Fall Is Upon Us!
We’re so thrilled autumn is almost officially here! Our temperatures have calmed down tremendously, which we’re happy about. This summer has been chaotic to say the least, between the heat, humidity and garden pests.
The trees are shedding their leaves, the air is cool and crisp, the bugs are returning to hell, and we can actually enjoy being outside again. Looking forward to walks in the park, hikes, bonfires, cozy sweaters, baking more, crafts, soups/chilis, seasonal décor, etc..
This fall holds some new things for us that we’re grateful for: chickens, mushroom beds, an actual fall garden, and a small high tunnel we plan to set up before winter.
Lets Talk Mushrooms!
I’ve had my eyes on North Spore‘s mushroom spawns for a while now, reading up about them here and there. I was always afraid to grow our own mushrooms due to me not wanting to misidentify during harvesting.
I decided to really dive into the world of mycelium and learn the process of it all. I quickly found beginner friendly options that are simple to set up and varieties that are easy to identify. I learned about the varieties we were interested in, how to inoculate, maintain, harvest and preserve them.
It was a few weeks ago when I decided we were finally going to give it a try! I contacted North Spore through their website (live chat & email), asked about what varieties are best for our grow zone (7), what they recommend for beginners, etc.. They were extremely helpful and was just as excited as we are.
The varieties we chose, that are able to overwinter in our zone, are Blue Oyster, Italian Oyster, Snow Oyster, and Wine Caps. We set up straw beds using the lasagna method (straw, spawn, water – repeat). It’s as easy as that!
You just have to make sure the beds stay moist and don’t dry out during the inoculation period; that way the spawn colonizes properly. These varieties are super low maintenance, and the materials used for the beds are low cost.
It took seven days to prepare our package, and about 5 days or so for it to be delivered (there was a delay in a different state). Everything was good except for the bag of Wine Cap spawn, which was opened on the side of the bag. Not a problem though, I emailed them and they immediately sent out a new bag.
The question I had when I emailed them was, “Is it still okay to use?”. They didn’t hesitate to replace it, but encouraged us to go ahead and see if it’ll grow anyways. Like they said, never hurts to try! Who knows, maybe the spawn was okay and we’ll have fruiting this fall or next spring.
We also purchased a book, harvesting knife, and some Chaga tea. The book is wonderful so far, including talk of the health benefits of mushrooms, recipes and more. The harvesting knife has a blade with bristles on the opposite side for cleaning.
We’ve never tried Chaga tea, but we enjoy tea when we’re not drinking coffee or water. Figured we give it a try! We haven’t yet, but plan on flavoring it with some honey/maple syrup and maybe some chai spices.
Overall, we decided this fall is a good time to get the beds set up, that way they can become established before our first frost. With this being said, we aren’t sure if we’ll get a fruiting (harvest) this year, but come spring time we should. It’ll have a head start so-to-speak.
Cleaning Out The Greenstalk Planters (Ugh)
First off, I love our Greenstalks (we have 4 of them), but those peppers I had in them caused some ruckus 😅 The roots on the pepper plants were INSANE! There were a couple of varieties that weren’t an issue, but all the others took up every centimeter of space they could get in those pockets.
Maybe I just grew big varieties of peppers? The stems on those things were pretty thick.. I even had to take my handheld cutter for small branches to cut the bases (couldn’t pull them out of their pockets). I assume that’s why they dried out so easily during this summer too.
Next year I’ll definitely plant our peppers somewhere else, probably the raised galvanized beds. I feel like production will be better too with more root space. Not saying you can’t grow peppers in these planters, a lot of people do, but I think the varieties I had wasn’t a good fit. Chili peppers or smaller varieties maybe?
Aside from digging the pepper roots out, trying to save as much soil as I could, I went ahead and amended it with mushroom compost. That way they’re ready to go when sowing more root veggies this fall! The planters I’m cleaning out by the way are 5 Tier Original Planters, with the 10″ pockets.
Bean Harvest, Radishes, Lettuce & Peas
I wanted to experiment to see if we could grow bush beans in our 7 Tier Leaf Greenstalk, and so far so good! The pockets are 7″ deep instead of 10″ like the Original planters. I will say it looks a bit unruly, but it’s producing beans and that’s what matters.
We have Royal Burgundy, Golden Wax, and Provider Bush Beans. I just harvested a good handful the other day and will be picking some more today! I didn’t snap a picture of it unfortunately, but it was lovely seeing the mix of green, gold and purple beans together.
The radishes are doing okay, I think some of the White Icicle radishes are forming properly. I just haven’t had luck with growing radishes yet, for some reason. The icicle variety is doing better than the bulb ones though, so that’s progress I suppose.
Our lettuce sowings are sprouting nicely: Oakleaf, Lollo Rossa and Lollo Bionda. The Black Magic and Dwarf Blue Curled Kale is sprouting good as well. Will be sowing more soon, along with spinach!
Our Sugar Daddy Peas are the only ones that made it through the caterpillar raid and last heat wave. I’ve sowed some Cascadia and Dwarf Peas though in the plastic tubs, interplanted with radishes. Hopefully they’ll all do good and produce a decent little harvest before the first frost.
Other Fall Sowings
Right now we have Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Purple of Sicily Cauliflower, All Year Round Cauliflower, Purple Kohlrabi, Red Bearded Bunching Onions, and Carnation Leeks started. Along with Black Magic Kale in a rectangle planter on the porch.
We still have carrots in some of the pockets of the 5 Tier Original Greenstalk, that seems to be doing okay. There’s a few Purple Sprouting Broccoli that’s survived caterpillars that we’ll be transplanting to the raised bed as well.
Hope everyone is doing well! What are you looking forward to most this fall?