Learning
and imitating
Earth’s natural systems
is a key practice
for humans
wanting to live in such a way
that all life can thrive.
And one of nature’s amazing feats
is mycelium,
a single-celled organism
that travels in a vast network
underground, several inches
a day.
Most of us are most familiar
with mushrooms, the fruit
of this fungi.
Mycologist Paul Stamets
has been studying mycelium
for thirty years.
His fourth book
is Mycelium Running.
How Mushrooms Can Save the World
.
In it, he calls the fungi,
“the grand recyclers,”
“mycomagicians,”
“the neurological network of nature”
than can
“expand to thousands of acres in size in cellular mats
achieving the greatest mass of any individual organism on this planet.”
The mycelium are a wonder of nature—
“the neurological network of nature,”
says Stamets—
distributing nutrients from plant to plant,
producing strong antibiotics,
filtering pollutants,
removing toxins, like heavy metals,
controlling pests, like ants and termites,
decomposing plant debris, creating humus.
You can watch Stamets’
Ted Talk.

So, Ann’s taken on
learning how to grow
mycelium.
With Stamets’ book as guide,
she and her eldest son, Brok,
have begun growing mycelium spores
in cardboard in jars
then planting them—
he, in his garden in Colorado,
she, here in the high tunnel
where last winter’s garden
and spring’s potato crop
grew,
in hopes that the fungi
will improve the soil
and provide nutrients
for vegetable plants.
(And mushrooms to eat!)

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We were excited
one day this week
when suddenly,
in the straw bed
in the high tunnel
we could see evidence
that the mycelium are running.
The first mushrooms
emerged.

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