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Gardeners Exchange Group Meeting 15 September 2018
Location: Home of Rita Baker
Topic: Mushrooms — How to Grow Them Yourself with Mary Jane Drummond

The final gathering for GEG for season 2018 took place on Saturday, September 15, at the home of Rita Baker in Martinsburg. Though we anticipated rain, the morning was nicely warm and dry. Assisted by Carol Cadle and Jutta Kersanty, Rita set out a lovely breakfast with many members contributing casseroles, breads, fruits and so much more. Our speaker was Mary Jane Drummond, a gardener who has had experience with growing mushrooms over the past 10 years.

Mary Jane’s talk was entitled “Mushrooms: How to Grow Them Yourself.” Mary Jane told the group that before embarking on growing mushrooms to first ask oneself two questions: What are your resources, and what is your reason for growing them? One resource is having the right tree for the specific mushroom you want to grow, such as oak or hickory logs for growing shiitake. One reason for growing mushrooms might be to provide bees with the opportunity to suck on mycelium which protects them from mites. Mary Jane spoke of the process for inoculating the logs with the mycelium (the vegetative part of the mushroom) plus other ways of carrying out the initial “planting.” Stems of oyster mushrooms will regenerate more mushrooms, and morel mushrooms will regenerate after a brush fire. Maitake mushrooms (Hen-of-the-Wood) can grow to weigh as much as 100 pounds. Catalogs were provided to those interested in pursuing more information or purchasing starter mycelium. Mary Jane also provided us with a Lion’s Mane mushroom which our “kitchen crew” cooked right up after the program and served over rice for attendees’ eating pleasure.

After the presentation, attendees had a chance to tour Rita’s extensive and lovely grounds to enjoy her many flower beds and variety of trees. A plant and garden item exchange contributed to the fun and conversation. We were treated to the sight of several Monarch caterpillars and many chrysalis on plants and hanging from the garage doorway. We had the pleasure of seeing one of the Monarchs emerge from its chrysalis.

Program planning for next year will take place in February. Any and all interested members are welcome to participate in the planning or to volunteer to host a gathering. GEG will send planning meeting information to all the members prior to that time.

Submitted by Jane Blash