Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 90.djvu/71

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Farming in Your Cellar

The French may lack land, but never ingenuity. So they cultivate p'ants which thrive without sunlight

���To make the beds for growing mushrooms horse manure is piled in ridges in quarries. The spawn comes in the form of bricks

THE underground cultivation of mush- rooms is a large industry in the vicinity of Paris. Thekindordinarilygrownis the common mushroom, the variety best un- derstood by cultivators. Xo one knows the name of the genius in gardening who first took the spawn from the half-decomposed bed of dung where mushrooms had grown and then sowed it in fresh dung to obtain a second harvest. This method of "cellar farming," as it may be called, arose in France in the latter part of the eighteenth century, but long before that period a cultivator named Chambry conceived the idea of turning abandoned subterranean quarries into mushroom-beds. The large profits he realized led a swarm of imitators to rent all the deserted quarries. Thus the raising of mushrooms became an established industry.

Nowadays, these subterranean mush- room-beds near Paris are on the left bank of the Seine, largely in the district between Meudon and Ivry. Formerly the galleries ran as far as Paris, existing under the quarter Val-de-Grace. Of late years other

��excavations have been made in the suburbs between St. Germain and Argenteuil, while still others are to be found on the other side of Paris, between Romainville and Xoisy-le-Sec. Modern facilities of trans- portation have led to the making of beds farther off from Paris in the valley of the Oise near Creil and Meru. The galleries are cut either in gApsum as at Argenteuil, or in white chalk, as at Meudon. The oldest of the galleries form labyrinths of narrow passages so low that workmen can- not walk through them without stooping. After securing good ventilation in an abandoned quarry a well is dug to make sure of the large amount of water necessary. After this, horse manure is prepared by piling it in heaps about a yard high. Sometimes a pile will contain a thousand wagon loads of material. The heap fer- ments in the air for three weeks, and is turned from time to time to check excessive fermentation. The mushroom does not develop properly in fresh manure. Fer- mentation gives the manure the necessary nutritive properties. After about twenty

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