Grow Your Own Mushrooms
I have always been interested in growing mushrooms, not tried it yet. This post inspired me to do an exhaustive inter-net search (up all last night exploring the world of shrooms).
Most of the stuff on the web is either the kits or the magic variety (more on the magic variety than anything else). The above address is the best article I found on growing edibles on a small scale. It is not too technical but answers most "how to" questions. There are several good links at the end of the article to suppliers.
In a nutshell, what I learned: it is possible to order a small kit and then transfer the almost exhausted kit outdoors and it will live on indefinatly. Oysters seem the best for this because they live off of anything. One company sells a kit that has you grow them off of toilet paper rolls! Move them out side to a compost pile and you might have more shrooms than you can eat.
Most of the "gourmet" varieties live off of decomposing wood. Different mushroom different wood. Only a few live off of conifers, mostly hard wood. The kits have them growing in sterilized sawdust.
For a small scale grow your own operation you don't need too much start up money. For portabellas you need hard wood logs cut recently (not still sappy but the old fire wood won't do) and little plugs of "spawn" (I think that is the proper term). Drill the logs, plug them with the purchased spawn, cap the plug with cheese wax, wet the log, mushrooms will follow.
Kits aren't that expensive, but they will eventually die out due to lack of food in the pre-packaged kit.
I know what I'm asking for for my birthday!!