Morels 2014, 10 days



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.



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.


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 !











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  . . . . . .




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 . . . .






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.






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.




Also some Phoenix oysters.




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


Everything Mushrooms

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 EMlogo_Mediummushrooms.. 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.