Garden Mushrooms

From the time I was an imaginative child immersed in my experience of the world as a magical place, I have been attracted to mushrooms. My love of Alice in Wonderland, though I didn’t understand the references at that time, endeared me even more to the mystical mushroom. I love their taste and unusual textures, their mind-altering potential, the danger of their potency and the hidden mystery of the way they grow.

Fairy Mushrooms

Fairy Mushrooms

When I became a home owner 16 years ago, I was enthralled with the first mushrooms I found popping up in the late winter. As I was crawling around on the ground, weeding the yard for the first time, I unexpectedly came across a patch of mushrooms. As with everything that I saw for the first time in my new garden, I was excited, exhilarated and ran for the camera and my family to document it.

It felt like I had stumbled upon a secret fairy garden. This hidden world that is not usually visible to the human eye was revealing itself to me. I felt honored to be privy to this secret place, my heart opened and accepted the privilege, and the responsibility, of caring for their well being.

 

The Mighty Mushroom_pr

The Mighty Mushroom

As the years have passed and the property has become richer in its effervescent life there have been more and more mushrooms popping up.  I realized recently that I have seen a wonderful variety of mushrooms all around the yard. Sometimes they are large, and other times they are tiny, and usually in between.

Mushrooms are a wonderful indication of the health of the soil. Plants and trees rely on the reproductive function of fungi to enliven the soil they live in. There are even soil amendments that are made from composted mushrooms.

button-head-mushroom

button-head-mushroom

round-head-mush

round-head-mush

mushroom

mushroom

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of this is interesting and valuable for the avid gardener like myself. Ultimately, though, my infatuation is more of an emotional one than a practical one. I don’t trust my knowledge of mushrooms well enough to actually identify them and eat them from the garden or the wild.

popping up

popping up

mushroom heads

mushroom heads

stems revealed

stems revealed

standing tall

standing tall

 

As you can see here, they happily grow in composting wood chips. In a happy garden, though, anywhere is just fine. When they appear, I know that the garden is becoming more alive.

 

 

spring-shroom

spring-shroom

upright-mushroom

upright-mushroom

top-view

top-view

 

 

Each one is unique. Their beauty is out of this world.

 

 

 

mystery-mushrooms

mystery-mushrooms

Garden Mushrooms

Garden Mushrooms

fairy grove

fairy grove

How can I not run for the camera and then observe them in awe.

mushroom forest

mushroom forest

forest canopy

forest canopy

 

 

 

 

 

Striped-black-and-white

Striped-black-and-white

delicate-black-and-white

delicate-black-and-white

black and-white-trio

black and-white-trio

striped-duo

striped-duo

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t know their scientific names, but it doesn’t matter. They speak to me in other ways. Every time a mushroom reveals itself in my garden, I am fed deeply in a place inside that is touched,

wooly mane, inky cap

wooly mane, inky cap

 

somehow,

wooly mane

wooly mane

 

 

wooly mane closeup

wooly mane closeup

 

by the truly wondrous world of nature.


What Inspires You in the Garden?

This is such a lovely time of year in California. It is a time of harvest and planting. Creating fun and tasty foods from the abundance of a summer garden that has been given an extra burst of growth with the heat wave of autumn. This year, I’ve had lots of different orange tomatoes and a variety of colorful cherry tomatoes. I found them collecting in the kitchen -everywhere. On the counter, in the refrigerator and the table too! So, I thought, what can I do with this wonderful variety.

Tomato bowl with figs

I decided to try cooking them down for a sauce or soup. I washed them and dumped them in a large soup pot – no peeling or removing seeds. I cooked them for about two hours. As they softened a delicious aroma filled the house. When they were cooled, I put the liquid through a cloth to remove the seeds and skins. I ended up with a beautiful, soup base. Tomato Soup when fresh is at it’s best! I added some salt, a splash of goat milk and some onion powder. Delicious!

The basil also called to me, so I made some Pesto. Usually I like to add parsley, but my parsley didn’t grow very well this season. So, I just used basil.

Happy Basil

Take a large bunch of basil wash it and put it in a food processor. Add two cloves fresh garlic, a cup or so of olive oil, grated parmesan or asiago cheese and a handful of walnuts. Blend thoroughly. Add extra olive oil, a little at a time, for it to become a nice, smooth paste. You can vary the amounts to fit your taste buds.

It turned out quite well and made for an nice addition to my dinner – Pesto Pasta with Tomato Soup. A perfect repast for a cool autumn evening.What creative meals are you cooking from your garden (or farmer’s market) produce?

The preparations for our fall garden are continuing to move forward. Our side yard is currently being fixed up to receive flower seeds in the next week or so. We added a layer of manure and a layer of soil. This bed was our first insta-bed that we made two years ago.  It seems like a good time to try a larger cut flower garden. I’ll be planting some of the seeds now for early blooms in the spring and some will be planted in the early spring for summer bloom.

This fall I’m planting snapdragons, marigolds (these will go with the vegetables as a companion plant for healthy veggies), early sweet peas, bachelor’s buttons, delphinium, gaillardia (thanks, Eileen for sharing your seeds!), butterfly flower, canturbury bells , red tulip and freesia bulbs. I’d love to know – what’s your favorite cut flower to grow?

Ofer and Yo’el continue to make more soil so we can add a top layer to our new beds for the fall vegetable planting. They are digging the soil from an area of our yard that had been used for a vegetable garden in previous years. Then manure, ashes and compost will be added for a good top soil mix.

 

broccoli plants

The purple broccoli that we planted this spring has been growing like a weed. The plants are absolutely monstrous with huge leaves and about 4 feet tall. All summer we’ve been watching it and wondering when it will actually grow the heads (that’s the part we eat).

broccoli head forming

It is just now beginning to form the broccoli heads. Here you can see the light colored leaves in the center. That’s where it all begins. Keep your fingers crossed so we’ll have purple broccoli for the first time.

kohlrabi

Another plant from the spring is this darling kohlrabi. When I first saw kohlrabi I thought that it was a root vegetable. I couldn’t figure out how they washed the bulbs to get them so clean. Then I grew some and voila! it isn’t underground after all.

 

 

 

 

A funny cat story:I was out in the garden a few days ago and saw Jade batting at the Love Lies Bleeding(amaranth) flowers.

Love Lies Bleeding

Jade

Lao Hu

The funny thing was, when I looked closer, I saw Lao Hu laying in the plant bed rubbing his face against the stalk of the plant. Every time he rubbed, the stalk made the flowers start swinging and Jade would happily swing right back! They are quite a pair.

 

 

 

Come and Get It!

We would like to provide an opportunity for you to purchase our produce on a somewhat regular basis (as we have high yielding plants to share). We’d like some input from you as to how best to go about it. What would be a good day and time for you to have “Come and Get It” days?  We will post a list of what we have available with prices.

Right now, for example, we have: Chard – $2 a bunch, Red Flame Grapes $2 a bunch, Figs $4 a basket, Pears .50 each, Basil $2 a bunch and Eggs $5 a dozen

Do you have other suggestions? Please let us know.