Yesterday I harvested my first crop of pink oyster mushrooms and tried them for the first time (to me, they tasted exactly like scallops when cooked and makeup when raw, loved them both ways). The excitement has been rejuvenating. Hobbyist mycology is both fast paced and flexible in how much time or energy is expended— a perfect balance to keep me invested.
This venture has been both a practice of joy, fun, and pleasure, as well as a productive exploration of self sustainability and education. Being a custodian of nature means understanding it in all ways possible so to care for it. Ecosystems have been a passion of mine and I’m honoured to finally be properly acquainted with fungi.
Watching the process of a mushroom’s life cycle has been an honour. Oyster mushrooms double in size every day! After the mycelium (akin to a plants root system) starts to ‘pin’ (akin to plant seedlings), they become ready-to-harvest mushrooms in 3-5 days.
While I’m currently just growing from pre-inoculated sawdust, I’ve been playing with a few polypore experiments to practice semi-sterile tissue culture, ie Petri dishes. Before I start taking samples from commercial species (like my oyster mushrooms) to perform my own inoculations, I’m using wild turkey tails and birch polypores.
I come across these species daily on the farm and this gives me ample opportunity to play with outdoor growing environments and aforementioned tissue culture techniques. Turkey tails and birch polypores are found everywhere because they both have fairly aggressive mycelium which makes them prime candidates for a beginner’s goofing around. My biggest enemy is contamination by mold and bacteria, these powerhouse mushrooms can overcome most competition.
I’ve been dreaming of having a laboratory since I was a little kid and those dreams have been more frequent. Luckily there’s many ways hobbyists can perform lab work with a decent success rate without having a sterile environment. I’ve set up a d.i.y still air box which mimics a laboratory glove box you might see scientists use to work in an isolated environment.
I don’t write often about my projects and hobbies as I’ve been struggling with both confidence and consistency of dedication. Lately I’ve been feeling better. I’ve been able to commit, stay on tack, and also been more capable of believing in my ability to explain what it is I’m doing. I’m glad I didn’t tell anyone about my 100 sheets of fake skin tattooing project or insect footage compilation, but I plan on coming back to them so stay tuned.
Until then, I’m enjoying my time donning my mad scientist persona and playing mycologist.