Claire and Anna dream of growing edible fungi
Lots of us are dreaming of growing edible fungi at home. Not the magic kind but the gourmet kind (though there is a bit of magic in the process of growing shitakes!) These Shitake mushrooms have been grown by homesteaders Rob Doyle and Mairead Higgins in the Leitrim hills of Ireland. Oh they are lucky!!! Shitake mushrooms have health giving-properties. We we want to grow mushrooms too.
“Are ash logs good for mushroom growing?” we ask Rob. We are standing in a coppiced plot of Ash and Willow. No, Ash is “just useless” for growing mushrooms, says Rob. You need to use hardwood logs with bark that doesn’t shed, like oak or beech. You drill out holes, fill with spawn dowels and plug with wax. We learn that logs innoculated with Shitake spawn need to be struck or dropped before they will fruit. We are sure there are a lot of proverbs about that! (See our previous audio post about this process here.)
Oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) are great for beginners, they are tasty native species, so no worries with them going wild. Oyster mushrooms are widely used in Asian cuisine, and tend to grow in clusters around deciduous tree trunks. They’re grey-white in colour, and often have no visible stalk. They get their name from both their oysterish shape, and the hint of seafood evoked by their flavour.
There are loads of sites you can visit to find out how to grow your own food fungi, some of you have started already but if you haven’t just get googling: http://www.growveg.com/growblogpost.aspx?id=261