truffles over to you when they appear, or instead they could sell your truffles on and send you the proceeds. Whatever route you decide to take, growing your own truffles from a truffle inoculated tree is such an exciting and unique way of getting hold of your own truffles at just a fraction of the price that they would usually have cost you.