Thursday, January 10, 2013

There's fungus among us...

Over the past few weeks, Ian has been growing some gourmet mushrooms. This is a trial run project for Planting Communities to see how we can provide another source of sustainability and nutrition to our families and community.

The adventure started with a Back to the Roots mushroom starter kit (see if interested). The process is simple and straight forward: take out the bag, cut a "t" into it, submerge the bag in water for 12 hours, put the bag back in the box and mist twice daily. Although you are supposed to have mushrooms in ten days, this bag took longer to form mushrooms. Ian believes it is due to the cooler temperature of his house, based on his research in some Paul Stamets books. However, they are in full force after 14 days, and will be ready for consumption in the next day or so.

Once these are harvested the process can be repeated at least one more time from this same bag. Ian claims when the bag is finished he will look into the possibility of using the "waste" as chicken feed or solely as compost.

Just days before Ian started his Back to the Roots mushroom kit, Brad stopped by his house with a special delivery...two shiitake blocks donated from a local grower!!! Brad thought Ian would know what to do with the blocks and Ian was excited to take on the challenge. In the past Ian grew shiitakes in his living room as a coffee table center piece. You can only imagine the conversation this conjured up with his guests. So now he is be doing again, years later.

The process is similar to that of the Back to the Roots mushroom kit: submerge the block for 12-48 hours, remove and place the block on a wire rack, mist and keep the humidity levels high to force pinning (the formation of the mushroom itself), and wait 10 or so days.

Both kits have been a success and Ian looks forward to cultivating more mushrooms and encouraging others to do the same as a supplemental part of ones diet. Many gourmet mushrooms are said to have medicinal properties and also be a good source of protein. After all, many indigenous nations claim it is closer to meat than plants, and amazingly enough years later fungi were actually found to be closer related to the animal kingdom than the plant kingdom.

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