Mushroom agroforestry

Larry Caldwell larryc at
Tue Aug 19 17:35:52 EST 1997

In article <33F8BB1F.5CE at>,
Michael Hagen <mhagen at> wrote:

> We are cursed to become Jack's of all Trades in this biz.  I have not
> yet figured out a way to eat Suillus spp. 

You have to peel 'em.  Well, technically you don't *have* to peel 'em,
I guess.  After you get the jelly, bugs and pine needles off, they
have a nice firm white flesh.  :)  I have the same experience with
gomphidius oregononsis, which nobody collects because it's slimy.
Peel the cap and it makes a great mushroom chowder.  It's the starchiest
mushroom I've ever eaten.

> However, the matsutake flushes
> cause something like guerilla war in these parts. I have a bad feeling
> about that aspect of woods ginseng propagation. At one time I used to
> work in the Orleans, California area. The alternative crop situation was
> so intense that foresters were supposed to always work in pairs and be
> in recent radio contact.  Between the poson oak, the gonzo
> agriculturists and the arsonists, summer in the woods was just
> delightful.

A family who happens into a heavy matsutake fruiting can make off with
$50,000 worth of mushrooms in a single day.  There have been plenty of
cases of gunfire over mushroom patches around here too.  I haven't found
a supply of matsutake spawn yet, but wouldn't mind trying to establish
some matsutake in the madrone around here.  So far, all I've seen fruiting
under the madrone are amanitas.

I don't think we'll ever see unsupervised ginseng cultivation because of the
value of the crop.  A hundred pounds of ginseng root is worth $80,000, so 
you sort of have to grow it where you can keep an eye on it.  :)  I haven't
gotten into the ginseng business yet, but am interested.  Did you ever find
a source for ginseng seed?

Part of the problem with intercropping ginseng with trees is the lack of
suitable equipment to work the land.  I'm thinking about running unrung
(unringed?) pigs on a section of north slope to work up the ground, then
prepping the seed bed with a walking rear-tine rototiller.  There I go
with pigs, mushrooms, ginseng and trees.  What's the record for multiple

-- Larry

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