Thursday, November 11, 2010


Nature can be pretty sardonic, especially when it comes to mushrooms. Like the other day, when I was so certain about my shiitake situation, nature did that whoa thing it does whenever it senses complaisance in the human condition, sort of like what it's doing now to the world economy. As to the point I just deviated from, I guess I have about 50 shiitake logs going at the moment, some newbies at 1 year old since inoculation, some 2 or 3 years old and others getting into their dotage, which varies depending on the size of the log and the amount of sapwood it has.

Commercial shiitake growers and vendors - to set off on another vaguely relevant tangent - have to grow or buy their own supply of logs, logs of consistent and manageable size for stacking and moving-- not too heavy etc., especially if they're selling the logs directly to consumers at the farm stores, either for inoculation or already inoculated (designer logs, I call them), as they do around this time of year. But since I'm non-commercial and have no oak-laden property (no way I'm cutting down my old oak!), nor do I buy designer logs, I must take whatever incidental fresh oak I can get from other sources (landscapers, developers, folks with too many crowding trees etc.). Thus my oak logs tend to be a bit larger, and opportunistic in shape, so often not straight or easily manageable. I also wind up with a lot of odd-sized bits of scrap timber that goes into a special firewood pile under the deck. Vague relevance is drawing nearer.

In any case though, in managing my shiitake logs I inoculate them, incubate them, move them around, water them now and then, stack them, restack them and finally move them to a corner place where they can shroom at last, and there I keep a close eye on them. So close that my mushroom eye is pretty much blind elsewhere, as it turns out. You see about the relevance? To get closer to my wandering point, I have the logs arranged by age too, so I always know what's going on, and over the 15 years I've been doing this I've gotten hardwired into thinking I had it all nailed, well in hand, right in place, tabs on everything shiitake-related around here, that's the kind of mental state I was talking about above; nature abhors both vacuums and self assurance. As for me, I didn't notice for a few days, because this was in another place, it was under the deck, you see. I didn't-- Who would expect -- I've never-- Why would I-- but I digress from my tangent.

To wend once again toward my point, a couple days ago I was walking toward the shiitake section way over in the corner of our lot, when I nanonoticed that under the deck there were some big healthy shiitake mushrooms growing. But I'm not and never have grown shiitake under the deck, so I only nanonoticed, because such a thing was impossible. But it kept nagging down there at the corner of my mind, so eventually I macronoticed. It was an odd feeling, abruptly observing mushrooms growing there on their own, and then going "Oh yeah, they can do that..." and then the question of actual IQ arose.

I've seen kikurage and lots of other mushrooms growing wild, but I've never seen shiitake growing wild. Let alone under the deck on a small section of oak firewood about 30 cm long that had been placed there only because it was an odd length and small, so would dry quickly and could be easily tossed up top for use in the nearby stove.

It was the variety of oak that designer log sellers prefer (some variety of red oak, I think), not least because shiitake seem to prefer it, so it is in strong commercial demand. I don't recall seeing it growing around here, so now I intensely wonder where I got that piece. Anyway, just lying there in the stack under the deck it had been inoculated naturally, unlike the standard oak all around it! I'd walked past there many times while those mushrooms were swelling into largeness, but to me there were no shiitake growing there: that's the odd-size firewood storage place, not the shiitake growing place, which is over there, where I organized it...

Nature loves to go wild.


Maggie said...

You amused nature. :)

Robert Brady said...

Nature gets so many belly laughs at my expense, but as with any patient master there's rarely even the faintest smirk on her face.