It’s truly spring now that the mushrooms are coming back around the land. Most easily seen during planting season are the ones popping up in the garden. I think of the appearance of mushrooms as a sign of health in the soil, and these unique friends are a fantastic addition fruiting out around us!
I mulch the garden with cardboard every fall. From this wood pulp, Wood Ear mushrooms always spring up around April. These mushrooms are edible, and with a little butter in the cast iron pan, they are a delightful treat and great nutrition for early spring at Leafhopper Farm.
Though these Morels are not very edible, (some people do have adverse reactions to them, while others are just fine) they are a sign that other Verpa species could come around in future, meaning morels are possible in the soil, though might not appear any time soon. It’s sort of a tease to any mushroom connoisseur dreaming of a delicious and rare treat.
Members of the Trametes family are a wonderful medicinal treasure. They are not known for taste, but a treatment against cancer and beneficial to longevity. You’ll see them often in the woods, though fresh specimens require the right timing in harvest, followed by drying and grinding to make a powder. This preperation makes them easier to get down, but you can pluck a fresh one from the tree and suck on it to gain small doses of this potent health enhancer.
Mycelia is where all the true power of mushrooms resides; hidden under ground, or under a sheet of cardboard, on wood and in the soil. Mycelia works cooperativly with plant roots, helping to exchange nutrients from the soil to the plant, forming a web of living cells out of side; yet tying the whole living soil together and breaking down woody debris to make rich topsoil for the garden, forest, and field.
At this stage, it’s hard to identify what mushroom fruit will grow from this white mush, but regardless of species, all mushrooms have important roles to play. Their presence in the ground show us the lively culture in our soil. Without it, your garden will be sterile and you’ll have to input more nutrients with far less results. When you see the fungus among us, take a moment to say “Thanks!” Hopefully you’ll find a nice fruiting morel one day, like I did in the garden last spring.