Soaking logs

I wrote about our log soaking last year and shared a video of the new system.  As I said then, it would get much faster once everyone got used to the new system. After a whole season of learning tips and tricks last year, this process has gotten much faster and easier.

Here’s a video of Andy loading the logs into the tank last weekend. (Warning to our mothers: close your eyes about 30 seconds in and pretend nothing happened!)

 

Force-fruiting is going well and the mushrooms are picking up the pace!

fruiting mushrooms

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No more “Old Faithful”

More excitement on the farm last week: we got our new watering system installed!

Mushroom farming takes a fair amount of water. In addition to all the water for the soaking tanks (as mentioned last week), we need to water the logs occasionally to keep them from drying out and we water in the fruiting house to help keep up the humidity. Who knew mushrooms were so demanding!?

We were happy to discover that the new farm had an agricultural well, gushing around 80 gallons a minute, already installed and ready to go. Jeremy had used standard garden hoses for years on all the past farms, and the water pressure gets worse the farther the hose goes. So Jeremy went with a nice big lay-flat hose. It was 2 inches in diameter (much more capacity than your standard backyard garden hose), bright blue, and we had about 600 feet of it.  It started at the house, ran through the lawn, up onto the dirt/gravel road running through the farm, then over a rock wall, down through a field, and finally up into the woods where we were resting and fruiting logs last year. It was the only place on the farm that worked for this, so we had to stretch the hose all that way.

layFlatHose

The hose at the end of its journey – in the woods with the resting logs.

Unfortunately, the poor hose managed to find every last random piece of barbed wire, nail, and rusty sharp bit of old machinery, and had several losing encounters with tractor tires.  By mid-summer is more Swiss-cheese than hose. Jeremy patched it and fixed it many times, but he finally gave up. He’d no sooner patch a hole, then move the hose slightly and it would be full of holes again.

It made for a seriously wet and muddy road last year.  Also, one of the biggest geysers from the hose was in the lawn and sprayed right over the fire pit. We have a pile of wood there so it’s always ready to have a little fire – but the whole pile was wet all year, and there was often a little lake around the fire pit! The only ones who enjoyed all this water were the ducks!

For the last couple months Jeremy has been planning the new watering system. He dug a trench from the house, following the same path, but going to the new soaking tanks and fruiting house. Several stops along the way there are spigots so it will be easier in the future to water a field of veggies or fill up the water tanks for pigs. And the last spigot pours water directly into the new soaking tanks.

Sorry ducks  – no more muddy roads and boggy wet lawn!

 

Out with the old, in with the new!

Some of our mushroom logs fruit all on their own, when they feel like it. They can’t be forced. All they need is time and the right temperature.  These are our oysters, butterscotch (nameko), lion’s mane and some of our shiitake.

But most of our shiitake can be encouraged (force fruited) by dropping them in a tank of cold water. This “shocks” the mushroom organism (mycelium) and causes it to pop out lots of mushrooms really fast.

For the last 8 years, Jeremy’s mushroom soaking tanks have been big metal stock tanks. He’d go through the shade structure and load up some logs – first in a small hand cart where he could move five or six logs at a time, then more recently in the tiny trailer on our lawn tractor where he could move 10 or 15 at a time.  So, load up some logs, one at a time, into the cart or trailer. Move the cart or trailer over to the stock tanks that are full of water. Move the logs, one at a time, into the stock tanks. Repeat until the tanks are full then weigh the logs down with random chunks of concrete block to make sure the logs are submerged. Wait 24 hours. Take the logs out, one at a time, and transport them to the fruiting area. After fruiting is done a few days later, load up the logs in that same cart or small trailer, and take them back, a small batch at a time, to the shade structure.

This method was fine for a smaller operation, but as Jeremy has been soaking more and more logs at a time he’s had to get more stock tanks.

forcefruiting1

And moving all those logs by hand… something had to be done about this! Jeremy has been dreaming for a year or two about new in-ground fruiting tanks. This spring the hole was dug for them and Stuntz Concrete built the tanks.

He had Minnesota Implement build him several “cages” for the mushroom logs. At least 40 logs can be carried in each cage, and then our trusty skid steer picks up the cage and drives it over to the tanks.

Voila! Much faster to soak the logs, and not as much individual handling. Well, it will be much faster once everyone gets the hang of the new system!