Baby Oysters!

No, not shellfish, oyster mushrooms! The most amazing and intriguing new additions to my household are the fruiting bodies of oyster mushrooms that are growing out of two impregnated toilet rolls on the window sill….. I got the spawn (mycelium mixed with grain) from Ann Miller’s Speciality Mushrooms of Inverurie, together with instructions. You soak a whole toilet roll and put it in a plastic bag; break up the spawn and put it into the middle of the roll.┬áSeal up the bag.┬áThen I had them in the airing cupboard for 4 weeks, the fridge for 5 days, and then the window sill (relatively cool) for the past week. At this point you make wee holes in the bag. And Lo! exquisite little oyster mushrooms gather up behind the holes and burst through. I should say the entire toilet roll at this stage is a mass of fungal mycelium – it is eerie and fantastical to watch it develop and form embryo mushrooms almost before your eyes.

Blooming well beats anything on television. And edible too!

You can get the spawn if you email Loo rolls – the recycled ones from Lidl seem to work! The fungi break down the cellulose in the paper. As edible mushrooms seem thin on the ground just now in the wild, I am well impressed!

February 15 – 17th.. tapping trees

We went to a brilliant conference in the Scottish Borders today organised by Reforesting Scotland, mostly about wild harvests from woodlands. Inspiring! especially the lady who lived for a year as they did in 18th century – makes my Lent challenge seem very easy and tame. A forester talked about some trials he’d done tapping trees for their sap – with some success, especially from Birch, Sycamore and Norway Maple. Boiling the sap down to make a syrup apparently takes time and fuel, but we could do it on the stove while it’s heating us. We have a sycamore just full of sap, and two birches, so we are going to give it a try – this could be my Lent carbohydrate source!

In the afternoon, we got to innoculate two birch logs with fungal spawn in sawdust and bring them home. We did one of Oyster Mushrooms and one of Shiitake, and are prepared to be patient – it was two years before my last oyster log fruited – and turned out to be shiitake anyway! So long as we don’t forget what the logs are and put them in the stove…

The snow has melted and temperatures have risen. It was good to see under the snow young shoots of Cleavers (or Goosegrass), which are edible and make a nice drink, no doubt I’ll be glad of that next week. I’ve had no caffeine now for 36 hours and the headaches are gone….. would still love a cuppa tea though…

Roadkill potatoes fallingoff the back of an overloaded trailer today…..