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July 15th, 2012

2012 has been a warm dry year so far. Both spring and summer have been warmer and drier than usual. Most lawns in Guelph are dry like straw. The corn is stunted. Soybean looks sparse. One of the storm water ponds behind my new house is dried up. I have not even bothered looking for fungi. Conditions have just been bleak. However today, July 15, we got a light shower. Much more is needed to turn around the water deficit.

Morels aplenty

May 27th, 2012

Morels aplenty

May brings them. On May 5th we collected 13 specimens, mostly small ones. We were not careful to cut off the bottoms and they got all sandy in the basket. Despite bissecting and clearing in salt water we could not remove all the sand and this interferred with their enjoyment. Yesterday, May 12th we found 30, collecting 25, leaving those that were past their prime. These were mostly full sized specimens. We cut off all these specimens at ground level to ensure that no sand got into the basket. We decided to not over flavor these so we could really taste the morel flavour itself. I sauteed several in margarine and very lightly salt and peppered them. Delicious flavour and the texture is magical. I think we may have a week or two more of the season. We also cooked some up as follows: sautee butter, garlic, chili, then add shrimp, and fiddleheads, let simmer and then add a tablespoon of oyster sauce, and serve on steamed rice. Served with berry pomegranate juice and sliced ripe mangos. Very yummy.

Cautious spring

May 12th, 2012

As I look out my window I see small maple leaves unfurling, while other distant hardwoods such as beech and oak, remain still cautiously awaiting warmer weather. We have been out picking fiddleheads this week, baskets of them. Alicesara puts them in everything, mixed veggies, omelletes, pad thai, soup. Very nice. Mushrooms remain scarce, I've seen only three gilled species to date this year: Mica caps, Coprinus micaceus, Mycena sp, and sidewalk mushrooms, Agaricus bitorquis.

Tyler and I were out hunting for morels and heard a loud peeping coming from the ground before us. We stared straight at the mossy, leafy place from which issued the peeps. What the Dickens! nothing moved but the beeping continued. I began gently gleaning the surface of leaves and twigs and low and behold there appeared a mat of gray hairs. With further picking I exposed a nest of writhing little what??? rats? no, tails too short.... mice? no, too big.....squirrels? no, feet too big, rabbits? baby rabbits? yes, I think thats what they were, peeping like chicks, short haired, ears still short, eyes still closed, squirming in a hot little ball. How many, 6?? 8 maybe. I snapped a few pics, not very good ones, didn't want to leave them exposed too long, didn't want a red tailed hawk or grackle to spy what was going on. Covered them again with hair and leaves then built a random looking scatter of twigs and sticks to give more protection. We must have spooked momma rabbit and she must be eager to attend her brood. We departed and wished rabbit family well.

Spring 2012 Update

May 4th, 2012

Fungi are timid and finicky creatures. They will only come out when conditions are just right. And this spring, they are not right at all. Its still too early, too cool and too dry. Three toos is too many. Due to the weird heat wave that hit southern Ontario in March several flowers have started popping up early. For example, among the ornamental flowers I've seen are snopdrops, crocus, bluebells, daffodils, primulas, snowflakes, dwarf iris, bleeding hearts, periwinkles, pasque flower, and certain tulip varieties. Among the wildflowers are coltsfoot, violets (purple, yellow and white), bloodroot, trout lily, wild ginger, blue cohosh, hepatica, and one buttercup. But fungi, nothing yet, NOTHING! Zippo. Just faded scraps of last season, old grey and white polypores, a conk here a bracket there. The fiddleheads have not even unfurled yet, still in fight fists, waiting. The weather is mild but slightly cool, windy and dry. The winter was mild with little snow. The spring was mild with heat and little rain. Last year the farmers had to wait to get into the fields to plant, there was so much rain, the tractors would only sink in the mud. The concern was that it would not dry out in time to plant. This year is so different. The fields are already dry, hard, dusty and cracking from lack of water. It looks to be a dismal season for fungi. We need rain, we need it now, and we need it in buckets. Oh rain gods hear my plea. The fungi need a drink.

First Mushrooms of Spring

May 4th, 2012

April that month of anticipation, waiting for morels, the color chartruesse, sun coming through new leaves. This year the first gilled mushroom I encountered was the mica cap, Coprinus micaceus. Just one little cluster of three mushrooms, their yellowish caps pushing up from crumbling damp spring soil. "Is that a mushroom?" my wife and I both exclaimed simultaneously, gleefully! Yes! It is! I snapped a few pictures and we whistled down the trail. A new year of mycological discovery lays ahead.

A short time later we found a stump sporting a half dozen perfect fresh specimens of Dyrad's Saddle. Within half an hour we had sleuthed out several more stumps and standing dead trees also sprouting these choice edible fruits of spring. The Dryad's Saddle starts out as a roundish lump with a small flat scaly top. I call this the "potato stage". At the potato stage the whole fruit is firm and when sliced is white like a potato. We had 20 "potatos" in our basket and headed home briskly, talking of plans for a new recipe for pickled mushrooms.

Nathans Challenge

April 14th, 2012

My buddy Nathan has challenged me to a contest. Starting St. Patrick's Day, 2012 we are each to compile our best 25 fungus photos within a two year period. Thus final judgement day comes March 17, 2014. Game on! Natinsky old boy, you are going down.


April 14th, 2012

Here are some contact websites