The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Recreating the bounty of the wild

Wild oyster mushroomsI'm sometimes surprised by how bountiful the uncultivated portions of our farm are.  Thursday morning, I startled thirty wild turkeys who were hunting for bugs in our woods.  Then, while helping Mark split firewood, I looked up and saw this box-elder chock full of wild oyster mushrooms.  Taken together, the turkeys and mushrooms would have made a bountiful meal...if I'd had a gun with me on my walk and if the mushrooms weren't fifteen feet up in the air.

Luckily, we can recreate that bounty in a more easily harvestable fashion.  I thawed a homegrown chicken out of the freezer and plucked yet another flush of shiitakes off our mushrom raft.  Permaculture gives us the best of both worlds --- high quality meat fed partially from wild insects plus micronutrient-rich mushrooms grown on woods-harvested logs, all right at my fingertips.

Our chicken waterer makes care of the flock nearly as easy as hunting a wild turkey.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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You may have already done this, but you could try to create some native oyster mushroom plugs and use the locals in your harvesting.
Comment by Sara Fri Dec 2 09:29:24 2011
Sara (or future commenter that knows the answer)- Could you give instructions on how to create mushroom starter plug? I bought some this year to try for the first time next spring, but I'm thoroughly intrigued and would like to know more.
Comment by Molly from Fri Dec 2 11:55:41 2011

Sara and Molly --- We've been working on low tech ways of creating your own spawn for the last couple of years with varied success. If you want to do it right and have money to set up a sterile lab, you should buy Paul Stamets' Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms.

On the other hand, if you want something you can do on the backyard scale, I recommend making cardboard spawn. We're still working the kinks out of it, but did have our first fruits from homegrown spawn this year, so it has potential! The hardest part at the moment is dealing with seasonality --- mushrooms fruit at the wrong time of year to be inoculating other logs, and spawn doesn't like sitting around and waiting until the right time of year.

Sara is right on track about selecting wild strains that do particularly well. So far, we've mostly been simply propagating the cultivated strains that started a few years ago as storebought spawn, but this past spring we did start a wild oyster mushroom that we thought had particular cold hardiness.

Comment by anna Fri Dec 2 12:23:23 2011
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