Saturday, May 17, 2008

Growing Shiitakes - our woodland mushroom garden

Recently took a drive up near Stouffville to visit the farm of Bruno, "The Fun Guy" (fungi), who sells innocualted mushroom logs. We have been wanting to add fresh home-grown mushrooms to our roster of locally produced garden harvest, and were very happy to find a supplier of these logs within about an hour of where we live! Back in March we placed our order for 5 shiitake logs (he also has oyster logs, kombucha, etc), and now in May they were ready to be picked up.

After a little searching up and down the back roads, we finally found the right farm and drove in a long laneway lined with endless rows of oak logs stacked upright neatly along wire fences. The forest was also covered with white trilliums, fiddleheads, wild leeks and the scent was fresh, damp, earthy and wonderful.

Bruno sells his mushrooms at various farmers markets in the Toronto area, leads workshops on mushroom cultivation, does consulting for those wanting to start a mushroom business, and is planning to install a commercial kitchen in his greenhouse in order to produce value-added mushroom products. He gave us a detailed tour, explaining how the logs are innoculated by hand with plugs, need to be kept moist but not too wet, and how to harvest. Then we walked over to our section of logs and got the first taste - delicious! Delicate, almost sweet, like no other shiitake we've eaten before. We decided to take not only our 5 logs, but a few more to pass on to friends, as at $20/log (which will hopefully bear mushrooms for 3-5 years) this opportunity was not to be missed.

Our mushroom log collection is now neatly stacked behind our greenhouse, with just enough shade, a little access to rain, and close at hand to make observation and harvesting easy. In the photo, the white dots are the plugs out of which mushrooms will sprout (and log on far left has shiitakes growing ready for harvest).

For more details see Bruno's website at:

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