May 19, 2021
When I went out to check my containers, I was surprised to see five or six mushrooms growing out of the pot where the pepper had restarted itself. These had seemingly grown overnight and now stood about five inches high. The wet and humid weather often causes mushrooms to grow in our yard, but I had not previously had mushrooms in any of my containers. I noticed several days ago that the portion of the container which now had mushrooms had undergone some digging activity by a rodent (squirrel?) of some sort. I quickly removed the mushrooms and thew them into the yard.
The more I thought about the mushrooms the more I wondered what they were, and why they were there. When I looked online, I found that mushrooms are a sign that your garden has organic-rich soil. I had taken a picture of the mushrooms, so I looked them up to see what they were. While all my apps struggled to identify the species of mushroom in my container, I settled on the White Dunce Cap. Conocybe apala is a basidiomycete fungus and a member of the genus Conocybe. It is common in both North America and Europe and is often found growing in short green grass. Until recently, the species was also commonly called Conocybe lactea or Conocybe albipes. I also read I had no need to panic finding the mushrooms in my container. Most species are not toxic, and they do not to hinder the growth of your plants. I still threw them out.
For a while in California, I lived in a dilapidated house that had a dormer attached to one side. What I did not know at the time was that the roof of the dormer leaked. I did not pay too much attention as the only thing it housed was a small walk-in closet. The entire house had hardwood floors, except for the plywood floor of the dormer which had an indoor-outdoor rug placed over it. As I walked into the closet during the rainy season, I looked down to see four or five large Laetiporus sulphureus on the floor and wall. Many people think that the mushroom tastes like crab or lobster, leading to the nickname lobster-of-the-woods (also chicken-of-the-woods). The authors of Mushrooms in Color said that the mushroom tastes good sauteed in butter or prepared in a cream sauce served on toast or rice. I did not know this. Neither did I think it important to eat whatever grew in my closet.
Thoughts: The house I lived in was in the middle of Berkeley, California. Most people I knew lived in small apartments while I lived in this one-bedroom house. I admit, the closet did have mushrooms, the bedroom barely contained my bed, and the front porch fell off while I lived there, but it was a space by myself. The only rub was I paid $600 a month in rent for something the owner would not have been legally able to rent to anyone else. I have seen rental property from both sides. There are renters who do not care and leave the apartment with $1000’s in damages on departure. There are landowner’s who do not care and refuse to fix anything and blame the renter for breaking it. During the pandemic, some renters are being subsidized and others are being protected from eviction. While there are two sides to every story, both lessor and lessee treating the other with respect and humanity is a good place to start. Do the work. Change is coming and it starts with you.