Thursday, April 11, 2013

Thursday Building Unity Farm - Creating the Mushroom Farm

I recently wrote about the planning for our Shitake and Oyster mushroom farm.

 Last weekend we began to build it.

Using oak that we cleared during the orchard preparation process,  I cut 150 four foot logs and will cut 70 more next weekend.  A local farm hand and I moved them from the orchard to a shaded area under maple trees near the northern border of the farm property.   We created a log storage area between two old stone walls.

Next, I had to design the mushroom inoculation "assembly line".  The process of inoculating logs includes drilling 5/16 x 1.5 inch holes every 4 inches around the entire circumference of the log.   I used 7 inch wheels on 3 foot threaded rods to create a roller system for easy drilling around the entire log.   Once drilled, the log is rolled down the line to the next person who inserts sawdust spawn with a brass inoculator.   Finally, the log is rolled down to the end where melted cheese wax is applied to each hold to seal in the spawn and moisture.  The assembly line itself is created with eight 2x4s and Simpson tie down strapping to support logs up to 100 pounds.  

Once the logs are prepared - we'll do that May 11-12 and May 18-19, they'll be moved to the shade house , a 10x30 foot galvanized frame covered with 80% shade cloth.   Inside the shade house I created eleven 4x4 bases which will hold the 220 logs we plan to inoculate this year (11 different types of Shitake x 20 logs per type).

Over the next few weeks, I'll also add mist irrigation to the shade house to keep the ambient humidity at about 80%.

With advice from Leo Mondragon, an expert mushroom farmer at Forest Harvest  and 60 pounds of mushroom spawn from Field and Forest , we'll have our mushroom farm up and running by Memorial Day, at about the same time our 2 acre orchard is completed.    We'll expect our first harvest next Spring.

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