Sunday, September 21, 2008

Another way to recycle unwanted books. By way of a post-script to my last blog, here is something else you can do with a surplus paperback. Instead of weeing on it to reduce it to compost, you can turn it into something edible: mushrooms. Gourmet Woodland Mushrooms sell mushroom spawn to sprinkle through the pages of a book pre-soaked in water. Just 2 – 3 weeks later, the mushrooms begin to grow, giving you between one to three flushes of edible oyster mushrooms per book, apparently.

I’ve not tried it myself but have successfully grown oyster mushrooms in a polythene bag containing wet straw and whole toilet rolls; the principle is the same. You can read more of our own mushroom growing experiments. So far, in our woods, we've inoculated logs and stumps with chicken of the wood, pearl oyster, fir oyster, shiitake, and conifer cauliflower mycelia. This must be the ultimate permaculture food: you use mushroom mycelium to “eat” waste wood and turn it into food, almost without lifting a finger.