Beady Mushroom Eyes



Shortly after removing the toilet paper rolls from the refrigerator, the little beady eyes begun growing in every side possible, even from under the plate.

Unfortunately, having assumed that all mushrooms loved shade, I kept these guys in the darkest spot of the kitchen I could find. As the weeks went on, the the oyster mushroom’s neck kept getting longer and longer, their cap never getting too much bigger then what you see in the photo. Eventually I reached out to the kind owners of who explained that unlike many other mushrooms, oysters prefer lots of sunlight and their neck will grow long and skinny when searching for light. While these mushrooms never fully recovered after moving them to a sunnier spot, the experiment was sure fun and will definitely be repeated at some point.


Mushrooms on Toilet Paper

A long overdue item on by bucket list has been to try growing mushrooms. The kits you purchase from a store are always fun, but I wanted to see how those are made. When the opportunity came to organize a mushroom growing demo event for the Penn State Master Gardeners of Allegheny County, I figured this was my chance.

I reached out to Betty Robinson of Robinson Acres, a Washington County Master Gardener and on March 19, 2016 she came to our Pittsburgh office to teach about 25 attendees just how simple it can be to grow your own mushroom on your very own toilet paper. Apparently you can even reuse them to continue to grow your own using re inoculated toilet paper or other growing medium. The oyster mushroom spawns came from

I am off to step 5 below. Next up, lets see how it goes, I will be posting pictures for every step along the way.


  1. Bring water to a boil and dip a roll of toilet paper into the hot water, remove and place on paper plates.
  2. Once it cools, place the plate and toilet paper in the breathable bag.
  3. Fill the toilet roll tube with mushroom spawn and sprinkle remaining spawn around the roll.
  4. Close the bag and secure it with a rubber band.
  5. Place this bag in a dark closet at 70 degrees. If the storage temperature is cooler, it will take longer for the toilet paper to become covered in mycleium.
  6. Wait 3 weeks, maybe 4, until you see a nice covering of mycelium over the entire roll.
  7. Place the bag in the refrigerator for 3 days.
  8. Remove bag from refrigerator and open the top of bag to breathe, do not fold down to help keep the moisture in.
  9. Wait 7-10 days for the mushrooms to sprout. Keep the roll moist by misting it twice a day. If it becomes leathery looking, mist more often.
  10. Mushrooms will sprout in a little over a week.

Native Plant & Sustainability Conference 2015


This mid-November, I went to Phipps Conservatory‘s annual Native Plant and Sustainability Conference which brings national experts to Pittsburgh annually for a one-day forum on plants, landscapes and our roles as stewards of the earth. It was most definitely a worthwhile conference, at least three great books worth.

Three of my favorite topics and presenters included…

Ian Caton, the owner and operator of Enchanters Garden, a nursery specializing in native plants of the Appalachian region provided a great presentation on native plants. He provided some great examples of how we can layer plants to not only create fuller effect eliminate need for the use of invasive ground covers such as ivy or the frequently overused mulch.  and how we can fit the into our urban landscapes

Nette Compton, associate director of city park development for the Trust for Public Land in New York provided a great examples of New York’s red-development efforts of public lands. The favorite takeaway was the presentation on sidewalk bioswales of rain-water management.

Last but not least, Pittsburgh Parks and Conservancy gave great overview and update not the Panther Hollow Watershed restoration project. Its fascinating project using green infrastructure to manage stormwater runoff.