Sunday, April 21, 2013

The morels are back!

I'm a renter in a mixed race, low income neighborhood. I love where I live not only for the proximity to a farmer's market, grocery store, hardware store, watering hole and my gym, but because the home was built in 1932 and is on the Historic Register for being a small Craftsman bungalow with no modern alterations. Before my landlady bought the property, it was owned by a little old lady who took great care of her "garden," which was a wooly yard with no lawn grass (thankfully) and with wild geraniums, a dying elm, daffodils and a Chinquapin oak that exists as a witness tree in the GLO survey records from 1842.

Since I moved here in December 07, I've been burning the yard, and Doug has been taking out all of the exotics, a truly time consuming process to eradicate bush honeysuckle and wintercreeper from a pretty well abandoned urban setting. But in the past few years, we've seen a resurgence of native flora associated with upland flatwoods in the area: Penstemon tubaeflorus, Tradescantia ohiensis, Geranium maculatum, Aster drummondii, about ten species of sedges, and while realizing that none of these plants are rare, per se, in a downtown setting, these plants don't exist in most lawns. So we keep burning and keep vigilant watch on the exotics. I add to my plant list every year.

Last year, following a November burn in the back part of the property that houses a sad mature elm tree that continually sends out little sprouts from its trunk and primary branches, Doug found 12 morels. We didn't pick them and eat them, but followed the guidelines set forth by an esteemed Missouri mycologist to help to propagate them in the area. Farming morels isn't easy, but we thought we'd give it a shot.

Today, following a nice 65 degree afternoon, Doug found over 20 morels located outside of the general area we found them in last year. November burn, no exotics, and morels showed up. They're pretty immature now, but this year we may actually saute a couple in garlic and butter and eat them. It's exciting to have rewarding restoration -however small in scale- events occur, like when the Wilson's warbler set up shop in my redbuds last year. The morels are a nice "thank you" from the yard.

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