The great mushroom fail

It was supposed to be foolproof – or as close to it as possible. But it didn’t take into account my superpower. Not many people know this, but I have the ability to kill plants at fifty paces by doing nothing more than having them in my vicinity. Actually, I tell a lie – most people who know me know this. None of my siblings have my superpower, so my theory is that an angel must have specially visited me when I was born and gave me a talent that they don’t have. And, although it’s never been said in my hearing, I’m guessing they’re glad the angel picked me and not them. Not that my siblings care much about hurting my feelings, or anything, it just won’t have occurred to them to express it in that way. My other theory is that the angel might have smoked a bit of plant that day herself, and got her superpower recipes mixed up. She’s not owning up to it, of course.

I’ve got a bit of a superficial fascination for fungi. Not enough to study fungi life seriously, but enough to understand that they’re fairly fascinating. So when I saw a write up somewhere about a small scale organic mushroom farm in North Canterbury called Sporeshift Mushrooms I looked them up to have a gander at what exactly they do. It took all of a few seconds to get captivated by the pictures of amazing mushrooms, and to (foolishly) think that even I could manage to grow some mushrooms from their kits, in spite of my superpower. The pink oyster mushrooms looked so delightful and thoroughly appealing, I just had to choose them. I had the full movie going on in my head of how they would flourish and grow, and how I would cook them with such care and anticipation of their deliciousness. I excitedly told my friend, Trish, of what I had done. “Good idea,” she said, “get them and get it out of your system.” Not quite the support and enthusiasm I was hoping for after I built up my wee mushroom fantasy world, but then she just might have had an inkling of how this would go.

How the mushrooms should have looked. I didn’t take a photo of them NOT looking like this.

My mushroom spore package duly arrived, and I tended it with care. At least, I thought I did. It was basically a block of compost wrapped in clear plastic, with mushroom spores inside the compost. All the right things started happening, and mushrooms began poking their heads out of the aperture in the bag. Then wrong things started happening. Far from the beautiful luscious things in the picture, they lost their colour and shriveled. I watered them and said nice words to them, until I eventually acknowledged defeat. Naturally, I was bitterly disappointed – not really, more like just resigned to their fate.

Because my garden is stoned, and not in the way I suspect the angel was who visited me at my birth was, I took the mushroom fail down to the nephew’s garden at the back flat on the same property as me to put on his garden. No point wasting the compost, I thought, and who knows, the mushrooms might rejuvenate when they’re away from my superpower. The nephew attacks his garden spasmodically, and had cleared a patch of weeds between the lemon and camellia trees that day, so we tossed the compost there with whatever spores might still be alive. It seems that it wasn’t far enough away from my superpower, because not one little pink head ever poked up above the soil.

No mushroom activity between the lemon and camellia trees, but I do spy a little lemon.

However, in the interests of blaming anyone except myself, I’m blaming the blackbirds for this fail. The little buggers do love getting into freshly turned garden, especially where there’s leaf litter, and tossing it all around. It’s possible that the nephew’s cat might have tossed the leaf litter around a bit, too, if the couple of mounds there were anything to go by. I also blamed the mushrooms for being so weak and delicate, and not robust enough to withstand a little bit of superpower. And then I blamed Sporeshift for not making it clear on their website that these pink oyster mushrooms were a sub-tropical variety, which I only noted once they arrived with the care instructions, and needed a little more TLC than the average Christchurch spring weather bestows either indoors or outdoors. Not a bad effort racking up four ‘blames’, I thought. Almost a win, in fact.

And just to show that some plants are made of sterner stuff than stupid weak pink oyster mushrooms, here’s a picture of the rose bush in my garden. Not only has it flipped the finger to my superpower, it mocks it by flowering right in my face – the wonderful thing.

9 thoughts on “The great mushroom fail

  1. I think mushrooms are meant to grow in the dark, not outside in the garden. I once bought a bucket of ordinary mushroom spore, kept them in the shed, and did manage to harvest some. These were ordinary mushrooms – not your exotic oyster ones.

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  2. I’m sorry to hear about your mushrooms. It seems odd that a North Canterbury business is selling plants for a subtropical climate. Who are they expecting to buy the product?

    Beautiful roses! I love camellias too and remember how well they grow in Christchurch.

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  3. Mushrooms are hard to grow, and I speak from the experience of trying to grow shiitake mushrooms from a similar kit. The company that created it gave me detailed instructions, so I made sure I kept the “log” moist and in a shady, cool place. To my disappointment, a few tiny “ears’ appeared on the log before shriveling up and turning black, very much like yours. I called the mushroom company—they had a toll free “Ask the Mushroom Farmer!” hotline—and the very patient man who picked up suggested I’d overwatered mine. Shiitakes grow on rotting tree logs in the deep forests of East Asia, so they want a little moisture, but not the flood I was giving them. So it might not be your superpowers that doomed your oyster mushrooms, but just a want of a little instruction and maybe a little too much water.

    But! I thought I had a green thumb until this year, when half of the plants I put in died or shriveled into sad little stems. My established roses didn’t look as healthy as yours—they put out a nice flush of blooms early in the spring and again in the late summer, but I think it was simply too hot this year for anything to grow. Unless one had a cactus garden, which is a nope for me. I won’t garden in chain mail gloves!

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    1. I’m glad to hear that mushrooms are tricky little sods, and that my superpowers might not have been the only reason for their demise – lol!

      I’m quite fascinated by cacti, too, but once again, only superficially. Do they all have prickles?

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      1. There are cacti without spines; they’re more like succulents than the classic cactus you see in US Westerns and movies set in the desert. Prickly pear doesn’t have big spiky thorns, but they do have these irritating tiny “slivers” that, once they’re hooked into your skin, are hard to remove and feel like you have several splinters, all crying to be tweezed out. I’ve seen these clever terrariums with tiny thornless cacti in them, but I was warned they’re hard to keep alive because they have to be watered “just so.” You might want to make a visit to your local garden center or florist and see what they have. Some cacti have beautiful flowers and little to no thorns, though again they can be finicky about where they’re placed and how you care for them. But I’m just not a cactus person, after having tried and failed to get any of them to thrive. And you might be able to tell I’ve gotten prickles in my hand not a few times, lol.

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      2. I might pass then – lol! Only robust plants survive with me. Sometimes I’d like to be a better gardener, but I don’t have enough enthusiasm or intuitiveness with nurturing them.


  4. That’s funny, i have a similar superpower. But there’s been so much rain not even I can kill the garden. You’re right though, it’s survival of the fittest and really we’re not helping anyone by mollycoddling these puny, needy little flora… it’s a jungle out there!

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