Monday, May 05, 2008

Strawberries, Catnip & Mushrooms

We accomplished a lot of different projects this past weekend. Here are some of the highlights: First, I'm really glad to have a protective net over the strawberry planter: Not only will it protect our not-too-far-off strawberries from the birds, it will keep the cats out of the planter. It had been getting a bit too much feline attention lately.

Speaking of cats, we also planted them a catnip patch. It is protected by an old wire freezer basket, turned upside down and staked at the corner with tent stakes. The idea is that the cats can nibble the parts of the plants that grow out past the protective cage, but they won't be able to uproot the plants or chew them all the way down to the soil.
There are three plants under the cage. The middle one got caught out in the open and seriously chewed before we planted it, but I think it will recover.

The biggest project was to innoculate a mushroom log. We bought a bag of 100+ Shiitake spawn dowels from Cascadia Mushrooms at the farmers market a couple of weeks ago. While there were a few trees that came down on our place this past winter, after reading the instructions we learned that you are supposed to innoculate a log within 6 weeks, to avoid the possibility that some other fungi got there first. So we decided to cut down a new tree for our mushroom patch. We chose an aspen near the rope swing, in a shady area on the north side of a thick patch of trees and bushes, but where we can easily get to it for harvesting and tending.

After cutting down the tree, we proped the log up off the ground a few inches with some concrete chunks from our rock pile. The instructions say to do this to keep bugs from getting into the log. Then we started drilling holes - lots of holes! Into each hole we pounded one of the innoculated dowels. Then we sealed over each dowel with tree-heal, which keeps the moisture in and prevents other microbes from getting inside. The idea is to get the spores into the wood while keeping the bark more or less intact. This is what the finished log looks like:
The black spots are the tree-heal latex pruning sealant. When we cut the tree down, it broke into two peices. Our bag of dowels was only enough to do one peice of the tree, so we are thinking we might get another kind of mushroom to do the second log - maybe oyster mushrooms. For now we just left the second log lying alongside the shiitake log.
It will take anywhere from 6 months to two years before we get a crop of mushrooms on our log. But when we do, MMMM! It will be worth the wait. :)

1 comment:

Keeley said...

Great idea with the catnip. I'll have to find something similar. I'd pretty much given up on trying to grow it for Wicket, because she tweeks out on it the first day and it's reduced to nothing within a week.