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
  • mushroom varieties
    Lion’s mane, pearl and pink pearl mushrooms will look as beautiful growing on your homestead as they will on your dining room table.
    LYNN KARLIN
  • galerina mushroom
    Take caution! The deadly galerina mushroom is a close look-alike to some edible species, including nameko, an Asian variety now cultivated in North America.
    BILL BEATTY
  • wine cap stropharia mushroom
    Wine cap stropharia mushrooms will grow wonderfully in a mulch bed, perhaps as a companion to your asparagus.
    MARK JONES
  • oyster mushrooms
    Oh, the options! You can inoculate many species of mushrooms on logs, including these pretty oyster mushrooms.
    MARK JONES
  • stringy mycelia
    This white, stringy mycelia in wood chips will fruit into harvestable mushrooms.
    HARVEY USSERY
  • starter spawn
    Starter spawn in wooden dowels can easily be added to drilled holes in logs.
    HARVEY USSERY
  • shiitake mushroom
    These huge shiitakes are about ready to be harvested!
    WILLIAM D. ADAMS
  • chicken mushroom
    Chicken mushrooms have a unique shape and beautiful golden color.
    DWIGHT KUHN
  • turkey tail
    Turkey tail could go well in a poultry soup!
    BILL JOHNSON
  • fungi on logs
    To grow fungi on logs, plug drilled holes with starter spawn.
    HARVEY USSERY
  • logs
    The final step in growing fungi on logs is to soak them in a tub to trigger fruiting.
    HARVEY USSERY
  • golden mushrooms
    There’s nothing like a skillet sizzling with golden mushrooms you grew in your own backyard.
    ISTOCKPHOTO/VLADIMIR SEMENOV
  • shiitakes on logs
    Utilize the resources listed in our article, and you could be harvesting a bountiful crop of shiitakes like these.
    HARVEY USSERY

  • fungi facts - shiitake harvest
  • mushroom varieties
  • galerina mushroom
  • wine cap stropharia mushroom
  • oyster mushrooms
  • stringy mycelia
  • starter spawn
  • shiitake mushroom
  • chicken mushroom
  • turkey tail
  • fungi on logs
  • logs
  • golden mushrooms
  • shiitakes on logs

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.



Five Functions of Fungi

Edibles. Mushrooms are packed with nutrition. They’re rich in protein, minerals, ergosterols (precursors to vitamin D), B vitamins, fiber and complex carbohydrates.

Be aware that a few species are lethally toxic, and no mushroom should be eaten unless you are absolutely certain of its identity and safety. This caution applies as much to cultivated as it does to wild species. Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) and oyster mushrooms, for example, are easy to identify when they fruit on cultivated logs. A species such as edible nameko (Pholiota nameko), however, is a close enough look-alike to the deadly galerina (Galerina autumnalis) to require as careful identification on inoculated logs as it does if gathered in the wild.

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.







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