Fungi Facts: All About Mushrooms

Have fun with fungi facts! Discover how mushrooms can build soil fertility and sustainability while giving you nutritious and delicious treats.


| August/September 2010



fungi facts - shiitake harvest

Use our fungi facts and tips about growing mushrooms on the homestead, and this healthy harvest of shiitakes can be on your kitchen table in no time.


PHOTO: WILLIAM D. ADAMS

The key to success in homesteading self-sufficiency is learning how to make alliances with other living things. We’re used to working with plants and animals on the homestead, but don’t forget the fungi! Fungi are an entirely separate kingdom of life that has much to offer. These fascinating beings can help create a more balanced, integrated and productive backyard ecosystem.

Fungi Facts

The thing all fungi have in common — and what distinguishes them from the other biological kingdoms — is they exude powerful enzymes to digest their food externally, absorbing nutrients directly into their cells. Reproduction among fungi centers on spores, which are carriers of genetic information for further generations. This is similar to the reproduction of plants via seeds, but on a far smaller scale — the billions of spores are microscopic.

When conditions are right, spores germinate into long strands called hyphae. Each hypha contains half the genetic material needed to produce fertile offspring. When compatible hyphae fuse, their genetic material combines and eventually grows into a complicated mass called mycelium. The mushrooms you see on your walks outside are special reproductive structures grown by the mycelium to release spores and begin the cycle anew.

Mushrooms are divided into four classes, each with a unique relationship with plants. Parasitic mushrooms feed on the tissues of living plants, usually killing the host plant or tree; endophytic mushrooms live within the tissues of plants, trees and grasses without harming them; mycorrhizal mushrooms form mutually supportive relationships with plants (including many crops) in the root zone; and saprophytic mushrooms are decomposers that feed on dead organic tissues while breaking them down into simpler components, making them available to other members of the local ecology and speeding the formation of soil humus. The saprophytic class includes the easiest species for home cultivation.


liane miller
9/26/2010 12:19:59 PM

I must say that at first I thought this magazine was to expensive to add to my list, then i recieved this amazing gift, I love it i can't get enough of it, so to those with the same thought that i had, take the time to really see the value in this magazine. thanks Liane


liane miller
9/26/2010 12:19:00 PM

I must say that at first I thought this magazine was to expensive to add to my list, then i recieved this amazing gift, I love it i can't get enough of it, so to those with the same thought that i had, take the time to really see the value in this magazine. thanks Liane


lorrie
9/25/2010 8:08:50 PM

I found Sharondale Farm to be lacking in interpersonal skills and any usable follow up abilities.


kamia at heart's haven
9/24/2010 7:19:32 PM

Which fungi would be the ones to use for farm runoff cleaning, or where would be the best place to find this info. I'm surrounded by 1,000 acres, all of which drain into my farm pond, and I could really use that, since there are hundreds of cattle.