Oysters in 18 months, homegrown in Johnny Oyster Seed’s “Revolution”….

…harvested last month from a dock on the Miles River.

And let’s recall from previous oyster growing conversations, some things about the two different ways we grow these eastern oysters (Crassostrea Virginica) – either “cultchless”, or “spat-on-shell”. These are “cultchless” oysters – grown for eating, as opposed to restoration. Why are they different? Two reasons –

First – these oysters are grown on a tiny, miniscule piece of shell. As individuals and not clumped with others, these oysters slowly get tossed around inside the “Revolution” as it rotates with the tide. They have the benefit of a perfect environment – moving water, which offers a continual supply of food, and protection from predators during the first, most vulnerable year of their life. We pulled about 4 dozen oysters out on this morning, and only found two that didn’t make it. 90% of the oysters inside of the “Revolution” are expected to thrive. That’s almost completely opposite of the 90% of oysters that we would expect to die if we simply tossed them onto a hard shell bottom, without protection from predators.

Oysters for restoration purposes are grown differently than these cultchless ones, and both grow well in”Revolutions”. Restoration oysters are grown in clumps, called “spat-on-shell”. These animals have the advantage of being grown together as a group, holding together and protecting against predators in much the same way they would do in nature. That’s difference number one.

The other difference is that these are “natural triploid oysters” – selectively bred to be sterile, and thus grow faster and meatier than their cousins who spend a great deal of energy on reproduction. They’re still native Eastern oysters, but bred to be sterile, for high yields and fast growth. Like these – which are a great size for eating, and only some 18 months old.

Oysters for restoration – critical……it’s what we’re all about. And oysters for eating – you bet. Both. Current oyster populations in the Chesapeake are so tenuous – the Bay can use as much help in producing oysters (and filtering water) as it can get. It seems obvious to me that anyone living on the water should be growing oysters, especially since the state of Maryland makes it almost free. That’s right – almost free. Maryland offers a tax CREDIT (not a deduction) of $500 (up to $1000 for you and your spouse) to cover the purchase of oyster floats for home docks. And we can help you direct oysters grown at your dock to a sanctuary reef near you, helping to grow oyster reefs in the Bay.

But don’t forget – our neighbors make a living harvesting wild oysters from the Chesapeake, along with fish, clams, crabs, eels, and every other thing. Buying local seafood from our neighbors is vital to our communities. Around here, we like to buy from Chesapeake Landing Restaurant, where local seafood is bought, wholesaled and retailed just 1 mile down the road.

For more information about growing your own oysters using the “Revolution”, see www.johnnyoysterseed.com – or email me at kathy@fishingcreek.com. Alternatively, stop by Easton Market Square next to the Easton Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning and visit me in person – I’ll have a “Revolution” display there every Saturday, from 9am-1pm, starting this weekend.

~ by kbosin on April 14, 2011.

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