About Anything

The personal blog of Al Stevens. Focus is overrated.

Growing Shitakes — RTFM

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The saving date on my shitake patch

The critical date on my shitake patch

It’s day four since I soaked my fungi patch in hopes of rewarding myself with a crop of fresh shitakes. I’ve now got a soggy mass of sawdust and myceleum sitting on my kitchen counter under a plastic “humidity tent” supported by chopsticks. I’ve kept the kitchen heat at 60 degrees, even at night, making me feel guilty about the effects my soon-to-be ‘shrooms are having on my carbon footprint. But I have reached a point where I can relax a bit and review progress. I’m into the phase where I need only mist the block three times daily — a task that takes about 30 seconds.

Having followed the flow chart and done all of the difficult steps, it now seemed like a good time to review the manual¬† — with most tech gadgets this is usually a last resort, but I had mistakenly picked up the fungi instructions with my morning to-review-on-the-train stack of paper.

Panic occurred after the first paragraph. “Your shitake patch is enclosed within a plastic incubation bag featuring a square white filter patch. A date is written on this patch. If 40 days have not yet passed, leave your shitake patch in its box.”¬† But I’d already taken it out. What if I’d started the process way too early? Calling home to have the date checked was not an option. No one was there and I would have looked stupid anyway.

There must be a recovery procedure. Paging forward to the troubleshooting guide only increased my anxiety. It included the entry “mushrooms do not appear” and listed as a cause “Mushroom patch immature.” The solution was “Wait until 40 days have passed from the date written on the filter patch.” But…, I had already started the process. There was nothing in the procedure about how to backtrack.

I did manage to maintain enough perspective to remain at work — I only briefly considered leaving early to check the package date. On the train home I recalled getting reprimanded when I’d messed up a computer system by making changes before understanding what I was going to do. The admonition in an email was “before you touch anything else, RTFM.” As then, before touching anything I should have read the f**king manual.

I walked calmly into the kitchen, not wanting my anxiety to show to Doreen – she’s taken a more relaxed view of the mushroom patch than I have. “10-16” was what the label said.

Relief. I had not killed the patch. I sat down to make amends and RTFM.

Written by Al Stevens

January 11th, 2009 at 3:11 pm