Building Mushroom Beds

We got out in the garden nice and early today, and really got a lot done. Frank ordered some mushroom spawn from Fungi Perfecti. Of the three kinds he ordered, two are back-ordered, but we got the Blewitt, so wanted to get the bed built for it.

Hauling the logs for the sides of the mushroom beds in the trailer.So first, we hauled the logs that we’d cut earlier out of the new garden to the shady wooded spot behind the septic field where we are going to put the beds. It gets dappled shade, it’s pretty flat, and it’s not too far from the house, so we hope it’s a good site for them. I was pretty surprised at how much lumber the little lawn tractor could pull in the trailer. All the pieces were cut to four foot lengths. We had to hand carry the logs down to the spot, though, because there’s no way back in for the tractor, but getting them close was a big help.

Frank with the weed-whacker.Frank then took the weed-whacker thingie (still with the blade attachment on it, not the string) and cut down the area where we were going to build the beds. He says it would have been better with the string instead, but it wasn’t worth changing.

P6290017.jpg Then we laid out the logs, making beds four foot by four foot. Though none of the directions, books, or internet sites said we should, I really wanted us to line the bottom of the bed with newspaper. I’m just convinced that all the ferns and other stuff will just grow right up through wood chips, and smothering that growth should help. (I hope!)

P6290024.jpgSo then, back to the old garden to make fresh maple wood chips to fill the bed up with. Frank cut down one fairly big maple tree and a few small scraggly things, which I ran through the chipper. We chipped the whole tree, leaves and all, and we’re hoping that wasn’t a mistake. Mushrooms don’t like the wood chips they are in to heat up, but we are hoping that there aren’t enough leaves to heat up the wood chips. We stopped when the trailer was full, figuring that would be enough to fill up one four by four bed.

P6290031.jpgThe whole time I was running stuff through the chipper, I was wondering how we were going to get the chips down to the site. There is no path down the hill, and it’s treacherous even to walk. I thought maybe a tarp would be better than buckets or a wheelbarrow, and it turned out to work really well.

P6290032.jpgFrank attached all of our hoses together, combining the ones from the front and back of the house, so that it would reach the site. I drug the hose down while Frank pulled the tarp of chips. I’m glad I thought of that! I think I saw it on a show at some point.

I watered the newspaper down really well, until there was standing water on it. We really don’t want it to prevent the chips from absorbing moisture from the ground. We just want to keep the plants from growing.

P6290037.jpgThen Frank spread out the sawdust with mushroom spawn. He covered the newspaper with it, then spread out some chips, then put the rest of the sawdust mixture, then we put the rest of the chips down and watered it well. One trailer load of chips seems to be about the right amount, maybe a bit too much, but it will probably compress a bit.

And that’s it! We hope to have mushrooms by the fall. If the other two types ship, I think we’ve done a lot of the hard work already, as the rest of the beds are laid out, and we will know a bit more about what we are doing.

We spent the afternoon working at clearing in the new garden, making a lot of progress. We moved back the edge probably twenty feet, which is really noticeable, and were able to get the big tractor and chipper in much deeper, which is handy when we are hauling brush.

P6290061.jpgMark came by late in the afternoon to work on moving that rock. Frank was right, it was huge. There was another one next to it that he couldn’t budge even with his big equipment, so it’s probably ledge and I’ll just have to work around it. We had him move the big rock to right in front of the tulip bed, hoping to keep the plow guy from destroying that bed in the winter. That was $30 well spent.

We’ve got to figure out what to use to fill the huge whole that’s now in the lawn, but I’d rather have that problem than not being able to mow there.

What an exhausting day we had, though. We came in just before we had friends coming over for dinner, and are both tuckered out.

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