Monday, October 11, 2010

Shitake and Sweet Potato

This weekend the gardens yielded two of the most flavorful backyard, fall foods.

Although getting a bit old, the shitake logs produced another fall harvest. Aren't these mushrooms beautiful? You grow them yourself by using freshly cut, but dead hardwood logs (they can't be old trees found on the ground, as these may already be filled with undesirable fungus spores). The shitake spores can be purchased already embedded in small wood plugs. You drill small holes in the logs, insert the plugs, cover the holes with paraffin, and wait. If you keep the logs moist and your fingers crossed the correct way, you will get mushrooms like these. They taste amazing when fresh, and for those that I will not eat immediately, I just pull out the stem, and the main mushroom cap dries perfectly in an open basket on my cutting board. They can be soaked for a bit and then used in soups or other dishes later in the year.

The second crop harvested was my sweet potatoes. These are a long, narrow, old fashioned variety, and I don't have their name! You don't eat sweet potatoes right away. They must be cured for a few weeks, in a warm, high moisture environment, to develop their sweet, moist flesh. If eaten right out of the garden, they are dry and somewhat flavorless. Last year I cured mine in the attic, I guess I will do the same this year.

Finally,while digging the sweet potatoes I came across this tree root. Now the nearest tree is all the way across the yard, about 50 feet away, so it shows how hard a tree will work to get itself into the best watered and fertilized area. I left the root sticking out of the ground until I can get back to cut it off, hopefully from a number of feet away from the vegetable bed. Once that is done, I have half a bed for my absolute, final fall plantings.