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A Walk in the Woods

September 7th, 2013

Last night we played hooky from our chores. We decided a hike was a better way to spend our evening.  The evening was spent gathering sumac seed heads to make lemonade and mushrooms to identify in order to practice what we learned in class on Sunday.
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It was an enjoyable way to spend a couple hours. There really is nothing better than being inspired by the natural world.  There’s so much color and beauty right before our eyes, we can sometimes forget if we don’t get out to see it. Now that the mosquito population is waning, we hope to spend a lot more time out in the woods discovering what we have.  I think the resident Chiots enjoyed herself as much as we did.  Now that we’ve found an all natural pain killer for her, she’s back to enjoying longer hikes once again.

When was the last time you went on a hike?

Mushrooms Galore

October 6th, 2012

This past Tuesday evening, Mr Chiots and I attended a seminar at our new local library about mushrooms. It was led by Greg Marley who wrote Mushrooms for Health.

It was mainly geared towards the health benefits of mushrooms and why you should add them to your diet. I’ve read a lot on this topic and we try to eat a lot of mushrooms, both because we like them and for their health benefits.

He also brought in loads of mushrooms to look at and identify. They came in all colors, shapes and sizes and were so fun to look at.

He also talked about which edible mushrooms you could find in Maine, specifically, which ones we could find this fall! I knew many of the mushrooms we had in Ohio. Mr Chiots and I harvested morels in our own backyard. I even grew some of my own mushrooms last fall from logs I had inoculated with spawn plugs. I am looking forward to learning all the edible mushrooms we have here on our property. We certainly see mushrooms by the hundreds when we’re out hiking.

Greg definitely knew a lot about mushrooms, I was very impressed with his knowledge. He collected mushrooms all over the Northeast and sells tinctures and mushroom tea. You can read more about him and see his products on his website Mushrooms 4 Health. I’ll definitely be reading his book soon and all the other books he recommended.

Mr Chiots and I are even going to talk to him about partnering with us in a new project we’ve got in the works (more on this exciting new in the coming months).

Greg is leading other seminars in the area this month, I may just have to attend one on mushroom identification. I would love to learn a lot more about all the wonderful mushrooms I find, both edible and not. There are always books (a few that he recommended are listed below), but there’s nothing quite like hands on study when it comes to something like this. A photo in a book doesn’t come close to seeing something in person.

Have you ever harvested mushrooms from the wild and eaten them?

For more reading on this topic:

Mushroom Harvest

May 30th, 2012

Last spring, I inoculated a bunch of logs and some wood chips with various mushroom spawn. I was lucky enough to harvest a big batch of oyster mushrooms last fall but this spring has been super hot and dry, so no mushrooms harvests yet. Watering the logs would stimulate growth, but I really don’t want to do it and I don’t have a container big enough to soak them in.

The Garden Giant spawn that was used in the wood chips was spread in the walkways of the new lower garden. Every time I water my onion patch a few winecap mushrooms pop up in the walkways. I have completely missed seeing them until they’re too big and slug eaten to harvest – until yesterday.

Even though I inoculated the wood chips and these mushrooms are growing right where I did, I was still a bit leery of harvesting them and eating them. After spending some time on google and finding this great website with identification tips, I decided they were indeed Winecaps and into the pot they will go. Last night we enjoyed them cooked into some Hungarian Goulash made with lots of garlic scapes and venison.

Sometimes when we add some new edible to the garden we can be a bit leery of proper identification. When in doubt, spend some time searching for proper identification or ask a seasoned gardener/grower.

Have you ever had a harvest that you were leery of eating?

Morels Can’t be Trusted

April 15th, 2012

Morels can’t be trusted. They’ll be nowhere in sight when conditions are just perfect. You’ll hunt in the ideal places and end up scorned with nothing but an empty basket. Then another day they’ll throw themselves at your feet, carpeting the ground before you. They are fickle, wily tricksters. But, God help us, we’re totally shameless if our passionate pursuit of these little dimples darlings.

Connie Green
(The Wild Table: Seasonal Foraged Food and Recipes)

I’m wondering if we’ll have a morel season this year here at Chiot’s Run. I found three small mushrooms in the garden a few weeks ago, but no more have been spotted. I think the hot dry spell we had a few weeks ago may have made the mushrooms decide to take a year off.

Only time will tell if the morels will be up this year, they’re elusive that’s for sure, which is what makes them so great. I won’t write them off until mid-May, if I don’t have any by then I’ll know they’re taking the year off.

Have you ever eaten morels? Do you hunt them in your area?

I Spy With My Little Eye…

December 2nd, 2011

Yesterday afternoon was really beautiful; the sun was shining and it was in the high 30’s temperature wise. Perfect for digging up the back hillside and planting some of the tulips that have been waiting in the garage. About dusk, I wandered back into the maple grove to look around and much to my surprise I noticed some of the my mushrooms logs had started to produce mushrooms!

I guess all that warm rainy weather we’ve been having the last couple weeks made them decide it was time to start fruiting. One of the ‘Pearl Oyster’ logs was producing huge masses of beautiful blonde mushrooms. They were a bit frosty because the temps dipped down into the mid 20’s overnight, but I picked them anyways. The texture might not be quite right, but they’ll still be flavorful in a venison stew.

These logs were inoculated way back on April 21st of this year. I ordered these spawn plugs from Grow Organic this spring, they’re also available from Fungi Perfecti.

Inoculating logs with mushroom spawn couldn’t be easier. Basically you drill holes in the logs 3-4 inches apart in a diamond pattern, pound in the spawn plugs, cover with wax and let sit in a shaded area. After a few months you can start watering the logs to encourage fruiting, or you can let them fruit naturally during spring and fall rains. (since folks were asking in the comments I figured I’d add that the logs are supposed to continue to produce mushrooms for 3-5 years depending on the size of log used and the type of wood used).

I used three different kinds of spawn plugs to inoculate logs this spring, Pearl Oyster, Hen of the Woods (Maitake) and Shiitake. I also inoculated some wood chips in the garden area with Garden Giant and Elm Oyster mushrooms spawn.

After plugging your logs with spawn you’re supposed to put some wax over the holes to keep bad fungus and bacteria out. I will use beeswax next time, but I didn’t have any when I did these logs so I used some extra cheese wax I had in the pantry. I’m not keen on using a petroleum product but it was all I had. I have since purchased some organic beeswax to use this coming spring when I inoculate more logs.

I’ve declared my love of mushrooms before, so being able to grow my own makes me a very happy camper! If all continues to go well with this experiments I’ll be inoculating many more logs this coming spring to keep up enjoying mushrooms by the bushel! My harvest tally for this picking was 3 pounds – not bad indeed!

Have you ever grown mushrooms? Do you think you’d like to try? Yay or nay on mushrooms in your food?

Reading & Watching

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.