To soak or not to soak? – week 33

The recurrent showers and the lower daily temperature (20 – 25C) this past week had a refreshing result on a lot of the shrubs, grass and flowers. It was a relief to see the world at ground level start turning green again. The dry weather cracks at the end of the mushroom logs had more or less disappeared and many of the shii-take logs fruited spontaneously. The small brown button-like bulges would turn continue to grow and turn into soft round shii-take mushrooms that I should be able to pick next week. And all of that without having to soak the logs.

The whole idea of soaking the logs is to shock the mycelium into producing mushrooms. Soaking replaces the appropriate natural conditions (warm and dry followed by cold and wet) and is handy when there is a need to “artificially” produce mushrooms. The shii-take fungus (mycelium) in the log will produce a mushroom  (fruiting body) as a reaction to the sudden unfavourable conditions.  Once an oak log has been inoculated it takes about 18 months before the shii-take mycelium is ready to produce mushrooms. The major task of an Edible Wood Farm is to induce the mycelium in the log to produce mushrooms. A log is deemed succesvol after the first harvest and is stacked apart with other logs that also have managed to produce mushrooms. These logs receive the title “edible logs” and will be prepared to be sold at a later moment.

Soaking the logs after waiting 18 months is a gratifying occasion and heralds the opportunity of earning some income. I always enjoy seeing the mushrooms appear on the logs and  I seem to have a well developed primal reflex of picking everything harvestable within sight.  After the long hot dry period I  was keen to start this phase but there was a hitch. The groundwater constraints were still in place as there had not yet been enough rainfall to lift them. The groundwater level was so low that it would probably take many weeks and maybe months before the groundwater was at a safe level once again.  The logs that had not fruited after the rainfall had to be soaked. The puzzle was how to do this when there was still no available groundwater to fill the soaking basin.



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