2017, March

Farm update – 3/12/2017

This week’s Whole Farm basket features the very first items harvested from our spring planting: 5 oz of a spring microgreen mix consisting of micro turnip greens, lettuce, and Swiss chard. Also included are two winter favorites, spinach (5 oz) and a bundle of green onions.

Whole Farm basket

A quick glance at the weather forecast for the week ahead changed our weekend plans. We had intended to plant out the first tomatoes, squash, and zucchini of the season, but with at least one night coming up that may drop below freezing, we decided to hold off. Wednesday night’s subfreezing temps, should they occur, will come a few days after our average last frost date, which is actually today (3/12). It’s funny to think that in a year as warm as this one, we may look back at freeze dates and say it was a perfectly average year. Hmm.

Instead we used the weekend to finalize preparations for our new arrivals, chicks and bees. Chicks will arrive in the mail this week. Our bees, which were supposed to be ready for pickup this coming Friday, have been delayed in returning from California, where I assume they’ve been participating in the yearly almond pollination extravaganza.

The twin hives

We also have begun our first attempt at growing oyster mushrooms. Unlike our shiitake mushrooms, which will grow on a substrate of freshly cut hardwood logs, the oyster mushrooms are being grown on coffee grounds. These completely different substrates necessitate different types of mushroom spawn. Whereas we used inoculated hardwood dowels for the shiitakes, on coffee grounds it is preferable to use grain spawn. Grain spawn is made by introducing a pure culture of your desired mushroom onto a sterilized grain like rye or wheat. Making your own grain spawn takes some pretty serious lab equipment, and sterile conditions. It’s not something I’m ready to tackle… yet! Luckily, grain spawn is readily available from lots of online retailers. We mixed up a concoction of grain spawn and coffee grounds and have stashed them in a dark place to complete the spawn run. Another way hardwood logs and coffee grounds differ as substrates is the amount of time it takes to produce edible mushrooms. Those shiitakes may take a year until the first harvest, but if all goes well with the oysters, it’ll just be a matter of weeks until harvest time!

Grain spawn, coffee grounds, and the inoculated final product.

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