Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mushrooms in the Garden

While out in the garden with the Min Pins this morning I found this large cluster of mushrooms at the base of one of our Lilac trees. Mushrooms feed on decaying wood, mushrooms at the base of a tree are not a good a sign. The man of the house has been pestering me to do something about the over-grown Lilacs for several years now...I guess its time to decide what to do about them!

Two years ago we lost a Vine Maple to Honey Fungus we dug out the old stump and removed as many roots as possible, then let the soil dry in the sun for several months. Once we were reasonably sure that the fungus was out of the soil we bermed up the soil (to ensure better drainage) and planted an Evergreen Magnolia that is reported to be resistant/ immune to the fungus. So far so good, the new tree is growing well, and it doesn't look like the fungus has spread to the rest of the garden.
The Trees Are Good Website has a checklist of questions to ask when looking at a potentially hazardous tree. If you see anything suspicious when looking at a tree on your property I recommend calling a Certified Arborist to evaluate the tree for you. Tree care, especially for large trees should be preformed by someone formally trained, licensed, and insured.

The Pacific Northwest Chapter of the International Society of Aboroculture has an interesting web page about Hazard Tree Prevention it offers good information on how to plant and maintain healthy trees. My personal top three tree care peeves are planting too deeply, poor pruning, and parking vehicles on tree roots.

While we have lots of "native" mushrooms in our garden, we have not had so much luck with cultivated shrooms. A few years ago we bought a Shiitake mushroom log at the farmers market; we had high hopes of sauteing mushrooms with our snap peas. We found the remains of our first mushroom on the log this summer, the snails beat us to it! We have since hung the log off of a branch in hopes of protecting the next mushroom from the slimy pests. I don't remember who we bought our inoculated log from, but I did find a source on line: Fungi Farm

Our dogs spend hours hunting for things to eat in the garden, thankfully they haven't developed a taste for mushrooms, but I am always on the look out for signs they are taking an interest! If I were to ever see a mushroom that I know is deadly, like an Amanita, it would be removed immediately and the area fenced off from the feisty foragers. The ASPCA web site has a detailed article on Mushroom Poisoning in Dogs from the February 2007 issue of Veterinary Medicine.

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