The winter harvest

It was back in June that we set up our shiitake farm.  We took about a dozen oak logs, drilled fifty or so holes in each, and pounded a wooden dowel impregnated with shiitake spore into each hole.  We had been led to believe that the earliest we could reasonably expect a shiitake crop would be spring.

In November, though, lo and behold!  There was our fall crop — a single mushroom growing out of the side of one of the logs.  I harvested it and used it in a beef burgundy, where it made absolutely no perceptible difference.

Through the rest of the fall, I checked regularly for more mushrooms, but there were none.  Once the ground was covered with snow, I figured we were out of luck at least until April, and stopped looking.  Then Mylene and Brett came to visit.

Mylene is a veteran participant in our lifestyle, having visited last fall with her husband, Russ.  This time, she brought their son, and I was showing the two of them around the place. 

“And here,” I said, gesturing a la Vanna White to the propped up shittake logs, “is our mushroom farm.”

They nodded their approval, and we were about to turn back to the house when Mylene pointed to one of the logs.  “Aren’t you going to take the mushroom?” she asked?

Mushroom?  What mushroom?

There, on the underside of one of the logs, grew not just one but two shiitakes.  They were shrivelled, gnarly little specimens, and they looked like they could have been there since Christmas, but they were undeniably shiitakes.  In the dead of winter, the little triumphs mean a lot.

5 people are having a conversation about “The winter harvest

  1. LOVE it. Every time I walk past the funghi shop at the ferry plaza, I stop and think about trying my hand at growing mushrooms. Now, that I actually know someone doing it, I may have to try – even if I only get one, I would be happy!

  2. Tamar: Denise of ChezUs just pointed me in this direction. I believe she said you met in Healdsburg…? Anyway, those two little mushrooms would be great for stock then you could really stretch them. Do you have a dehydrator or a dehydrating cycle on your oven?

    I’m nearly teary over your Baldie autopsy, well, not really. The autopsy was fascinating, I was empathizing with the worry over the “what ifs”. I am straight up city girl at the moment not even a roof deck or strip of lawn for gardening or chickens. I get by with pots of flowers and herbs on the fire escape.

    I’m thrilled to find your blog and will surely be cursing Denise soon. I can see it now, reading about mice and chickens and bees while deadlines go whooshing by…

    Keep up the great work – I’ll go thank Denise while I’m still in a charitable mood. 😉


  3. We are able to pick many morels and the occasional shaggy mane in the spring but as for growing our own we have only thought about it. I have never had a shiitake mushroom but they do look to be quite tasty. It’s pretty neat that your shiitake farm is providing you with samplers before the main harvest.:)

  4. Tamar! Congrats on the shrooms. First thing I thought, though, was that they sort of look like a “before and after” ad for dr zizmor…

  5. Chez Us — You need to do this. You do a zillion things that are way harder to do than grow mushrooms! Anyone who can make macarons with one hand tied behind her back can grow shiitakes on a log.

    Jacqueline — Welcome! Denise told me about you, and I’m delighted you dropped by. And funny you should ask about the dehydrator. It’s been on my list for ages. I keep hoping to find one at an estate sale (we go to a lot of those), but if I don’t find one by the fall I may have to bite the bullet and buy one. In the meantime, I’ll do my very best to keep you entertained.

    Mike — Shiitakes are firm-fleshed, mild mushrooms. You can put them in anything. If you like morels and shaggy manes, you’ll definitely like shiitakes. If you have access to some oak logs, I can’t think of a better use for them.

    Susan — Ah, Dr. Zizmor. Of all the things I miss about New York, who knew it would be the dermatologist who advertises on the subway? I really appreciate your comments — they’re excellent reminders that the city is still there, and I can visit it any time I want.

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