Notes from Windward: #69


Mycology Update

pluggin' on


     In mid-May Kerst came back up to Windward to prepare some more oak logs to receive a new set of shiitake plugs. Unfortunately, the plugs hadn't yet arrived by the time Kerst left. When they finally came in, the logs were ready and it was easy to get another set of logs incubating.

innoculating logs stacked in the forest

     We use oak logs because shiitakes prefer oak to other trees. Mushrooms, from what I've learned, are an odd sort of creature. The actual mushrooms that you eat are what I see as the mycellium's reproductive organs popping up after a nice soaking rain, hoping to spread out its spores and start another mycellium colony. The mycellium is actually a fungus growing underground and feeding off of dead organic matter such as parts of trees, decomposing bodies and vegetation. This is the part in which we want to encourage growth, so we give it its favorite things, such as slowly decomposing oak logs.

logs with wax-covered spawn plugs

     The plugs are inoculated shiitake mycellium starting to develop. To get the logs ready, I enlarged the holes which Kerst had made using a larger bit on the drill press. It took a while since there were about 300 plugs (so, 300 holes to put them in). Also, the first time I drilled the holes, they weren't deep enough; I had to drill them so that the plugs were fully immersed in the oak. Finally, I put in the plugs and sealed the holes with softened beeswax.

     I wheelbarrow'd the logs up next to the summer bunny pen and leaned them up against a few railroad ties where some other inoculated logs waited from last fall when Kerst was here to begin the mycology project. Now they're all sitting there, and we're waiting patiently for some shiitakes to pop up.

sauteeing shitakes for lunch

     Apparently, however, Kerst had tried putting some inoculated wood chips in a couple large bags over the winter to see if anything happened. The chips were inoculated with oyster mycellium and shiitake mycellium. A few weeks ago we brought the bags into Bay-5 adjoining the Kitchen, where it is shady and rather cool. I was in the midst of making pizza when I walked through Bay-5 and happened to take a look at the bags. To my suprise and delight, mushrooms had, well, mushroomed! I immediately cut them off, cooked them up in a little oil, and offered them as a Windward-pizza topping.

oyster mushrooms ready to top the pizza

     The goal of the Windward Pizza Project is to show that living responsibly in regards to the earth we inhabit doesn't necessarily mean sacrificing the things we love. A big love here is food, and making pizza from 100% Windward products, plus sunshine and water, is one of our long-term goals. We're pretty close, but we still have a few things before we've got it exactly. Lindsay's started growing lots of tomatoes and other pizza vegetables, we'll hopefully have mushrooms popping up more regularly, and we have Junior the (former) ram to thank for the pepperoni meat. Next year we'll have Becca and Alison helping us out in the milk and cheese department, too.

Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 69