...sometimes even a single feather is enough to fly. (Robert Maclean)


shiitake logs

I've wanted to try my hand at growing mushrooms for a couple of years now,
 but I was relatively clueless about how to get started...

Just when I had almost dropped the idea entirely...
the mushroom fairies intervened.

When we were at an open house for Early Morning Farm, our CSA,
Double E Farms happened to be there to walk any interested folks through an inoculation. 

It was really fun and way simpler than I had imagined...!  
Granted they brought the logs, a handy inoculating table (we decided  sawhorses with a notched out piece to cradle the log would work well at home) and they had pre-drilled the logs so the holes were all ready to inoculate.  And inoculate we did!  With shiitake spores.  

The inoculating tools are either palm or thumb style -
depending on whether you'd rather bop the spawn in with your palm or push down with your thumb... 
I preferred the palm style and found it to be fun and rhythmic. 
Once we got going faster, it reminded me of the arcade game whack-a-mole,
instead of moles, we were targeting empty holes.

After you've put your mushroom spores in, then you seal them in with wax.  We used cheese wax.   Sloppy job, but hey, it was our first time and we wanted to make sure they were sealed well! 

Then you keep them in a shady place (they don't like light),
 and make sure they don't get too dry.
Since it's been a very dry summer here,
I simply mist them with the garden hose from time to time.
A mushroom crop is one of those things you have to be patient for. 
Even more patient than garlic.
The colonization periods takes a looong time.  
Then they'll 'fruit' (i.e. make mushrooms) in about a year! 

I'm not sure how many shiitakes we'll get from our two logs,
but I do know one thing for sure that we'll do with them. 
My favorite is just to saute the shiitakes down with butter and shallots and a little thyme. 
 Serve on crostini with the cheese that suits your mood...  chevre, blue, brie...  

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