Winecap Mushrooms, Firewood

P9200007.jpgWe’re finally home on the weekend again, and worked ourselves until we were exhausted outside today. Marmalade kept us company no matter where we went outside. It was very cute.

The first thing we did was get started again on the firewood. We heat with wood on the first floor of our house, and in the basement, and would like to have seven or eight cords of wood in order to feel good about making it through the winter. We have a long way to go to get there.

P9200048.jpgWe stacked some of what we had left over last year onto the back deck. It is very handy to have it there, right by the bedroom door, but Frank’s not real happy with the way it looks to be sagging now, though. Sagging is bad. We could only put one row around the edge, until we pull the window boxes and bring them in, or else we wouldn’t be able to reach them. They are all still going strong, all looking quite lovely.

For the basement stove, we stack under the deck, just outside the basement door. That stove can use huge chunks of wood, and we’d like to have all of the available space to store wood all filled up, and we’re a long way from that goal. We brought in stuff that the power company had cut down under the lines in the driveway, which felt virtuous.

Frank says there’s a lot of stuff down and dry from where we cut in April of 2001. I remember when we thought that slope was going to be the site of the veggie garden. I like the spot we’ve chosen since then, though, much better.

P9200032.jpgFrank harvested a bunch of winecap mushrooms today, and he should write about that.

[Frank here] Hereinafter an essay on our first year of mushroom cultivation.

It was a mixed success. The winecaps came through in style, but even there, some notes. The wood chips are pretty much filled with mycelium, but the only fruiting was around the edge of the bed, coming up under the logs. Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms says that they fruit at the soil/substrate interface. I’m thus left suspecting that we didn’t win by putting newspaper under the wood chips to suppress weeds. I fear that we also suppressed mushrooms.

I’m also very pleased with what’s happening to the wood chips. They’re all mushy (technical term there) which has me expecting that they’ll be soil soon. Hopefully after several more flushes of mushrooms.

The blewits have done nothing. Even the spawn run seems to have stopped. You wouldn’t think you can drown mushrooms but that may have happened. Obviously we’ll give them next year to do their thing, and see.

The elm oysters also seem to have stopped their spawn run after producing two thumbnail sized mushrooms, which lived up to their billing as ‘oysters only better’. Again, many possibilities, including just needing more time.

Nonetheless, I’m concerned about both varieties. The mycelium just doesn’t seem to be doing its thing.

Still, I’m not ready to give up. I’ve got several plans for next year.

First, Field and Forest talked me out of buying oyster spawn for an outdoor woodchip bed. Next year I’m gonna do it anyway. If they won’t sell to me, I’ll get it from Fungi Perfecti. (I’d prefer F&F because theirs is proven in logs through Wisconsin winters, whilst FP is from the warm Pacific northwest.)

As I mentioned, no more cardboard under-layerment. I think it contributed to drainage problems as well.

I’m going t try mixing sawdust with the chips so that the spawn can spread better.

Since Lisa wants to get another load of bark mulch, I’m going to hunt for something that likes conifer bark. (And try stuff myself if there’s nothing recommended.)

Finally, there must be a forum out there somewhere. Gardenweb just doesn’t have critical mass.

In theory, there’s still time to start some beds this fall, but I think I’m going to spend the winter doing research and plotting. (Which has something to do with all the stuff we need to do this fall.)

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