Fungus Among Us (In Black Garbage Bags That Is)

By: Mary

My appreciation of working in the garden and fields results in a creative exploration of gardening. From Apples to Baby’s Breath to Carrots, I am a devoted grower of produce, flowers, and fruits. What I’m not so excited about is growing fungus. Yes, that’s right: fungus comes in many forms and that includes in the form of mushrooms.

The term mushroom describes a variety of gilled fungi, with or without stems, and the term is used even more generally, to describe both the fleshy fruiting bodies of some Ascomycota and the woody or leathery fruiting bodies of some Basidomycota, depending upon the context of the word. Here at Sweet Ridge Farm this springs plantings have included Yellow Oyster mushrooms. Though I have no expressed interest in this experiment, my brother’s Robert and James have taken up interest in this project. Resulting from a few hours of their work, a collection of ever-so-mysterious looking black garbage bags are now behind the house. After a few months of marination, the 25 units of spawn spore will inoculate and decompose. Come fall, a bountiful harvest of fungus should be upon us.

A visual tutorial on the Slattery Fungus experiment begins like this. To start with the spawns are needed. They came to us via mail and are packaged in block sized units and packed in sawdust.

The next thing needed to plant mushrooms is a place. See what I told you? There is nothing pretty or cute about planting mushrooms. What could be a duller surface than a log to plant the spawn on? But hey, it is what they require, and unlike a garden, it needs no tillage.

After you have the spawn and log in order a brother is needed to plant them. Here is James: unlike his sister’s- blogs or being photographed in the said blog is something that my Baby Brother has no time for…but really, covering this topic isn’t all so fascinating so I thought I would add this photograph to spruce up the post a bit, you know?

Here is Ja- I mean 40 Hustle, and our sweet neighbor girl, Leah tying up the project.

I make the statement of tying things up literally. The process of planting the spawns starts with them being placed on a log, then being covered with newspaper and secured with a twist tie or two. Using a right wing conspiracy laden publication to cover them is optional. My father is a former journalist, and our home is full of publications with vastly differing viewpoints, but I believe this particular paper belonged to our good friend and resident, Peter Drake.

Lastly the log is placed in a garbage bag.

As previously stated, by fall the “fruit” of the spawns will be revealed. While the fungi slowly starts to flourish in the bags, I will continue to stick to my own choice of planting on surfaces complete with earth and weeds. I guess I am just not a fungus type of person. But that doesn’t keep me from being amused by the heap of mysterious garbage bags and my fungus care-taking brothers.

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