Sunday, May 7, 2023

the Perennial Morals of the Morel.

Rainy days have been abundant with the occasional sunset peeking through the persistent cloud cover. The perennials are soaking up the moisture and gradually emerging from their winter slumber just waiting for its old friend sunshine to warm its tender growth.

Inside the artificial sunshine is managing those seeds who can't bare to be left out in the Maine spring nights just yet... a good daily watering and spritzing has become part of the homestead chores and now that the cotyledons (first seed leaves) are starting to curl back and the true leaves are popping we are starting to supplement the watering with an occasional foliar spray that is a gentle compost tea made with the rich soil that awaits its upcoming planting date.

Turkish Rocket

Lupines alongside some wild alpine strawberries

Pink Ragwort

Each day it seems we observe abundant reminders of the persistent plantings of previous seasons. Perennials such as comfrey, lupines and ragwort pictured above are always welcome sights for the balance of the homestead. These have lots of value to our overall wellness and the biodiversity of the landscape. Native plants attract native pollinators as well as species specific insects which in turn attract certain wildlife such as birds and frogs and other fauna that help with that natural balance of the homestead. So many times we impose ourselves on our landscape and nature has to fight in order to find its place and sometimes that battle is lost and won but in all fights there has to be a winner and loser. We choose to look at our overall impact as a balancing act, a gentle dance where we interweave our personal needs with those of the ecosystem in which we inhabit. Observing the ebb and flow and the patterns and working along with them, even if occasionally that can lead to total crop failure in one variety, it may open the door for another to flourish. Season to season we learn, we observe and we adapt. These are the morals of nature.

Speaking of morals, lets move on to a story about morels.

I scored a trial of these Yellow Morel Mushroom Pegs from Field & Forest,
We choose a shady bank that is near a couple of our apple trees, and intermingled with some oak, maples and rich fungal activity on the homestead. I sectioned off a square block with a fallen birch just to remind me of the project and proceeded to open up the few year blanket of decaying leaves that we are using to encourage the moss blanket to spread and the grass lawn to regress. clearly it was working as most of the grass underneath was brown and decaying but lots of lichen and moss seemed to be thriving. There are many varieties of moss throughout this area along with abundant species of fungi that we have foraged in this area including boletes, amanita, chanterelles and wood ear mushrooms.
So it seemed like a good area to trial these peg spawn that field and forest have had limited success with. Wood loving mushrooms that identify with one host species have much more success in the cultivation world than do these types of mushrooms that seem to draw nutrients from a diverse collaboration of symbiotic species and natural occurrences. One such occurrence that seems to activate the fruiting body of the morel has routinely been fire. Its a foragers secret that forest fire locations are prime hunting grounds for morels and with that knowledge I amended the bed after drilling some pegholes and stuffing them with the mycelium soaked pegs with some fresh firepit ash and a couple inches of decaying woodchips.

The soil here is a mixture of rich decaying matter and some sandy bits so we shall see how this project evolves. 

Another positive of this site location is its right by the walkout cellar, so I walk by it daily. That way if they do start popping up, hopefully I find them before the critters!

Time will tell but considering the cost of the project was around $15... and about a half hour of labor, if it works the moral of the blogpost would be to give it a try!

Seems the all the rain got Phoebe (Eastern Phoebe) thinking outside the box for her nesting site this year... usually she makes her nest on one of our spotlights under our eaves but this year she decided the tool shed was a better idea... upon noticing it right away I tried to deter her by pulling the start of the nest down and putting my tools back in place but she has persisted so I told her I would be careful around her nest as long as she gave me full access without any altercations. I think she understood and generally she has been very accommodating to us coinhabiting her nesting space. They are also voracious insect eaters and have even been known to dine on things like ticks, moths and grasshopers... so we will let her enjoy her nesting site in hopes that the balance and harmony of the homestead persists and flourishes for many more seasons to come.

Till next post, I leave you with this flourishing sample of pixie cup lichen that is blooming on an old stump in the surrounding the garden space.

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