February 27

Published by Panetary Health Initiative on

Between the motion and the act falls the shadow

I used to have a secondhand bookshop and for many years I’ve had a dream – to grow oyster mushrooms out of my thousands of old books that no one will ever be interested in reading. Merlin Sheldrake, the author of Entangled Life, recently did just that using his own book …. and then he ate his words! You can watch him doing it here His book is one of my favourites, and it will continue to be shared, but I still have plenty that are ready to be eaten.

I have so many other dreams too, like the dream of restoring planetary health, but as T.S. Eliot wrote in The Hollow Men:

Between the idea

And the reality

Between the motion

And the act

Falls the Shadow.

A Year in a Day is about negotiating that shadow in order to act … and to act urgently. Each small action taken grows our capacity for tackling shadows.

The shadow that’s separated my dream of growing fungi out of my books, to the actual action of doing it, has felt almost impenetrable at times. But I just keep putting one foot in front of the other so I can get to the other side.

Tonight’s new action got me dramatically closer.

Just over a month ago (January 24), I ordered spawn to make my first attempt at growing oyster mushrooms. It arrived relatively quickly, but has been sitting in my fridge waiting for me to take the next step.

I’ve angsted over how to do it because of reading about different methods, often with conflicting and confusing instructions. Paralysis ensued.

Nevertheless, I’ve kept telling myself it’s not rocket science and I’ve kept tackling bite-size chunks of the bigger task.

Because of wanting to grow oyster mushrooms on books I decided to use the paper pellet method. A couple of weeks ago I bought the recycled paper pellets. Then I emptied the ingredients of the food tubs I’m upcycling into glass jars. Then we bought a bigger drill. Then I ransacked our medicine cabinet for micropore tape. Then we found a video that made it seem eminently simple and do-able.

Tonight, FINALLY, we made the big leap and got started. I reached the other side of the shadow and suddenly it felt like play. I got really excited and started experimenting. Now I just have to wait two weeks until the spawn colonises the paper pellets before I take the tape off the holes and the mushrooms will hopefully begin to appear.

Step 1

Drill 10-12mm holes in sides of plastic tubs which have well-fitting lids, about 9-10cm apart – cover holes with micropore tape.

Step 2

Dissolve 10g of hydrated lime in 3 litres of water. Mix with 2 kg of paper pellets until all absorbed.

Step 3

Alternately layer paper pellets and crumbled spawn, finishing with a layer of paper pellets.

Seal and store at room temperature for 2 weeks before taking micropore tape off and putting tubs in a moist room with enough light to be able to read in there. Spray twice a day.

Fingers crossed this works but, if it doesn’t, at least I started and I’ll find a better way to do it by learning what not to do next time.

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