Growing mushrooms and foraging for wild ones have become new endeavors for me, just because I like fresh mushrooms, and traipsing around the woods.
These are amongst the nicest folks on the internet. They have never failed to reply to an online inquiry. Besides attending several of Tradd Cotter's presentations in various venues, I own his book, "Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation Simple to Advanced and Experimental" and their "Mushroom Mountain Growing Manual"; they are my sole supplier of mushroom spawn and fruiting kits.
A little research reveals that mushrooms are very nutritious, with a variety of flavors and colors which adds zest to your dishes. Since all raw mushrooms are almost impossible to digest, cooking is essential. Amongst the wild mushrooms in our neighborhood are the beautiful red/orange Chicken of the Woods (I'm holding one in the pics), a prime edible, the Morrells of springtime, Lion's Mane, White Coral, Dresden's Saddle (a consolation prize for unlucky Morrell hunters), and many others. Medicinal mushrooms abound in the forests around our house. I have a log with Hemlock Reishi from which I make a tincture and take twice daily as a health supplement. The list of benefits for Reishi is very long, and it is one of the most researched mushrooms. I have a log with a Chicken of the Woods fruiting regularly. I harvested almost five pounds of mushroom from the one log this past year. Picked in season, many mushrooms can be dried and stored for future use.
Besides the wild ones around we can grow several species. I have grown White Oyster mushrooms on poplar logs outside, and cardboard in my basement. Oyster mushrooms and King Stropharia can be grown in straw bales and wood chips in our garden. I impregnated several hemlock stumps with Reishi plugs. I cut them because they had died, and the lumber is quite good for construction.
Besides all the culinary and medicinal benefits of our fungal acquaintances, the value of fungi to the planet is beyond imagination. Literally thousands of species of plants and animals cannot survive without their presence. Fungi is capable of cleaning toxic waste, plastics, as well as purifying contaminated water. Symbiotic relationships with trees and other plants are just one way fungi literally feeds our vegetation, wild and cultivated.
Pesticides can destroy these fragile relationships. Just one more reason to pay attention to what we add to our environment, for whatever reason. Humans are the one species that can destroy the earth, and climate related influences are perhaps the least likely to do so. We'll probably destroy other life forms on which our survival depends before the climate really becomes catastrophic.
For the past couple years Kitty and I have been experimenting with our garden areas. Yes, that is plural.
Originally, we started by using the area over our septic field as a place to "hold" flowers, shrubs, and fruit trees until the house was mostly completed.
Then we fenced in a 40' X 100' area, and with the help of a neighbor ( he used it mostly for himself for two years), and began to grow vegetables.
It wasn't the best place as there were a couple spots where the ground water kept it too wet to do anything until late in the spring.
So... we had another neighbor trench along the outside of our two long fences and created a wetland pond beside the garden.
We also had him trench along an adjoining driveway to drain a very wet area, clear the shrub growth, creating a one acre meadow,
and construct a new driveway.
Then, we had him clear another area approximately 1 acre in size with the intention of growing sorghum for making sorghum syrup (molasses).
Of course, things rarely go as planned, so now we're on option two, maybe three from the original plan.
The 40' X 100' garden area has gone through several transitions... now 1/2 is raised beds which has progressed from mounds to beds with frames.
We have raised vegetables, flowers and herbs (some wild, volunteer) on this half.
Two of the beds are covered by an experimental "greenhouse", which has worked better than expected.
The other half of the garden area is in process of becoming a permanent herb, flower, shrub garden.
We can grow row crops like corn and beans there also, currently. That shall cease as the larger cleared area becomes our main gardening area.
These are our very first harvested vegetables (Pak Choy and Michihili) on January 23, 2020 from our greenhouse.
Stir fry and Kimchi coming up!
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"The richer we have become materially, the poorer we (have) become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers."
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