Preparing for a King and a Kingdom with Straw

Many of you may be thinking that I’ve gone bonkers and am having Baby-Jesus-in-the-manger hallucinations in the mid-summer’s heat.  No such thing.  Today we hauled up ten bales of straw to the rooftop to prepare for the Rot’s new regal inhabitant Stropharia rugosoannulata, the King Stropharia mushroom.

Straw bales await their ascent through the dumb waiter.  We still had to haul ’em one more flight up by hand.  What a mess!
Among the tribes of life, the plant kingdom is well represented on the rooftop, and our beehive allows kingdom animalia to also make an edible contribution.  Now we are proud to introduce a third kingdom, Fungi, to the mix.  Apparently, among fungi, the genus Stropharia has little to offer culinarily, but out of a rather motley bunch rises this one regal species, which is considered a choice edible and which can produce caps as big as any store-bought Portobello.  Plus its gorgeous burgundy color has earned it the epithet “wine cap”, and one imagines the Greek poet Homer, were he still alive (or if “he” even existed, but that is a matter for another blog), looking over the rooftop and effusing over the “wine-dark mushroom drawers”.  Anyway, literary references aside, diversity is the spice of life, both in ecosystems and on the dinner plate, and with our king, we’ve struck a blow for both.
Beds are packed with straw which will soon be inoculated with the Stropharia spawn. 

 We’ll be growing these guys (fun guys, to be exact) in nifty roll-out drawers fashioned by a Noble Rot’s chefs/ architecture student (handy combo!). These drawers nest under our six, chest-high raised beds.  In this fashion we’ll be able to take advantage of unused square footage on the rooftop to grow a product that’s sure to have both cooks and diners salivating down below.  The shade of the raised beds will keep the drawers cool and moist – perfect conditions to grow a fungus.  Besides the haul we expect for the restaurant, the design’s sheer multi-functionality should put us well on the way toward earning our Permaculture merit badge.

Rooftop garden transformed into barnyard.  Unfortunately no room for a square dance.  Shucks!

Finally, just the presence of the straw bales had its own merits.  Once up on the roof, they really helped to transform the place into a farm setting, which produced an almost audible “Yeehaw!” from all present (OK, maybe I imagined that). 

But I debase myself with such a bumpkin utterance.  In the presence of royalty, one must stand up a bit straighter and in a noble voice acclaim, “All hail the King!”