A Mushroom Adventure
I love mushrooms and in the back of my mind, I knew that I would try to grow them one day. So imagine my delight when I received an e-mail from the folks over at Field & Forest Products telling me that I had won a draw for a tabletop mushroom farm. I put in a ballot during the recent GWA Conference in Buffalo, but it never really occurred to me that I would win.
What's most surprising is that they are one of the few suppliers of live plant material that ship to Canada. We don't see that very often, that's for sure.
My package arrived last week:
|Couldn't wait to see what was inside...|
|Oh, the anticipation!|
What's in the box: A sawdust block that is ready to fruit; humidity tent (bag with ventilation holes); skewers to hold up the tent; detailed instructions.
When you receive the farm, it's recommended that you set it up right away. You can, however, refrigerate it for up to 6 months.
Once you are ready to get growing, the first step is to choose a location. The farm needs to be placed where it will receive 10-12 hours of indirect natural light or artificial light and the ambient temperature is 13-21C (55-70F) . I had the perfect spot which met both criteria - under the grow lights in the basement.
Now, once you decide on where you want to place the farm, it's not just a matter of plonking it on a table and walking away - there's a bit of setup to be done. The instructions were quite clear which is always a plus.
I removed the outer plastic bag to reveal a hard block of growing medium (maple sawdust) encased in a thick plastic bag - the block takes up about half the space in the sealed bag. The first step is to fold over the top (empty) portion of the bag and tape it to the bottom of the block.
The filter patch - a cloth like patch on the side of the bag - is covered with tape as well. I used packing tape for that as it was wide enough to cover the entire patch in one go.
Then, using an X-acto knife, I cut one inch 'X's into the plastic on all 4 sides of the block, aiming for the middle of each side.
|'X' marks the spot :)|
Two more 'X's were cut on top, approx. 2" from the left & right side:
|You can just barely make out the 'X' where I'm pointing;|
Another 'X' is cut just below the middle seam on the left side
Firstly, the skewers were inserted (pointy end down) into all 4 corners of the block.
I inserted them on a bit of an angle to allow for more breathing room around the block.
Next, the block is placed on a plate or tray to catch any condensation. One additional step that is suggested (but is not mandatory) is to place moistened pebbles (or moist sand) in the tray in order to up the humidity. Since I had an aluminum tray and plenty of pebbles/glass beads, I decided to do just that:
The block is placed on the tray and I spritzed it with water. Then the humidity tent was slipped over top of the skewers.
|The two top corners of the humidity tent are snipped off|
which allows for some air circulation
And now we wait. We should start to see some action within 7-14 days and then it will be another 3-5 days for harvest - meaning that, with any luck, I should be harvesting mushrooms by the end of November.
I'll keep you posted!