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Posts Tagged ‘mushrooms’

HOMEGROWN Life: The Mushroom Garden

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011






We raise plants and animals already. We’ve decided to add onto our farm by adding fungi – a new mushroom garden.

It’s a nice small area that we don’t use that spends the vast majority of the day in full shade. Because of this it also stays relatively moist as well.

We started with King Stropharia Mushrooms (Stropharia rugosoannulata). These mushrooms are giant wine red capped fungi that are easily started outside and can give you a perennial crop of mushrooms as long as you take care of it. The most difficult part of growing these was finding hardwood chips or sawdust. They can also be grown on straw but it’s a bit more labor intensive as you have to sterilize the straw in hot water before inoculating it.

Most of the chips available around here are redwood, pine or eucalyptus – all of which are not appropriate due to the oils in the wood. We had to get creative. As luck would have it, when we got Lucy’s new digs, we were also given some animal bedding. The majority of animal bedding is made from pine, but this bedding was Aspen – a hardwood. It was a small amount, not enough to do the bed, so we needed to find more. We were finally able to find large bales of Aspen bedding at a chain pet store.

We sterilized our wheelbarrow, dumped a bale and a half into it and moistened it thoroughly. We then broke up the King Stropharia spawn and mixed it into the shavings. We laid a thick layer down in our new garden and fenced it off to keep the dogs out. We water it once a week to make sure the moisture content stays relatively high.

I would have liked to have put it out in the vegetable garden but it just gets too much sun. However, if you decide to try and raise this fungi in your vegetable garden you’ll get one great benefit from it. A study has shown that this species of mushroom actually kills nematodes like the ones that cause pine wilt.

mushroom garden
We didn’t stop at King Stropharia though. Jeanette gave us some Tanoak logs that were calling out to be inoculated. We did two of them with Pearl Oyster spawn. We have one more log that needs a mushroom feeding on it. I just haven’t figured out what kind yet. Fortunately these logs are still very wet so we didn’t have to soak them.

To inoculate these we bought plugs which are inoculated dowels of birch wood. We covered the cut ends of the log with beeswax and then drilled 5/16″ holes 1 1/2″ deep in a diamond pattern around the logs. Using a rubber mallet we hammered the plugs into the holes and then sealed them with more beeswax. We’re keeping these out with the King Stropharia as well. Don’t worry though, we’re not keeping them leaned up against the building. We don’t want any termites getting into the structure!

Now we’ll just have to keep our fingers crossed that we end up with mushrooms this fall.


Rachel Dog Island Farm

My friends in college used to call me a Renaissance woman. I was always doing something crafty, creative, or utilitarian. I still am. My focus these days, instead of arts and crafts, has been farming as much of my urban quarter acre as humanly possible. With my husband, we run Dog Island Farm in the SF Bay Area. We raise chickens, goats, rabbits, dogs, cats, and a kid. We’re always keeping busy. If I’m not out in the yard I’m in the kitchen making something from scratch. Homemade always tastes better!

HOMEGROWN Holiday Gift Guide

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

It’s gift-giving time! Naturally, handmade is the best kind of gift – the HOMEGROWN Holiday Swappers are trading their homemade edibles this week. Presents that promote hands-on activities are some of our favorite kind of gift, too. Here are a few ideas for In The Kitchen, In The Garden, On The Couch (OK, these will inspire folks to make, grow and foster change), and In The Automobile. Enjoy and happy gifting!

In The Kitchen

Every home chef needs a quality hardwood cutting board. For those with the tools, there is a DIY cutting board plan and tutorial.

And here is a lovely handcrafted board from reclaimed North Carolina curly rock maple on Etsy:

Community Supported Agriculture

What better way to say “I love you” than a weekly share of fresh local produce? Family farmers are taking on members now. Find participating CSA farms near your loved ones at Local Harvest and The Eat Well Guide.

homesteader apple pressAn apple cider press is a terrific gift for a family, or an enterprising apple grower.

Celebrate with your main squeeze by making your own hard cider.

In The Garden

Start fantasizing about what others may be growing in their plots. A cheerfully wrapped package – complete with seed packets and a garden plan – is sure to delight.

Seed Companies:

High Mowing Seeds (VT)

FEDCO Seeds (ME)

Johnny’s (ME)

Seed Savers Exchange (IA)

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (MO and CA)

Abundant Life Seeds (OR)

Seeds of Change (NM)

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (VA)

Online garden planning tools


Free drag and drop garden planner

More detailed and customizable garden planner

Kitchen garden design planner for a 3′ x 6′ raised bed

Organic mushroom growing kits – intimidating? Sure! Unique? You bet! And the rewards are oh, so yummy!

On The Couch

Michael Pollan’s Botany of Desire DVD. Organic Gardening Magazine readers get 20% off by entering the code GARDEN at

The documentary that changes lives: Food Inc. DVD is also available at

In The Automobile

Lemon car freshener

Homemade car freshener using citrus and cloves – easy and pretty!

Turn your friends on to new music with mix CDs like this one from KCRW – so hip and cool!

Check out these past posts and discussions about DIY Holiday Gifts, too. Let us know what you think and feel free to add your ideas, too.

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Video: How Mushrooms Can Save The World

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

One of the more popular videos in the show and tell section on Paul Stamets is a genius (to say the least). Really, it’s worth the 18 minutes of your time.