The next couple of days I shall be at the Georgia Organics annual conference held this year in Columbus GA, south of Atlanta. This shall be my 5th year of attendance – my first few years I learned a lot and with each year there is less new information but I enjoy meeting other growers and learning from them. I was torn between doing a permaculture design course or the conference and have not ruled out a PDC for the future.
I picked about 15 mushrooms today. Just as well I enclosed the growing area since, as I approached the shelter, I startled several large white tail deer, which are not usually there and may have been attracted by the smell of the mushrooms. Notwithstanding my enclosure, someone small, perhaps a squirrel or smaller, did get in and savored a few chunks.
Today I also prepared another maple log with oyster mushroom spawn, this time grown on birch dowel plugs. You can notice, in the photo below, on the center maple log the holes on the face of the log where I inserted the plugs and then covered with melted wax. I also inserted plugs on the exterior trunk.
Another mushroom venture earlier this week was to soak straw for 5 days in a large trash bin weighted down with a cement block. I located an unused plastic container, placed a sheet of wet cardboard (corrugations exposed) on the bottom and built up layers of oyster grain spawn and the wet straw. I fitted the container with its lid and, since the contents were rather cold, I placed the container in a black trash bag and left it outside in the sun for a few hours to warm up. Once warm, I transferred the brew indoor to a warmish location and I will leave it (in the black bag with access to some air) for a while until I see results, which I hope will be masses of white mycelium and not green/black bacteria blobs.
You can see below the container in which the grain spawn and straw was packed.
My two cold frames are performing as expected. My regret is that I did not start them at the beginning of winter. Had I done so I would have had larger pickings. On warm days I lift off one of the windows to prevent temperatures rising too high, as you can see in the photo below.
Both cold frames have internal irrigation (gravity fed from my rainwater tanks) so watering them, which must be done every couple days, is an easy matter. When spring truly arrives I shall remove the windows and grow squash in the frames protected by row crop covers. My squash has always been nailed by squash borers and perhaps this year I will be successful.
It appears that 11 of the 12 muscadine grape vines I transplanted have survived. I know well why the one muscadine failed. It takes much effort to relocate a muscadine – their roots travel far and wide and, so long as I limited my efforts to two a day, all went well. It only takes about an hour to transplant a muscadine but when you are tired and impatient it is easy to tear off the roots. The one that failed was the third I did in a morning and I rushed it and now it stands there, bark eroding, moistureless, silent fingers pointed at me. I do not expect to get anything like the grape harvests of previous years when the muscadine roots happily invaded my composted vegetable beds and sucked nutrients wholesomely. There were so many grapes my bees abandoned pollen gathering to suck their sweetness (as well as all manner of wasps and beetles). I shall be satisfied with a limited offering and maybe more in future years as their roots go roaming.