Fungus fetish…

Fungi are critical to the organic web of life in the soil that is so important in any garden. Most of the work they do is unseen, hidden in the soil.  When they do ‘pop up’ though, I think they are one of the most  beautiful things around.

IMG_2297[1]

Peeking up through the mulch…

Beautiful and useful though.  Among other things, they ‘lock up’ nutrients in the soil, storing them until they are needed.  They prevent leeching of vital elements, and keep them readily available to the plant’s roots.

IMG_2391[1]

Dinner plate size, with tiger collar…

They also help maintain moisture in the soil, which means they are very busy at the moment, after our very wet February.  Sadly, we have lost a lot of plant rows to excessive water in the soil. All our parsley and kale, that was growing so well, has not enjoyed the ‘big wet’ and has sadly died.

IMG_2322[1]_opt

Fairy toadstool

So more fungi will move in, as they are also the great de-composers in a garden, breaking down dead plant and animal material into components that can be used by other organisms.  In fact, you would not have an organic garden without them.

Blossoms by the creek

Blossoms by the creek

Lucky they are so beautiful.  Busy de-composing. Stopping me in my muddy tracks, fumbling for my camera…

 

Exotic Mushrooms

I have a fetish for mushrooms (see photos on multiple posts!). They are so elegant, fragile and often very beautiful. I really enjoy it then that Local Feast is the South Coast distributor of LiSun exotic mushrooms.

Heather at LiSun Exotic Mushrooms

Heather is so helpful each time I visit their cold storage facility in Mittagong, but although some are simple to identify, like the pink oysters above, many others look very similar to each other. I know I love the texture and nutty flavour of enoki, and unique wholesome benefits of shitake, but am happy to enjoy most of them cooked by the experts as several of the best local restaurants are using them on their menus.

Alien looking fungus…yum!!!

LiSun exotic mushroom varieties have been grown in a disused railway tunnel near Bowral for over 20 years now by Dr Noel Arrold, a microbiologist. LiSun are industry leaders in exotics, and you can find out more details on their website here. Green Box members can order them this week…if they’re brave! Local Feast would love your favourite recipe suggestions to share too.

Richard’s Mushies

As if the stunning Calderwood Valley and escarpment backdrop aren’t inspiring enough, chatting to Richard at Calderwood Valley Mushrooms this morning has reminded me what a gutsy lot our young farmers are. Leaving the steel industry, Richard had no idea how a mushroom came to end up on his fork before he bought this business 6 years ago.

Richard in the shed

But, when your heart’s in the right place, things usually work out. Richard is passionate about maintaining our land for food production into the future, and 80% of his product is sold locally. As we wandered around to collect boxes for this week’s Feast Markets, there were people everywhere, in and out of sheds, and a team bagging valuable garden mushroom compost.  He shared stories about giving young kids a job, and how he enjoyed this giving him the opportunity to help direct them out of difficult life situations, and make healthy decisions.  He is no doubt a great role model to young guys, and a valuable mentor.

Calderwood Valley

He has big dreams and wonderful vision, no doubt nourished by this beautiful spot….watch this space.