Morels 2014, 10 days

 

first

April 2 - Last year, I found my first morel in my “Early Patch” on March 17. This year I found the first one on April 2, in the same place, exactly two weeks later than last year. Based on ground vegetation and over-story flowering and/or leafing, it seems like Spring may be running two weeks late.

I have been optimistic that this would be a good year because of a cold winter and plenty of rain. This week we had three separate rains totaling about 3 1/2 to 4 inches.

April 3 – Headed up to Big Ridge for the Asheville Mushroom Club annual morel foray. The first scheduled foray was for Friday afternoon, but Rich, Ernie and I planned to scout since it seemed so early. We went to two of our usual spots and found that Spring was late – nothing to be found.

Fri, April 4 – On the basis of our scout we kept the club a little south and a slightly lower elevation than originally hoped. Pickings were slim and the group of about 25 found very little.

Sat April 5 – During our scout we had found seven blacks in a place that looked good, but to which we had never been. We hunted two locations and got maybe 40 total for 35 people. Pretty slim.

ramps

 

westendSun April 6 – Seeing as the morels weren’t up much and cousin Ken wanted to dig some ramps, I took him out and we got several pounds of young sweet ones. Before getting home, I went to a gravel road where Rich and I had found them lined up along the shoulder two years ago. There is also a small patch in the woods beside the road. Found 46 all together – drying in the woods patch but fresh and pretty along the road. By far, the most I have found in that spot.

Mon Apr 7 – Might as well work, but I went out the gravel road in the morning and found 7 that I had missed iyesterday and 6 more a little further down the road that afternoon when I had more time.

Tues Apr 8 – Rich came back over from Asheville, and we went back to the club’s Friday spot. Got about 50 out of three patches on the top of the ridge.

Wed Apr 9 – piddled

Thurs April 10 – Took Derek with me, and we went back to the creek where the club had hunted on Saturday. We found our first little grays and 3 small yellows. The yellows were in the exact same location on the creek bank as two years ago. Got about 15 total and headed back to where Rich and I looked on Tuesday. Found about another 15 fresh blacks scattered about. By now it has has been 6 days since the last rain.We also went back to another of our previous scout locations and still absolutely Nada !

Friday Apr 11 – Waiting for more rain and piddling in the woods. By now, I had hiked up enough mountains for awhile. But my friend with the apple orchard called that night and said there were “gobs” of mushrooms, albeit 1/3 smaller than usually. I didn’t get her voice mail until the next morning, which was fortunate, else I would not have gotten any sleep tossing, turning and wondering what a “gob” is.

orchard

Sat Apr 12 – Got out to the orchard and saw the “gobs. They had grown during the night and were now (2 p.m.) beginning to dry in the near-eighty degree sunshine. Bottom line is 65 Mocehella deliciosa. Great day !

 

 

orchardhaul1

 

 

 

 

 

 

mtn

Sun Apr 13 – It looked like Spring may have come to the mountain, so I went where Rich and I had gone the past Friday in the rain and had found bare. Today was a good hike bushwacking up 600 feet. elevation. Although some large poplars were leafing out, the paw paws were leafed out only 1/2 inch at most. Some were still bare. Hot and dry with leaves puffed. My experience with this place and these conditions is: “I might find a few”. I managed to pick 28 nice fresh blacks by looking all over. Long stemmed because the leaves were thick. Only the caps were above the leaves.

Mon Apr 14 -It has now been 10 days since the last rain, but it is drizzling now and heavy rain is on the way tonight. It’s a cold front and the temps are predicted to drop to around 30 in The Valley Tuesday night. I think that the ground temps are high enough now that it won’t matter and it will be time to look for yellows this weekend. That’s why I’m going ramping with a side trip to a morel patch Thursday,and Friday is, hopefully, yellow morel day.

We shall see. Count for the first half of the season ? About 200.

By the way. Got to work today and found out someone had brought 12 pounds of blacks in Thursday, so  . . . . . .

orchardhaul2

 

 

THIS Week !!

Finally, it’s here in the Great Valley of East Tennessee. Conditions are perfect for a Wonderful Week of morel hunting beginning this weekend.. The ground has been wet for months. This past Saturday we got .75 inches at my house. Today the temp is going up to 70 and will be in the 70′s until Saturday (5 days) with night time lows around 50+. Then on Friday, there will be scattered showers as a cool front comes through. This will keep the leaves down as well as refresh the moisture. I believe it will be wonderful morel hunting this weekend if you are in the right place. Can’t wait, so I’m going after ramps tomorrow. The ones in my backyard have emerged so it’s time to get to the woods.

Fairy  In the meantime . . .  we put in some trout lillies about 10 years ago. They have been spreading but not blooming, which is normal for a beginning patch. Last year we had three blooms, which was a hint that the patch(s) are reaching maturity. So, this year we have about 15 blooms in three different patches. It has been a joy to watch Spring come in with such a delightful flower.

My friend Charles Woolum (R.I.P.) always said that morels come in when the blue bells are blooming. Here is a blue bell in my backyard  beginning to bloom.BlueBells

The blood root has been around since my last post, but we are still seeing some new blooms.

bloodroot

Whitey – Monday 3/31/2014

Foaraging & Cultivating

bloodrootMy bloodroot is up as well as twin leaf, and trout lilies.

I believe last night will be the last of the cold weather. The forecast is for warming with highs near 60 and lows approaching high 40′s or 50 over at least the next five days. There is predicted rain for Friday and Saturday as the warm front moves through. Therefore, I predict great conditions for the annual AMC morel foray next weekend. I will be scouting, and maybe picking, beginning Sunday. Right now vegetation, including trees like poplars, seemed poised on the brink of popping out leaves. You can see a slight green tinge to distant canopies. In the meantime . . . . .

chickenlogI’ve always been a fungi forager and not a mushroom grower, BUT we have to stay flexible in life. Right? Now that I’m work at Everything Mushrooms I figure I need to learn the products. So, I’ve started a few projects at home. Thought I would share a bit. About 2-3 years ago a scarlet oak fell in back of the house and bridged a low area so that a long section in the middle of the tree has been off the ground. This year I plugged it on shitakelogone end with shitake skipped about 8-10 feet and then plugged it with Chicken of the Woods.

I also plugged two shitake logs. This picture shows how I have them off the ground using the wire inserts for election campaign yard signs. Since I’m running for re-election I have extras. This way, I can rotate the logs as well as make more fruiting surface avaible vs. “ricking them”.

The next project was to use a wood and wood chips to make a wine-cap Stropharia patch. Around July, we should see how it works. The pictures that follow chronicle the steps I took.

chipsSoaking chips for three days to kill off aerobic bacteria and juice up the substrate

 

 

 

 

strophariaframeThe frame . . . .

 

 

 

 

wc1

The frame with a bed of chips, along with a bag of spawn made using wood shavings and poplar chips

 

 

 

 

wc2The spawn is sprinkled around the chip base fairly evenly

 

 

 

 

 

wc3The left side of the frame shows another layer of chips was then added.The right side shows the chip/spawn mix covered with wet, rotting leaves from the bottom of my leaf compost pile. It also serves as camouflage from the skunks that love to forage in my wood chip paths.

pearl1

 

 

 

 

Pearl oysters on the back porch. The bag has been hanging all winter. I dipped it in a 5 gal bucket of water and hung it up. A few warm days started a flush.

 

phoenix

 

Also some Phoenix oysters.

 

 

 

THE END (for now)  Morels are coming :-) !!!!