February 12, 2018

Growing Mushrooms at Skylands

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 the different wild mushrooms that may be growing along the way.

A mushroom is the fleshy spore-bearing fruiting body of a fungus. Fungus thrives in moist areas and loves growing on decaying wood. They are also 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. Last week, Chris Koppel, my woodlands manager at Skylands, received a collection of unusual mushrooms from Field & Forest Products, Inc. - a company in Peshtigo, Wisconsin that has been growing quality mushroom spawn since 1983. The process of growing mushrooms is very interesting, and very different from growing other crops. Enjoy these photos.

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