My MooseBoots journey found me attending, with my mother Gar, a Mushroom Cultivation class at the Urban Farm Fermentory. Wendy and I have been watching the upcoming classes with great interest. This workshop was the first in a series on mycology, of which I know very little. My mushroom skills, and understanding, were very limited to a few easy-to-identify mushrooms and the fact that the main part of the organism grows out of sight.
The class was led by Dan, a gentleman who claims to be a hobbyist mycologist with 10 years of experience, in spite of the fact that he grows mushrooms to supply to several local restaurants. He began by explaining the life cycle of a "mushroom". Of course, the mushroom is the organism's sex organ with the bulk normally, in nature, hidden under the soil or in the tree. Here is a diagram borrowed from Fungi.com
After the biology lesson, he began describing the process of taking the spores and growing them into food. It is a very detailed process that, while it did not put me off, bred a bit of scepticism in Gar, who was a bit intimidated by the very technical description of sterilization processes and such. I assured her that while the process was described as "required" that mushrooms grow in the wild without any of it. The techniques as described are put in place to provide a more reliable result, primarily for commercial reasons. My particular bent, as in brewing, will be to try to mimic, as much as possible, the events in nature.
After a verbal description of the process, we, the participants, were invited to prepare our own bags to take home. We could chose Elm Oyster or Blue Oyster mushrooms. Both Gar and I opted for the Blue Oysters. After the hand on portion, there was a bit of informal discussion about how to care for the bags and what to expect.
I am eager to watch the growth and to try my hand at cultivating mushrooms. I am, of course, thinking about attending a few of the follow on classes and picking up the recommended The Mushroom Cultivator: A Practical Guide to Growing Mushrooms at Home. As has so often happened, this just illustrates how much there is to learn. These organisms are incredible and fill such a valuable role in nature, to assist in the decomposition process. I have a much greater appreciation for the machinations of Nature and the Earth. And, so my MooseBoots education continues.