Mushroom Log

I’m not sure how my obsession with mushrooms came about- whether it was the mushroom ravioli I found at the store or the Fantastic Fungi documentary or the chicken marsala I made a few months ago.

I’ve realized they’re not only delicious but also fascinating and can be used for medicinal purposes. They also have their whole little world in the soil, which is amazing.

I purchased mushroom plugs and sealing wax, and then began the hunt for suitable logs: three to four feet, a specific diameter range, fallen within 6 months, and the list went on and on. One would think that as I live in a semi-rural area that it would be easy to find a couple of logs that met these requirements. It’s surprisingly difficult- there are regulations for forest collection and I don’t have any trees. I stopped by the side of the road after spying a nice-looking limbless fallen tree, but it ended up being too long and I didn’t have a chainsaw or Sawzall (the latter being my favorite tool), so left it half-dragged to my car.

Time marched on, as it does. The mushroom plugs got a milky white-looking film, which apparently means they’re ready to grow.

I began life as a free spirit, then morphed into a perfectionist. I am trying to revert to my early years when I tromped barefoot through the forest with tangled hair and mismatched clothes with dirty knees. So, I decided to forgo the perfect log. The forest grows in both amazing and awful conditions.

While walking a dog I was dogsitting on the beach last week, I stumbled across an abandoned bonfire. Tourists have a way of getting drunk and walking away. This time, thankfully, the fire was out and they didn’t leave any trash behind. What they did leave were a few pieces of firewood. Juggling a leashed dog, a camera and a too-big-for-a-woodstove piece of wood, I made my way up the beach, through the dunes and to my car. It was too big for the specifications. Who knows if it’s more than two weeks and less than 6 months old? I have no clue if it’s the ideal type of wood.

And yet. I drilled the holes and used a rubber mallet to pound in the mushroom plugs. The directions said to use my outdoor fire to melt the wax to seal the plugs in the log. I lacked an outdoor fire, but I did have some canned beans, so I dumped those into a bowl to add to dinner and melted the wax double-boiler style in the bean can in a bot of water. The wax smeared on and dried instantly. I had a second log (one of the two nondescript trees I cut from my yard) and followed the same pattern: drill holes in a checkerboard pattern, push plug partway in, hit with a mallet, and cover with wax.

Ignoring the idea-condition directions, I opted to fill a wheelbarrow with water and soak them each for 24 hours instead of watering them for a steady five to ten minutes. If I understand correctly, the steady watering will result in fruiting mushrooms in the fall or possibly 6 months to two years, while the soaking may force them to fruit soon. I’ll keep you posted.

What I’m growing: Lion’s Mane and Oyster Mushrooms.

Ready to add the wax. Remember: action, not perfection!

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