This is a log. An oak log that was cut this spring and that I bought from Cherry Tree Mushrooms, which is run by the same neighbors who I got the eggs from (I promise to stop blog-stalking them now). This oak log has been soaked for 48 hours in rainwater and then dried for 24 hours. The lichen was scrubbed off with a wire brush. I love lichen. What I don't love are the unwanted fungus spores that might be hiding under the lichen. This is because the unwanted spores might complete with those that I want to succeed: shiitake and oyster mushroom spores. The last thing we want in these logs are foreign spores. Hear that foreign spores? Go away.
This is a log. An oak log. An oak log cut this spring with holes drilled into it in a diamond-shaped pattern.
This is a cluster of wooden dowels covered in mushroom (either oyster or shiitake) spores. The dowels will be hammered into the holes drilled in a diamond-shaped pattern into an oak log that was cut this spring.
This is a blob of paraffin wax sealing the dowel covered with mushroom spores into the holes in a diamond-shaped pattern drilled into the oak log that was cut this spring. Again, further measure to keep the foreign spores out. You do not have proper passports and visas and documentation, foreign spores, and so even though you might work very hard and do all the jobs that we don't like to do, we do not want you.
In six to 12 months, assuming we keep the logs well watered and out of the sun, we will have lots and lots of mushrooms growing along the sides the logs.
Why are we doing this?
There's something very, very satisfying about working hard to produce something tangible and then being able to actually eat that thing. It's like gestating and then giving birth. Except, after nine months of pregnancy and labor, we didn't eat our baby.
I would like to be able to go into a forest somewhere and come out with baskets full of wild mushrooms that we can cook into omelets (made with eggs from our own chickens -- hint, hint, husband) and saute in butter, but I'm afraid that takes more mushroom knowledge than I have. I can play the part of mushroom forager on TV, but I'm afraid that in real life I'd end up accidentally killing off my co-stars. I'd end poisoning our dinner guests and everyone would end up either rushing to the emergency room or being very, very entertained by the bright, colorful trails at the ends of their fingers. Either way, that's not a good way to end a dinner party.
And so we're growing our own, which we will be fairly certain are not poisonous. Here's to hoping no foreign spores have made their way in!