planting fruit trees while it’s Fruit time
Fruit time is always my favorite,
and usually the busiest, time for us.
And this Fruit time is especially so,
as we’ve entered the Northern Transplanting time,
so it is an ideal time to plant fruit tree saplings.
Today we got three more trees,
so dug three more holes.
This time we selected a Lemon
(with one unripe lemon, a flower bud, & the most incredible smell)
a Tangerine (with three plump dark green fruits), and another Olive tree
(because three olive trees fit well on the hillside in a nice triangular formation).
Fortunately, their prices have been quite reasonable,
from 3€ to 8€ per tree, so we can afford to go a bit overboard.
We also grabbed two limbs of someone’s pruned fig tree that we found roadside,
and after two weeks sitting in a can a water, they have sprouted rootlets.
So before the end of Fruit time,
we will dig a couple more holes
and get those in the ground too.
While working on our moonfarmer mushroom recycling projects
that we had begun for a research assignment while in Austria,
we discovered that mushrooms also tend to “fruit” during Fruit time.
And several of the mushroom samples we moved with us
have enjoyed the cool rainy weather and responded with ample fruitings.
Two more of the oyster mushrooms growing in recycled milk cartons have begun sprouting,
and an oyster mushroom patch growing in a foil-lined paper bag grew a huge cluster,
while hidden away on the bottom shelf of our outdoor mushroom storage shelf.
(I always check all the samples during each Fruit time,
because they emerge so quickly.
So we will be eating a lot more oyster mushrooms.
Tonight I made a Mexican-inspired bean, oyster mushroom,
and red pepper stew that we dipped quesadillas into. Yum.
I also transplanted our shaggy mane mushroom patch this afternoon,
into a small, soggy clearing behind the pond, in the shade of a huge cork oak tree.
During my research I was told to collect some soil
from the site of the wild shaggy mane patch
to transplant soil microorganisms needed to induce the fungus to fruit.
So I put the collected soil microbe clumps on top of the mushroom patch
(mycelia-sprouting spores growing onto a homemade “forest-floor” substrate),
and hope the overnight rains will do the rest.
At first, I was dismayed about our prospects of growing shaggy manes,
as they are a cool weather species that will not fruit until after a frost,
not quite an ideal species to bring to Portugal. (But one of our favorites!)
Luckily the shaggy mane patch seems to have survived the hot summer journey
and probably enjoys the cool rains that we’ve had recently.
And the selected site is in the lowest part of our yard, around the pond,
and has frosted over several times so far this month,
so hopefully Portugal will be cool enough for them to make mushrooms.
Shaggy manes have no market-ability because they deteriorate quickly
(turning into a grayish spore-filled goo in a process called “autodigestion”),
but they are incredible, especially when picked young and fried as tempura,
or dipped in beaten egg, stuffed with grated cheese, and sautéed.
I’ve been taking advantage of Fruit time in the kitchen,
preparing our meals around the fruits
(including beans, nuts, & seed-filled veggies) we have around,
so at the moment lots of mushrooms and pears.
Last night I found chestnuts and decided to make a chestnut soup.
(I crave chestnut soup about once annually,
since having it in a restaurant in the fall while living in Austria.)
Not to brag, but I really liked my soup better than any I ever had.
I browned a chopped onion, fennel, two diced potatoes, and a sliced pear in butter,
then added some herbs and seasoned salt, then simmered in cattail broth.
Meanwhile, I toasted the chestnuts in a lightly buttered pan,
then chopped fine and added to the simmering soup.
The chestnut soups in Austria were loaded with cream and not very nutty,
this one was hearty and nutty and creamy, without any cream.
I ate three bowls.