Monday, September 27, 2010

Been a busy fall so far....

Last Friday, I finally found oak logs to put my shiitake dowels in.
This all happened when I read a book on veggie gardening, and saw a chapter on growing mushrooms. As a kid, I always saw those "grow your own mushroom" kits in the back of the magazines and secretly wanted them. I may, in fact, try that out with the kids... the button or the portabello kit. However, for now I read of the ease of growing shiitakes and wanted to give that a try. I bought the spawn dowels on ebay 9.99 for 100 qty. Not bad at all, and all I needed was Oak Logs. It seems people always have logs on the side of the road until I need them for Mushrooming. HA, but recently I saw a home on 45N that has been sawing down all the trees in their property including GASSSSPPPPP! Oak! So after eyeing it for a few days, I mustered the courage to go up there and ring the doorbell. This house was teeny, and the windows were kinda boarded. The door had a towel over the window, so I was kind of afraid what kind of person would answer the door. No answer. I tried the neighbor's house... the hispanic lady told me that the home was recently purchased, and that I am welcome to take a few pieces of wood.

YESSSSS!!! I threw as much as I could into the car in 5 minutes and skedaddeld outta that creepy place. I took maybe about 8 logs. Yesterday after church, we drilled holes, put the dowels in, and coated the holes with wax. It was very educational, and hopefully everything worked out. I hope to harvest some mushrooms this coming spring :)

In other news, I was thinking of all the times I saw black walnuts just lying on the ground getting rotten, and thought for sure this year, I will gather them up for the winter. Unfortunately, I don't have a walnut tree in my yard, and the only one I knew of for sure was behind the Edward Jones in Barrington, IL. When I stopped by there on thursday, I saw no nuts---ANYWHERE. what?! I must've missed it! Noooooooo a quick drive around confirmed this. The trees must've dropped the nuts early this year. So when I took the kids to the playground, I walked around a little, because I remembered a few walnut trees being around the park and LO! There was one solitary walnut tree that still had freakin'nuts on it! all over the place! The kids and I filled up a 5 gallon bucket, and may go back tonight for more - while the gettin' is good. They love black walnut meat, and hey.. it's just going unappreciated...
I have never harvested these things before. In fact, I've only seen videos on youtube using tools to hull them. I read someone I could back my car over them, but I decided to don some boots and stomp them one my one. Rinsed them a couple times and poured the black water somewhere that the tannins wouldn't poison the veg garden... The neighbor kid asked me why the water is black and (correct me if I'm wrong), I told them that the Native Americans used to dye cloth with this black water from Black walnuts. My hands are lightly dyed as well, but I tried my best not to touch the water or the hulls. The hulls outside the nut can't be composted either, because of the tannins. I threw them away, and now my counter is full of nuts "Drying".
I imagine I'll go home today to find the kids had thrown them all over the house.

Before leaving for work today, I found a shady spot of my backyard and piled the oak logs in a neat stack. "Seey ya, loggies. Make big mushrooms for mommy!".

If anyone has 2 cents to add about the nuts or the mushrooms, I appreciate the advice.
I really have no mentors minus Youtube.


  1. You can use the cracker things they use for lobster on walnuts. That's what I used when I was a kid while at my grandpas house. I think that's one of the only places I've ever had to manually do it. Miss those good times:( -cJ

  2. the black walnut shells are too-too hard. need to buy a vice... or use a hammer (but then shards shoot everywhere)