Well, we bought a farm last year and have spent a lot of days working on cleaning it up and preparing the ground for this year. We’ve now hauled about 9 loads of horse manure and probably a ton of coffee grounds to till into the soil…. plus loads of leaves, sawdust and pine needles. Our goal is to establish a self-sustained organic farm complete with orchard (planted), garden, animals (goats and chickens primarily) and interesting crops (flowers, medicinal herbs and mushrooms).
Progress has been good. We’ve cleared a considerable amount of the land from years of neglect. We tilled ground and planted perennial crops like blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, apple trees, pear trees, cherry trees, fig trees and asparagus. We battled Bermuda grass and found a way to defeat it. It is a lot of work but we have a way of destroying it and doing it without chemicals. We’ve fenced a considerable amount of the farm.
This is a picture of the front property line after we had cleaned it up and mowed the weeds and grass. In the background you see Vicki in the asparagus ditch putting in the composted horse manure.
Here is a look at the same field closer up after the dead trees have been removed, fences built and the ground amended with horse manure and coffee grounds. The green grass is the rye grass cover crop we planted last fall. All of this will be tilled into the soil this month (February) and readied for our first crop of potatoes. You will notice a square piece of ground that was a test garden last year. We had soil test done but wanted to plant some vegetables to see if the ground had any problem diseases or bug populations detrimental to tomatoes, squash or beans. Everything checked out fine.
We finished our mushroom logs and they look really great. We will leave them stacked this way for some time and occasionally re-stack them to make sure they get an equal amount of moisture.
The process to make the logs is very simple. You choose good hardwood logs with diameters of 4 to 6 inches and cut into 3 foot lengths. Then you wait a couple of weeks for the logs to rest. They have a natural defense mechanism that will kill the fungus spores if you inoculate them to soon. Now it is time to drill your 5/16 inch holes every 6 inches around the log. You skip over about 2 to 3 inches and stagger your holes and start a new run every 6 inches. In a 6 inch by 3 foot log there are approximately 50 holes.
Once all the holes are drilled, they go to the next operation… putting in the plugs. It is necessary to drive the plugs into the hole with a hammer and then countersink them below the bark line (approximately 1/4 inch deep).
Now it is time to wax the holes. This requires melted cheese wax and a small dobber to cover the pegged hole to keep out any contaminates.
In about 9 months we will harvest our first batch of Shiitake mushrooms. Each log should product between a pound to a pound and a half of fresh mushrooms a year for the next 4 to 5 years. In the next 5 years we should harvest about 450 lbs of fresh mushrooms from our efforts.
If you have any questions about specifics on the mushrooms or the farm just leave me a note.
See you later, I need to pick up some coffee grounds from Starbucks.