… a commentary and journal about my “farm” in Tucker County, West Virginia. In 2001, I bought an 87 acre tract of mountain land in Dryfork, the “old Harr place” according to locals. I built a house there and have begun farming the land. I named the property “Dogs Run” in a play on words, since I bought it so my dogs would have a place to run and play. For me, it is a place of solitude and peace.
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Many mushroom species grow naturally on decaying wood, and edible varieties can be cultivated in logs innoculated with commercial spores. There is an area in the forest nearby to the garden where numerous mushroom species grow, including the chanterelle mushrooms we harvest every August. We have also harvested oyster mushrooms growing on an old oak log.
Taking a clue from The Joy of Hobby Farming, we ordered mushroom growing supplies from Fungi Perfecti. We bought 100 each of 5/16" dowels (plug spawn) innoculated with the spores of shiitake, oyster, and maitake mushrooms along with some soy wax to seal the logs. Last autumn before the leaves fell, we identified several 6-8" diameter oak and maple trees to use for growing mushrooms, and cut them down in early April. After letting them sit for two weeks to allow natural antifungal compounds to decompose, I drilled 1 1/4" deep holes every 4" down the log in a diamond pattern. That would be 300 holes in five logs. Three hundred, by hand, into wet, hard wood. The spade bit got so hot, that the holes were steaming when it was withdrawn. The dowels were tapped in with a hammer, and the holes were sealed with melted soy wax. The shiitake and maitake went into oak logs, while the oyster mushrooms went into maple logs.
shiitake mushrooms on oak logs
The inoculated logs were laid crossways on top of other logs to keep them off the forest floor, but in a wet drainage area under the forest canopy. That's it. Now we wait, and maybe late this year, but certainly next year we will have home-grown mushrooms. Waiting is going to be hard, but this is yet another long term investment.