The idea germinated some years earlier when we visited GroCycle in Devon to see their project growing mushrooms on recycled coffee grounds, as a possible business idea for The Secret Acre.
Although the commercial proposition didn’t stick with us, the idea of having a dedicated outdoor mushroom bed that would randomly offer up some oyster mushrooms in spring and autumn did.
So it was just over a year ago when we finally got round to clearing a space at the side of the veg patch by the horseradish, felling an unwanted tree, and installing the mushroom bed to be.
We filled the bed with a mixture of wet cardboard, organic oyster mushroom spawn and leaf mould, covered to help retain moisture, and sat back to wait for the inevitable fungi.
Well, that was the idea anyway. In practise, although there were signs of the spawn spreading, all that emerged in spring was a single tiny bonsai sized clump of mushrooms.
It was time to bring out the big guns with an additional block of biodynamic oyster mushrooms, which duly produced its first flush as designed, before we broken it up and added it to the mix along with some horse manure for good measure and wood shavings to further help with moisture retention. Then the summer arrived and we duly forgot about it.
Until late summer / early autumn bought a return to more favourable conditions for fungi, and suddenly one day, much to our surprise and delight, there was finally a proper breakfast sized crop of oyster mushrooms!
Long may it continue.
Footnote – Also this autumn we found a giant puffball for the first time ever in the field. Sadly too far gone to eat, but hopefully also a sign of further fungi adventures to come. Watch this space.