You don’t need to talk to me for long to know how much I like mushrooms. I grew them on the kitchen counter recently and I am always looking for more ways to get choice gourmet mushrooms on the cheap. Problem is, most of the really good mushrooms only grow in conjunction with tree roots. Good thing, though, because I just planted my micro-orchard of apple trees. Read on to see how I stacked the deck to get a chance at porcini…
Mushrooms have a symbiotic relationship with trees and plants. The plants donate a bit of their sugar and the mushrooms pay it back with minerals and nutrients that the plants can easily take up. There’s no parasite relationship here – fungi and plants grow better than plants alone. I had it in my mind to pass this advantage to my trees.
I bought dried porcini mushrooms at the store. Porcini are delicious, meaty mushrooms that grow under trees. I sorted through the bag of dried pieces for chunks of the cap. This is easy because porcini are boletes and have distinctive undersides. They lack gills, instead having a ton of little tiny tubes that they store pores in. I tossed those caps in a blender of filtered water and whirred it up.
Around they go! It took about a minute of blending to get a good mushroom slurry. As I planted my trees, I planned to pour some of the water in. The only problem – I knocked over the pitcher onto my first tree.
It got a mega-dose of mushroom spores, so I at least have a chance of them taking to one tree. Always the optimist and scientist, I figure that this will give me a good comparison to see if that tree ends up doing better – and if it ever grows mushrooms.
If you want to do this, dried mushrooms are a great and accessible way to go. Morels classically grow in apple orchards and chanterelles also love trees. Do this with the goal of helping your trees, not growing hoards of mushrooms, and you’ll be satisfied even if nothing ever comes up.