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Mushroom HuntersVolume 1, Issue 7

Recommended summer reading: The Mushroom Hunters

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson.
Excerpted from the Winter 2014 Arboretum Bulletin.

In The Mushroom Hunters: on the trail of an underground America [also available on CD, for those long road trips], Seattle author Langdon Cook asks what professional foragers get for their efforts: "An itinerant life on the road, continually moving with the seasons? A low hourly wage and no chance for health insurance? A garden variety of potential wilderness pitfalls, including injury, exposure, even wild animals?"

The answer is: all of the above, but that doesn't stop this from being a very big business. The collectors, those who buy from collectors, the distributors, and even the celebrity chefs who are at the top of this commercial food chain weave in and out of these pages much like in a high-energy, first-person novel. The settings, from the Yukon to California are evocative, too, but mostly somewhat vague--the secret locations of valuable hunting grounds are not to be shared.

This is Cook's second book on foraging. The Miller Library also has Fat of the Land from 2009. In addition to mushrooms, this book highlights the collection practices for fiddlehead ferns, dandelions, huckleberries, and a selection of animals including clams, crabs, and various fish. Several recipes will set your mouth watering.

Plant Answer LinePlant Answer Line: obscure questions welcome

Question: Can 'Giant Feather Grass' (Stipa gigantea)
be propagated by division or by seed only?

You can propagate Stipa either by division or by seed. According to the A-Z Encyclopedia of Plants and the AHS Plant Propagation books, both ways need to be started in the spring. Specifically, seeds should be sown in containers in a cold frame in spring. Divisions should be done from mid-spring to early summer.

Seeds should be sown when you can maintain a temperature of 59 degrees F. Most grass seed germinates in a week. Transplant seedlings one to a pot or cell as soon as they are large enough to handle. Transfer pots of established seedlings to a frost-free place to grow. Plant out in mid-spring.

To take divisions, cut back the foliage for easier handling, then lift the clump. Shake loose soil from the roots or wash clean, to make it easier to separate them. Use a sharp knife to divide the clump into good-sized sections. Trim any overlong or damaged roots. The divisions can then be replanted in the garden.  I have also noticed that in my garden, Stipa usually reseeds itself and if you look carefully you may find some small seedlings already started, which you can transplant.


James Toner birds photoJames Toner exhibit continues through July 30

Artist James Toner creates sculptures, furniture, and lamps with mixed materials including wood, stone, ceramics, and bronze. Bronzes, cast flowers and lamps made from handmade paper & birch bark are included in this exhibit at the Elisabeth C. Miller Library.


New to the Library June 2014

Centennial Woods restoration and management plan by Jonathan Peter Diemer
Elwha River revegetation 2013: a plant performance study by Crescent Calimpong

Leaflet for Scholars is a regular online newsletter of the Elisabeth C. Miller Library
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