Thursday, March 14, 2013

Building Unity Farm - "Planting" the Mushroom Farm

As I mentioned last week, we're planting the orchard and developing a mushroom farm this Spring.

What is the scope and scale of the mushroom farm effort?

We've cut 200 feet of poplar trees that were too near our buildings for safety.   I chainsawed the trees into 12 four foot logs that 6-8" in diameter and 60 two foot logs that are 8-12" in diameter.  

Poplar is an ideal substrate for oyster mushrooms.    Our mushroom farm supplier, Field and Forest Products, recommends the "totem" method for inoculating poplar.

Here's what I'm planning for the last week of April.

I've cut 192 feet of pine 2x4s into 16 inch segments.  These boards will serve as the bases for 72 "totem poles".     I'll cut the 4 foot logs into three 16 inch segments.   I'll cut the 2 foot logs into 12 inch segments.   I'll lay down the 2x4 bases every 33 inches to create a 200 foot line in the moist and shaded area of our north wood.   I'll place a large trash bag on top of each base the generously add sawdust inoculated with oyster mushroom mycelium (spawn).   I'll add a log, add more spawn, add a log, and seal the totem pole in the trash bag to establish the perfect environment for growing mushrooms.

Field and Forest Products supplies 6 different subspecies of oyster, so we'll inoculate 12 totems with each type.

I've cut 25 four foot oak 3-6" oak logs from trees damaged during Hurricane Sandy for Shitake growing.   As we clear an acre for the orchard, we'll have enough oak for 220 logs arranged as 11 stacks of 20 logs.   I'll place one stack every 18 feet in the 200 foot mushroom growing area of our north wood.   I've cut 88 feet of pine 4x4s into four foot segments to serve as bases for the stacks.

Field and Forest Products supplies 11 different subspecies of Shitake, so we'll inoculate each stack with a different species.  Inoculating requires drilling 1.5 inch deep holes every 4 inches around the entire circumference and length of each log.    For 220 four foot logs, that means  220 logs * 4 feet/log * 12 inches/foot * 1 hole/4 inches for each row around the circumference * 4 rows  = 10,560 holes.

How do you use a drill to make 10,560 holes?   You don't.   You use an 8000 rpm grinder retrofitted with a drill chuck and high speed bit.   In my case, I'm using the Makita 9557pb with the Field and Forest chuck that attaches to the 5/8" inch coarse threads of the grinder.

I will fill these holes with sawdust spawn using a special inoculator then seal the holes with 25 pounds of melted food grade paraffin.

The entire process for processing the poplar and oak logs will be done in three weekends at the end of April and the beginning of May.

I've completed the survey work, the brush clearing, and layout of the mushroom farm.  I have all the tools and technologies I'll need.  The rest is the muscle power to process a few tons of wood into a production configuration.

We may see some fruiting this Fall, but likely next Spring we'll have our first mushroom harvest.   Like our Orchard, we've chosen subspecies that fruit at different times in different conditions so we'll have yields throughout the season when the temperature is over 40 degrees.   If we're lucky this batch wood of yield for many seasons, so the "heavy lifting" only needs to be done every 5 years.


1 comment:

Michael Wilson said...

I don't know one mushroom from another but I was once in the Green Mountains of Vermont for a one week camp studying Indigenous Knowledge and someone brought to the camp fire something called "chicken mushrooms". These fungi were fried up and had the texture, taste, and tenderness of chicken. Eating under the stars in the clear mountain air will make anything tasty, but the next batch was a little dry and tough, like trying to gnaw through wood. Anyway, you got to love "Do nothing agriculture" in it's various forms.