Tuesday, 14 April 2009

new arrivals

It's been a week of new arrivals: a friend visiting from the States brought baggage full of wonderful treasures and it's taken us time to sort through everything. Most important were the live cultures and mold spores for shiitake, tempeh and koji, all of which arrived safely.

The shiitake spores are now inoculated into several logs of laurel and macadamia. It was a process finding the right logs - the correct balance of heart and sapwood, the perfect ratio of bark, wood density and age are all important factors in selection. One wants logs which are easy enough to transport, plus the larger the log the longer it takes for the mycelium to fully colonize - and the further away the mushroom harvest. We selected differing sizes to stagger harvest times and to see which type and size is most suitable to our climate and temperature. Trees have anti-fungal properties which weaken as the trees die, allowing nature to take her course and the wood to become home to decomposers. Thus we had to find logs which were dead, but not so dead that they already housed a host of fungi types. Many of the logs lying around here in the tropics are still alive and will sprout new growth from bark or tips: it took time even here on the farm to find suitable pieces. Another issue is finding logs which are termite free - we want our mycelium to feed on the wood, not insects! Finally we had enough for our 300 dowels laden with shiitake mycelium. It was then a case of drilling holes, hammering in the dowels and sealing with wax (I melted down Stockmar beeswax crayons from my former life). Now the logs are sitting below some hefty heliconia plants in good shade just by the kitchen. We'll hopefully be eating mushrooms from them in a few months. Very excited! Cultivating mushrooms will close the circle here on the farm, more on that later.

My fresh tempeh starter is wonderful, and the koji? Well I'm very excited about the koji and look forward to making our own miso and amazake, but the next week or so is very busy with the reforestation project and so my forays into Aspergillus oryzae will have to wait.

Another wonderful new arrival at the farm is our new beagle, Duku. Duku is already 7 months old and super sweet. Right now he is running madly all over, nose to the ground and short legs bounding through the foliage taking it all in. Must be lovely to be a puppy.


  1. I keep thinking of growing shiitake mushrooms. I could easily take down one of the trees in my woods. I wouldn't want to use one that is already dead. Mushrooms grow so fast in our fallen down trees. I would think a new tree would be the only way to avoid contamination.

  2. What I've researched suggests that a tree cut two weeks before works well, living trees have anti-fungal properties so you'd want that to dissipate. Another tip is to coat the ends of the log in wax to inhibit invading microbes. I encourage you to grow shiitake, it makes so much sense from a forestry and soil point of view, and they taste great - got to be a win win situation all around.


thanks for sharing!