This year we have started to use a new means of natural fertilizer for the soil. Spent mushroom compost; from the big mushroom farm that was put up just behind the back of our farm on the 6th concession. Spent mushroom compost is the left over substrate that the mushrooms are grown in. On this mushroom farm they are growing white button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) on composted straw bales. Once the spawn is exhausted they can no longer use the substrate and replace it. For us however this substrate is a rich compost that can be spread on our fields as a natural source of fertilizer. Basically it comes a full circle, because the wheat is grown in the field then the stalks are baled for straw, mushroom are then grown in the straw and then we spread the compost back on the field to grow more crops. Not much is wasted around here.
Mushroom compost is a great way to add organic matter back to the soil, well increasing the nutrient levels as well. The spent mushroom compost is also great for retaining water in the soil. Although this does not seem necessary at this particular point in time after all this rain. It is beneficial in dry spells.
An additional benefit is the mushrooms we find growing in the field after we spread. We have found tons of mushroom growing out of the compost. Last Sunday we went out after the rain and harvested bags of button and Portobello mushrooms from the field we had spread the compost in. Random fact that most people do not know is that the white button mushroom, and Portobello mushroom are all the exact same mushroom Agaricus bisporus. Most people are under the impression that these are all different types of mushrooms. Portobello mushrooms are just mature, but they are all the exact same. In fact Portobello mushroom are just a marketing idea, back in the day they were considered waste. Similar to baby potatoes and chicken wings, they used to be thrown out. Until someone decide to market them as a higher end product, Funny how this works out some times. Either way we were excited to find all these mushrooms growing in the field. We spent Sunday BBQing up big Portobello mushroom steaks. Delicious!!
We often find different wild mushrooms on the farm to eat. Wild mushrooms are a wonderful treat from our bush. Right now we are in Giant puffball season. These puffballs are delicious when they are young and haven’t developed spores yet. In the last couple of days we have had two. On Friday Marlene was absolutely delighted to see that I had found one and she told me as a kid her father would find them and it would be the best treat for her family. We have also been finding lots of boletus spp., which are a meaty nutty flavour mushroom. Even though we don’t really use our bush much beyond being a green space, we always get delicious rewards from it. Maple syrup, mushrooms, wild leeks, fiddleheads and great nature walks with many wildlife sightings.