As proof of his deep and abiding love Andrew gave me a mushroom growing kit, one of those inoculated sawdust stumps from Fungi Perfecti and I was very excited to give it a try but it never really worked that well indoors.
It wasn't much more than a conversation piece, sitting brown and mottled and lumpy on the kitchen counter under a clear plastic humidity tent. Anyone who saw it backed away a step or two, covered their mouth in revulsion and asked, "What is that?" as if it was an alien pod incubating on the Formica.
This didn't surprise Andrew because the only thing he hates more than mushrooms is onions or possibly ingrown toenails. He shivered every time he walked past it on the way for his cold cereal night cap, refusing to look directly at it.
But I couldn't get it to produce. I've had suspicions of sabotage--regular chlorinated tap water would kill any possible production--but I could prove nothing and ended up with only a shriveled nasty lump of sawdust for my efforts. So much for my shiitakes.
I gave up trying and in June stuck it out in a shady place in the garden where the nasty weather we've had--and ask anyone here, it's been the worst, rainiest summer in years--worked its magic on my little mycelia maker. Before I knew it I had the world's biggest shiitake growing from under the stump, the Godzilla of mushrooms, more like a mutant Portobello with a hormone imbalance than a shiitake--my very first flush (or crop as we mushroom-mavens call it)! Andrew of course thought flush was the only word appropriate.
Since then I've had two more flushes, each producing more than the last (which is typical they say) and each producing smaller mushrooms than the one before. So here in triumph is the picture of my cool shiitake stump and some of the five little mushrooms it produced that I'm using on my pizza Friday night. And that's just icing on my cake--or pizza or whatever--mushrooms are the only way I can guarantee having enough pizza for myself--with mushrooms on it no one else will touch it, kind of like an invisible fence for pizza you might say.
Technorati tags: mushrooms, fungi, shiitake, gardening