Saturday, September 6, 2014

Backyard Garden Update

Expanded Garden

I recently expanded the garden to make room for some more crops.  I extended the existing in-ground raised bed, and dug two more.  I planted lettuce and carrots in the 1st extension, chard and onions in the 2nd extension, and kale in the 3rd extension.  I'm seeing a lot of grass pop up in the 2nd extension, rather than chard and onions, but we'll see how it goes.  The lettuce is growing well, and nothing yet in the kale bed.  I pulled back the cucumbers, no more of those for this season.  I'm still harvesting chard, tomatoes, peppers, and sage.

Three new beds dug and planted.

Before the expansion

The basil seems to have some sort of nutrient deficiency.  I thought it might be calcium or potassium, so I made a solution of crushed egg shells and water, shook it up well, added some wood ash for potassium, and poured that around the basil roots.  It hasn't helped yet after two days.  I think the other basil plant looks like it needs nitrogen, so I'm going to get some of that in there (biochar charged with pee, or just pee).

Sad Basil

Happy Tomatoes

Fermenting Wood Chips for Stropharia 

Hopefully I'll be seeing these in my garden soon!

I've been interested in mycology for years, experimenting with oyster mushrooms, lion's mane, and listening to lectues by Paul Stamets in my free time.  I even got to see Paul talk at Burning Man in 2013.  I saw him talk again in Philadelphia in 2014, and one of the things he talked about was his "mycototes."  It's a system where he ferments wood chips, submerged in water, for about a month.  Then he drains the water, and the result is a fungus substrate that can be rapidly colonized by mycellium, especially Stropharia, (garden giant, or winecap mushroom).  I know some guys starting a gourmet mushroom cultivation business in Philadelphia, who traded me some stropharia spawn on sawdust for some bricks of coco coir that I had.  I soaked some woodchips in a trashcan for about a month.  The trashcan had a leak, so I had to refill it frequently, and occasionally the water level dropped and left the wood chips unsubmerged.  However, the experiment seems to have worked.  The fermenting woodchips were colonized with anaerobic bacteria, which died off when exposed to air after draining the wood chips.  I filled a burlap sack with the wood chips, mixed in the stropharia spawn, dug a hole behind the shed, and dropped the sack into the hole, and covered it lightly with a tarp.  I've been watering occasionally, and the burlap sack is now filled with mycellium.  I'll save some of this for future spawn, and I'm going to mix the rest in around the woodchips in my garden.  Hopefully we'll have lots of garden giant mushrooms popping up and going into our dinner!

Beautiful!  Look at all that white stringy fungi mycellium.

Drying Herbs

My Girlfriend got me a dehydrator for my birthday, so I've been drying herbs from my garden and my parent's herb spiral.  Right now I've got some thick leaf oregano drying.  Fresh herbs in homegrown tomato-basil sauce for the win!

Plans for solar dehydrator

I saw a neighbor of mine was getting rid of some old windows, so I grabbed one and am planning on using it to make a solar dehydrator like these here:


My girlfriend also got me a sprouting kit for my birthday.  Sprouts are tasty on sandwiches, and can be grown year-round indoors without light.  Super cool!

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