Xinshe is known for two things: the Flower Sea and the mushroom factories. I could care less about flowers unless I’m REALLY tying to score points with my girl, but practical microbiology, including mycoculture fascinates me. Due to their their educational tour and grow-it-yourself bags of colonized substrate, I have visited multiple times.
There are acres upon acres of mushroom grow-out houses in Xinshe, and there are a handful of these tourist factories for you to visit as well. They will teach you a facinating overview of the processes involved in incubating and harvesting mushrooms. They don’t teach about the lab work involved in making spawn. I suspect that they either a) feel this is too complicated for the mindless masses to process before their attention span is exhausted, or b) they don’t make their own spawn and don’t know much about the process themselves. If you want to learn ALL about growing mushrooms, check out Paul Stamets’s Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms (highly recommended).
The inside of one of these small grow houses looks like a giant, dark, fungal mosh-pit. You may happen upon them while the old ladies are painstakingly flipping the bags to ensure even colonization (far left, in the background).
Then there are the fruiting racks. Sometimes, you will see immature mushrooms beginning to emerge from the bags of substrate. If you are older than 5 then it should go without saying, but please don’t harvest the immature mushrooms. In fact, don’t touch; those mushrooms are food. Fruiting racks look similar to what you see in this picture but this picture is actually of colonized bags of substrate, on sale to DIY’ers for 50 NT per bag.
As fro the the grow-it-yourself bags, all the hard work has been done already. The bag has been fully colonized and all you have to do is: take it home, cut the top off the bag, put it out of direct sun, and spray the substrate 2 x per day. Harvesting mushrooms from pre-colonized substrate bags is to growing mushrooms as masturbation is to sex: you get the same, desirable end result with none of the frustration. Within a few days, mushrooms will begin to emerge. You can post pictures on Facebook and tell all your friends what a bad-ass mycologist you are.
I highly recommenced that you check out one of these mushroom factories and that you bring home a bag of substrate or two. Watching your very own mushrooms grow is a strangely fulfilling experience. Bring your girl to the Flower Sea afterwards and kill two birds with one stone.