Saturday, 29 June 2013

There's something hiding in the garden! #1

Shiitake E. edodes
As many of you may know, the Garden is in it's second year and is looking splendid. It is also full of the most fantastically tasting and fragrant herbs and salads you can imagine; nothing to add but the time and energy to prepare by rinsing and tossing liberally in fresh air. At the garden we don't add anything to our soil that isn't natural and we never use slug and snail pellets. Sure, we lose a few plants but the extra work re-growing pales in comparison against the rewards of pulling, picking and eating the best tasting food the effort brings about, which is very little really (thanks largely to Liz and Jeanette). But whilst the garden is blooming and has come a long way in just two years there are other edible gems in the garden hidden until the correct weather conditions arrive allowing them to fruit. They are the Mushrooms!

Now, before I go any further please be aware - there are poisonous fungi that naturally occur in and around the garden. Please do not turn up and pick the mushrooms with the idea in mind that they must be edible because they are in the garden - there really are mushrooms that will kill you and they dwell among us! There are however only a few more than a handful that are seriously dangerous and a few more handfuls that will make you very ill and thwart your interest in mushrooms for a long time afterwards.
All mushrooms are edible but some just once.  I cannot stress nearly enough the importance of knowledge and experience when it comes to eating mushrooms. That said, there are not many things as nice as growing or finding your own edible fungi.

There are no guarantees that we will have mushrooms every season and none that we will have mushrooms this season. Unlike plants we can't tell how they're doing until they fruit, or otherwise.
It takes time to establish successful mushroom patches but with patience, persistence, trial and error, we will have mushrooms for the environment, the table and the medicine cabinet.The mushrooms we're growing aren't  your common everyday button mushrooms but delicious, unusual and exotic delicacies such as the Pearl Oyster mushroom (P. ostreatus), Wood Blewit (L.nuda) Shaggy Inkcap (C. comatus) and the Wine Cap (S. rugosoannulata).  In closing I'd just like to say things are in motion too for some other species such as Hen of the Woods (G. Frondosa) and Chicken of the Woods (L. sulphureus) and eventually we hope to have a permanent, year round supply of Shiitake (L. edodes) Logs.

May you go merry on your way!

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