Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Time for fall!

Ahhhh, the mornings are crisp and cool! Fall is definitely in the air, and summer lingers during the days... I think this is my favorite time of the year in this part of the world.
I did find myself, just for a moment today, feeling sad for the summer almost being gone again.
Where did it go?! I guess it evaporated mostly through the airconditioning... the 90 + degrees are just too much to handle for a northerner.

Anyways - look what we picked today:) Tomatoes are on their last leg - we had couple of intense weeks when they were coming in strong, and now they're just splitting and rotting, and getting attacked by caterpillars. There is still enough for a few to be included in the shares.
Peppers however seem to be doing better this year - they were late to get going, but it's steady picking now. And eggplants have finally started putting out lots of fruit.
And basil has just flourished all summer!
Here's my little helper Anna:) She comes about once a week and helps me pick and bag stuff while we discuss life's persistent questions:) I have two other major helpers this year - Tony, our biodiesel boss, who cuts grass and helps with website stuff, and Gloria who also helps with picking and bagging. THANK YOU ALL!

I started some lettuce seed last week, and some of it is coming up. Keep our fingers crossed!
Also started a batch of carrots and more lettuce at home for the CSA. Trying to keep a few irons in fire in case of disasters.
Here's to fall!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mushrooms, Mushrooms Everywhere

It's quite true, mushrooms are popping up everywhere this time of the year. A good soaking of rain, and they appear seemingly from nowhere. People tend to feel strongly about mushrooms - they either love them, or hate them. But most of us don't know enough about them either way.
And it is not easy to know something about the kingdom of mushrooms, those quiet recyclers whose bodies of mycelia weave immense nets all over our planet, invisible to most.

To educate the people about the fruits of fungus that occasionally are visible, and also edible, we invited in an expert...
(Boletes and a medicinal reishi mushroom)

This past weekend STARworks Garden hosted two Wild Mushroom Hunts, with Asheville's Alan Muskat, The Mushroom Man.

On Saturday we gathered by Low Water Bridge, in Montgomery county, and walked in the woods that are protected by Land Trust for Central NC. Crystal Cockman from the Land Trust came out and introduced the mission of Land Trust for Central NC and joined the mushroom walk. Thank you Crystal for all your help, and to Land Trust for trusting us with your woods!
(Alan Muskat hearing the stories of modern hunter gatherers)

The Saturday workshop went by so fast. Following a lecture, a short walk and mushroom gathering, Alan cooked up the goods with a bit of garlic and olive oil. I think we all learned to identify the Leatherback Milkcaps and Honey Mushrooms. We also tasted some Boletes.

(Alan Muskat introducing characteristics of different types of mushrooms)

The Sunday group convened in my back yard:) Huge thanks to Carolyn McDermott and Fred Shucker for allowing 18 people to roam their woods! The mushroom loot gathered from a relatively small piece of land was amazing! (Lucky for my family now, that I know how many edible mushrooms are practically in my back yard!)
(Alan talking about the forest community, the symbiotic relationship between mushrooms and plants in relation to human community, and the symbiotic relationship we humans should strive to nurture with our natural environment)
(More pontificating)
After learning about some of the edibility identification methods, and how to handle mushrooms, it was time to pick out the edibles, and do a taste test.
I had two cast iron skillets going in the kitchen cooking the ELEVEN different edibles we found that day. Cauliflower mushroom, Old Man of the Woods, Boletes, and Common Fiber Vase are some that come to mind.

(Humans from the mushroom level)

Alan finished our Sunday workshop with his "Fist Full of Fungus" rap song :) He's a Fun guy. Get it?

We hope he will be coming back to teach us some more.