Soak ’em if you’ve got ’em!

(Mushroom logs, that is!)

With no significant rainfall in the past several weeks, our local forests and their fungal networks are taking a big hit this month. If you’re a mushroom grower, take the time to submerge your Grow-Your-Own mushroom logs in a bucket of water (collected rain, well, tap or spring — if it’s wet, it’s what they want) for about 2-6 hours this week, and continue to do so about every two weeks until the cold weather sets in. You will probably be able to feel a significant difference in the weight of the log when it’s had a good chance to guzzle a big drink. Keep this feeling in mind and use it as a benchmark to help you decide how often your individual log wants to be submerged. The mycelium will thank you!

Recent hikes have revealed a host of local mushroom species; some, like the gorgeous and perennial Artists’ Conk, persist despite the lack of precipitation. Making their homes in decaying stumps, these fungi have the advantage of the entire body of this dead wood (including its deep and penetrating old roots),  which hold and host water much better in some cases than the surrounding soil. As many wood decomposing mushrooms are edible or known to have other beneficial properties (like the Reishi, Chaga, and Turkey Tails in our tinctures!), this seems like a good argument for letting cut tree stumps and wind-damaged trunks rot away naturally from fungal decay, rather than burning, ripping them out, or otherwise “cleaning up” deadfall in the forest!

Artists' Conk August 4 2016

Artists’ conk (Ganoderma applanatum) is a Reishi relative, and is so-named because of its easily-bruised pore surface. An image scratched on the white underside of one of these mushrooms will dry and remain, making it a kind of natural canvas.

Other, more tender species, were found to have unfortunately dried on the spot before we could enjoy them in their plump and juicy splendor. Here’s a few  notable specimens, beautiful in their own strange “time stands still” desiccation.

Yellow-Foot Chanterelles August 4 2016

A family of yellow-foot chanterelles, dried before their prime. Keen observers will note this image was photobombed by a daddy longlegs (on largest ‘shroom in foreground)!

 

Dry Bolete August 4 2016

This dried-up bolete never got the chance to finish growing, topping out at about 3 inches tall and 1.5 inches wide.

As the forest fires in local counties continue to burn, it’s a good time to remember the important role fungi play in protecting and rehabilitating damaged ecosystems. Scavenging burnsites for nutrients, these species’ mycelial networks creep back into the soil and begin the process of healing, holding water and helping to retain subterranean structure for the regeneration of herbaceous plants, eventually bringing green back to areas of devastation.

Thank goodness for fungi!