Thursday, January 20, 2011

Grow Your Own Mushrooms

Every year I'd like to try something new and this year is no exception. As you have gathered from the title I thought I'd try my hand at growing my very own mushrooms. I'd seen starter kits in a shop in my little village and as the price was very reasonable I'd thought I'd give it a go. I love to experiment, that is one of the bonuses of being a gardener, isn't it, you get to experiment every year to your heart's content.
So last Saturday I bought a starter kit for chestnut mushrooms as I prefer them to white mushrooms.
In the box you find a container of well-rotted compost containing the mycelium (on the left) and a small bag of covering soil. You let the box stand for 3 days with the lid slightly ajar, temperature 20 to 25 C, to promote the rotting process of the compost even further.
well-rotted compost with the mycelium (the white, fluffy bits)

There is only one place in my house where the temperature is constantly between 20 to 25 C, day or night and that is in the bathroom where I have underfloor heating. So I put the mushroom box there.
I also knew where the very bestest, cosiest. toastiest place in the whole bathroom was. If you are wondering how I know this.....
the above picture says it all. ;-)

Today I'll have to make a few slits in the bag of soil and bung it in half a litre of water for roughly 8 minutes. Then remove the bag from the water and let it drain for half an hour. After that spread the soil evenly over the compost. Within 6 to 9 days the mycelium will start growing in the soil. As soon as the mycelium is visible I'll have to place the box in a cooler space say 13 to 18 C.

It will be awhile before I can show you my chestnut mushrooms but fortunately here is a box I prepared earlier.
About two weeks ago I bought my first mushroom kit and this is the result after 2 1/2 weeks. Those are yellow oyster mushrooms, one of my favorites, I love mushrooms, how about you? It won't be long now before I can start harvesting them. If all goes well I will be able to get 3 to 5 harvests from 1 box. Not bad, eh? You just harvest the mushrooms and then wait for a new crop to pop up.
In the garden more flowers are starting to appear. This is my pretty Hamamelis that is currently flowering its socks off.
And everywhere in the garden little green noses are poking through the soil. It won't be long now before crocus, winter aconites and snowdrops will be laughing their little flowery heads off, bless them.
And in my living room these tulips are doing an excellent job of cheering the place up. January days can be so dull and grey so yours truly needed a bit of colour like a shot in the arm.
Tulips are very good in providing much needed colour on dull, drab days and so is Maine Coon Dolly Daisy with her snow white and firy red garb and a disposition that is frighfully cheery-uppy.

copyright 2011 Y.E.W. Heuzen

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Indoor Winter Harvest

We are in the midst of winter and not much is going on in the Bliss garden. The Viburnum Bodnantense Dawn is in flower and fills the garden with a delightful scent, the Winter Jasmin is doing its best to cheer up a bleak winter's day with its golden trumpets.
And there is of course the stalwart Viburnum Tinus, bless its brave little heart, about to burst forth in flower but apart from that, it's a bit dull outside.
So we turn indoors for our garden entertainment. Let's go to the conservatory where there is much to delight a gardener's heart.

 I have 3 citrus trees overwintering in my conservatory and they are such a fount of joy as they flower and fruit pretty much year round. Both my orange and kumquat tree are full of fruits so it's time to harvest them and turn them into
marmelade. I make about 7 to 8 pots a year. Not a vast production but enough to keep me in marmelade all year round. And of course there's nothing better than spreading your very own homegrown &made marmelade on a hot bit of toast. Yum!

Another useful plant I grow in my conservatory is Aloe Vera.  Not everything I grow is for eating; from my Aloe Vera plants I harvest 1 leaf about once a week and spread the contents of that leaf all over my face, neck and hands. Aloe Vera is added to many a skin care product because it is so very good for human skin. I go one better and use pure Aloe Vera. If you want to have a go at growing and harvesting Aloe Vera be my guest as they are so easy to grow but, please pay attention,  do NOT rub the stuff all over your face before trying a bit on the inside of your elbow. Wait 24 hours to check if you are not  allergic to it and then, and only then,  you can put as much Aloe Vera goop on your face as you want.

About  a year ago I bought 1 Aloe Vera plant and now have 5 of them. They grow like the clappers and produce babies by the bucketful. I love taking a bath after I'd put on a face mask of pure Aloe Vera as it's utter Bliss!

For my regular visitors:

It can't have escaped your notice that I haven't been blogging regularly these past few months and my visits to yours and other blogs  have been few and far between. Not by choice but of necessity as I haven't had much time on my hands lately. Both my aged parents are not very well and need a lot of extra care and attention. My mother has Alzheimer and is trying to cope with a body that doesn't function as well as it used to after suffering a minor stroke. My dad was rushed to hospital last November with an severe infection of bladder and kidneys. Shortly before Christmas we received the news that my dad also has cancer (prostate) and has to have an operation soon as the major artery in his belly is about to burst. Not good news as I'm sure you'll agree.

copyright 2011 Y.E.W. Heuzen