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.