Going on an organized foray is a good way to learn identification. They usually have an expert to help id mushrooms, and other mycophiles at different stages. The group is able to really cover an area and find lots of variety. The mycologist then identifies the finds and someone logs them.
My first organized foray was with Larry Evans, the guru from Missoula with the WMMA (fungaljungal.org). We found edibles even in October and quite a bit of variety. I was hooked on learning as many mushrooms as I could. The ones I have attended since then have always been worth the time. Larry has taught me many tricks to learning mushrooms, but I have a long way to go!
If you get the chance to go on an organized foray, give it a try. You will learn about identification and meet other mycophiles. We will post forays here as they become available.
Mushroom hunting, or harvesting, is all about the patches that you find or grow. Once you find some good places that mushrooms grow, you have a (hopefully) private patch. Patches have obvious advantages because you have found or placed mushrooms there, so you have a better chance of finding mushrooms than wandering around the woods. Don’t get me wrong, I love to wander around the woods!
So you have your patch, and if you are careful you can harvest it for years. I also have found that patchs or mushroomy places sometimes produce several types of mushrooms at different times. Another handy thing about known patches, is they tell you when to wander about looking for new patches. If Oysters are flushing in your known spot, you are likely to find new sources when searching in the woods. I also keep my eye on some patches in town that I won’t eat for a variety of reasons. These patches tell me when my hidden mushroom patches, that are harder to get to, are ready to check.
This brings up an earlier topic of cultivating stump mushrooms, and watching them to indicate when their wild cousins are ready to check . I think this is an excellent way to know when to look for wild mushrooms and helps with identification of the wild cousin. Once you have grown Oysters you will know them in the wild.
I can not walk by a stump without thinking, that stump could be growing mushrooms. Stumps are the most under utilized substrate (material) for growing mushrooms that I see. Choosing the right mushroom for the stump is important, but many mushrooms will grow on a variety of stumps. Cottonwood stumps in particular will host a wide variety of mushrooms. The mushroom consumes the stump and the root system, and mushrooms can be harvested for years on a seasonal basis. The root system gives a place for the mycelium to hide in bad weather, and a place to get moisture for fruiting when the weather is ripe for the flush.
It bothers me to see stumps ground up, pulled out of the ground, or chemically removed, when they could be inoculated. Food can be harvested for years, and the stump is reduced to great soil for planting. When included with inoculation of the tree material removed, food can be harvested from a process that usually involves a lot of waste, and filling of our landfills.
Good candidates are oysters for hardwoods, and conifer corals for conifers. Inoculation can be with dowels or various spawns. This is another great way that mushrooms can help reduce waste while providing a usable product.
Hello fellow mycophiles,
I have been reading “Mycelium Running” by Paul Stamets. I have several of his books and have been inspired by them. This book blew my mind with his low tech approach to cultivation. His examples of growing mycelium on cardboard are worth the price of the book alone. I have learned a lot of new concepts from it and have not been able to put it down. Give it a try,
Welcome to MontanaMushrooms.com! Hopefully this site will be a wealth of information for all mycophiles in the state of Montana!