01/21/2017 TimberGardener 0Comment
A cluster of wine cap beauties near the kiwis.

If you read the site you know we have mushrooms ‘planted’ in logs, straw bales, and garden trenches.  There are maitakes by the big rock, chicken of the woods in a Douglas Fir stump, and four oysters, and king stropharia scattered around.  This summer I bought a bag of Pioppino mushrooms to try as well.  Here is a general update on the mushroom population at the Timber Garden.

Wine Caps

Panther inspects the mushrooms.

The summer of 2016 was the second summer we had King Stropharia, or wine cap mushrooms, in our garden. Each time we picked them we would take the mycelium-covered stem butts and bury them somewhere else like squirrels. Nearly all the fruit trees had been ‘planted’, and so had the kiwifruit, gooseberries, and a few honeyberries. A new set of straw bales got a few handfuls. The potatoes had been harvested from the bales but the drip irrigation system was still in place, so in went mycelium from the stropharia and two oyster mushroom kits from a friend of mine.

Stropharia clusters!

The main attraction though, was the mushroom trench that we had planted in 2015.  Behind the gooseberries, under the newly constructed kiwi trellis, that trench was loaded! Flush after flush of mushrooms popped up when we watered the squash we had planted in the trench.  If you look closely at the photo to the right, you can see three separate clusters of mushrooms!  If you look very closely, you can see Panther washing himself.

These mushrooms ended up supplying us continuously throughout the summer, which was a huge surprise!  Even when it seemed too hot for them to flush, they would surprise us and pop up.  The younger buttons have a less sweet flavor, so they work just like white button mushrooms in recipes.  They kept about the same amount of time in the fridge too.  The best part is, they are also helping the soil!

The other two mushroom trenches still have mycelium within the straw, but they haven’t fruited yet.  We might move some of the more aggressive stropharia mycelium over in the future.

Blue and Pearl Oysters

Blue oyster cult
Pearl oysters popped up unexpectedly near a bamboo stake, obviously enjoying the drip irrigation featured at this resort.

Several small blue (left) and pearl (right) oyster mushrooms popped up in the fall from where I had planted them in the garden straw bales.  It was a little cold for them to be flushing so hopefully it means they were getting happily established in the three bales.  They taste great though!  Oysters grow aggressively, which allows them to outcompete the ubiquitous little wood-eating mushrooms you often see on straw bales.  They aren’t particularly good (or bad) for your garden plants, but they are delicious sauteed, and if they like bale livin’ they might soon be yielding more than some of my plants anyway!  Certainly out-yielding the peppers, maybe about at a cauliflower level.  I dried a few oysters whole, and I’m shocked at how well they reconstitute.  Just put them in water for a few hours, and you almost can’t tell a difference from a fresh mushroom.

I hope the bale-dwellers had a chance to get going before winter, because technically you are supposed to get them established 30 days before freezing temperatures or put them inside.  Those bales aren’t moving, so I’ll just have to check on them in the spring!

Phoenix Oysters

Phoenix oyster logs with the chicken-shredded remains of the first and only flush of oyster mushrooms.

The Phoenix oyster logs, which were ‘seeded’ in early 2015, had been in a protected spot that didn’t get a lot of water.  Sometime in September I moved them to lean on a rock behind the house.  Then I never walked by that spot again.  Some time later, I found THAT THE DAMN FREE RANGING CHICKENS HAD EATEN A HUGE FLUSH OF THEM!!!  I was chasing them back in to the coop and found one of their favorite free range snacks!   How could you, chickens?

The sad remains.

We have definitely been guilty of under-watering our mushroom logs, but in general they seem to still be growing and the ends of most of the logs are getting mottled, a sign that they are um…getting eaten.  When I rolled the Phoenix oyster log over, I could see where the mycelium had grown right into the damp, leaf-littered ground.  It must have been just the jump start it needed!  Unfortunately, the chickens got to it first.  All of the Phoenix and blue oyster logs went in to the garden for winter safety.  They’ll get a nice blanket of protective snow and maybe we will remember to water them in the spring!  That means I might have straw bales AND logs full of oysters!