Sunday, August 11, 2013

Mushroom Season in Nederland

Location: Nederland, CO 80466, USA
White weblike mycelium in a Nederland forest area
It's mushroom season, this time of year if you look around your yard or walk through the woods you're likely to find these guys popping up everywhere. If you've ever picked one then you've likely seen the "roots" of the mushroom, normally white growing in the ground, on a log or on a tree. Those "roots" are the mushroom mycelium, which is much like the apple tree is to the apple (mushroom). They’re easy to overlook, they aren't always easy to see, preferring to hide under the surface where there is higher moisture and nutrients available for them to consume.

When you are out walking and find an area that is very dry where the ground is barren of life and the trees look less than healthy you can be certain that there is a lack of mushroom mycelium. Especially around Nederland these areas frequently have a number of standing and fallen dead trees that are very slow to decompose, and sandy soil with little nutrition for plants to consume.

Mushroom mycelium is a workhorse in the forest, when you see a healthy forest with lots of happy plants you can be certain there is mushroom mycelium hard at work acting as the "farmer of the forest". mushroom mycelium is able to transport nutrients and water for the length of it's "colony". When you find mushrooms of the same type near each other, it's fruit from the same organism, colonies range from a few square inches when getting established to the largest known 2,200 acre honey mushroom colony in the forests of Washington. Hard at work below the surface the mushroom mycelium is creating symbiotic relationships with the surrounding plant life transporting nutrients from one part of the soil to another where tree roots may absorb them.

Throughout the Rockies and in Nederland fire mitigation is big business, each summer we hope to stay ahead of the potential outbreak of a massive forest fire that could devastate the area. There is a growing effort to use local species of mushroom mycelium to aid in these efforts in what is being called mycomitigation. Using the mushroom mycelium to break down the trees that have been cut down on site, reducing fire risk while reducing costs associated with transport of the slash, and contributing to the forest soil bank. The principles are proven both by modeling nature and through controlled experiment. By inoculating the slash and then covering with a layer of dirt we can aid in future generations of plants to grow in rich soil rather than fighting for nutrients from eroded sand.

If you'd like to learn more please visit http://mycomountain.org or stay tuned as we share more about how mushroom mycelium can help our town and the surrounding area.
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