Saturday, May 11, 2013

Fun with fungi

"Here I am, all ready for eating," I hear a little voice call from under my back porch.

Another small voice chimes in, "Me, too!"

No, those aren't the imaginary voices of the microgreens I started a handful of weeks ago. The cutting lettuces and baby spinach have a higher pitched, chirpy tone when they're ready. There is something calling out that has a distinctly... fungal... lilt.

(In case you're worried about my mental well-being, let me assure you that I don't actually think my mushrooms are talking to me. Everyone knows that mushrooms don't talk. They sing.)

Is it possible that at long last, my homemade shiitake logs have fruited? Those beautiful logs that Jeff hauled over in the trunk of his car, lugged from the side of the road in Takoma Park, where Park Service crews were chopping up a large white oak felled after a heavy thunderstorm back in the late summer of 2011? The ones that he and I drilled, inoculated with hundreds of shiitake spore plugs, and meticulously covered with melted beeswax (to keep nondesirable things from reproducing in the depths of the nutrient-rich logs)?

Those logs were a LOT of work to get ready for mushroom growing, let me tell you, and I was perhaps not overly kind in my references to the non-fruiting logs over their year and a half of seeming dormancy. I may have audibly maligned them when six months went by, then nine months with no sign of even a single, tiny shroom. Grrr....

I got so irritated after about a year that I lugged them around, finally forming two makeshift raised beds under my back porch "so that they could at least serve some function instead of just sitting there taking up space." Becky came to visit soon  afterwards and seeded the beds with spinach, baby chard, lettuce mixes. At least I had some salad greens through the late summer and autumn of 2012. Now could it be that they were just slow growers, that those previously unfruitful (har, har) fallen-tree chunks have taken off at last, that I am about to be up to my eyeballs in fresh, organic, homegrown mushrooms?? They look promising...

I called Jeff yesterday, when I discovered the two sizable (probably shiitake) mushrooms sprouting out of the logs, excitedly telling him about our maybe-successful-after-all mushroom log development. He congratulated me. He also recommended a few nearby hospitals "just in case." There is a high probability that they are shiitakes, being that the logs were stuffed with shiitake spores. But what if they're not?

To be honest, I am a little nervous. What kind of end to a life story would that be: death by misidentified mushroom consumption in one's own backyard? Tell me honestly: don't mine look like the ones cousin Caroline and I harvested from her shiitake logs at Mountaindale Farms a couple summers ago? At least a little bit?

Anyone want to come over for mushroom stirfry tonight?


  1. Ibti,, i'm thrilled they finally fruited,, they can be a bit frustrating when you first innoculate them, and wait,, and wait,, and wait... but well worth it. Enjoy!!! We're going to be innoculating some oak logs this weekend.

  2. And batch #2 of a larger number of smaller shrooms were just devoured in a stirfry with Kenton over the weekend. Yum! Maybe they are just tentative mushroom logs....


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