Gardens generally don’t include a consideration of mushrooms. Nurseries offer a lush supply of perennials, shrubs, trees, groundcovers, bulbs and annuals, but I’ve yet to find a sign for the ‘fungi’ section. Mushrooms find you. They come with the territory for only they seem to know what conditions best suit them. Since I’m usually focused on the Plant Kingdom, my encounters with them are quite by surprise. Today, for instance, I spied a large white mound in a place where I had nothing planted. My radar registered it as garbage, until I got closer and realized it was a beefy-looking mushroom listing over on one side like a whale emerging from the waves. I don’t think it had been there two days ago, but here it was now, fully formed and even a bit past its peak, judging from the nibbles that had been taken out of it. Several others had also emerged from the leaves in the back ground forming a little white pod of ‘shrooms prancing through my developing woodland glade.
Last week, I found what I believe to have been a shaggy mane mushroom that had emerged next the hose cache. There it was, already half-eaten, and I’d never even seen it before. Besides that, there were no others with it, just this four-inch tall white matchstick-shaped fungus jutting out of the earth. The following day I found but a fallen white stem that I would have mistaken for a stick except that I recalled the mushroom growing there from the previous day.
Sometimes, as I’m weeding or planting, I’ll notice threads of white or yellow mushroom hyphae clinging to the soil particles for dear life. Fungal mycelia have invaded my pile of woodchips and bark pieces, now four months into rotting. In September, a cloud of little white button
mushrooms covered the back of the pile, then vanished, but when I dig, I find the bark pieces clumped together by fragile white fibers. Thanks to action of these fungi, the wood pieces break down into into a richer and more nutritious mulch than what I started with earlier in the summer.
I’ve seen at least 10 different types of mushrooms so far, starting as far back as August when a rainshower brought them forth from the ground. I’ve heard that fungi-loving gardeners can now obtain fungi plugs that can be placed into pre-drilled holes in stumps and logs to create a personal ‘shroom garden. Now, your own chicken-of-the-woods crop is within reach. Given my ignorance, I’m still a little gun-shy though. Photographing these ephemeral creatures in their many forms is enough for now.
*** For those amateur mycologists who know mushrooms better than, please feel free to step foward and identify the ‘shrooms that I could not!****
Places to acquire edible mushrooms for cultivation: