Wednesday, April 24, 2013

News from The Hen House - March 2013

Adventures in Mushroom Growing

Shiitake Mushrooms
Hi all!

Brad here once again, to bring you the latest in New from the Hen House!  Our wonderful caretaker, Renée, has started another new adventure - MUSHROOM GROWING!

Golden Oyster Mushrooms
She recently attended the Madison Garden Show held at the Alliant Energy Center and met many new and interesting farmers and gardeners.  One of the things she has often wondered about after seeing Golden Oyster Mushrooms at the Dane County Farmers Market back in the summer of 2009, was - Could they be grown on our farm?  Since that summer, she has periodically checked out various websites devoted to growing fungus of all types.  Most of the websites talked about much larger scale farms and a very long turn-around time to the first harvest.   
Inoculated wooden plugs
with directions.

This was a major buzz-kill UNTIL the Garden Expo! While wandering the seemingly endless aisles of garden products or garden ideas, she stumbled upon a Wisconsin fungus grower, Field and Forest Products Inc., Peshtigo, Wis.,  They had smaller packages of plugs or sawdust that had been inoculated with several varieties of mushrooms available for purchase.  After a bit of hemming and hawing, she decided to plunk down $25 and take home two small packages of wooden plugs: one of Golden Oysters and the other of Shiitake!

Pot of boiling water to be poured
on paper towel rolls to discourage
other fungal or bacterial growth
For the fungal-neophyte, apparently the process of growing mushrooms is slow and dependent upon many factors.  As a Rooster, I only care about the fruiting bodies, or the big, puffy parts I can eat but Renée was interested in all steps to the process, from knowing what type of wood logs to track down to how to serve it in a way that her fungus-phobic children would eat.  She learned that Golden Oysters like to grow on logs on freshly felled softwoods and Shitake perfer freshly felled hardwoods.  This led to her dilemma of how to track down the right type of wood, cut at the right time of the year.  We have very few trees on the farm!

Making holes for the
inoculated wooden plugs.
She had a few leads from friends that lived on wooded parcels of land but while chatting with another mushroom lover at a ski race, she learned that these inoculated wooden plugs or even the inoculated sawdust could be encouraged to produce fruiting bodies on things like paper towel rolls and coffee grounds.  

The wait time until harvest was significantly reduced and the mushrooms could be grown indoors, in a controlled environment.  Originally she had been told that her wooden plugs would probably produce fruiting bodies, outside, on logs, maybe summer 2014. Now she is looking at the summer of 2013 if all goes well!
Paper towel rolls stuffed with plugs
and bagged for optimal growing conditions!
I will keep you posted as to her success or failure in future blog posts.  I am hopeful as she discovered mycelium — a network of moist fibers that use powerful enzymes to penetrate wood or other organic matter, on her damp paper towels. YUM! YUM!

Read more:

Alpha Rooster
The Hen House
R&B Acres LLC

No comments:

Post a Comment