Monday, January 30, 2017

oyster mushroom inoculation

the mushroom spawn that arrived on the 20th of this month has been hanging out in the refrigerator while i've been gathering logs for the shiitakes and soaking some straw for the oysters.  i filled 6 buckets with straw and water a week ago.  soaking the straw gets it hydrated and kills some of the organisms that may compete with the mushroom spawn and keep it from successfully colonizing the straw.  yesterday i drained the straw and inoculated it with three varieties of oyster mushroom spawn.

three of six buckets filled with soaking straw (the bricks keep the straw submerged)

soaked straw, draining on wire screen.  oak logs in background awaiting inoculation with shiitake spawn.

i read about growing oyster mushrooms in nursery containers and since we've got a lot of nursery cans i thought it would be a good way to start---use what you've got on hand kind of thing.

layering straw and spawn into #3 and #5 nursery cans

the straw and the spawn were layered (first a layer of straw, then spawn, then straw...) until the containers were full.

king oyster, Pleurotus eryngii, grain spawn on top of a layer of straw

when the cans were full i stacked them into a little mushroom tower.  i did this for each of the three varieties of oyster mushrooms so i ended up with 3 towers (a total of 6 cans).

oyster mushroom nursery can tower 1 of 3

i also decided to try making burlap mushroom bundles because i have burlap and because they seem like a really neat thing to me.  i cut about a 4.5 ft length of burlap off the roll and dunked it in a bucket of water to get it damp.  i spread some of the soaked straw on the burlap, then spread some spawn and rolled it up.

once i had the burlap rolled up i tied it closed with some sisal twine.

then i rolled it up from one end to the other using the tails of twine to tie it as i rolled.

and i ended up with a cute little bundle of potential mushroominess.  i did this for each variety of oyster mushroom so i ended up with three bundles total.

not sure what i'll do with the bundles.  they'd be good set into the mulch under a fruit tree in the orchard garden or maybe set into a pot in the greenhouse.  we shall see.  they were a lot of fun to make.  right now i've got the towers and the bundles in a shady spot in the greenhouse keeping the snow peas company.  i set the bundles on top of the towers to help keep them from drying out.  the greenhouse isn't heated so the temperature fluctuates quite a bit from day to night but it stays humid in there and doesn't get too hot this time of year.  if it seems like the greenhouse isn't a good environment i'll look for a more suitable location. 

i'm excited to see what happens.

Friday, January 27, 2017

morning meditation

focused on the breath
the cat
sinks his claws and teeth
into my knee
of bodily discomfort
and a sense of sincere gratitude
for the little beast
and his savage lesson
mind comes back
to the breath

Monday, January 23, 2017

first egg! (and a little more snow)

found the first duck egg of the year when i went out to let the ducks out of their shed and give them some breakfast.  guess they're giving me breakfast too.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

tiny snowman

the snow has melted but i managed to find enough for a tiny snowman before it all went.

is this the end of tiny snowman?...

snowy morning

we got a light dusting of snow this morning...

view of the kitchen garden from bed this morning

zane loves snow so after a few sips of coffee i got dressed and took him out to enjoy it before it melted.

the little creek on the western edge of our property

looking up the driveway to the fig orchard


looking west, kitchen garden, greenhouse, and mill office

looking into kitchen garden from kitchen/dining room door

 staal, bringing in a little more firewood, looking east to mill office

which way did they go?

the ducks were a little tentative about heading out into the snowy patches at first (a few of them haven't seen snow before) but they forgot about it when i invited them to a rice party...

it was a fun morning but i'll admit to enjoying being in a warm house, watching the snow melt.

Friday, January 20, 2017

mushroom christmas

...or maybe, more properly, spawn christmas.  the mushroom spawn i ordered a couple weeks ago arrived this afternoon.  staal and i love mushrooms and we eat a lot of them.  since the gardens are pretty well established now and the ducks are safely situated i feel like i've got enough time that i can make a focused attempt at mushroom cultivation.  it's something i've wanted to try for years so this is pretty exciting.  i'm looking at it as i do pretty much all my projects and everything i do in the gardens---as an experiment and an opportunity to learn and to grow.  
i ordered three strains of shiitake, three strains of oysters, and some wine caps.  each strain has a specific temperature window for fruiting so i'm hoping with the varieties i selected we'll be able to harvest mushrooms at fairly regular intervals from early spring into late fall.  in addition to outdoor cultivation, growing in the greenhouse, cold frames, and even in the house present some interesting possibilities for year-round harvests.  
the mushroom spawn is currently growing on sawdust.  the oyster spawn and the wine cap spawn will get broken up and mixed into straw (and probably some other interesting things like coffee grounds and cardboard for the oysters) to colonize and fruit.  the shiitakes will be grown on oak logs so their spawn will be inserted into holes drilled into the logs and then sealed with wax ( i have a kit of specialized tools for this) to keep hydrated and to keep out competing fungi and other critters as the spawn colonizes the logs which can take several months.

oyster mushroom sawdust spawn

sawdust spawn, metal tags for labeling logs, daubs for spreading wax on logs (wax included in kit but not pictured), drill bit for proper depth and diameter holes for log cultivation, and sawdust spawn inoculation tool

much to consider and much to experiment with.  there may be a steep learning curve on this little endeavor but i'm looking forward to the challenge...and the possibility of eating delicious, homegrown mushrooms.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

happy anniversary, love (no. 4)

may we continue, daily, to work for each other's happiness and to grow in this loving life we have made together.  i love you dearly.  happy anniversary, staal.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

rain, rain, rain

we've gotten over 8" of rain over the last 5 days.  not remarkable for many places in the world but for the central california foothills it's pretty substantial.  it's also very welcome.

the ducks are loving it...

the seasonal creeks that border our property on the east and the west are running quite well.

still falling with heavy rain predicted for tonight.  may those in flood prone areas be safe.