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Mushrooms 101& Community Garden Alert

“There are old mushroom foragers, and there are bold mushroom foragers. But there are no old, bold mushroom foragers.”

That’s a little bit of wisdom quoted by gourmet mushroom farmer Duncan Soldner, the speaker at the next Windsor Garden Club meeting (Tuesday Feb. 16, 6:30 p.m., Windsor Senior Center Community Room).

Soldner freely admits he knows nothing about wild varieties, but as a lifelong fungi farmer he’s never had to forage. He dropped out of law school in the 1970s after finding mushrooms – the legal kind – much more fun. “I’ve been mushroom farming since Jimmy Carter was president. That’s a lot of presidents,” he explained.

He tried retiring when he and his wife moved to Sonoma County a while back, but it didn’t stick. Soldner and two of his “mushroom buddies” now supply some 20 Sonoma County restaurants with Crimini, Portabella, Oyster and Shiitake mushrooms. They also sell at Farmers’ Markets (including Healdsburg, Windsor and at the Wells Fargo Performing Arts Center) from Cloverdale to Petaluma.

Those varieties can be grown sustainably on natural materials in a commercial operation. And they’re easy to grow at home as well. Find out how during his free presentation. You’ll also learn:

  • Which ancient civilization thought mushrooms were “the Food of the Gods”

  • Which mushroom has more potassium than a banana

  • Why mushrooms like coffee

  • Which Northern California mushrooms refuse to be tamed and can only be found in the wild, and more.

Are the ‘shrooms popping up on your lawn or out on the trail safe to eat? Or are they the poisonous “Deathcap” kind that will kill you? Soldner, the farmer, has some advice: The No Old, Bold Mushroom Foragers saying.

“Most of the wild mushroom guys I know, if they find something that doesn’t look exactly like what they’ve been taught, they won’t touch it.”

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Windsor Town Green Community Garden Alert! Now is the time to apply to rent a bed in the community garden on the beautiful Town Green. It’s a beautiful spot and a fun way to meet people who like to garden. Raised, drip-irrigated garden beds rent for the calendar year and rents range from $15 to $50 depending on bed size.

Wheelchair- and walker-accessible beds are available – as well as raised beds for “no backache/bend-over” gardening.

The garden is organic (no chemical pesticides or fertilizers – but there’s an approved list of store-buyable bug sprays you can use there) and garden bed renters are expected to do about a half hour to an hour a month (6 hours per year minimum) of weeding and tidying up in the common areas and walkways.

Find out more and download an application plus application instructions at (Click on the “Community Garden” link up top.)

Get your application in now, and use the rain expected to head this way in February to grow your own salad in a cool-weather spring garden. Lettuce, endive, arugula, spinach, parsley, leeks, kale and radishes are all February starters. (I left out broccoli and cauliflower – on purpose. Plant them if you must.)

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