Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Growin' Some Mushrooms

Our Master Gardener group has speakers come to share programs with the community.  The latest speaker was Tradd Cotter, from Mushroom Mountain.  It was a fascinating program about the mushrooms that we find in the wild and their many benefits.   He shared how to take spore prints (the spores released on a clean sheet of paper) and using mushroom guides to see if you have the mushroom you think you do, based on the color of the spore.  One of the Master Gardeners brought in a small white mushroom and asked if it were edible.  He said the spores from this mushroom, which are green, tell us that one is poisonous.  I learned enough to know that there are ways to identify wild mushrooms, and that I don't have that knowledge ..yet.

The evening of the program was one of those stormy wild nights with lots of lightening.  Unfortunately his Power Point program got zapped.  He was prepared, though needed to go to the car to get other materials, to go on with a slide show.  It ended up being a longer than usual program but we were all riveted.   There is cutting edge research in the benefits of mushrooms in health, in environment, in food sources and soil health.  The  volume of information was a lot to take in.  I would love to visit his farm in Liberty, SC to learn a more.
  
Lucky for us, he brought some spore plugs for us to buy.  My friend Ann and I bought different kinds of mushroom plugs and then split the bags so we both went home with two kinds of mushrooms to grow.  We have Shiitake wide range and Oyster mushroom spawn to grow.

Baskets of mushroom plugs
Once home, it was time to acquire some logs to inoculate with our plugs that are sitting in the refrigerator, waiting to go forth and grow.  Ann is friends with a man who has a tree cutting business. He was going to be cutting some hardwoods and we were welcome to come and get the pieces of tree!  He was kind enough to find the 6-8 inch diameter logs, cut them to length and had them ready to load into our truck.  How fortuitous.   There were enough logs for five of us to have enough hardwood for our mushroom farms. 
See the split in the tree? 

He offered us both oak and sweet gum....the bark made it easy enough to tell which was which.  I was surprised how heavy the load of wood was in the back of our truck.

On Tradd's website there is a video showing how to plug the logs.  Time to gather materials, I needed some logs (check), plugs inoculated with spores (check), paraffin (check), mineral oil to thin the wax (check), drill with 5/16" bit (check)...ready to go.

Remember to melt your wax in a double boiler -- I used an old peanut can and one of my enamel pans filled with water.  

Add a couple spoonfuls of mineral oil to prevent the wax from cracking later.  

Time to get the logs and bring them around to the shade of the patio.  I used my wagon and off I went to the backyard.

Apparently this was of interest to one of the dogs.

Skyler checking out the logs. 

  Charging the drill, at one time we had two battery packs, but one no longer held a charge.  Found an old watercolor brush to paint the wax on the plugs after they are placed in the logs.

The plugs are wooden dowels that are spiral cut and the spores are embedded in the cut grooves.  Make sure to mark the drill bit for the correct depth.  

Time to begin.......

Drill the logs

Hammer the plug into the hole


Paint the wax over the top of the plug


Measure the distance (about 4-6 inches) apart, spacing the plugs along the log and around the log


Two done, see all the wax plugs....this took longer than I thought it would.


But wait.................I have the Shiitake still to do.  The drill died.  We recharged it, it still didn't work. 

Leaving the mess and the no longer working drill, we went off to the hardware store. 

We bought a new CORDED drill.  Now I needed to find the extension cord and get back to work.


You know, it is amazing how quickly a proper working drill does the job.  The last log was done in a snap!  I reloaded the logs and headed into the lower part of the yard for the logs to be in the shade.  The fruit of the mushrooms will take about 6 or more months to be ready to harvest.   I leaned them against a tree at the edge of the area where many of my ferns are growing.  


I will watch them and keep you updated with any changes and new growth.  This is a new endeavor for us....looking forward to eating my first homegrown mushroom!







©Copyright 2012 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

35 comments:

  1. How incredibly fascinating! I love when they book interesting people at MG meetings. My children frequently ask me about the mushrooms in the garden but I don't know how to id a poisonous from non-poisonous. How exciting for you to grow your own! Looking forward to seeing the result!

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    1. Karin, I have enjoyed our speakers as well. You know, Tradd isn't too far from you...almost the same distance from us. You all could have him come and speak.

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  2. I'm so excited that you got to see Tradd--he and Olga are fabulous! I've been in two of his workshops and am dying to visit Mushroom Mountain. I think you and I need a road trip! Still, even after two of his workshops, I was too cowardly to eat the mushroom growing on my log...turned out it was an oyster (not the shiitake plugs I had purchased.) Tradd's research is fascinating--do you know he has a book coming out soon? Can't wait!

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    1. Julie, I enjoyed it a lot. One of the MG's sitting in front of me said she went up to Liberty and it was really interesting.
      Wonder what happened to your shiitakes? Pretty funny.

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  3. I'm looking forward to seeing how it goes too. Our group here had the logs for sale all innoculated for $10 but I did not buy one. Dumb move I know. Those drills are so great when working but unfortunately those batteries don't last forever. We had to buy a new battery and it all worked well but do like the corded drill too. Perfect for this kind of job. The patterns sound quite interesting. I wonder if he ever comes to TN? Sounds like a fabulous program.

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    1. Tina, a log already innoculated for $10 is a pretty good deal. I am glad we bought a new drill, boy what a difference.

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  4. Fascinating project with delicious results to look forward to. I will watch with interest.

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    1. Ricki, stay tuned, I believe it will take a while, but I will stay on it.

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  5. Can I just say how awesome is that truck! You would never mistake your vehicle for another in a big parking lot. Also, how lucky to have someone come and talk to you about mushrooms. There is so much to learn about identification and it's almost impossible to learn out of a book. You mention how mushrooms help soil health and it reminded me of a TED talk I saw a while back. you might find this interesting.

    http://blog.ted.com/2008/05/06/paul_stamets/

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    1. Marguerite, haha glad you like the truck. My husband loves his truck. I will check out your link after I respond to the comments. Thanks for sharing it.

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  6. How fascinating! I'm really looking forward to watching these grow along with you. Thanks so much for sharing the process with us!

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    1. Gaia, it is pretty interesting ...hope mine sprout sooner rather than later.

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  7. My gosh, what an interesting post and project. Our MG club never did anything so fun and educational. I would have loved to learn this and you are so right about the soil health benefits. I used to have my horses boarded next to a mushroom growing farm. The smell was not so nice with all the manure they used, but it was great not to have to clean my horses stalls. They wanted the stuff so bad, they came and got it fresh laid. It was interesting on a large scale too. I too like your 'monogrammed' truck. Mine is a Jeep and my husband has a big new Chevy.

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    1. Donna, Maybe you can encourage your MG group to have such a speaker! Nice to have your stalls mucked out for the benefit of mushrooms.

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  8. Great post, Janet! It was so fun to read from Speaker to Spawn! It shows it takes a village to grow mushrooms. From Susanne who got the speaker, to Tradd who inspired us, to Ann that called Troy, the tree man, to the countless e-mail and other conversations between us future mushroom growers in preparation for this momentous occasion, and the hardware store with the drill, the piggly wiggly with the Gulf Wax, Electricity from Duke Energy, that cool red truck. I need a nap, just thinking about it.

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    1. Ann, thanks for commenting. It took an entire village to pull this off. Glad you had Troy on speed dial.

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  9. cool post! battery powered drills work almost as good battery powered weed eaters.

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    1. David, how right you are!!! Speaker meeting this week on Hostas and Their Companions. 7 PM at the Greenwood Library, Thursday night.

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  10. I think I need a new drill ~ takes me FOREVER to get one hole drilled ~ I can't imagine doing all the holes for your plugs!! This will be an interesting project to watch. Good for you, always learning new things!
    btw ~ my orchids are in orchid pots, sitting (on the patio) where they get NO sun whatsoever but plenty of indirect light. I will repot them with new bark when I bring them back indoors. Hope that helps & that you see some buds on yours soon. It's SO frustrating to have them do nothing for as long as mine....

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    1. Kathleen, a new drill makes all the difference! Maybe next year I will try my orchids outside, off the screened porch, a little rain water would do them well.

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  11. It looks like you'll have fun growing shitakes!

    I've heard Tradd speak, but haven't made it over to visit Mushroom Mountain. Fascinating to learn more about both the edibles and remedial fungi! Going out with my neighbor in the mountains who's a mushroom expert has been amazing.

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    1. Lisa, I think we all need to go over to Mushroom Mountain!! Love the remedial elements of the mushrooms.

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  13. Fascinating and how yummy....I love mushrooms but have found how good they are for your health...I have herbal blends of certain mushrooms that help with lung health and bolstering your immune system...and they work...can't wait to see how this all works out!

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    1. Donna, I love mushrooms, think this will be lots of fun. Will keep everyone posted.

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  14. I've seen you post yummy looking food before, so I hope you will tell us what you do with them when it is harvest time.

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    1. Les, thanks, you are most kind. I will share all sorts of ways to use my harvested mushrooms!

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  15. I keep wondering about trying to grow mushrooms. I shall watch your progress with great interest! I have an excellent shady spot that I could use...

    I agree about corded drills - I love my cordless, but whenever I need to do anything heavy duty, like drill into concrete or brick, I use the corded, which makes mincemeat of it. Glad I am not the only one to get part way through a project only to find I have to go out and buy new things to complete it!

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    1. Janet, We have thought about growing mushrooms for a long time, so this is really fun for us to try. Will keep you and all others posted on the progress.

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  16. PS Apparently you can use old telephone books to grow mushrooms in rather successfully!

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    1. Janet, excellent reminder for using old telephone books!

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  17. Hi Janet, I must confess that I have never thought to grow mushrooms myself. This should be an interesting experiment and I look forward to seeing how it progresses.

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    1. Jennifer, I am hoping it will be successful. Watch for future posts.

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  18. How interesting! I noticed the other day at one of our larger garden centers that they now sell kits for growing your own mushrooms. I like your logs much better, though it did seem like quite a bit of work. Will they come back every year? Looking forward to seeing how your project turns out.

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    1. Rose, I have looked at doing this for a long time. In Virginia we didn't have much shade and where there was shade, flooded with salt water. My logs would have floated out to sea!

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