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.