Archive for July, 2009
This started out being about garden volunteers, the children of plants with such willing seed you can count on new generations more or less for the life of the garden. But including everything the list turned out to be so huge it was about 2 books worth – plus a whole gigantic sidetrack about invasives.
So then it was just annuals – flowers and herbs that more or less behave themselves. Then it was annual flowers and herbs that more or less behave themselves in the Northeast.
Then, unable to decide on images, I got it down to larkspur and Shirley poppies. And now, for the sake of brevity:
a volunteer Shirley poppy.
Regular readers of this blog (and newcomers who put “mushrooms” in the search field) know we are enthusiastic wild mushroom collectors and consumers, and that one of us – Bill – is an expert who writes and lectures on mycology and is a consultant for the New York and New England Poison Control centers.
Calls are coming in almost daily, mostly concerning pre-verbal children exploring things before their parents can stop them, most of them, thank goodness, turning out fine. But as the recent Leccinum Warning shows, sometimes not so fine and that led Bill to ask me whether we’d ever posted the elementary rules of safe mushroom eating. Now we have.
Rules for the Eating of Mushrooms
By Bill Bakaitis
There are old mushroom eaters, and there are bold mushroom eaters, but there are no old and bold ones!
Here are 5 rules that the prudent Mycophage might employ:
1. DO NOT EAT ANY MUSHROOM UNLESS YOU ARE 100% CERTAIN OF ITS IDENTITY AS A SAFE SPECIES. CHECK IT OUT IN RELIABLE TEXTS.
2. TEST YOUR OWN REACTION TO EACH MUSHROOM BY EATING ONLY A SMALL PORTION OF A SINGLE SPECIES AT A TIME. REPEAT A FEW DAYS LATER TO TEST FOR DEVELOPED ALLERGIC REACTIONS.
3. MAKE SURE THE MUSHROOM IS THOROUGHLY COOKED BEFORE YOU EAT IT.
4. WHEN TESTING YOUR TOLERANCE FOR A NEW SPECIES, DO NOT CONSUME ANY ALCOHOL WITH THE MEAL OR FOR A FEW DAYS AFTER.
5. KEEP A FEW UNCOOKED MYSHROOMS IN THE FRIDGE FOR IDENTIFICATION SHOULD A TOXIC REACTION DEVELOP.
Why do these rules work?
The potentially toxic Leccinum atrostipitatum (left) alongside the Edible Boletus edulis (right).
One of the nifty things about mycology (the study of mushrooms) is that the field is still largely unexplored, new finds and findings turn up all the time. This is a less-nifty thing about mycophagy (the eating of mushrooms, particularly wild mushrooms). It too is still largely unexplored, and new information about bad reactions turns up — not all the time, but frequently enough. Here’s the latest from our resident mushroom expert.
by Bill Bakaitis
On July 14th, I received a call from New England Poison Control Center at Maine Medical center. An elderly man was in a New Hampshire Hospital with a severe, life threatening, illness contracted after eating Mushrooms. No specimens were available for imaging, but there were only two mushrooms involved, both Boletes. One was described as a ‘King Mushroom’, possibly in the Boletus edulis complex. The other was probably a Leccinum. Both identities were initially determined by two of the mushroom eaters, all of whom were self described as “good, knowledgeable mushroom collectors”
Two of the three people who collected and ate the mushroom developed GI symptoms three to five hours after the meal. One of them, an adult woman, sought treatment at the emergency room for her distress that evening. The elderly man, developed GI symptoms somewhat later, did not go to the hospital and felt a general malaise the next day. The third person, an adult man, had no symptoms at all.
Three days after the meal the older man was admitted to the hospital in poor condition.
If only. As a species of aggravation, Marmota monax, the largest and most pestilential member of the squirrel family is impossible to get rid of. There are a number of reasons we will get into in a moment.
First, however, the good news: you can get rid of one or more individuals, and that can often make the difference between having a harvest and not. Furthermore, you can get rid of them using a live trap, especially if you use one from Williams Trapping Supply.
young groundhog in live trap, about to take a trip
They’re out, just about right on time.
In spite of the deluginal rains, not too many mushrooms have come up yet, and a recent visit to a favorite spot was not very productive, so we weren’t expecting to come upon them.
Dumb. If you want to collect a lot of mushrooms, always expect them.
Chanterelles in the only container available
As usual, they were hiding – but visible to anyone who was on the alert for a glint of orange
Chanterelles in typical spot
Bill has already written a super guide to chanterelle hunting, so my contribution comes from the kitchen
As far as I’m concerned, garlic gets the blue ribbon for growing your own. It’s absurdly easy to plant and care for; it tastes great; it looks beautiful and it takes up so little ground that even those with very small gardens can raise enough to be self-sufficient in garlic for a good part of the year.
All you have to do is choose the right varieties; plant at the right time, in the right soil; then harvest when just right and store correctly.
Home grown garlic, fresh out of the ground
If you look in a specialist catalog like the one at Gourmet Garlic Gardens, you’ll find dozens of choices. The folks at Filaree Farm, who offer a hundred, divide them into 7 groups: Rocambole, Purple Stripe, Porcelain, Artichoke, Silverskin, Asiatic Turban and Creole. Gourmet GG says it’s 10 groups because they divide Asiatic from Turban and add Marbled Purple Stripe and Glazed Purple Ptripe to the list.
You see where this is going – and you can see a lot more on either of those websites, but for general purposes the most important difference is the one between softneck and hardneck.
So far, no summer for us in Maine – and not much in the Hudson Valley, either. But that won’t stop autumn from arriving in about 5 minutes. Time to get the fall bulb list together and I’m not just talking tulips (and daffodils, crocus, muscari, scilla …)
Not by a long shot. After all the spring beauties are done there’s a whole new round of effortless delight, thanks to the alliums. Ornamental types shine in June – especially in weather like this on account of they’re rainproof – and of course there’s garlic: scapes right now, mature bulbs in mid to late July.
Walking through the garden these last days I see I don’t have enough