February 07, 2008

Mushrooms from dead wood

Above is a picture of some oyster mushrooms growing in my garden. I inoculated the log last summer and then a week ago they started popping out.

The garden is only about 2.5m x 4m, but it has two tall trees - 3m and 5m - and plenty of variety. I worked on it a lot at first and then let it go. The idea is for it be a self-sustaining experiment in permaculture and emergent behavior. Only dead plant material is used for nourishment, I just add water and introduce new species, then let them work it out together. With regard to size and apparent vigor, the yam plants are kings of the patch, but there are various smaller things, a lot smaller, who thrive in the undergrowth, some of which are the fungi I've introduced through spore prints and inoculated wood.

I should make it clear that I don't really know what I'm doing, but I pay attention and let the plants teach me things. The names are not that important, I just need to see what they do, which are fragile and which are unstoppable.

Plants [and fungi, which are different] are highly evolved technology. All the energy we use is at base solar power, and it's plants that are on the front line of using solar energy to convert dirt and water into edible, flammable or wearable material. I'm not up to comprehending animals yet. I still look at our cat and can't quite figure out how it can be so self-contained, to move about with only a piece of fish and handful of biscuits a day as the energy source. Plants seem a lot more tractable, the processes essentially graspable and hence the sense of awe fully owned rather than just default.

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