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A Missed Opportunity

When there’s not much to do in the garden, it’s a time to look back to see what mistakes and what accomplishments I have made during the season.  What can be improved.  What to avoid.  The things I’ve learned this year about our garden are a comedy of errors.

There are a few different types of mushrooms growing on our property but I don’t know much about wild mushrooms in this climate so, as much as I love eating mushrooms, I’ve never eaten them self-picked here.  I learned early on when I used to pick wild mushrooms at home that some of them can kill you.  Picking wild mushrooms takes skill in knowing the slight difference in shape and color due to the sheer variety and the subtle differences between them.

One of the mushroom types on our property looks very much like coral.  They have been popping up for the last couple of years.  I kick them around when they were in my way or just let them rot or become slug food.

I’ve heard about Morel mushroom (Morchella esculenta), a very expensive mushroom sought after by chefs.  It looks like this (see below) but there is also a false Morel which is toxic.  The Morel grows wild and people ‘hunt’ for them in the woods in spring.  They will fruit (the mushroom we see above ground is the fruit of the fungi underground) during a short period in spring and disappear until the following season.  So my assumption was that there could be no way these mushrooms that pop up in spring year after year would be Morel.  But a little voice in my head kept nagging me about it.  After kicking them around for quite some time, this spring I decided to take photos and showed them to a couple of mushroom vendors at the farmer’s market.  They confirmed that they are Morel.

A Morel mushroom

A Morel mushroom

Another young one

Another young one

This is a mature one

This is a mature one

And like rubbing salt in the wound, while at one of the stands a customer picked one Morel and put it on the scale….$11.00.  A mushroom for $11.00 and I’m letting slugs snack on them or kicking them out of the way for years.  A very expensive lesson indeed.

A sign at one of the farmer's Market stands. Yes, it says $150 per pound

A sign at one of the farmer’s Market stands. Yes, it says $150 per pound

Now I have one more thing to look forward to in spring.  I also should take a closer look at the brown cap mushrooms popping up close to the compost area since I’ve been throwing rotten Shitake mushroom in there.  Maybe some spores survived and decided to hangout.

The Morel’s moral….. never assume.