You know, being an adult is nothing like being in college, except, you know… The more things change, the more they stay the same.
About a year ago, I learned that it was possible to grow oyster mushrooms on coffee grounds and by early summer had a glass jar packed full of a sweet-smelling, feathery white mycelial mat. It never fruited (glass jars aren’t ideal) but as I’ve learned more about mushrooms, the more interested I’ve been in cultivating them.
Okay, a quick diversion into the structure and function of what we call a mushroom:
- Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of fungi
- Those fungi exist within the soil as a network of branching chains, called mycelium
- Mycelium do awesome things in soil, like help break organic matter down so it can be utilized by plants, entangle in the roots of plants and share nutrients, and move nutrients within an area to feed plants. Seriously. They’re like garden heroes.
So as I’ve been getting my gardening under way, I’ve added mushrooms to the mix.
I think what I’m most excited about is an experiment I’m conducting to try to get the oyster spawn to grow on pine straw from my yard. I pasteurized a quantity of pine straw by moistening it then baking it in the oven at 170-degrees for a couple of hours, then used sanitized gloves to work some of the oyster spawn into it, rolled it up, and put it into a ziplock bag.
I’m probably also going to try doing this with different quantities of coffee worked in, but I’m optimistic that I can coax the oysters into converting the junk pine straw that falls all over everything into healthy compost while producing tasty mushrooms for me.
For the winecaps, I’ll be working that into wood chips from a dead tree I had taken down. I’m hoping to create one or two long term stropharia beds on my property where I can dump the seemingly endless quantity of woody debris I clear out each season. Again, a simple way to turn waste into dirt (though it takes a few years with the woody debris) while, hopefully, producing an occasional crop of edible gourmet mushrooms.
And you can see in the first picture that the beer I brewed a few weekends ago has cleared up nicely, and the buckwheat lent it a lovely hue. I haven’t decided whether to bottle it up or rack it into secondary and dry hop it, but as always, I’ll let you know how things turn out.