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Thursday, 2 July 2020

Gouldian Finch and Growing Mushrooms

WILDLIFE IN FOCUS

Common Name: Gouldian Finch
Scientific Name: Erytrura gouldiae
Named after renowned British ornothological artist John Gould.
This next bird is one of the prettiest Australian birds but it is endangered.
It’s very small and would fit into your hand weighing only 14 grams.
As with most birds of this type (finches, the Gouldian) it’s a quiet enough bird that peeps and sings a little.
They make a pleasant sound that is doubtful to wake you up or create a problem with neighbours, though it is persistent. 
I'm talking with Dr Holly Parsons of www.birdsinbackyards.net.au
.Let’s find out about it.

Gouldian finch are also known as Goulds, Lady Gouldian and rainbow finch in other parts of the world are Holly’s opinion, one of the most beautiful birds in Australia.
Most one known as a pet for aviaries. 
Beautifully coloured birds with a green back, purple chest and yellow side feathers, but
25% of the population has a red face, 74% have a black face and about 1% have a yellow face.
Young birds are surprisingly  dull brown coloured and become vibrantly coloured as they mature.
In the wild they are found along creek lines, and mangroves. 
Partially migratory, and usually quiet. 
Outside the breeding season, they move closer to the coast, but once breeding starts they move inland.
They nest in hollows in trees and termite mounds.
If you have any questions of course, why not email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

VEGETABLE HEROES

What was grown in the Paris Catacombs before the Paris Metro?
The answer was of course mushrooms.
  • Not strictly a vegetable or a fruit, and not even a plant, but a fungi.

They also seem to have very different botanical or scientific name.
  • Button mushrooms are Agaricus bisporus, various oyster mushrooms belong to the genus Pleurotus and shitake mushrooms are Lentinula edodes.

Botanical Bite:
Did you know that the body of the mushroom is mycelium which is microscopic, lives underground, in wood or another food source?
It’s when this mycelium has stored enough nutrients to give fruits, that we get those mushrooms that we see and we like to eat.

A Bit of History
4,600 years ago, Egyptians believed that eating mushrooms gave you immortality so commoners weren’t allowed to eat mushrooms, only royalty.
How thing’s have changed?
In some countries like Russia, many people thought that eating mushrooms gave you super-human strength and help in finding lost objects.
Now there’s a combination?
Some say that Louis XIV of France was the first mushroom grower in Europe but it’s more likely that it was a French botanist named Merchant, who in 1678 showed to the Academie des Sciences how mushrooms could be grown in a controlled way by transplanting their mycelia. (filaments which spread through the soil underneath them like fine roots)."
Mittagong mushroom farm
  • Speaking of tunnels, the first mushrooms grown commercially in Australia were grown in disused railway tunnels in Sydney in the 1930’s. Later the mushrooms were grown in fields only covered with straw and hessian bags.

Listeners might remember buying mushrooms in cans from the supermarket because you couldn’t always get them fresh all year round like you can now.
Remember those cans of Champignons?
Today, Australians eat mostly fresh mushrooms because they’re available all year.
  • You can grow quite a lot more varieties at home, than just the plain white mushrooms. There’s White Button, Chestnut button, Swiss Brown, Pearl Oyster, Pink Oyster. Golden Oyster, and Shitake to name a few.

I have grown white button Mushrooms in the past, and having seen different varieties being grown in Europe so I thought I’d explore some other varieties that can also be grown at home.
Growing Mushrooms
You may already know that the standard white button kit comes in a cardboard box with compost and casing material that you have to wet and put on top of the compost in the box.
The same goes for Chestnut button mushrooms.
Then there’s grow bags available from some garden centres and large retail outlets that sell Mushroom grow bags.

Growing Mushrooms (Agaricus species) is easy if you stick to a few basic guidelines.
So how do you grow mushrooms from a kit?
  • Find somewhere indoors where there’s no wind or direct sunlight, better still if it’s a bit humid like your laundry.Some people may have a big enough bathroom to put the kit in there!
  • A good idea is to keep your mushroom kit off the ground and out of the way of the family pet.
  • It’s not a good idea to grow your mushrooms deep inside a cupboard or pantry because the air is pretty dry, plus if you can’t see them, you might forget about them.
  • The standard kits contain a casing with mushroom spores that you spread over your mushroom compost.

Start your kit.
  1. Open the box and remove the bag of dry peat moss called casing.
  2. Leave the large bag of compost inside the box. The compost may appear brown if newly inoculated with spawn, or if it is mature, it will look frosty white or mouldy, as the mushroom mycelium grows through it. If the compost is brown and newly inoculated, close the kit up and keep it at 18-22 degrees for 7-10 days, before adding the peat moss casing layer.
  3. You will notice that the bag of compost is not sealed closed this is to allow the mushroom fungus to breathe.
  4. If you do not plan on starting the kit immediately, simply fold the plastic bag back down on to itself and close up the box the way it was before you opened it. This kit is designed to be started immediately, a short delay of a week or two is OK, a delay of a month or more is to long and not a good idea. It may still grow, but fewer mushrooms will be produced the longer you wait.If you wish to delay, starting your kit for a few weeks, store the kit below in a cool as location as possible.

Set up your kit and applying the casing.
  • Inside the box is a small bag of dry peat moss mixed with a little lime, this is called casing. Casing is used as a covering to hold water and protect the mushroom mycelium growing in the compost.

Open large plastic bag.
  • Now spread the casing evenly over the entire surface of the compost.  Do not pack the casing down, leave it loose and fluffy.
  • The casing should cover all the compost, and be approximately 2cm deep. After applying the casing to the compost, mist or sprinkle the casing with an additional one-cup of water.
  • Wait about 5 minutes and then scratch or ruffle the entire surface of the peat moss to a depth of  2cm. A nail or fork can be used to ruffle the casing. The roughness of the casing creates a microclimate where the young mushrooms can form. This completes setting up your kit. It is a good idea to write the date you start your kit on the box and on these instructions for later reference.

Water & Maintenance.
Once you have placed your kit somewhere to grow, make sure you keep the surface of the casing moist. A moderate spray misting or sprinkling of water on the casing surface once a day is adequate.
  • Do not let the casing dry out, as it is very hard to remoisten it and mushrooms will not grow in dry casing. Keep your kit out of drafts and away from heat sources, which will dry out your kit.
  • Do not cover the top of the kit to prevent the kit from drying out, as this causes air circulation problems and high levels of carbon dioxide.High levels of carbon dioxide will prevent mushrooms from growing or produce long stringy undesirable mushrooms.

When are they ready?
A mushroom is mature and ready to be picked, when the thin veil covering the gills under the mushroom begins to tear open no matter what the size of that mushroom is.
Why are they good for You?
Even though they’re in the vegetable aisle in the supermarket, mushrooms could be in with meat, beans or grains.
That’s because mushrooms contain 3.3g of protein for every 100g of mushrooms. About three button or one flat mushroom.
Mushrooms are low in calories, fat-free, cholesterol-free and very low in sodium.
One serve of mushrooms has 20% of your RDI of some of the important B group vitamins, as well as selenium, nearly as much potassium as in a banana, and vitamin D.
Yes you heard right, they’re the only source of vitamin D in the produce aisle and one of the few non-fortified food sources.
Mushrooms are also valuable source of dietary fibre: a 100g serving of mushrooms contains more dietary fibre (2.5g) than 100g of celery (1.8g) or a slice of wholemeal bread (2.0g

AND THAT WAS OUR VEGETABLE HERO SEGMENT FOR TODAY!

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