Sunday 25 January 2009

The humble Mushroom

The humble mushroom, perhaps not so much humble but secretive, or blooming mysterious, while eating lunch today, bacon eggs and mushrooms, we got on to the discussion of using the little shed at the side to grow some of our own mushrooms, we have had a go with the odd mushroom kit before and successfully grown and harvested a few mushrooms and had a good success at growing some oyster mushrooms in a bag of straw, but I would like to grow more than just a handful of mushrooms, so I have been scouring the Internet for information, and its very lacking unless I want to grow magic mushrooms or grow them on a commercial scale, all I want to do is grow a few trays at home in the shed.
I have taken the plunge and ordered some spawn that promises to come with full details and instructions from so we shall see when they arrive, I went for
King Mushroom. This mushroom can be sown onto wet straw in dustbin sacks with a sponge in the neck of the bag held in place with an elastic band.
Pleurotus Cornucopiae or Golden Mushroom in English. For sowing onto clean straw only.
Pleurotus Ostreatus (Oyster mushroom). Like the Pioppino, can be sown onto straw or logs
In Italian it is called CAPPELLONE and small Portobello mushrooms are called CRIMINI. Dried spawn sown onto grains which should be sown onto horse manure.
Cultivated (Button) Mushrooms. Many uses for this versatile fungi. First make the compost with 5kg of Horse manure compost mixed with 20% wet straw
I was nearly tempted with a few truffle trees but as they take 4-6 years to start producing truffles and we aim to be moved by then it wouldn't have been a good buy, so they can wait until we are in in a more settled place.
I hope the instructions are all clear when they arrive as it would be lovely to be able to crop our own mushrooms.
The chooks are back to laying now yippee, they only took about 6 weeks off so not bad going, I am waiting for all the bantams to come into lay, some-one mentioned to me it would be around valentines day but cannot remember who said it.
I got another plum and pear tree planted this week along the new back fence, I think that area is now full, its my mini orchard, with apples pears and plums and not forgetting the climbing fig and cultivated blackberry, also got some spuds on the go in the greenhouse another few weeks and the planting season can start properly, I keep going through my seeds cant wait to get going.
we are still using up parsnips, Jerusalem artichokes, red cabbage and Swiss chard, there is still salad leaves growing in the greenhouses, but its starting to get a bit mundane so it will be lovely to get out teeth into something else.

Sunday 11 January 2009

Making a start with growing

I have been down in the greenhouses this morning, doing a bit of watering, here is a picture of how the sweet peas and lupins are coming on I sowed in November, I pinched out the tops of the sweet peas and they have bushed out really well, the lupins have started getting there true leaves now, I am trying to grow all my own plants this year and I have lots of areas in the garden to fill, I took lots of cuttings at the end of summer and they seem to be doing alright as well, I have loads of seeds so in the next few weeks I am going to start sowing them mainly the seeds for hanging baskets. I divide up some plants in the autum as well so I am hoping there will be plenty in flower this year and it wont have cost me the earth too do it.
I had some potatoes sprouting in the basket so they have now been planted up in buckets in the green house, there are not many of them but fingers crossed we will get a few early spuds, I must see about ordering some seed potatoes as well, I seem to have everything else apart from those.
The chickens have started laying again yipee, a sure sign that the days are getting longer, I am looking forward to my youngsters coming into lay for the first time, as they are paired off I am hoping for some fertile eggs to be able to offer for sale.
We went chicken shopping yesterday for my daughter and granddaughters, we made them a chicken run and house for there Christmas and promised chickens for there birthdays in January, the usual place we get chooks from is only open school hours and we had said the girls could choose there own chooks, so I looked up a breeder on the Poultry Breeders web site, we arranged to go over there at 4pm, BIG BIG mistake, this person was not what I would call a breeder and defiantly not a reputable one, he only had 7 chickens 3 bantems 2 west sussex and 2 orpingtons, the garden was like a junk yard and he had to move loads of stuff just for us to get in, the chicken run was in an abysmal state, the feeders were empty and full of mud, he used a plastic paddling pool for water and it was frozen through he tried to say it had frozen again during the day, very doubtful the ice was about 4 inches thick, it hadn't been defrosted at all there was slices of bread all over the run and you couldn't help but walk on them, I felt really sorry for the chooks so we took 3 of them, 2 bantems and one west sussex just to give them a better life, the kids were over the moon with them, but then they are too young to realise the conditions they have been kept in, he also breeds dogs and the place was filthy, all you could hear was puppies yapping, I am making a call to RSPCA as I don't think the chooks have access to water and food, so goodness knows what conditions the puppies are kept in. He said he doesn't keep cockerels, he buys in fertilised eggs hatches them and then sells them on when they reach POL, I asked what he does with the cockerels his reply was dog food.
It makes you wonder doesn't it, I know the chooks will be well looked after at my daughters and I think we have done them a favour, I wish I had the space myself to take the others but I don't. I just hope the RSPCA will take them and find them good homes.

Tuesday 6 January 2009

First Snow of the Year

Happy New Year everyone, here we are with the first snow of the year to throw the country in even chaos than it is already in, in the photo is Bingo and Gizmo my two baby Silkies, 10 weeks old now, they didn't know what to make of the snow when it arrived yesterday, but are now old hats at it, they have been outside for a couple of weeks now, I was a bit concerned how they would cope with the cold but they seem to be fine, I moved them from the conservatory to the unheated greenhouse, they were starting to smell a lot, then after a few weeks in the greenhouse when the weather was mild they got moved outside into a small run with a small house, they had a week or so of mild weather before the cold snap arrived, they are growing really fast now and have developed there own personalities, I am starting to think they may be both cockerels that will be a shame.
From chickens to bees, I got the most wonderful Christmas pressie from hubby, a complete bee keeping kit, all the tools, the suit the hive arrives in a few weeks and we collect the bees at the start of spring, we have sorted out a location for it and I am going to join the local Bee Keepers Association I cant wait, another big step closer to living our dream.
There wasn't much doing over Christmas very quiet time it was lovely, although I did managed to grab a couple of days to have a tidy of the greenhouses and shed, all ready for the big planting season to start, on the mild days I was amusing myself in the garden with a bit of leaf collecting and weeding trying to get a head start on it all.
This year the big economy drive starts, I had a dabble at the end of last year, so now I know I can do it, its time to do it on a serious note, so every penny I spend gets logged down in my little book, and I am not drawing money from the bank, hubby will pay all the household bills but the day to day running of the house is down to me, I am having £30 a week housekeeping and I have the bits i earn from the auctions and card sales, I have canceled all my magazine subscriptions except one Home Farmer I love that magazine, and after falling off the wagon with the smoking while hubby was away in Nepal I have been to the doctors to give Champix another go, today will be the day I buy my last packet of cigs, I am looking forward to becoming a non smoker again.