I’m trying my best to keep track of what we harvest for you guys. Well, and for ourselves too I guess.
Today I officially got the Herb & ‘Shroom Garden up and running. In other words, I finally stacked (some of) the shiitake mushroom logs and planted some herbs (two different kinds of basil, cilantro, and parsley). I don’t know how impressive that is, but I assure you, it’s getting there.
When I mentioned the name of my new side yard garden to my mother, she gave me a very disapproving look. Geez Mom, it’s not like I’m growing marijuana and psychedelic mushrooms out here… they’re just shiitake logs and basil! Sometimes we all just need a laugh and to not take ourselves so seriously. Anyone who agrees with me can come hangout in my Herb & ‘Shroom Garden any time.
We are finally, finally getting our “Herb and ‘Shroom Garden” going. And when I say finally, I mean FINALLY. I have been working so hard to get the main garden planted (and reading fiction novels which is quite un-characteristic for this non-fiction bookworm) that I have been struggling to get the Herb and ‘Shroom Garden going. But it is my goal over this next week to be all set in finishing up the rest of my oak logs for shiitake mushrooms and to plant an oasis worth of basil, parsley, rosemary, and other herbs to fill up our teeny, tiny side yard.
And as part of that goal, I have finished half of the one hundred (yeah… that’s not a typo) inoculated plugs I ordered. Phew! No one told me that drilling one hundred holes into oak logs was going to be hard using just a home-use electric drill. Well, maybe someone did, but I wasn’t listening.
Making your own mushroom logs is this easy:
Well, one, you need some 4-6″ diameter hardwood logs. The only types of wood that don’t work well are: soft woods, evergreens, white oak, pine, and cedar.
Two, you will need some sort of power/electric drill with a 5/16″ drill bit. The size of the drill bit needed will also depend on what size inoculated dowels you order. I don’t know how well I can recommend them since I have never done this before, but I ordered my shiitake inoculated dowels from Everything Mushrooms this time. We’ll see how it goes.
First, drill holes about 2″ inches deep in a diamond pattern along your log. You will want your holes to be 3-5″ inches apart and in 4-5 rows depending on the size of your log.
Next, you will hammer in one dowel per hole. This is easy right?! Make sure the dowel sinks into the hole a bit and is not sticking out. If you need to, use a punch to hammer the dowel into the log.
The last step is to wax the top of the dowel filled holes in the log so that they are sealed. You can also wax the ends of the log, but multiple sources have noted that that is not necessary. It is recommended that you use “cheese wax” or beeswax. Since we have beeswax around here, I didn’t see a need to spend money on the cheese wax, although it is only about $8.00 a pound.
I’m not sure how well you can see the beeswax seal coating on top of the plug, but it’s there.
Now we just have to stack the logs so that they are not touching the soil and tap our feet as we wait six months to a year for our mushrooms. It’s going to be awhile. After you inoculate, you should water the logs 2-3 times a week to maintain the moisture level in the wood. After a log is taken over by the mycelium (mushroomyness), they will start to fruit (produce mushrooms).You can also force fruit the logs by completely soaking them in water for 12 to 24 hours every 5 weeks.
It’s here! Or… They are here. My 100 shiitake mushroom spawn inoculated wooden dowels. Creepy right? When I tell people I am starting a mushroom garden, I get a lot of weird looks (as you can probably imagine). So I have started saying edible shiitake mushroom garden. I don’t know how much that helps, but I am pretty used to the weird looks by now.
Out to try and inoculate some logs with my spawn!
The last of our cool weather crops are in. Well, half of them anyway since I am staggering plantings by two-weeks. I also covered everything we planted with a leaf mulch (read: glorified, chewed up maple leaves) to help the seedlings retain moisture and heat. My downfall last autumn was that I used straw which apparently still had seeds in it. Those seeds sprouted and created more weeds instead of suppressing them. Oops! So we’ll see how leaves mulched by the lawn mower work. Fingers crossed guys.
We have a whole bed of nothing but carrots and beets this year! How exciting is that? I love root vegetables. The carrots we planted this time are of French origin called Jaune Obtuse Du Doubs. If my French is correct (I warn you, I failed French in high school), they should be yellow. In any case, they should be interesting. Most French crops grow well here.
Well, today is the last day to enter our Ultimate Plant Cage GIVEAWAY sponsored by Global Garden Friends and it is also the last day to submit nominations for Mother Earth News’ Homesteader of the Year (**wink, wink**). So don’t forget and at the very least, enter our giveaway for some garden swag! Winners will be announced tomorrow morning.
This week the weather has been deceivingly warm, but us mountain folk know that it’s just the eye of the storm. You never put your snow boots away before March is over. In fact, it was so warm on Wednesday that I actually had to dig out my tank-top. I think we hit 75*F! Sure, that’s not hot (and we get in the 100′s here) but it is too warm for March weather in the Sierra foothills. Even when I went out to feed the animals this morning I could hear all sorts of birds singing. They must think it’s spring. I didn’t even need my sweatshirt! You know how some mornings in the summer you can just smell the heat coming or even see it in the morning sunlight? I’m not trying to be poetic here… but I have spent a good amount of shady summer mornings in the garden and that’s what this morning feels like. Like slip n’ slides, sprinklers, and sunscreen are just around the corner.
But we have to get through one more inevitable snow storm. I have seen it snow here as late as the first week of June. You just never know.
So my morning chores have been pretty peaceful lately. I wake up, drag my sleepy butt out of bed, grab two trays of fodder from the rack, and thump down the stairs (hopefully quiet enough that I don’t wake Cami). With a box cutter I cut each fodder slab into eight pieces on the table in the Rabbitry. Each square section is about half a pound, but I have my scale at the ready. Grown ups get one square, Dandelion and her babies get three squares now, the big kids inside get two and a half squares. I double check water bottles and then refill sunflower seeds and hay.
Today I took all the wooden panels down to allow them more air and then shut the door to keep stray dogs and cats out. Around the corner from the Rabbitry I make my way to the hutch where all the boys are growing out. Those big kids get three squares of fodder, their hay, and since they were nearly out– fresh water. Down the little hill, the chickens get the rest of the fodder and they happily accept it going for the seeds first.
When I make my way back to the porch, I drain the water out of the bucket of barley that soaked over night. The grain is divided into two clean trays and brought inside. At this point I water the whole rack of fodder and drain the tub below if I need to.
My morning chores really only take about twenty minutes since I have them down in perfect order. I pretty much make a circle around the property and once summer does show its face (no such thing as Spring), the circle will be bigger and take a bit longer with the inclusion of garden care and the addition of quail.