Thursday, May 16, 2013

Building Unity Farm - The Mushroom Farm Begins

Last weekend, my wife Kathy, Bill Gillis (CIO of the Beth Israel Deaconess Care Organization), and I completed 72 Oyster mushroom totems and 60 Shitake logs - about 10,000 pounds of wood requiring 3000 individual inoculations.

Here's how we did it.

I cut 72 two foot segments of poplar, 8 to 16 inches in diameter, from the trees we felled behind the house in the early spring when sap was flowing but leaves had not yet emerged.   This wood has the maximum amount of moisture possible.   Over the weekend, we cut each log into 2 one foot pieces plus a thin third piece.   I purchased 6 sub-species of oyster mushroom spawn.   First, we poured about a cup of spawn into the bottom of a thick black trash bag.  We placed the first log segment on top of the spawn.   We then added another cupful on top of that log and placed another log on top of it.  Finally we added another cupful and placed the thin third piece on top.   We closed the bag with a rubber band and stored each completed "totem" in the shade of a pine grove.    We inoculated 12 totems for each species.  The end result of 72 totems stacked in the forest is pictured below.

 After Labor Day we'll remove the bags and enable the inoculated logs to fruit.   We'll get some Oyster mushrooms this Fall, but the bulk of our first harvest will arrive next Spring.

For Shitake, I cut 220 four foot oak logs between 4 and 12 inches in diameter when clearing land for the orchard.   They were also harvested for maximum moisture.   I purchased 11 sub-species of shitake mushroom spawn.  Over the weekend we placed a log in the wheels of the assembly line we designed, drilled 12mm holes 1.5 inches deep every 6 inches along the log, and repeated the pattern every 2 inches around the circumference.

We used inoculator tubes to place spawn in each hole, then sealed it with cheese wax heated to 400 degrees F.   We carried the finished logs to the shade house (85% shade cloth) and stacked them lincoln log style.

We have room for 11 stacks of 20 logs.   We did 60 last weekend and will do another 60 this weekend.     By the time we're done, we'll have drilled and filled 10,550 holes.

Next Spring we'll move the logs from stacks to leaning upright in the forest.  Like the Oyster mushrooms we may get some fruiting this Fall but the bulk will be next Spring.

These logs will produce for years to come and our hope is to start a mushroom community supported agriculture program (CSA) once we've proven our ability to produce large quantities of high quality mushrooms.

Making progress.

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