Mushrooms

We had a large group of school children come visit the farm earlier this week. We had gorgeous weather and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

Ready to leave for the hayride farm tour

Ready to leave for the hayride farm tour

When we do our tours, especially if there are a lot of children, we try to mix in fun activities along with education. The idea is to allow them to have some fun, while hopefully learning some things as well.

The kids always enjoy feeding and petting the animals. But this group, especially the grownups, also seemed surprisingly interested in our mushroom cultivation.

As I’ve mentioned before, we grow shiitake mushrooms in oak logs. Fortunately the logs were producing mushrooms at the time of their visit, so they could see the end results. Maybe we even motivated some of them to start growing their own.

This is from last month

This is from last month

We’re fortunate to have an abundance of wild mushrooms on the farm too. Last week we were thrilled to discover that the chanterelles had returned.

Beautiful chanterelles

Beautiful chanterelles

Chanterelles are amazingly delicious and, to the best of my knowledge, they can’t be cultivated. So they are gourmet treats.

Unfortunately just as they were started to appear we went into another hot dry spell, so they retreated. With some rain forecast later this week we’re hoping for a reappearance in force soon.

Gourmet mushrooms growing wild, or in oak logs we seeded inexpensively, are just another of many perks of this lifestyle. You’ll pay a pretty penny for mushrooms like these in upscale restaurants. For us, they’re free gifts of nature.

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19 comments on “Mushrooms

  1. thistledog says:

    Bill I love all your posts, such great ideas. Would you share your source of shiitake spawn? I always assumed it would be too expensive to work as a profit-making enterprise.

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    • Bill says:

      We get our spawn from Field and Forest Products in Wisconsin. We get 1,000 plugs for less than $50. It’s even cheaper if you buy the spawn without the plugs. 250 plugs is $20 I think. Very affordable considering that you’ll get high value mushrooms for years. We quickly sell out whenever we take mushrooms to the market (at $12/lb) and we keep plenty back for ourselves. We don’t force flushes or water our logs and we still get plenty of mushrooms. It’s a day’s labor once a year to cut and innoculate the logs. After that there is hardly any work at all and a good return on very little expense.

      Liked by 1 person

      • thistledog says:

        Thanks Bill that’s very, very good info. Your post on income streams really got me thinking about how to add in products that are not resource drains, especially the labor part. This one looks promising.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Katie Rosson says:

    I’m a big believer in getting kids involved outdoors and with gardening/farming projects and trips. I wish that each school district would provide opportunities like this but I know it’ll be in the not too distant future! I’m also always amazed at what stores and restaurants price items that are very simple to come by and should be enjoyed by all, healthy food doesn’t have to be expensive or hard to cultivate. Those mushrooms are so cute tucked away in the logs, I’ll have to try to grow some soon.

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    • Bill says:

      You should Katie! We can help you get started if you like. πŸ™‚

      These kids were from a homeschool group. We emphasize to the kids when they visit that everything we do here can be done in a backyard. I like helping reconnect them with the stories behind their food.

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  3. Bob Braxton says:

    my non-sequitor du jour: to listen to the progressive Wendell Berry talk with the conservative Victor Davis Hanson … about farming. I think that they would agree with each other far more than they would disagree, but I think that it would still be a fascinating conversation.
    “MF: What is a modern farmer today?
    WB: An industrial farmer. We need to say that the countryside is suffering from want of caretakers. Farming at its best was diversified and very well done. The people who did that work here are dead or gone and their children are gone. They’re being replaced by huge machines and toxic chemicals. Industrial farming leads away from and against what Aldo Leopold called the β€œland community.””

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    • Bill says:

      I linked to that interview in a post a couple of days ago. Whenever I read Wendell Berry I find myself wondering why I ever read anything else.

      Interestingly, he’s claimed by both progressives and conservatives. He defies simple labels, which is one of the things I like about him.

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  4. Dearest Bill,
    Wow, you are yielding some of our most favorite mushrooms; the Shii take and it looks very nice.
    We did cultivate those already in the 70s at the Practical Training College for Mushroom Growing in the Netherlands. My husband was the founder of it and he wrote the Mushroom bible; translated into 8 official languages (the Chinese just stole it and the Bulgarians did copy it too…).
    Chanterelle is really a gourmet mushroom and you are right, they cannot be cultivated as a commercial crop.
    What a great way for those school children to visit your place. Hope they learn a lot from it and respect nature and fresh foods a lot more!
    Enjoy your new week ahead.
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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    • Bill says:

      We just have a basic working knowledge of mushrooms. We only grow shiitakes and we limit our foraging to the most easily identifiable mushrooms. Fortunately they are also the most delicious. πŸ™‚ In addition to chanterelles we have chicken-of-the-woods, cauliflower mushrooms and puff balls. We search for morels every year but haven’t yet found any. Maybe I need to get a copy of your husband’s book. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  5. smcasson says:

    Wow, great! Beautiful mushrooms! I need to do that…. Thanks for the little primer in the comment above.

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  6. BeeHappee says:

    Thanks, I did not know you cannot cultivate Chantrelles. Actually, I did not know you could cultivate any mushrooms until I came to the USA. πŸ™‚ We used to pick buckets and buckets of chantrelles and tons of others every fall in the woods, clean them in our little kitchen, the whole place smelling like mushrooms and then sautee, dry them, can them.
    Couple weeks back we drove way out there to meet a farmer everyone raved about in a growers-only market. He is a famous mushroom grower here, has YouTube videos on them, and has mushroom browing house with some controlled conditions. I will post his oyster mushroom pics some day when I can or when I get a chance to visit his growing operation.

    And thank you for supporting local homeschooling groups!! πŸ™‚

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    • Bill says:

      We homeschooled our children too. We’re very happy to support homeschoolers. πŸ™‚

      We enjoy mushroom foraging and we dry the ones we don’t eat or sell fresh. Wonderful food. πŸ™‚

      We’ve tried growing oyster mushrooms but without success. We should probably try again. We LOVE our shiitakes and chanterelles. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Seeking Joyful Simplicity says:

    You are probably aware of the tremendous amount of research being done on mushrooms – their beneficial impact on the environment and their health benefits – they are immunomodulators,which is a fancy way to say they improve our immune systems (increase white blood cells, phagocytes, etc.).

    One of these days, I would like to start our own.

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    • Bill says:

      I’ve read about the great health benefits from shiitakes. I consider them a superfood.

      I recommend you try starting some shiitakes. It isn’t difficult if you have access to a freshly cut white oak and a power drill. I dislike cutting down a healthy living tree, but I usually just take one that’s growing on the edge of the woods, so it feels like I’m just thinning. You may be able to find a local grower who would sell you the logs already innoculated. Hoping you have homegrown mushrooms in your future!

      Like

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