December 16, 2015

Growing Mushrooms at My Farm

Whenever I go hiking at Skylands, my home in Maine, or in the woodlands of my Bedford, New York farm, I always enjoy discovering and identifying all the different types of wild mushrooms that may be growing along the way.

As you know, a mushroom is the fleshy spore-bearing fruiting body of a fungus. Fungus thrives in moist areas and loves growing on decaying wood. While many may try to eradicate mushrooms from their lawns, they are an important part of the forest ecosystem. Because they live off of decaying plant matter, fungus breaks down and disposes of fallen tree branches, leaves, and even animals. It also digests rock particles and other organic matter in the soil, so new plants can grow.

Earlier this year, when my head gardener, Ryan McCallister, and I ordered our vegetable and flower seeds from Sow True Seeds in Asheville, North Carolina, we noticed their collection of unusual mushrooms - available to grow in bags, and offered as plugs to grow on wood logs. The process of growing mushrooms is very interesting, and very different from growing other crops, so we decided to grow some of our own here at the farm. Enjoy these photos...

And remember, never eat any mushroom you cannot clearly identify.