Everything Mushrooms is a Knoxville business that is exactly what the name implies. They specialize in grain and wood spawn, cultivation kits, logs, a complete supply line for growers, books galore for the forager and/or medicinally inclined, and of course –>fresh mushrooms.. I said “they”, but now it’s “we”, because I’m helping out there a couple of days a week. I’m excited about associating with “EM” and want to tell my followers about it. For now, I will be available “up front” at the store on Modays, so bring your weekend mushroom finds and we can work on identification for you.
For now, I’ll fill in on customer service and work in the lab while I get a good grasp on the breadth of our activities and products. I’m excited because I get to learn, talk mushrooms, share and teach. Yes, teach – back in the saddle. I will offer mushroom identification classes and be available to help people one-on-one as they bring in their unknowns for inspection. Hopefully, I can facilitate some type of formal or semi-formal group of mycophiles that want to gather, foray and learn together. A club perhaps? EM is a perfect place for meetings and learning. I’ll post more as time goes on; which it certainly will.
Our Spring mushroom identification (basic level) class with be held Thursday May 1, 6-8. p.m. Details for this and other events can be found on EM’s Workshops and Events page. Learn basic identifying characteristic of common edibles and their look-alikes. Review field guides and mushroom related products before you buy yours.It is intentionally being held between morel season and the beginning of summer mushrooms. Get ready for those early summer milk caps!!
If you are interested in forming a group or club in the Knoxville area, be sure to come on May 1. Such a club would be able to meet in a spacious area at Everything Mushrooms. Clubs are the best way to improve your skills as you go on group forays, hear speakers and develop a peer group of like minded individuals. If you do not wish to sign up for the workshop, be sure and show up at 8 p.m. (end of workshop) so we can identify potential leaders and begin a mail list of potential mushroom club members.
Here it is, the dead of winter, and thus no pictures of mushrooms to post. My head is filled with images of morels soon to come, however, as I begin to dream of the BIG YEAR. There are a number of reasons why I think this will be a great year – possibly a bumper crop.
2011 was our last very good year here in Tennessee. Then, in 2011, the early spring temperature soared from just right to 80 degrees in a week it seemed. Conditions were hot and dry and morels were scarce. On the other hand, in mid-August we were flooded with Lobsters for about a week. By flooded I mean almost every pine stand I looked in. I had never found more than 10-15 pounds before in the patches that I hunted. In 2012 I found probably 150 pounds. That’s what I mean by bumper crop.
Last year, 2013, the weather pattern was quite different. We had a wet Spring and the weather was cool. In fact, the soil temperature did not reach 50 degree until late April which is usually past morel season here. As a result the season was stretched out over 5-6 weeks and hunting our usually high-yield patches produced only about 20 or so each foray with 2 people hunting, and my partners in crime were experts. The rains continued through the summer and we had only about 7 days with temperatures above 90 – our usual is 20 or more days. As a result, chanterelles began to appear in mid-May and continued until late August. Normally the season is roughly July 1 – Sept 1. The crop was abundant, and I found about 250 pounds versus my highest season of 100 pounds, over a 20-year period.
So, 2011 was great morels, 2012 was fantastic lobsters and last year was fabulous chanterelles. I believe it’s morels again in 2014. Why?, one might ask. To start with, we ended 2013 with an annual rainfall 20 inches above normal. Second, we are now in the middle of the deepest cold spell in a decade. It is holding in the teens for three days with a low of ZERO tonight. Both my reading, my experience, and the experience of friends indicates that morels need a cold spell to stimulate maximum production. Of course, all this will be tempered by the actual temperature/rainfall mix in March and April.
Bottom line is that I am highly optimistic about the upcoming morel season – at least in the Great Valley. We shall see . . . . . .
About a week ago I was contacted by Brian MIller about the possibility of giving a class or leading a foray for the Knoxville Permaculture Guild members in their “Mushroom Group” of which there about 50-plus members listed. That sounded like a good idea, so this past Saturday I went down to his Winged Elm farm near Sweetwater to check the lay of the land and see what fungi might be about. It looks good for a foray, mixed oak-hickory with patches of poplar and no dense understory; gentle hills and drains. I would rate it as a pleasant and easy area to take the group.
As far as mushrooms go, it’s late in the season so the variety is minimal but we did find a 4-lb Hericium erinaceum (Lion’s Mane) and a downed tree with plenty of puffballs (Lycoperdon pyriforme). Below is a picture of Craig with the Hericium. I cut it in three sections and shared with Craig and Brian. I sliced my share and grilled them with olive oil, garlic salt and some Cajun spice that evening. Fabulous!
There was 1/2-inch of rain there Thursday and it got down in the 30′s the past two nights. Temps will be warming this week, so there may be a flush of some good edible saprophobic fungi Saturday. With a group of foragers we should be able to cover the entire woodlot. Craig and I only walked a portion. Hey, we left plenty of pinhead puffball buttons.