Our little mushroom farm is growing up every day and in the last few months we have been busy setting up new grow spaces and experimenting with cultivating a few different kinds of mushrooms.
During the last few months we have started small scale Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) cultivation on special request from some of our customers. I have also discovered several patches of wild Reishi mushrooms (probably Ganoderma capense), once these are mature and have reproduced we will be harvesting them for use in a VERY TASTY product we will offer at that time.
The drought has had its effects on us like all other farmers, but thankfully we have not been affected too seriously. We temporarily had to give up Shiitake cultivation in order to save water but we are on track to put them back into cultivation from April.
The main concern with the drought would be with this year’s wild mushroom crop. Normally at this time of year we'd have harvested the bulk of our crop but so far have only seen about a tenth of our harvest very early in the year. We hope for decent rains in April before it gets too cold for them (the porcini that is) in May.
Talking about May- that would be the time that I plan to go truffle hunting in my home region of the Kalahari. As a child my family would sometimes take me to hunt for the Kalahari truffle and tell me all sorts of magical stories about its appearance. It was these fantasy stories that drove my curiosity to investigate the true origins of the desert truffle and this was the path that eventually led me to the fantastic world of fungi.
But that is another story entirely...
The Kalahari truffle has become scarcer in recent years due to more severe and prolonged droughts in the area. Last year very few were found indeed, I didn't get any last year. But this year things are looking better. The entire region has had exceptionally good rains over the course of the last few months, exactly what I think the truffle needs. We will see...