Fungi Perfecti Mushroom Patch

The more I learn about mushrooms, the more I want to know practical ways to interact with them. You HAVE to watch this video to see some of the exciting ways mushrooms are being used.

We ordered a Pearl Oyster Mushroom Patch from Fungi Perfecti, Paul Stamet’s company.

It consists of organic straw that is inoculated with Pearl Oyster mycelium. When it arrived, it looked fully colonized, and the directions state that it should start growing Pearl Oysters in 7-14 days. It had, in fact, started growing while being shipped, as you can see from the square mushroom in the picture to the right. The mushroom looks the way it does because it was not receiving enough air while in the box.

We broke off the early growth and placed the mushroom patch on a plate. This will help catch extra moisture that condenses on the bag since we need to spray it down multiple times a day.

We used purified, non-chlorinated, and non-softened water in a small spray bottle to spray the patch down. Then, we covered the patch with a humidity cover.

The mushroom patch is being left on the dining room table, so we can watch it grow and maintain consistent moisture levels.

We’ll keep you posted on the progress on our Facebook page!

5 June: Primordial is starting to form on the package!

7 June: Mushrooms continuing to grow!

10 June: Harvested the mushrooms, cooked on 19 June.

Two Tours in a Week!

This Sunday, Regenerative Landscaping is welcoming the St. Louis Sustainable Backyard Tour to Illinois for the first time ever! There is an open yard June 11th from 11AM to 4PM. Over 40 backyards are open in and around St. Louis.

For more information on the tour and to register to plan your visits, go to For more information about Regenerative Landscaping, go to

Also, people wanting to learn more about permaculture up close are invited to attend the Southern Illinois Farming Alliance Field Day in Fairview Heights. Jeffrey Pitts of Regenerative Landscaping will lead a tour of his half acre suburban site showing how he has incorporated permaculture principles.

Pitts has planted herbs, vegetables, and fruit trees including apple, apricot, peach, plum, pear, nectarine, persimmon, pawpaw, along with mulberry, sassafras, 50ft of blackberries, cherry bushes, raspberries, honey berries, currants, hardy kiwi, and goji berries around his home. Pitts’ yard and gardens have been planned using permaculture principles to minimize maintenance and maximize production and efficiency.

“It’s great when your children can walk into their backyard and snack on their favorite fruit”, said Jeffrey Pitts. “They are much more likely to enjoy eating healthy food when they are involved and can watch real food growing in their backyard!”

The Field Day at Regenerative Landscaping is Saturday, June 17th at 1 p.m.. at 29 Roselawn Ave. Fairview Heights, IL 62208. To attend, go to or call 618-370-3287.

Field Days are a great opportunity for small farmers, homesteaders, and home gardeners to network and learn from their fellow food growers. During the Field Day, Pitts will lead the group on a short farm tour, focusing in on one element of production that has been a success or challenge that they can share with the group. Participants are encouraged to ask questions and share experiences during the event. Pitts will highlight the success of the use of zones and will discuss the trees that have posed challenges.

The Southern Illinois Farming Alliance is a network of growers and farmers employing sustainable methods to produce food. SIFA is sponsored by the Southern Illinois based nonprofit organization Food Works which works to advance a sustainable food system in the region. Learn more at

We Made Maple Syrup!

Last weekend, the weather was great, so we decided to install the Maple Tree Tap Kit that I ordered on Amazon last month. You can watch the process below!

It only took a couple days to get enough maple water to boil down. The process is as easy as boiling water. 🙂

After filling up a stock pot with maple water, turn the burner on medium high. Let the water boil until there are only 1/4-1/2 inches left. At this point, you should keep a careful watch over the pot, because once the water is gone and only the syrup remains, it will foam and burn easily. Once the syrup starts to foam, pull the pot off the burner and pour the syrup into a container.

The whole family was very impressed with the flavor. Christi made some pancakes for us to try it on! The maple water had somewhat of an aftertaste to it, but the syrup tasted superb.

Rendering Lard for the First Time!

We purchased a couple pasture raised hogs this past year from Green Finned Hippy Farms, which was a great experience! They were raised on pasture, fed non-GMO grains, and moved regularly to let the land heal and re-grow. The processor (where the farm takes the hogs to be butchered) let us know that they need so much pig fat before they could render it, that our lard
would be mixed in with non-GMO lard, so we asked for the un-rendered fat. This came in sheets of skin with about 1 inch of fat. The sheets were about 1 foot by 2-3 feet.

To render your own lard, you will need:

– Pig Fat
– Knife/Cutting Board
– A Slow cooker
– 1/2 cup of Water

The first step to render the fat into lard is to cut it into 1-2 inch cubes, and place them into the slow cooker. This allows it to fit well into the slow cooker and render faster. Once you have filled the slow cooker, poor 1/2 cup of water over the fat. This keeps it from burning in the slow cooker, and it will evaporate during the process.

Turn the slow cooker on low, and let it cook all day or over night. As it melts, the lard becomes clear, and there will be smaller cubes of skin left over that can be used to make cracklins.

Once the lard is simmering, you can pour it off into containers to cool.

The most difficult part of the process is pouring this much lard out of such a large container. I ended up spilling a lot on the counter (which is hard to clean up). Eventually I poured the rest into a pampered chef measuring bowl that had a handle and spout to make pouring much easier. The result was great!

The photo on the left is the fresh, hot lard, and the photo on the right is what it looks like after it cools.

Lamb Noodle Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 chopped carrot
2 cups Water
4 cups Lamb Bone Broth
3/4 cup pasta
2 1/2 cups of shredded lamb
2 tablespoons chopped parsley20161228_155254



Saute the chopped onions, celery, carrot, salt and pepper in the olive oil until the vegetables are almost tender.


Add the broth and water and bring to a boil. Once it is at a boil, add the pasta and cook 7 minutes or until the pasta is not quite tender. Stir in the lamb, and let it heat up until the pasta is fully tender. Stir in the parsley and serve!


Lamb Bone Broth

20161119_083808Neck bones may not seem like the most prized cut of lamb, but they are excellent for making bone broth. Any bones can be used for bone broth, but neck bones have quite a lot of meat that will come off easily during the broth making process.

Start by thawing the neck bones and soaking them in your stock pot with 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and enough water to cover the meat. This starts breaking down the bones, so you will get more out of them. This should take at least 30 minutes. Do not turn on the stove yet.

20161119_092418Then, prepare the following:
2 whole Onions, chopped
4-5 stalks of Celery, chopped
4-5 whole Carrots, chopped
1 bulb of Garlic, peeled and smashed
1 bunch of Parsley, chopped

And add it all to the soaking bones with some fresh ground pepper and sea salt.

20161119_092425Bring the pot to a simmer. The goal is to let the bone broth simmer for at least 12 hours, but longer is better. The meat will fall off the bones, and they will turn white if allowed to simmer long enough. That means you’ve gotten all the good stuff.

20161119_235037After simmering for at least 12 hours, strain the bone broth. We use a colander, so we don’t over strain it. As you ladle the bone broth into the colander, you will be separating the meat. The vegetables will be soft, or falling apart. You can feed everything that is strained out to your chickens!

The broth can be used immediately or frozen to save for soups and other recipes requiring broth.

Here’s a great recipe for Lamb Noodle Soup that you can make with this bone broth and shredded lamb!


20161229_213029For Christmas, one of my brothers bought another brother mushroom shiitake spawn! It came as dowel rods filled with shiitake mycelium. Most people think of mushrooms as the fruiting body (toadstool), but the largest part of a mushroom is the mycelium (mushroom roots) that colonize a carbon source: paper, wood chips, sawdust, or in this case, logs. 20161229_210958We cut 3 foot sections of walnut, then drilled holes that matched the dowel rod sizes every 2 inches in three equally spaced columns down the side of each log. Afterwards, we used a hammer to pound a dowel rod into each hole (see below).

20161229_215656This is similar to planting young mushroom fungi into the wood, with the goal of it colonizing the log to convert it into shiitake mushrooms! The key is keeping the log moist, so it has to stay out of the sun and be watered or soaked to keep it from drying out. The last step of preparation is to seal the dowels with bees wax to slow down the drying process as much as possible.

IMG_29791After the log has been fully colonized (~6 months), we will force the log to fruit by soaking it for 24 hours in water, then keeping them around 70 degrees. They should fruit about a week later.

(By the way, the log on Jared’s shoulder is 30lbs!)

Planting Garlic 2016

Planting garlic is easy. We set aside 20-30 of our largest garlic bulbs that were harvested in July to plant around Halloween. You can also get organic seed garlic from
When you are ready to plant:
  1. Break the cloves apart
  2. Cut rows into the soil with your trowel about 6 inches apart
  3. Place the cloves (pointy end up) about 4 inches apart
  4. Then cover them with about 1 inch of dirt

They’ll start sprouting through the winter, and you’ll harvest them next July!

Wyatt is explaining the garlic planting process.
Please forgive the video quality (Liam is filming). 🙂

Plans and Priorities for the New Year

During the winter is a great time to reflect on priorities, since things have slowed down from the holidays and there’s not much to do outside. Last year, when I listened to Jack Spirko’s podcast on Getting Ready for Spring I set about 9 project goals for the year, including finishing the duck paddocks in our back yard, starting a tree nursery, and buying land. Out of the 9, 7 were accomplished and one more was started. So when it came to the first of this year, I was excited to evaluate the projects I have for this year, prioritize them, and develop the plans for making them happen. This was also the first year that Christi helped add to the project list.

Jack Spirko suggested making a list of projects, then prioritizing them based on how much you want them and how much you need them. Also, adding the cost in terms of money and your time will help in balancing between what you can do yourself and what is better to hire out. I’ve added a couple of new columns: Category (to keep track of where the project is needed) and Schedule (when I am planning on accomplishing the project). Not all the projects are on a schedule, because it depends on what I am able to accomplish.

Annual Goals Project List

On December 30th, our pastor gave a great sermon on making plans for the new year. Some improvements in life don’t cost and are ongoing, but they do take a plan. Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”, so we added another tab to our Project Priorities spreadsheet. It helps to have a list of what you would like to do and put plans to actually accomplish them.Annual Goals Plan List

Here is a link to a template spreadsheet for tracking your plans and priorities.

Migraine Tincture

This spring, Regenerative Landscaping started our test herb garden which includes plants like Feverfew, Lemon Balm, Lovage, Thyme, Lemon Thyme, Chives, and others. With it getting close to Winter, we needed to harvest and use any last herbs that weren’t used over the Summer/Fall. One thing I’ve been wanting to try is a Feverfew Tincture. We have been adding Feverfew leaves to tea this fall to cure headaches, and we plan on drying part of the plant for teas this winter. A Tincture is “a medicine made by dissolving a drug in alcohol”. This gives us another way to preserve the Feverfew longer. Researching Feverfew Tinctures only, we ran across a recipe on that also included Lemon Balm, so that’s what we went with!

Lemon Balm Plant
Lemon Balm Plant

Feverfew Plant
Feverfew Plant

Feverfew and Lemon Balm Leaves
Feverfew and Lemon Balm Leaves

After harvesting sprigs of both plants, the leaves were removed from both plants and chopped into small pieces.

Then the bottom three-fifths of the jar was filled with Lemon Balm leaves and the remaining two-fifths filled with Feverfew Leaves.

2 Parts Feverfew
2 Parts Feverfew

3 Parts Lemon Balm
3 Parts Lemon Balm

Finally, Everclear was added to the jar to cover the leaves by about a half-inch and the lid was tightened. The beautiful jars will be displayed on our kitchen window sill for the next month or so so that we remember to shake them daily. After that time period, they will be strained through a cheesecloth into darker bottles to be stored in a cool, dark location for headache/migraine relief for years to come!

Migraine Tincture
Migraine Tincture

Everclear Added
Everclear Added

We will be offering herb garden installation next spring. If you are interested in having one installed, Contact Us, so we can source all the herbs that you will need!