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Title: Mushroom Culture - Its Extension and Improvement
Author: Robinson, W. Heath (William Heath), 1872-1944
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcriber’s Note: Italic text is denoted by _underscores_.
A list of amendments is at the end of the text.



    The Country Series
    OF
    FARM, GARDEN, AND RURAL BOOKS FOR GENERAL USE,

    PUBLISHED UNDER THE DIRECTION OF
    W. ROBINSON, F.L.S.,

_Founder of “The Garden,” “Farm and Home,” and “Gardening Illustrated;”
Horticultural Editor of “The Field;” Author of “The Parks and Gardens of
Paris,” “Alpine Flowers for English Gardens,” “The Wild Garden,” “Hardy
Flowers,” &c._



    MUSHROOM CULTURE

    ITS

    _EXTENSION AND IMPROVEMENT_


[Illustration: MOUTH OF MUSHROOM-CAVE NEAR PARIS]

[Illustration: BOTTOM OF SHAFT OF MUSHROOM-CAVE]



    MUSHROOM CULTURE

    ITS

    _EXTENSION AND IMPROVEMENT_


    BY
    W. ROBINSON, F.L.S.

    AUTHOR OF
    _“The Parks and Gardens of Paris,” “Alpine Flowers,” &c._


    WITH NUMEROUS ILLUSTRATIONS


    NEW YORK
    GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS
    NO. 9 LAFAYETTE PLACE
    LONDON, GLASGOW AND MANCHESTER



PREFACE.


MY reasons for writing this book are: First, that Mushroom Culture is
but little practised in this country compared to the extent to which it
ought to be, considering the abundance of the necessary materials in all
parts of these islands, both in town and country, and the high
estimation in which the Mushroom is held. I now refer to ordinary
Mushroom Culture as practised in our best private gardens. I believe it
possible and desirable to extend this, the only phase of the Culture
that can be called popular, in a tenfold degree, and that every place in
which a gardener and horses are kept should be abundantly supplied with
Mushrooms throughout the greater part of the year. Secondly, that
although Mushroom Culture as usually practised is perfectly well known
to good cultivators, a simpler and fuller account of it than has yet
appeared in any English book on the subject is desirable for the
unpractised amateur and cultivator. Thirdly, that Mushroom Culture is at
present confined to a too narrow groove; and a belief that the general
gardening public should have a broad and clear idea of the several ways
in which they may procure abundance of excellent Mushrooms with very
trifling expense. Even many of the best private growers never think of
it except as illustrated on their comparatively small beds in small
houses. I believe that if the knowledge of how easily and in how many
ways they may be grown, apart from the usual mode, were sufficiently
spread, it would lead to the production of many times our present
supply. Fourthly, a desire to introduce to this and other countries the
system of Mushroom Culture on a very large scale carried on in caverns
beneath the environs of Paris, which caverns I visited in 1868.

To these reasons I might add a wish to call attention to the waste of
money for Mushroom-spawn that now occurs in nearly every garden. There
is not the slightest necessity for this. In every garden where Mushrooms
are grown abundance of spawn may be made. Mr. W. P. AYRES writes lately
to tell me that in a great midland garden where the spawn bill used to
amount to 18_l._ or 19_l._ a year, by saving the spawn as the Parisian
growers do, all expense for this article is abolished.

I do not attempt to praise or even duly weigh the merits of the
Mushroom--that could only be adequately done by the immortal
BRILLAT-SAVARIN. He, however, seems to have somewhat neglected this most
precious of _légumes_. None but his serious soul could have approached
the subject with the necessary solemnity. Nobody but he who first saw
the deep dangers of hurried, thoughtless, and irreverent feeding, could
have done justice to its exquisite flavour when in the best condition,
or could have explained how deliciously it combined the virtues of herb
and flesh, unspeakably superior to either. Let us, in passing, quote one
of his aphorisms, contributed to form the _base éternelle à la science_:
“_La découverte d’un mets nouveau fait plus pour le bonheur du genre
humain que la découverte d’une étoile!_”

Now, I do not hesitate to say that the introduction of the Mushroom into
our domestic economy in as great a degree as we have it in our power to
produce it, would practically be the addition of a new agent in our
_cuisine_, second to none for its delicacy, and unsurpassed for utility.
It is true the Mushroom is plentiful in its season, but it is with us,
at all seasons when it is not to be gathered in the open air, a luxury
to numbers of owners of gardens who have means to grow it. As for the
much larger class who ought to be supplied from our markets, they seldom
see or taste a Mushroom except when these occur in profusion in our
fields, though every cart of stable-manure produced in this great
horse-keeping country may, on its way towards decomposition and
replenishing the earth, be made a nidus for furnishing many dishes of
them.

The illustrations showing the cave-culture of mushrooms are from my
“Parks, Promenades, and Gardens of Paris.” And the frontispiece is after
two large cuts of the mushroom caves of Paris, which appeared in the
_Illustrated London News_ some time after the appearance of my work. The
illustrations of edible fungi are by Mr. WORTHINGTON G. SMITH, who knows
and draws these interesting subjects so thoroughly well; and the other
figures are by Mr. HODGKIN.

[Illustration]



CONTENTS.


                                                                  PAGE

    WHERE MUSHROOMS MAY BE GROWN                                     1

    CHAPTER I.

    MUSHROOM CULTURE IN THE MUSHROOM-HOUSE                           2

    CHAPTER II.

    THE PREPARATION OF THE MATERIALS, ETC.                          13

    CHAPTER III.

    MUSHROOM-SPAWN                                                  23

    CHAPTER IV.

    SPAWNING AND AFTER-TREATMENT                                    33

    CHAPTER V.

    CULTURE IN SHEDS, CELLARS, ARCHES, OUTHOUSES, AND ALL
      ENCLOSED STRUCTURES OTHER THAN THE MUSHROOM-HOUSE             43

    CHAPTER VI.

    THE CAVE CULTURE OF MUSHROOMS, NEAR PARIS                       57

    CHAPTER VII.

    CULTURE ON PREPARED BEDS IN THE OPEN AIR IN GARDENS AND
      FIELDS                                                        77

    CHAPTER VIII.

    CULTURE IN GARDENS, ETC., WITH OTHER CROPS IN THE OPEN AIR      84

    CHAPTER IX.

    MUSHROOM CULTURE IN PASTURES, ETC.                              88

    CHAPTER X.

    THE COMMON MUSHROOMS                                            95

    CHAPTER XI.

    MODES OF COOKING THE COMMON MUSHROOMS                          102

    CHAPTER XII.

    SOME OF THE MOST COMMON AND USEFUL EDIBLE FUNGI                108



MUSHROOM CULTURE.



WHERE MUSHROOMS MAY BE GROWN.


THE places in which mushrooms can be grown may be roughly grouped as
follows:--1. In the mushroom-house proper. 2. In sheds, cellars,
out-houses, stables, railway-arches, &c. 3. In deep caves, like those
near Paris, described further on. 4. In the open air, in gardens or
fields, on prepared beds. 5. In gardens, among various crops, without
any preparation beyond inserting the spawn. 6. In pastures where the
mushroom is not already established.

To these I might add another group, illustrated by the case of a Belgian
cook who grew a dish of mushrooms in a pair of old wooden shoes; but
practically we can treat of nearly every possible mode of growing the
mushroom under the above headings.



CHAPTER I.

MUSHROOM CULTURE IN THE MUSHROOM-HOUSE.


[Illustration: Fig. 1. Mushroom-house at back of hothouses.]

CULTURE in the mushroom-house being the most practised, and, on the
whole, the most important phase of the subject, we will first treat of
it. And first of the mushroom-house itself. Its construction is very
simple: the conditions to be obtained are equable temperature, secured
by thick or hollow walls and by a double roof. Figure 1 shows a house
designed for me by Mr. Ormson, the well-known horticultural builder.

It is situated at the back of the hothouses, where a flow and return
pipe can be run through for artificial heat. The shelves for making the
beds upon are of slate 1½ in. thick, or of stone 2½ in. thick,
built into the walls, and into brick piers built in cement. Upright
slates, to slide in grooves, are placed along the front of the shelves
to keep the beds in.

[Illustration: Fig. 2. Ground-plan of preceding.]

The floor may be of paving tiles, or bricks, laid on concrete: a
skylight or two may be fixed in the roof, for the purpose of admitting a
little light, and air when necessary. The engraving (fig. 2), shows a
house of this description, 12 feet wide by 20 feet long, inside measure,
but, of course, the length may be extended as circumstances may
require.

As it is of importance in mushroom-growing that the air of the house
should be kept moderately moist, the underside of a slate or tile roof
should be lathed and plastered.

[Illustration: Fig. 3. View of unheated mushroom-house.]

[Illustration: Fig. 4. Section of preceding figure.]

Figure 3 represents a mushroom-house suitable for people of small means,
or those who cannot adopt plan No. 1. It is designed with a view to
growing mushrooms during the greater part of the year, without the aid
of artificial heat. To this end it is constructed in such a way as not
to be affected by changes of the external temperature, as will be seen
by the engraving. The walls are hollow, and banked round with the soil
excavated from the interior. The roof is thatched with reeds, and the
ends stud-work, lined inside with boards, and outside with split larch
poles: the cavity to be filled with sawdust or cut straw; a small
diamond-shaped ventilator, hung on pivots, to be fixed in each end. The
floor may be of concrete, or burnt clay well rammed; and the beds are
retained in their place by boards nailed to good oak posts. Care should
be taken to put in efficient drains, so that no stagnant damp may exist
about the building.

[Illustration: Fig. 5. Section of mushroom-house at Frogmore.]

Though the preceding cuts show how we may best attain our object, a few
more illustrations of mushroom-houses are desirable here. Figures 5 and
6 exhibit the plan of the mushroom-houses at Frogmore, obligingly
communicated by Mr. Rose.

[Illustration: Fig. 6. Ground-plan of mushroom-house at Frogmore.]

It need hardly be said that in such large mushroom-houses rhubarb and
sea-kale may be easily forced, and barbe de capucin, endive, &c.
blanched.

A small hot-water apparatus, with a 3-inch flow and return pipe, affords
the best means of heating a mushroom-house which is not so situated that
it may be heated from the boilers of adjacent hothouses. The best
position for the mushroom-house is against a north wall. The usual
precautions for guarding against damp walls and floor should be adopted
in the case of the mushroom-house, and the walls should be hollow.

Forsyth’s mushroom-house is described by the designer in Loudon’s
_Gardener’s Magazine_. Fig. 7 is a transverse section, showing the
arches under and over the beds, the thoroughfare _a_ is the middle, and
the position of the hot-water pipes, _c_; _b_ is an open shed and
general workshop, the receptacle of everything requiring protection, and
too clumsy to be otherwise housed.

[Illustration: Fig. 7. Mushroom-house under shed.]

A shed of this description is an indispensable adjunct to every
well-ordered garden, and in the present case it serves as a roof to the
mushroom-house. In the centre of each vault, shown in fig. 7, a circular
ventilator, _d_, 9 in. in diameter, should be made, having a stone and
cast-iron stopper, with a folding ring. The whole roof of the
mushroom-house is covered over with pavement, which at the same time
forms the floor of the shed above. Mr. Forsyth objects to cast-iron
shelves “on account of the rust, and to slate shelves, as being cold and
damp, and therefore not suitable to the purpose;” but he knows of no
objection to shelves built of bricks and mortar, kerbed with hewn stone
3 in. wide, and clamped together with lead.

[Illustration: Fig. 8. Mushroom-house at Stoke Place.]

[Illustration: Fig. 9.]

The annexed diagrams (figs. 8 and 9) exhibit the mushroom-houses used at
Stoke Place, both for summer and winter use, as described by Macintosh
in the “Book of the Garden.” “Of course the former is not heated; the
latter is, by 4-inch hot-water pipes, which are brought from a boiler
constructed to heat at the same time a range of pits for pines, melons,
&c., 89 feet long and 7 feet wide. The shelves are close-bottomed to
prevent the beds from drying too rapidly, and to require less watering,
which Mr. Patrick thinks a very important precaution in mushroom
culture. Ventilation is effected by a slide in the door, and a wooden
trunk up through the arch and roof, with a slide in it also. We do not
exactly see the motive of Mr. Patrick, whom we have long known and
esteemed as one of the best gardeners in England, in adopting the span
roof over this house, as, from its situation behind the garden wall, a
lean-to roof would have been cheaper and carried off the rain-water
better. It is rather a novel, but still a good plan, to have the inner
roof constructed of a brick arch, as it will of course save the outer
one from decay, to which all mushroom-house roofs are liable more than
any other kind of garden building. This house struck us at first sight
as very complete, excepting in breadth. We should increase it to 9
feet--that is, 3 feet for the breadth of the beds on each side, and the
same for the footpath, which at present is inconveniently narrow.”

[Illustration: Fig. 10. Russian mushroom-house.]

The Russian mushroom-house (fig. 10) is thus described by Mr. Oldacre,
in the _Horticultural Society’s Transactions_, vol. ii. first series.
“The outside walls should be 8½ feet high for four heights of beds,
and 6½ for three heights, and 10 feet wide inside the walls. This is
the most convenient width, as it admits of shelves 3½ feet wide on
each side, and affords a space through the middle of the house 3 feet
wide, for a double flue and a walk upon it.” Hot-water pipes were not in
use when this house was erected. “The walls should be 9 inches thick,
and the length of the house as may be judged necessary. When the outside
of the house is built, place a ceiling over it (as high as the top of
the walls) of boards 1 inch thick, and plaster it on the upper side with
road sand well wrought together, 1 inch thick, (this will be found
superior to lime), leaving square trunks, _f_, in the ceiling 9 inches
in width, up the middle of the house, at 6 feet distance from each
other, with slides, _s_, under them, to admit and take off air when
necessary. This being done, erect two single-brick walls, _v v_, each
five bricks high, at the distance of 3½ feet from the outside walls,
to hold up the sides of the lower beds, _a a_, and form one side of the
air-flue, _t u t u_, leaving 3 feet up the middle, _t x t_, of the house
for the floor. Upon these walls, _v v_, lay planks, _t u_, 4½ inches
wide and 3 inches thick, in which to mortise the standards, _t k_, which
support the shelves. These standards should be 3½ inches square, and
placed 4 feet 6 inches asunder, and fastened at the top to the ceiling
joists. When the standards are set up, fix the cross-bearers, _i n i n_,
that are to support the shelves, _o o_, mortising one end of each into
the standards, _n_, the other into the walls, _i_. The first set of
bearers should be 2 feet from the floor, and each succeeding set 2 feet
from that below it. Having thus fixed the uprights, _t k_, and bearers,
_i n_, at such a height as the building will admit, proceed to form the
shelves, _o o_, with boards 1½ inches thick, observing to place a
board, _d d_, 8 inches broad and 1 inch thick, in the front of each
shelf, to support the front of the beds. Fasten this board on the
outside standards, that the width of the beds may not be diminished. The
shelves being completed, the next thing to be done is the construction
of the flue (_p_ in section), which should commence at the end of the
house next to the door, run parallel to the shelves all the length of
the house, and return back to the fireplace, where the chimney should be
built; the sides of the flue inside to be of the height of four bricks
laid flatways, and 6 inches wide, which will make the width of the flues
15 inches from outside to outside, and leave a cavity, _t u_, on each
side betwixt the flue and the walls that are under the shelves, and one,
_x y_, up the middle, betwixt the flues, 2 inches wide, to admit the
heat into the house from the sides of the flues.” The introduction of
this form of house by Mr. Oldacre has led to much improvement in our
mushroom culture. The first house of this kind erected in England, was
built at Shipley, near Derby, in the garden of E. M. Mundy, Esq., by the
father of Mr. W. P. Ayres, whose name will be found frequently mentioned
in this work. There brick arches were formed for the shelves, and though
built more than half a century ago, the house is still in good
condition.

Although slate is generally used for the shelves, the adoption of
cast-iron gratings for this purpose is well worth a trial, as by this
means we may be enabled to cut mushrooms from the under as well as the
upper side of the bed.



CHAPTER II

THE PREPARATION OF THE MATERIALS, ETC.


BEFORE we deal with the various ways of growing the mushroom, we will
speak of the preparation of the material. As stable manure not only
furnishes the nutriment, but forms the very soil in which mushrooms are
produced artificially, and also supplies the heat which enables us to
grow them to perfection at all seasons, by far the most important point
connected with their culture is the management of this. It is very
simple, but frequently, even by excellent gardeners, considered to
require much more trouble and nicety than is really necessary. For
example, it is quite common in good gardens to see the droppings
collected carefully in some shed, or in the mushroom-house, and turned
over almost as tenderly and carefully as the contents of the fruit-room.
Good mushrooms are well worth this trouble; but, as it is quite
unnecessary, it should not be done except in special cases.

To show the diversity of opinion among excellent mushroom-growers as to
the preparation of the manure, I will quote a few of our most
trustworthy authorities on the subject. Mr. W. Early, in “How to Grow
Mushrooms,” lays great stress on the importance of gathering the
droppings in a dry state. “Every advantage should be taken of
opportunities of securing and placing them in any open shed, or other
similar position, where they can be effectually sheltered from rains. In
such a place, whilst the process of collecting is going on, every
portion should be spread loosely over the floor, in moderate sized
ridges, or in any other manner that will allow the air to get amongst it
to assist in drying. It should also be tossed over or turned, and
lightened up daily for the same purpose, until a sufficiency is gathered
together for immediate use.”

This may be taken as a sample of the practice very extensively followed
in this country. Happily, we have excellent mushroom growers who succeed
without all this trouble, as the following remarks of Mr. J. Barnes will
show:--“For the last thirty years I have made my beds entirely on the
floor in sheds, wheeling in the stable dung as it is brought fresh from
the stable, adding a fourth, or a little more than a fourth, of good
friable loam, mixing both well together, pressing firmly down, and
letting it remain about a week or so untouched. At the end of that time
we turn it over, and if we consider it in too strong a state of
fermentation we add a little more soil, and then tread down firmly.
Very soon the bed is ready to be spawned, and encased in a couple of
inches of soil; and in this way we get the finest crops of mushrooms,
the beds remaining a long time in bearing. After the beds have been some
time, say from six to twelve weeks, in bearing, and begin to get dry,
and cease to bear well, we water them thoroughly with very clear liquid
manure, made from sheep or deer or cow manure, which seems to start them
again into bearing, and then we manage to keep some of the beds in
bearing for many months at a time.” In the _Field_, Dec. 22, 1868, I
stated that the manure for the mushroom-beds in the Royal Gardens,
Frogmore, was not prepared in any elaborate way, but simply taken from a
great heap fermenting in the yard, any parts of it that had become white
from heat being moistened with water, and the whole being mixed with
about a fourth part of loam. Mr. Cuthill, an authority on mushroom
culture, tells us how the London market gardeners manage with their
manure. As the material is brought home from the London stables, the
short part is taken out of it, and the long litter is kept for the
purpose of covering, as well as for forming the interior of ridges; for
all mushroom-beds out of doors are made into ridges. The manure is not
allowed to heat before it is put into the beds, if that can be
prevented; for previously heated material does not produce such fine
mushrooms. The fresher the horse-dung is, the longer the crop will last
and every gardener who makes up beds with unheated droppings knows how
superior they are to fermented manure.

In his own practice Mr. C. depended a good deal on heavy tramping to
“keep down fermentation” when droppings were used in a fresh state. The
French, who are great mushroom growers, allow the manure to heat first,
but treat it very simply. They prepare it in the open air, first
removing any pieces of wood or other extraneous matter that may have
been mixed with it, and then place it long and short in beds two feet
thick, or a little more, pressing it with the fork. When this is done,
the mass or bed is well stamped, then thoroughly watered, and finally
again pressed down by stamping. It is left in this state for eight or
ten days, by which time it has begun to ferment, after which the bed
ought to be well turned over and re-made on the same place, care being
taken to place the manure that was near the sides at first towards the
centre in the turning and re-making. The mass is now left for another
ten days or so, at the end of which time the manure is about in proper
condition for making the beds, either in the open air or in the caves.
Sometimes it receives three turnings over, especially when the manure is
long, and it occupies altogether about six weeks in preparation. As the
wide heaps are turned over by the men, a water-cart remains alongside,
and any portions of the mass that are dry and white from heat are
moistened with water from a rose watering pot. This preparation shortens
and mollifies the longer material considerably, mixes the mass well, and
it is transferred to the caves in a slightly decomposed, well mixed, and
moist, but not wet, condition. The French do not actually hammer or
desperately tramp down the beds, as nearly all our writers on mushroom
culture recommend, but press it pretty firmly; and I have seen as good
crops on their light spongy beds as ever I have on those so firmly
tramped down. I might give other striking instances of the diversity of
opinion on this subject, but it is needless to multiply them.

My conclusions respecting the preparation of the manure for mushrooms
are as follows:--1. That very careful preparation and frequent turning
over of the manure undercover are not necessary to success, and that it
is quite needless to prepare the manure under cover, except when it is
gathered in a very small quantity, so that a heavy rain or snow would
saturate it. Where, however, the culture is pursued on a very small
scale, and, it may be, only one bed made, it is best to keep it in a
covered shed. 2. That carefully picked droppings are not essential,
though they may be more convenient. Excellent crops are gathered from
beds made with ordinary stable manure, droppings and long materials
mixed as they come; but when the manure is used as it comes from the
stable, it should be allowed to ferment before being used. 3. That the
best way of preparing manure for the general culture of mushrooms
indoors, is to gather it in some firm spot, and allow it to lose its
fierce heat. As it is usually gathered in an irregular way, precise
directions as to turning over cannot well be given; but I am convinced
that one turning will suffice when it has arrived at a strong heat, and
then it should be thrown together for a week or so, when, in being
disturbed and removed to make the bed or beds, its strong heat will be
sufficiently subdued. Where large quantities of stable manure are in a
fermenting state, there should be little difficulty in selecting
material to form a bed at any time. Should it have spent its heat
overmuch, it would be easy to revive it with some fresh droppings. 4.
That stable manure may be used when fresh, but it should be always mixed
with more than a fourth of good loamy soil. If this be kept under cover,
or stacked so that it may be had in a rather dry condition, so much the
better, especially if the fresh manure, &c., should be over moist. Beds
thus made are most suited for cool sheds and the open gardens. 5. That a
portion, say nearly one-fifth to one-third, of good and rather dry loam
may always be advantageously mixed with the stable manure; the fresher
the materials, the more loam should be used. In all cases it helps to
solidify the bed, and it is probable that the addition of the loam adds
to the fertility and duration of the bed. 6. That a thickness of from
one foot to fifteen inches for the beds in an artificially heated house
is quite sufficient. Eighteen inches will not be too much for beds made
in sheds, though I have seen excellent crops on beds only a foot thick,
in common sheds with leaky sides. All beds made indoors should be flat
and firmly beaten down, though the absence of firmness is not, as some
think, sufficient to account for want of success.

I will now quote a few words from Mr. Ayres on other materials for
forming mushroom-beds than stable manure. He has given this, like almost
every important subject in the range of horticulture, some attention.
First among these may be mentioned sawdust which has been used for
bedding horses or for riding-school tracks. Such a substance, thoroughly
impregnated with urine and mixed with horse-droppings, forms an
excellent material for mushroom-beds, especially if mixed with
one-fourth of good fibrous loam. Such materials mixed and fermented
together, and thrown into a bed a foot or eighteen inches in thickness,
according to the temperature of the shed in which the bed is made, will
be found to form capital material for growing this esculent, especially
as it retains the heat for a long time. The worst of it is that the
material is almost valueless after it has served the first purpose; and
used as dung upon light land is rather injurious than otherwise. Then
you may use leaves and loam, in the proportion of one part of the
latter, in a turfy state, to four or five of fermenting leaves. These
may be recently gathered from the trees, and should be allowed to attain
a brisk heat before the loam is added, and then, after sweating for a
week or ten days, may be turned, mixing the materials intimately
together, and then the mass may be formed into a bed. A mushroom-bed of
this kind should not be less than fifteen inches in thickness when
thoroughly consolidated; and when so managed it will grow mushrooms just
as well as dung. The sweepings of our streets and cattle markets,
especially those parts that are paved and much frequented by horses--as,
for example, cabstands, &c.--if collected when dry, and fermented a
little, yield capital material for beds. Here from the cattle market we
have the dung of horses, sheep, and cows mixed together in a finely
divided state, the heating of which is gentle and regular. Material of
this kind procured on dry days, thrown together to ferment once or
twice, and then made into well-consolidated beds, will produce mushrooms
of the finest quality, and continue in bearing a very long time. It is
of the first importance that this material be collected in a dry state,
as of course the slush of the streets would not do at all. Equal
proportions of street sweepings and fresh leaves, properly fermented and
mixed with loam, would perhaps make as good material for growing
mushrooms as need be obtained. Of course the sweepings from those parts
of the town most frequented by horses will be the best for the purpose I
am writing about.

The idea of mushrooms ceasing to be prolific from the exhaustion of the
active manure in the bed, I have mooted before. Lately several
experiments have been tried which convince me that by taking three
portions of recently-gathered leaves to one of turfy loam, and working
them well together until the mass attains the desired temperature,
sprinkling it, as the work of turning proceeds, with liquid direct from
the stables, and forming this into a bed treated in the usual manner, it
will give just as good mushrooms as the best horse manure in the world.
It is the ammonia that is wanted for this crop, with a gentle heat.
Secure these two things, and, with ordinary care, success is certain.

Before making the beds, while the material is in preparation, all
particles of old wood, twigs, &c., that are found in the manure should
be removed, as indeed should any extraneous matters likely to prove
offensive or useless.

The best time for making mushroom-beds, where they are not regularly
made in succession throughout the autumn and winter months, as they
ought to be where there is abundance of material and a good
mushroom-house, is in August and September, as in the early autumn
months the natural heat is sufficient to cause the spawn to germinate
freely, and beds made then ought to bear freely before and up to
Christmas, and during autumn.

When making the bed, the chief object to bear in mind is the equal
placing of the material. It should be well mixed and regularly and
firmly placed so that the whole may be of a similar texture. Some
heavily tramp and pound their beds to secure firmness; moderately done
this is beneficial; thoroughly equable pressure with the fork, when the
fork can be used, will with the pressure of firm earthing be sufficient;
when beds are made on elevated benches in boxes, and in all positions
where but a slight body of material is used, and where firmness cannot
result from the general pressure of the mass, some kind of pressure with
a wooden mallet or the like must be employed.

The beds once made, we next arrive at the spawning, and will first
inquire, What is spawn?



CHAPTER III.

MUSHROOM-SPAWN.


THE first thing we have to determine is, What is spawn? Generally, the
spawn, or what in scientific language is called the _mycelium_, is
supposed to be analogous to seed, while it really is what may be termed
the vegetation of the plant, or something analogous to roots, stems, and
leaves of ordinary plants, the visible part or stem, head and gills, of
the mushroom being, in fact, the fructification, though in such an
apparent preponderance to the other parts. A knowledge of the anatomy
and life-history of the mushroom is not necessary to the cultivator, and
is not familiar even to those who make of mushrooms a study. We know
that the gills are simply surfaces on which germs or spores are
produced. The membrane that covers the spore plates of a single mushroom
would cover a large space if spread out, and the spores are counted by
myriads. We can see them clearly enough under the microscope--can see in
what manner they are borne on and fixed to the gills; but of the history
of their lives, from the time they fall from the surfaces on which they
were born, till the “young mushroom” or inflorescence is vigorously
pushing up from the mass of delicate vegetation which they have given
rise to in earth or decaying manure, we know nothing. However, the
preparation of the spawn, and the subsequent management of it in the
mushroom-bed, are the matters which really concern us.

How is spawn obtained in the first instance? It is found in a natural
state in half-decomposed manure-heaps, in places where horse-droppings
have accumulated and been kept dry, in riding-schools, sheds to which
horses have long had access, in “mill tracks” under cover, in pastures,
in partially decayed hotbeds, &c., and rarely or never in very moist or
saturated materials. This spawn, sometimes termed “natural” in this
country, and called by the French “virgin spawn,” is the best that can
be obtained, and should be used in preference wherever it can be found.
To use it, all that has to be done is to divide the material permeated
by the white spawn into pieces a few inches square, and say an inch or
more thick. They will of course break up irregularly, but all should be
used, whether of the size of a bean, or nearly that of the open hand.
Then they are inserted into the surface of the mushroom-beds in the
ordinary way.

In nearly every country place, and in numerous suburban ones, in fact,
in most places where horses are kept, opportunities of finding this
spawn occur. Its white, filamentous, and downy threads have the odour
of mushrooms, and the spawn is, therefore, very easily recognised. It
should be generally known that it need not be used when found, but may
be dried, and kept for use in a dry place for years, and has been known
to keep as long as fourteen years. It must not be supposed that it is
only the hard bricks described further on that keep thus. The French
spawn is in much looser and lighter material than that in which we
usually find _mycelium_ in a natural state, and it keeps quite as long
as ours. To preserve spawn found in a natural state, nothing more is
required than to take up carefully the parts of the manure in which it
is found, not breaking them up more than may be necessary, and placing
both large and small pieces loosely in rough shallow hampers. These
should be placed in some dry airy loft or shed till thoroughly dry, and
afterwards kept in some perfectly dry place, packed in rough boxes till
wanted for use.

[Illustration: Fig. 11. Brick mushroom-spawn.]

But inasmuch as in this country, at present, but little mushroom-spawn
is required in any one place, the rule is to obtain artificial spawn in
the form of hard bricks. This spawn is made from horse-droppings and
some cowdung and road scrapings beaten up into a mortar-like consistency
in a shed, and then formed into bricks, slightly differing in shape with
different makers, but usually thinner and wider than common building
bricks. Various recipes are given for mixing the materials for the
bricks, and among them the following are about the best:--1.
Horse-droppings the chief part, cowdung a fourth, and the remainder
loam. 2. Fresh horse-droppings mixed with short litter the greater part,
cowdung one third, and the rest mould or loam. 3. Horsedung, cowdung,
and loam in equal parts. These bricks are placed in some dry, airy
place, and when half dry, a little bit of spawn about as big as a hazel
nut, is placed in the centre of each; or sometimes, when the bricks are
as wide as long, a particle is put near each corner, just inserted below
the surface, and plastered over with the composition of which the bricks
are made. When the bricks are nearly dry, they are placed on a hotbed
about a foot thick, in a shed or dry place. On this the bricks are
piled, or placed rather openly and loosely, and covered over with
litter, so that the heat may circulate equably amongst them. The
temperature should not rise more than a degree or two above 60 degrees;
if it does, it may easily be modified by reducing or removing the
covering of litter. The makers frequently examine the bricks during the
process, and when the spawn has been found to spread throughout a brick
like a fine white mould, it is removed, and allowed to dry for future
use in a dark, dry place. If allowed to go further than the fine white
mould stage, and form threads and tubercles in the bricks, it has then
attained to a higher degree of development than is consistent with
preserving its vegetative powers, and therefore it should be removed
from the bed in the fine mould stage. This is the kind of mushroom spawn
mostly in use in our gardens, and it is usually very hard in texture.

[Illustration: Fig. 12. Mill-track mushroom-spawn.]

There is a kind of spawn used in some gardens called mill-track
mushroom-spawn, which is made in a more simple manner than the
preceding. It would seem to be simply spawn that has spread through the
thoroughly amalgamated droppings of a mill-track. The material is
rather soft and free in texture, is usually sold in large and somewhat
irregular lumps, and is much used by some cultivators.

[Illustration: Fig. 13. Parisian mushroom-spawn.]

Finally, we have the French mushroom-spawn, which differs from our own
in not being in bricks or solid lumps, but in rather light masses of
scarcely half decomposed, comparatively loose and dry litter. This spawn
is obtained by preparing a little bed as if for mushrooms in the
ordinary way, and spawning it with morsels of virgin spawn, if that is
obtainable; and then when the spawn has spread through it, the bed is
broken up and used for spawning beds in the caves, or dried and
preserved for sale. It is sold in small boxes, and is fit for insertion
when pulled in rather thin pieces, about half the size of the open hand;
but in separating it, it divides into many pieces, of all sizes, every
particle of which should be used. The small particles should be strewn
broadcast over the bed after the larger pieces have been inserted. This
applies to the other kinds. In consequence of the open porous nature of
the French mushroom-spawn, it is likely to be immediately affected by
the heat and moisture of the genially warm manure forming the
mushroom-bed, and on that account alone presents some advantages. It has
recently been introduced for the first time, and probably will soon be
tested by many growers.

Spawn, in the common sense of the word, may be dispensed with by well
amalgamating manure, loam, and old mushroom-beds, or leaf-mould
containing traces of spawn, and these formed into beds about a foot
thick in the mushroom-house, and covered with earth, produce without any
further spawning; but the plan is not so simple or advantageous as that
more commonly pursued.

There is no necessity for purchasing artificial spawn at all where
mushrooms are regularly grown. Nor is there in any case except at the
commencement, or to guard against one’s own spawn proving bad. To secure
good spawn, we have only to do as the French growers do: take a portion
of a bed where it is thoroughly permeated by the spawn and before it
begins to bear, and preserve it for future use.

Of the efficacy of this sort of spawn, if any proof were needed in
addition to the fine crops the Parisian growers gather, it will be found
in the following statement from Mr. Ayres:--

“A short time back, attention was directed to the superior quality of
French mushroom-spawn, and as a natural consequence several London
seedsmen imported it for sale. Some months back I obtained possession of
a stable, and, wishing to grow mushrooms in it, procured a few tons of
horse manure, just as it came from the dung-pit of the hotel stables. It
was very wet, and consequently when thrown together it heated violently.
However, by frequent turning for a week or ten days this tendency was
reduced, and then five beds were formed of it, adding one-fourth of
perfectly dry soil from a cucumber-house. I say perfectly dry, because
the soil had lain in the house for fifteen or eighteen months without
receiving a drop of water, and therefore may almost be considered as
thoroughly dry. Intimately mixed with the fermenting dung, it had the
tendency that I desired--viz., subdued the excessive moisture, and,
after the bed had been made up a week, brought it to the temperature
necessary to receive the spawn.

“Having great faith in the good qualities of fresh loam from an old
pasture for the production of mushrooms of superior quality, I had a
quantity dried and warmed. I had a coat of this three inches thick laid
over each bed, and then forked carefully in, taking care to mix the soil
and dung as intimately as possible. Re-formed and left for a few days
the beds attained the necessary warmth; then they were made quite firm,
and were ready for spawning.

“For this purpose I had procured two boxes of the French spawn from
Messrs. Barr and Sugden, of Covent Garden. It was light, loose, flaky,
chaffy stuff, and so dry that I had some fear whether its vegetating
power had not been dried out of it. But the spawn had been bought for
experiment, and therefore the experiment must be carried out.

“Raking about two inches of the material from the surface of each bed,
pieces of the flaky spawn were laid down, at about ten inches or a foot
apart, all over the beds; the fine portions of the spawn were then
scattered over the beds, patted down firmly with the back of a spade,
and then the surface material was returned, and the whole made as firm
as possible. In passing, it may not be out of place to remark that
spawning in this manner must be guided, or rather governed, by the state
of the material of the bed. If it is not sufficiently cooled, it will be
safer to make holes in the usual manner for the spawn; but if in a fit
state, then I think the broadcast spawning and earthing, as before
described, is the best plan. The disturbed portion of the beds having
regained its heat, and there being no fear of its _over_heating, the
beds were immediately earthed two inches thick with fresh loam, beaten
quite firm, and then covered with a thin layer of dry hay.

“Not liking to entrust my chance of mushrooms entirely to the new
material, the French spawn, two beds were spawned at the same time and
in the same manner with native spawn. Owing to the large size of the
stable, and the unusually cold, piercing weather at the end of the year
(1869), the beds lost so much heat that I had some misgivings whether
they would not prove a failure; but finding, subsequently, that the
spawn was working, I gave each bed (the surface being rather dry) a good
syringing with water at the temperature of 80 deg., covered it with
clean dry mats, and then returned the hay. The beds are now a sheet of
the ‘pearl of the fields,’ some of the patches as large as a
cheese-plate, and the whole in most promising condition--so promising
that, with proper attention, I have no doubt they will yield a good
supply of mushrooms for many months. To secure this continuous bearing,
farmyard manure-water and salt, at proper times, should not be spared;
while, as soon as the flush of the first crop is over, the beds may
receive a thorough soaking of manure-water at a temperature of not less
than 80 deg., be re-earthed with fresh soil, and covered down with mats
and hay. In this manner we always get a second crop little inferior to
the first one, and sometimes much superior.”



CHAPTER IV.

SPAWNING AND AFTER-TREATMENT.


_Heat and Protection._

THE temperature of the material of the beds should never, at spawning
time, exceed 80 degrees Fahr.--about 70 is the most suitable regular
temperature; and that of the mushroom-house should range between 50 and
60 degrees--not lower than 50. Assuming the materials to have been
turned once after having heated, and again disturbed previous to being
made into beds, they ought to be in a condition for spawning from ten to
twelve days after being put together. It need hardly be said that this
regularity of temperature can only be secured in properly-formed
mushroom-houses. Where mushrooms are grown in these, with double
ceilings and close-fitting shutters and doors, almost impervious to
external influences, and where fresh beds are made from time to time,
little or no artificial heat from pipes is required, though it is as
well to have some at command in the case of unusually severe weather, or
a break in the succession of beds, which would cause a deficiency of
heat from fermenting materials. A covering of hay or dry litter is
necessary for beds formed in the open air, and also for beds made in
cool, half-open sheds; but not for those in regularly heated
mushroom-houses or caves, in which there is a still, steady temperature.
It should be about a foot thick, and should be immediately removed when
it becomes wet or mouldy. This covering should be applied whenever the
temperature of the bed begins to fall. It should not be used in any case
where the temperature will permit of dispensing with it, as it is
troublesome, and sometimes encourages insects. The heat of a bed may be
reduced by opening holes six or eight inches deep with a thick pointed
dibber, here and there, but it is only in exceptional cases that this is
advisable, and it is desirable to husband all the ammonia and heat of
the bed. The earthing over and firming of a bed has a tendency to subdue
the heat in it. Where large sloping beds, say three feet deep at back,
are made against the wall, I have seen Λ-shaped crates put beneath
them at six feet apart, so as to permit of heating them by fresh
supplies of manure. It is, however, a plan possessing little claim to
general use. It is best not to depend on the hand, as is commonly done,
for ascertaining the heat of the beds. Thermometers fixed on sticks of
convenient size, to thrust in the beds, are sold, and remove all excuse
for vagueness in this matter. Coverings of litter are sometimes useful
in “drawing-up the heat” in a bed that has become somewhat chilled.


_Spawning._

This is the phase of the culture which requires most attention, as to
get the spawn to run regularly through the bed is to be nearly certain
of securing a good crop. In this respect there do not seem to be so many
differences of opinion among mushroom growers. Some, indeed, spawn
immediately after the bed is made up; but, except where the materials
are such as will not heat to more than 80 degrees, this is uncertain, or
in other words bad, practice.

The important thing should be to ascertain if the spawn spreads through
the bed properly. The usual practice is to earth up the bed immediately
or very soon after it is spawned, and not a few take no further notice
of the bed or beds till the time arrives when the mushrooms ought to
appear. A better plan is not to finally earth the bed until the spawn is
seen beginning to spread its white filaments through the mass; and
should it fail to begin to do this in eight or ten days after
spawning--the conditions being favourable--it is then better to insert
fresh spawn or to re-make the bed, adding fresh materials if it be found
to fail from being too cold. If people generally were to see whether the
spawn had “taken” freely, instead of waiting for many weeks, not knowing
whether it had or not, there would be fewer disappointments in mushroom
culture.

The ordinary spawn bricks should be broken into pieces, say from about
the size of walnuts to that of eggs; they do not break up into regular
portions. Spawn in the more natural form in which we take it from the
old beds, and in which it is used by the French, is ready to be inserted
into the bed without any further manipulation. I believe this kind of
spawn spreads more rapidly through the beds than our own brick spawn,
and is, on the whole, much more desirable. As it is usually very dry it
is a good plan to place some of it in the mushroom-house a few days
before spawning, so that it may begin to absorb moisture. A dark place
in a warm house, or gentle hotbed, would do as well, but in no case
should it be done more than three days before spawning time. At spawning
this might with advantage be mixed with some that has not gone through
this process. A bushel of the ordinary brick spawn will suffice to spawn
about one hundred square feet. All spawn should be inserted near the
surface, just buried in the materials of which the bed is made. The thin
flakes of spawn which the French use, and which are usually nearly the
length and breadth of the open hand, are generally inserted into the bed
edgeways, or in a direction slanting upwards, so that while one edge of
the piece is buried three or four inches in the bed, the other is seen
peeping through at the surface. Thus each flake of spawn is exposed to a
slight difference of temperature, and, being thin and spongy enough to
be immediately impregnated with the moist warmth of the beds, takes
quickly and well. As to any particular mode of inserting the spawn,
little need be said; if the bed be beaten so hard as many recommend, and
which I do not believe to be at all necessary, a dibber will be required
to insert the spawn; if not, it may be readily inserted with a trowel or
with the hand. It is a good plan to use a mixture of two kinds of spawn.


_Soil._

As regards the kind of soil used in earthing, it is not of nearly so
much importance as is generally supposed; almost any soil will do; but
those having heaps of good maiden loam laid by for gardening purposes
will prefer to use a coating of that. I believe that any ordinary garden
soil would do, and feel certain that it is a mistake to bestow the least
trouble on procuring any particular kind of soil from a distance. The
beds in the caves around Paris are covered over with a white putty-like
substance, which would be sufficient to shake the nerves of any British
mushroom-grower accustomed to his coatings of mellow loam. It is simply
the fine rubbish from the stone breakage moistened, and smoothly and
firmly pressed over the beds. We, if shown this on a bed that had
failed, would assuredly attribute it to the “stuff” with which the bed
was covered, though finer crops than these little beds yield it would be
impossible to find. I notice this subject so that failures may be traced
to their true causes, and not attributed to matters which really have
but slight influence. The final covering of from one to two inches of
loam or other soil should not be applied till the spawn has begun to
spread through the bed, but a very thin layer of dryish loam may be
placed on with advantage just after spawning has taken place, as it will
serve to make the surface of a more equable temperature. It is a mistake
to suppose that a deep covering is of any advantage. The final earthing
should be of soil sufficiently moist or moistened to permit of its being
pressed into a firm surface. However, unless it is exceptionally dry, a
mere sprinkling of water will suffice.


_Watering._

As the materials of mushroom-beds are generally moist, and as but little
evaporation can take place in the structures in which they are usually
grown, water is rarely necessary, and should not be applied until the
surface of bed and soil are really dry. It should then be given
copiously, enough to well moisten the bed, and it should be soft water
heated to a temperature of 80 degrees given with a fine rose, and
steadily and patiently applied equably over the whole surface of the
bed. Waterings that merely wet the surface and saturate the crevices or
lower parts of the bed are of no use. If one drenching is not sufficient
to moisten the bed properly, another should be given. The flat form of
bed is of course much more easily watered, and is on the whole the best
for beds under cover. The position of beds will have a great influence
on the quantity of water they require, so that it is almost impossible
to give precise directions on this head; but I can scarcely conceive a
case in which it will be necessary before six or eight weeks after the
formation of a bed, and I have seen fine crops gathered without a single
watering having been given. In watering old beds one ounce of guano to
the gallon of water will prove beneficial.


_Vermin in Mushroom Beds._

Woodlice are the greatest pests the mushroom-grower has to dispose of,
and the most effective way of getting rid of them is by destroying them
with boiling water. The surface of the bed being firm and covered with
smooth firm soil, the only likely place to afford these creatures the
interstices they usually retire into when disturbed, or when not
employed in eating the head of every little mushroom that presents
itself, is round the edges of the bed, and in the slit which often
occurs between the bed and wall or sides of the shelves that support it.
There they are likely to be found in great numbers, and may be destroyed
wholesale by pouring boiling water all along the crack. If the beds be
covered with hay or litter, it will be necessary to remove this and
allow them time to retreat into their hiding places; and if the beds are
made in any position that permits of the woodlice hiding in other places
than the interstices round them, these places should be sought out,
marked, and receive a searching dose of the scalding water all at the
same time. It need hardly be added that, as it is not mushrooms, but
creatures that rival ourselves in their love of mushrooms, that we wish
to annihilate, the scalding water must not in any case be applied to the
surface of the bed. If on the surface of old or dry beds, or those from
which a good many mushrooms have been cut or pulled, there are any loose
hollows or crevices in which the woodlice can take shelter, they should
be sought out, cleared of vermin, levelled up, and made firm, so that
the enemy cannot take up a position in which we cannot attack him.
Should this plan fail, half an ounce of sugar of lead, mixed with a
handful of oatmeal and laid in their tracks, will quickly destroy the
pests.

The small mite is most destructive in a high temperature, and in summer,
Mr. Cuthill says, “the maggot” will not breed in a house where the
temperature does not exceed sixty degrees, and it is in hot, dry, and
half-neglected houses that this pest is usually seen in summer. At that
season there is little need to grow mushrooms indoors, and how they may
be produced otherwise in great abundance is explained further on. The
entrance of rats should also be guarded against.

Mushroom-beds come into bearing about six weeks from the time of
spawning, and remain in bearing from two to five months, according to
the position in which they are made, and the attention paid to them.


_Treatment of Old Beds._

Upon the continuous bearing qualities of a mushroom bed a word may be
said. It may savour of the ridiculous to say that a plant growing upon a
dung bed may fail from the want of manure. Yet such is literally and
positively the fact. Beds become worn out, the produce small and
spindly, and we directly do away with them and make fresh ones. Instead
of doing this, give the bed a thorough soaking of stable urine and
water, at the temperature of 80 degrees, using the urine in the
proportion of one part to five of soft water, and adding a wineglassful
of salt to each canful; then coat the bed with fresh sod, cover it down
with mats so as to promote the heating, and a second crop as good as the
first may be obtained. In this matter I speak from experience, and Mr.
Ingram, at Belvoir, has followed the same plan for many years with the
most satisfactory result.


_Gathering the Crop._

Gatherings should frequently take place, especially where the culture
is pursued on a large scale. Where there are several beds in bearing,
the mushrooms should be gathered every morning. In all cases they should
be pulled or twisted out, never cut out, so as to leave decaying stumps
in the beds. The holes made by pulling out the mushrooms should be
filled with a little fine loam, of which a small heap may be kept in the
house for this purpose.


_Cleansing the House._

A word as to the necessity of a thorough annual cleansing of the
mushroom-house. The fact that the French cave-cultivators find it
necessary to shift from cave to cave, and find that after a cave has
been in use a certain time, mushrooms cease to be produced in it, should
act as a caution in this respect. In summer, when there is no need to
attempt the culture indoors, the house should be thoroughly cleaned out,
lime-whited, every surface scraped and washed, and the house freely
opened, so as to thoroughly sweeten it.



CHAPTER V.

CULTURE IN SHEDS, CELLARS, ARCHES, OUTHOUSES, AND ALL ENCLOSED
STRUCTURES OTHER THAN THE MUSHROOM-HOUSE.


MUSHROOMS may be, and are, grown to perfection in many less ambitious
structures than the mushroom-house proper. Any species of outhouse will
do for the autumn and early winter crops. One of the best crops I have
ever seen was grown in a dry and unused coach-house. Mr. Robert Fish
grows all his crops in a long, low, rude thatched shed, open in
front--the beds flat, in a continuous line against a wall, and enclosed
by a low board. Mr. Cuthill, who wrote on mushrooms, and who used to
grow them very well, grew his in rude sheds placed against walls. It
matters not in the least if the shed be open or ventilated here and
there, especially for autumn crops, as I have seen admirable crops in
low outhouses searched by every gust, and not heated by flues. The beds
in these should always be covered with hay. Mushrooms may be grown in
cellars; but cellars being commonly under houses, they are not exactly
the places to which people like to convey the materials necessary for
the making of mushroom-beds. Where they occur away from a
dwelling-house, this objection will not hold good. In some cases it
might be obviated by making the beds in rough boxes, say 3½ ft. long
by 1½ ft. wide, and afterwards introducing them into the cellar.
Railway or other arches, or any dry and empty structures, may be used
for mushroom-growing.

“The construction,” says Mr. William Ingram, of Belvoir, in a letter to
the _Field_, “of efficient mushroom-houses is sufficiently understood by
most of our hothouse-builders and by gardeners; but the economical
adaptation of places which already exist is a matter which may with the
greatest advantage be discussed, as there are hundreds of persons about
whose establishments may be found outhouses, cellars, quarries, or
sheds, capable of conversion into mushroom-houses, who would be very
glad to be taught the method of growing mushrooms, and to have the
simple principles that should govern the construction of mushroom-houses
explained.

“There are few large farmsteads that are without an unconsidered place
which could be readily adapted for the purpose of growing mushrooms; and
farmers possess the material at hand, horse manure, which would not
suffer great deterioration if employed in first raising a crop of
mushrooms. Country brewing establishments have equal conveniences and
opportunities. By relating the means by which I have been for several
years able to raise large quantities of excellent mushrooms, in a place
originally but ill adapted for the purpose, I may induce some of those
persons who desire the luxury of what Soyer called ‘the Pearl of the
Fields,’ to turn their attention to the subject of their growth.

“I had a large, open, airy shed at command, but it was liable to be
affected by changes in the weather, and was altogether too draughty and
cold in winter, and too hot in summer. I built within this shed, with
rough fir boards, an inner shed, 18 ft. long, 6 ft. wide, and 8 ft. in
height; two receptacles for beds were formed, one on the floor, the
other above it: and to give the requisite heat in winter, I passed a
flue, formed of 9-in. socket pipes, through the house; with this I can
always command an adequate amount of heat. The material of which the
beds are formed is chiefly droppings, collected from an enclosed and
covered exercise ground. These droppings are trampled by the horses, and
mixed with straw broken up with the manure by the passage of the horses.

“When first collected it is piled up in a large heap, in a perfectly dry
state, and when wanted for the bed is thrown out, sprinkled with water,
and fermented for about a week; while hot, it is taken to the house, and
as it is thrown in is mixed with a small quantity of soil of a loamy
character, and a barrow-load of leaf soil. It is then pressed into as
compact a mass as possible by a rammer or mallet, building it up until
it forms a bed 10 in. thick in front and 20 in. at the back. After a bed
formed of this description of materials has been thus put together,
rapid fermentation takes place; and when the most violent fermentative
action has passed, and a temperature of 80° is found in the bed, spawn
is put into it by means of a dibber. I employ brick spawn obtained from
good makers, but, to vary and possibly prolong the period of production,
I introduce a certain quantity of spawn saved from old beds. This is
longer in its development than the made spawn, and appears as a
subsidiary crop. After the bed is spawned, a covering of compact loamy
soil is spread on the surface, 1½ in. to 2 in. in thickness, and well
beaten upon it so as to form a smooth and hard crust. A temperature
ranging from 50° to 60° should be maintained in the house. A lower
temperature abstracts the heat from the bed more rapidly.

“When the mushrooms begin to exhibit weakness, as after the bed has
produced a certain quantity they will do, from the exhaustion of the
more stimulating portions of the manure, I find it an excellent practice
to administer a sprinkling of water in which a handful of salt has been
thrown (that quantity of salt to a three-gallon can). Saltpetre, though
in much smaller quantities, is equally valuable given in the same way.
The practice I have described relates to the winter cultivation of
mushrooms.”

Many instances of perfect success like the preceding could be quoted.
Here is one from Mr. W. P. Ayres:--

“You will be glad to hear that we have on the outskirts of this town
(Nottingham) a grower of mushrooms (Mr. Cookson, Mansfield Road) who
vies with the French growers, especially if the means of growth be taken
into consideration. The place he occupies was formerly the pleasure
garden of a large hotel, where the proprietor would occasionally, in the
summer season, treat his friends and patrons to an _al fresco_
entertainment. For this purpose a range of summer-houses was built,
consisting of brick arches, say 12 feet deep, 6 feet wide, and a little
more in height. Close adjoining is a small sandstone-rock cellar, which
used to serve for drinkables in the summer and potatoes in the winter.

“Some twelve months ago these premises and the house adjoining fell into
the occupation of a gardener, who, though he had a licence to the house,
fancied he might turn the arches to a better purpose, and hence he
devoted them to mushroom beds. As it was necessary that the arches
should be closed, a wall about three feet high was built in the rudest
manner parallel with their front, but six feet from it, and from that a
roof of rough timber was thrown, and covered with asphalted felt. Here,
however, was a mistake; for, the building standing due south, when the
sun fell upon it the atmosphere became rather ‘tarry’--so much so that
the mushrooms refused to grow in it. That wore off after a time, and
from a bed not more than thirty yards square the tenant told me he had
cut more than 25_l._ worth of mushrooms. When I saw the beds they might
be considered spent, the flush of early youth was over; but still the
crop was most wonderful, especially considering the means at command.

“In the rock cellar the small beds were a pavement of splendid
mushrooms, many of them as large over as a cheese-plate, and thick in
proportion. In the garden is a barn--four walls with a roof over them,
the latter so rude that it was only in fair weather that it could be
called waterproof. In this place which may be 25 ft. long by 15 ft.
wide, two tiers of beds have been put up, the roof has been made
waterproof, a common brick flue put through it, and, at the time I saw
them, more promising beds could not be desired. Here again, you will
perceive expensive appliances are not necessary for the production of
mushrooms.”

Stables and like structures offer capital positions in which successful
mushroom culture may be carried out with ease.

If it is possible, and we know it is not only possible but easy, to grow
mushrooms in boxes a few feet long and a foot or eighteen inches wide,
and the same depth, it is clear that there can be no difficulty about
growing them in abundance in such a manner as that shown in the
accompanying engraving. This mode was actually practised with great
success by the Baron Joseph d’Hoogvorst, of Limmel.

[Illustration: Fig. 14. Mushroom culture on shelves in stable.]

The culture was carried out in neatly fitted-up wooden boxes, so
arranged that they might be shrouded with canvas curtains as shown in
the engraving, so that at first sight one would not suppose that
mushroom culture was carried on there. No evil results as regards the
creation of an unhealthy atmosphere accompanied the attempt. The beds
were formed much in the usual way from the droppings of highly fed
horses. Now there can be no doubt that a similar mode of growing
mushrooms could be carried out in the stables or some adjacent building
in hundreds of places apart from the garden and the gardener altogether.
Given the materials and some position, however contracted, in which to
carry out the culture, and both these things are surely to be had almost
in every place where there is a stable, the rest is so simple that any
stableman or boy could carry it out. We know that these individuals, as
a class, are not much given to botanical or horticultural studies, but
no doubt the prospect of an occasional half-dozen fresh mushrooms on the
gridiron would give them most praiseworthy interest in the culture. The
only objection to it is, or might be, that once they were at home in the
culture, the gardener would be very likely to fall short of materials
for his hotbeds. An empty loft, or any other covered structure could be
employed as well as the stable or an empty coach-house. Apart altogether
from utilizing the walls of the stable, as the Baron did, empty stalls
frequently present an opportunity of growing mushrooms in quantity.
These remarks apply to stables in cities and towns, as well as in the
country; indeed in cities, particularly in London, stable manure is
usually so plentiful that it is much easier to obtain and much cheaper
than in the country, so that even those in London having suitable places
for growing mushrooms, but not keeping horses regularly or at all, could
have no difficulty in procuring abundance of materials.

[Illustration: Fig. 15. Mushroom-bed on rude shelf against wall of
cellar.]

The French often cultivate mushrooms in cellars as well as in the caves
described in the next chapter. Preference should be given to a dry warm
cellar; it should be as dark as possible, and exposed to no draughts.
Beds can be made in cellars in many ways. Those made in the middle
should always be formed with two sides, while those against the walls
should only be half as thick, on account of their having only one useful
side. It is also possible to arrange them on shelves, one above the
other. For this purpose strong bars of iron are driven into the walls,
upon which are placed shelves of the proper size covered with earth,
upon which is formed a bed, that is treated exactly as those made upon
the ground. These beds are just as productive as any of the other
kinds. They may even be made on the bottoms of casks, which should be
at least two feet six in diameter; and they are built up in the shape of
a sugarloaf, about three feet in height, and the pieces of spawn are
placed an inch and a quarter deep, and sixteen inches apart. A barrel is
sawn crossways into two pieces, each forming a tub. Holes are made in
the bottom of each, and a thin layer of good soil is spread over them
inside. They are then filled with good well-prepared stable manure, just
like that used in the case of ordinary mushroom-beds, the different
layers of dung in each tub being well pressed down. When the tub is half
full, six or seven good pieces of spawn are placed on the surface, and
the remainder is piled up with manure, which is well pressed down, the
operation being completed by giving to the heap the form of a dome. The
tubs thus prepared are placed in a perfectly dark part of a cellar, and
eight or ten days afterwards the dung is taken up until the spawn is
visible, in order to see whether it has commenced to vegetate and
develop little filaments. If the spawn has spread, the surface must be
covered with soil, care being taken to use only that which is fresh and
properly prepared. In this or any like way there should be no difficulty
in growing mushrooms: the boxes or tubs could be filled anywhere, and
then carried into the spare cellars, &c. In this way objections against
steaming manure might in many cases be got over.

[Illustration: Fig. 16. Pyramidal mushroom-bed on floor of cellar.]

[Illustration: Fig. 17. Mushrooms grown in bottom of old cask.]

Among the many and various structures in which mushrooms may be grown,
but which we rarely see utilized for that purpose, may be mentioned all
kinds of greenhouses, stoves, pits, and frames. Some of the best crops I
have ever seen were in cold greenhouses almost too ruinous to grow
anything else. In mid-winter the floors of all houses in which a genial
temperature is kept up for forcing or other purposes, offer excellent
positions for producing mushrooms quickly and abundantly. Small
ridge-like beds might be made on the floor of these, and, with the
genial temperature usually kept up in such places, would probably come
into bearing a month or so after being spawned. How often, for example,
do we notice the floors of large vineries, in mid-winter or very early
spring, quite bare, especially after the vines are started. Now just at
that season the genial heat that would be given off from the slightly
fermenting materials used for the mushroom-bed is that which would be
most congenial to the tender breaking vines, and with a little attention
in this way a first-rate crop of mushrooms could always be gathered from
the early vinery, and in houses where no artificial heat was applied
they could also be grown abundantly. A covering of hay would, however,
be necessary in cold houses in mid-winter, to prevent excessive
variation of the temperature, and also in spring and summer to prevent
excessive drying or scorching of the beds by a hot sun. I have even seen
excellent crops grown on the floor in an old lean-to house, the beds
covered with a foot or so of hay, occasionally sprinkled with water to
prevent excessive heat on the surface of the bed. In small places where
every foot of space in the glass-house is likely to be occupied with
plants, it is not easy to carry out the foregoing suggestions, but even
if a small early vinery were occupied with plants, it would be desirable
and practicable to introduce a series of rough boxes devoted to mushroom
culture.

Apart from empty greenhouses altogether, the space beneath the stages in
numbers of glass-houses of every type may be utilized for the production
of mushrooms. These positions are usually unoccupied, occasionally they
are used for storing fuchsias, &c. in winter, but very seldom are they
turned to so good account as they might be in the way I recommend. The
stage in the small greenhouse is frequently elevated so that there is
plenty of room to get beneath it: if at the back or end there is no way
of walking readily under the stage, an opening should be made. The only
difficulty that could possibly occur would arise from the drip from the
plants on the stage above. This, however, can be easily guarded against
by spreading a piece of tarpaulin or oil-canvas over the bed or beds.
With beds properly made, a coat of dry hay or litter, and a piece of
tarpaulin, every owner of anything in the shape of a greenhouse with a
stage in it may grow mushrooms throughout the autumn, winter, and spring
months, and even in summer by keeping the surface of the hay or litter
moist. Of course, if there be room for but one bed, a succession cannot
be kept up, and in this case a bed should be made in autumn, which, if
well managed, should be in full bearing for a month or six weeks before
and after Christmas. There are, however, numerous spaces such as those
alluded to where there is room to make a succession of beds. No person
having but one greenhouse need fear much or any inconvenience from the
odour of the manure--at least, not after the beds are earthed. The
couple of inches of soil over the manure would absorb any vapour given
off by the bed.

Wherever the cultivation of cucumbers or melons in pits or frames is
carried out, nothing can be easier than to grow large crops of mushrooms
after the melons, &c. are cleared away. The spawn may be inserted over
the surface of the little mounds usually made for the reception of the
young melon plants, and also over the remaining surface of the beds
which are generally covered with a few inches of earth. After the melons
have done bearing and the haulm is cleared away, the spawn will usually
be found to have spread through the deep mass of earth in the beds. As
little or no water is given or required while the melons are ripening, a
good soaking of tepid water will generally be necessary to encourage the
mushrooms to start into profuse bearing. If the season and situation be
mild and warm, the lights may be taken off; and if the sun be very
strong, the beds may be shaded with canvas or mats. If the season be
late and cold it will, on the other hand, be desirable to keep on the
lights, and even to cover them in cold weather.



CHAPTER VI.

THE CAVE CULTURE OF MUSHROOMS, NEAR PARIS.


THE most extensive and successful culture of mushrooms in existence is
carried on in widely-ramifying caves far beneath the surface in the
vicinity of Paris. To give the reader as good an idea of it as I can we
must visit one of the great “Mushroom caves” at Montrouge, just outside
the fortifications of Paris, on the southern side. The surface of the
ground is mostly cropped with wheat; but here and there lie, ready to be
transported to Paris, blocks of white stone, which have recently been
brought to the surface through coalpit-like openings. There is nothing
like a “quarry,” as we understand it, to be seen; the stone is extracted
as we extract coal, and with no interference whatever with the surface
of the ground. We find a “champignonniste” after some trouble, and he
accompanies us across some fields to the entrance of his subterranean
garden. It is a circular opening like the mouth of an old well, but from
it protrudes the head of a thick pole with sticks thrust through it.
This pole, the base of which rests in darkness sixty feet below, is
the easiest and indeed the only way by which human beings can get into
the mine. I had an idea that one might enter sideways and in a more
agreeable manner, but it was not so. Down the shaky pole my guide
creeps, I follow, and soon reach the bottom, from which little passages
radiate. A few little lamps fixed on pointed sticks are placed below,
and, arming ourselves with one each, we slowly commence exploring dark,
still, tortuous passages. I have heard that the first individual who
commenced mushroom-growing in these catacomb-like burrowings was one
who, at a particularly glorious epoch of the history of France, when a
great many more brave garçons went to fight than returned from the
victory, preferred, strange to say, to stay at home and hide himself
rather than form a unit in “battle’s magnificently stern array.”
Industrious and discreet youth! You deserve being held up as an example
as much as the busy bee that improves each “shining hour.”

[Illustration: Fig. 18. Mushroom-cave, 70 feet beneath the surface, at
Montrouge, near Paris, July, 1868.]

The passages are narrow, and occasionally we have to stoop. On each hand
there are little narrow beds of half-decomposed stable manure running
along the wall. These have been made quite recently, and have not yet
been spawned. Presently we arrive at others in which the spawn has been
placed, and is “taking” freely. The spawn in these caves is introduced
into the little beds in flakes taken from an old bed, or, still better,
from a heap of stable manure in which it occurs naturally. Such spawn
is preferred, and considered much more valuable than that taken from old
beds. Of spawn in the form of bricks, such as is used in England, there
is none.

[Illustration: Fig. 19. Newly-made bed against wall of cave.]

The champignonniste pointed with pride to the way in which the flakes of
spawn had begun to spread through the little beds, and passed
on--sometimes stooping very low to avoid the pointed stones in the
roof--to where the beds were in a more advanced state. Here we saw
little, smooth, putty-coloured ridges running along the sides of the
passages, and wherever the rocky subway became as large as a small
bedroom two or three little beds were placed parallel to each other.
These beds were new, and dotted all over with mushrooms no bigger than
sweet pea seeds, affording an excellent prospect of a crop. Each bed
contains a much smaller body of manure than is ever the case in our
gardens. They are not more than twenty inches high, and about the same
width at the base; while those against the sides of the passages are not
so large as those placed in the open spaces. The soil, with which they
are covered to the depth of about an inch, is nearly white, and is
simply sifted from the rubbish of the stone-cutters above, giving the
recently-made bed the appearance of being covered with putty.

Although we are from seventy to eighty feet below the surface of the
ground, everything looks quite neat--in fact, very much more so than
could have been expected, not a particle of litter being met with. A
certain length of bed is made every day in the year, and as the men
finish one gallery or series of galleries at a time, the beds in each
have a similar character. As we proceed to those in full bearing,
creeping up and down narrow passages, winding always between the two
little narrow beds against the wall on each side, and passing now and
then through wider nooks filled with two or three little beds, daylight
is again seen. This time it comes through another well-like shaft,
formerly used for getting up the stone, but now for throwing down the
requisite materials into the cave. At the bottom lies a large heap of
the white earth before alluded to, and a barrel of water--for gentle
waterings are required in the quiet, cool, black stillness of these
caves, as well as in mushroom-houses on the upper crust.

Once more we plunge into a passage as dark as ink, and find ourselves
between two lines of beds in full bearing, the beautiful white
button-like mushrooms appearing everywhere in profusion along the sides
of the diminutive beds, something like the drills which farmers make
for green crops. As the proprietor goes along he removes sundry bunches
that are in perfection, and leaves them on the spot, so that they may be
collected with the rest for to-morrow’s market. He gathers largely every
day, occasionally sending more than 400 lb. weight per day, the average
being about 300 lb.

[Illustration: Fig. 20. View in mushroom-cave.]

A moment more and we are in an open space, a sort of chamber, say 20
feet by 12, and here the little beds are arranged in parallel lines, an
alley of not more than four inches separating them, the sides of the
beds being literally blistered all over with mushrooms. There is one
exception; on half of the bed and for about ten feet along, the little
mushrooms have appeared and are appearing, but they never get larger
than a pea, and shrivel away, “bewitched” as it were. At least such was
the inference drawn from the cultivator’s expression about it. He
gravely attributed it to a ridiculously superstitious cause. Frequently
the mushrooms grow in bunches or “rocks,” as they are called, and in
such cases those that compose the little mass are lifted all together.

The sides of one bed here had been almost stripped by the taking away of
such bunches, and it is worthy of note that they are not only taken out,
root and all, when being gathered, but the very spot in which they grew
is scraped out, so as to get rid of every trace of the old bunch, and
the space is covered with a little earth from the bottom of the heap. It
is the habit to do this in every case, and when the gatherer leaves a
small hole from which he has pulled even a solitary mushroom, he fills
it with some of the white earth from the base, no doubt intending to
gather other mushrooms from the same spots before many weeks are over.
The “buttons” look very white, and are apparently of prime quality. The
absence of all littery coverings and dust, and the daily gatherings,
secure them in what we may term perfect condition. I visited this cave
on the 6th of July, 1868, and doubt very much if at that season a more
remarkable crop of mushrooms could be anywhere found than was presented
in this subterranean chamber--a mere speck in the space devoted to
mushroom culture by one individual.

When I state that there are six or seven miles run of mushroom-beds in
the ramifications of this cave, and that the owner is but one of a large
class who devote themselves to mushroom culture, the reader will have
some opportunity of judging of the extent to which it is carried on
about Paris. These caves not only supply the wants of the city above
them, but those of England and other countries also, large quantities of
preserved mushrooms being exported, one house alone sending to our own
country no less than 14,000 boxes annually. There were some traces of
the teeth of rats on the produce, and it need not be said that these
enemies are not agreeable in such a place; but they did not seem to have
committed any serious ravages, and are probably only casual visitors,
who take the first opportunity of obtaining more varied food than is
afforded them by these caves. To traverse the passages any further is
needless--there is nothing to be seen but a repetition of the culture
above described, every available inch of the cave being occupied. We
again find our way to the bottom of the shaft, carefully mount the
rather shaky pole one at a time, and again stand in the hot sun in the
midst of the ripe wheat.

In traversing the fields two things relating to mushroom culture are to
be observed--heaps of white gritty earth, sifted from the _débris_ of
the white stone, and large heaps of stable manure accumulated for
mushroom growing, and undergoing preparation for it. That preparation is
different from what we are accustomed to give it. It is ordinary stable
manure, or very short stuff, not droppings, and is thrown into heaps
four or five feet high, and perhaps thirty feet wide. The men were
employed turning this over, the mass being afterwards stamped down with
their feet, a water-cart and pots being used to thoroughly water the
manure where it is dry and whitish.

As many will feel an interest in the cave culture of the mushroom, and
perhaps wish to see it for themselves, I may state that it is difficult
to obtain permission to visit the caves, and many persons would not like
the look of the “ladder” which affords an entrance. Even with a
well-known Parisian horticulturist I had some difficulty in entering
them. I was informed that one champignonniste in the same neighbourhood
demands the exorbitant price of twenty francs for a visit to his cave.
As the visit is the work of some little time, no visitor should put the
cultivators to this trouble without offering some slight recompense--say
not less than five francs. The above cave is but a sample of many in the
immediate neighbourhood of Paris.

We will next visit a mushroom-cave of another type at some little
distance from that city. It is situated near Frépillon,
Méry-sur-Oise--a place which may be reached in an hour or so by the
Chemin de fer du Nord, passing by Enghien, the valley of Montmorency and
Pontoise, and alighting at Auvers. There are vast quarries in the
neighbourhood, both for building-stone and the plaster so largely used
in Paris. The materials are not quarried in the ordinary way by opening
up the ground, nor by the method employed at Montrouge and elsewhere in
the suburbs of Paris, but so that the interior of the earth looks like a
vast gloomy cathedral. In 1867 the mushroom culture was in full force at
Méry, and as many as 3000 lbs. a day were sometimes sent from thence to
the Paris market; but the mushroom is a thing of peculiar taste, and
these quarries are now empty--cleaned out and left to rest. After a time
the great quarries seem to become tired of their occupants, or the
mushrooms dislike the air; the quarries are then well cleaned out, the
very soil where the beds rested being scraped away, and the place left
to recruit itself for a year or two. In 1867 M. Renaudot had the
extraordinary length of over twenty-one miles of mushroom-beds in one
great cave at Méry; last year there were sixteen miles in a cave at
Frépillon. This is a clean, lonely village, just touching on the
gigantic cemetery which M. Haussmann projected.

[Illustration: Fig. 21. Entrance to large subterranean quarry.]

The distant view of the entrance to the quarries has much the appearance
of an English chalk-pit. But there is a great rude arch cut into the
rock, and into this we enter, meeting presently a waggon coming forth
with a load of stones, the waggoner with lamp in hand. To the visitor
who has seen the mushroom caves near Paris, where it is sometimes
necessary to stoop very low to avoid knocking one’s head against the
roof rocks, the surprise is great on getting a little way in. At least
it is so soon as one can see; the darkness is so profound that a few
candles or lamps merely make it more visible. The tunnel we traverse is
nearly regularly arched, masonry being used here and there, so as to
render the support secure and somewhat symmetrical, the arches being
flat at the top for six feet or so, and about twenty-five feet high;
sometimes five feet higher.

[Illustration: Fig. 22.

Plan of large subterranean quarry at Fortes Terres, Frépillon. _S_, _S_,
_S_, represent the plan of the bases of the huge supporting pillars, and
the dotted lines their union with the roof. _D_, _C_, shows the line of
the section shown in the following cut, and _P_, place for preparing the
plaster. Sept. 1868.]

[Illustration: Fig. 23. Section following the line _C_, _D_, in Fig.
22.]

Presently we turn to the right, and a scene like a vast subterranean
rock temple presents itself. At one end are several of us with lamps,
admiring the young mushrooms budding all over the rows of beds, which,
serpent-like, are long and slim, and coil away into the darkness. At
about 150 feet distance there is a group of three men and a boy, each
with a lamp, again dispelling the darkness from the mushroom beds, and
occupied in placing small quantities of a sort of white clayey sand in
the spots whence gatherings have been made a few hours previously. From
both sides of this gloomy avenue the dark openings of others depart at
short intervals, and the floor of all is covered with mushroom-beds,
sometimes running along the passages, sometimes across them. These beds
are about twenty-two inches high and as much in diameter, and are
covered with silver sand and a sort of white putty-like clay in about
equal proportions. Running along in parallel lines, and disappearing
from view in the darkness, one knows not what to compare them to, unless
it be to barked pine trees in the hold of a ship.

Everywhere on the surface of these little beds small mushrooms were
peering forth in quantity; as the beds are regularly gathered from every
day, no very large ones are seen. They are preferred when about the size
of a chestnut, and are removed root and branch, a small portion of
finely sifted earth being placed in each hole, so as to level the bed as
in the caves at Montrouge. If the old superstition that a mushroom never
grows after being seen by human eyes were true, the trade of a
champignonniste would never answer here, as the little budding
individuals come within view every day during the gathering and earthing
operations. The most perfect cleanliness is observed everywhere in the
neighbourhood of these beds, and the whole surface of each avenue is
covered by them, leaving passages of ten inches or a foot between the
beds. At the time of my visit (Sept. 29, 1868) the crops of the
cultivator were reduced to their lowest ebb, and yet about 400 lbs. per
day were sent to market. The average daily quantity from this cave is
about 880 lbs., and sometimes that is nearly doubled.

In some parts of the cave the work of ripping out the stone by powder
and simple machinery continually goes on. The arches follow the veining
of the stone, so to speak; their lower parts are of hard stone, the
upper ones of soft, except the very top, which is again hard. There is
but a slight crust of stone above the apex of each arch, and above that
the earth and trees.

It may be supposed that the profits from such an extensive culture are
great; and so they are, but the expense is great also. The proprietor
informed me that culture on a more limited scale than he pursued last
year at Méry gave the best return in proportion to expense, the care and
supervision required by so many miles of beds being too great.

[Illustration: Fig. 24. Extracting the stone in subterranean quarries.]

All the manure employed is brought from Paris by rail, as the place is
twenty-five miles from that city by road. In the first place, so much
per month is paid in Paris for the manure of each horse; then it has to
be carted to the railway station and loaded in the waggons; next it is
brought to the station of Auvers, and afterwards carted a couple of
miles to the quarries, paying a toll for a bridge over the Oise on the
way. That surely is difficulty enough for a cultivator to begin with!
Then it is placed in great flat heaps a yard deep by about thirty long
and ten wide, not far removed from the mouth of the cave, and here it is
prepared, turned over and well mixed three times, and as a rule watered
twice. About five or six weeks are occupied in the preparation, long
manure requiring more time than short. The watering is not usually done
regularly over the mass, but chiefly where it is dry and overheated.
Every day manure is brought from Paris; every day new beds are made and
old ones cleared out--the spent manure being used for garden purposes,
particularly in surfacing or mulching, so as to prevent over-radiation
from the ground in summer. The chief advantage the cultivator here has
is the facility of taking his manure or anything else in or out in
carts, as easily as if the beds were made in the open air. Near Paris,
on the contrary, everything has to be sent up and down through shafts
like those of an old well, and the men have to creep up and down a rough
pole like mice. Many men are employed in the culture, the daily
examination of sixteen miles of beds being a considerable item in
itself. Here and there a barrier in the form of straw nailed between
laths may be seen blocking up the great arch to a height of six feet or
so. This is to prevent currents of air wandering about through the vast
passages.

The mode of preparing the spawn here is entirely different to ours. They
prefer virgin spawn--that is to say, spawn found naturally in a heap of
manure. But as this material cannot be obtained in sufficient quantity
to meet the wants of such extensive growers, they put a small portion of
it into a mushroom-bed to spread, and instead of allowing this bed to
produce mushrooms, it is all used as spawn, and is valued more than any
other. Of course abundance of spawn occurs in the old beds, but it is
never used directly. It is, however, frequently employed to spawn a
small bed when virgin spawn cannot be obtained. In this case the small
bed devoted to the propagation of spawn is placed in the open air, and
covered with straw, and as soon as it is permeated with the spawn it is
carried into the caves and used. As the making and spawning of beds is a
process continually going on, a bed of this sort must be ready at all
times. It is never made into bricks as with us, but simply spread
through short, partly-decomposed, manure.[A]

[A] Mr. Speed, superintendent of the gardens at Chatsworth, has recently
prepared his own spawn, as described on p. 73, and with perfect success.

I was informed that coal-mines are not adapted for growing mushrooms,
and the smallest particle of iron in the beds of manure is avoided by
the spawn, a circle around it remaining inert. It is said to be the same
with coal. If an evil-disposed workman wishes to injure his employer, he
has only to slip along by the beds with a pocketful of rusty old nails,
and insert one here and there.

[Illustration: Fig. 25. View in old subterranean quarries devoted to
mushroom culture, and in the occupation of M. Renaudot. Sept. 29, 1868.]

The beds remain in good bearing generally about two months, but
sometimes last twice and three times as long. A useful contrivance for
facilitating the watering of the beds has lately been invented; it
consists of a portable water-cistern to be strapped to the back and
fitted with a rose and tubing, so that a workman may carry a larger
quantity of water, and apply it more regularly and gently than with the
old-fashioned watering-pots--while one hand is left free to carry the
lamp. An iron frame has also been invented, in which the bed is first
compressed and shaped, the frame being then reversed and the bed placed
in position. Another invention for earthing the beds over as soon as the
spawn has taken will soon be in operation if not already so. As on an
average 2500 yards of beds are made every month, simple mechanical
contrivances to facilitate the operation will prove of the greatest
advantage to the cultivator.

In addition to the caves in the localities above alluded to there are
other places near Paris where the culture is carried on--notably at
Moulin de la Roche, Sous Bicêtre, near St. Germaine, and also at
Bagneux. The equability of temperature in the caves renders the culture
of the mushroom possible at all seasons; but the best crops are gathered
in winter, and consequently that is the best time to see them. I,
however, saw abundant crops in the hottest part of the very hot season
of 1868. These mushroom caves are under Government supervision, and are
regularly inspected like any other mines in which work is going on. As
regards the depth at which this culture is practised, it usually varies
from twenty to one hundred feet, sometimes reaching one hundred and
fifty and one hundred and sixty feet from the surface of the earth. They
are so large that sometimes people are lost in them. In one instance the
proprietor of a large cave went astray, and it was three days before he
was discovered, although soldiers and volunteers in abundance were sent
down. Is it possible that in a great mining and excavating country like
ours we cannot establish the same kind of industry?



CHAPTER VII.

CULTURE ON PREPARED BEDS IN THE OPEN AIR IN GARDENS AND FIELDS.


MUSHROOMS may be grown with ease in the open air in gardens; and this is
a phase of the culture with which gardeners are not by any means
sufficiently conversant. In fact, mushroom-culture in the open air in
private gardens may be said not to exist at present, so very rarely is
it seen.

In a little pamphlet on mushroom-growing that has lately appeared I find
it stated that mushrooms may be grown out of doors “in summer,” but
nothing about them being grown in the open air in winter. The Paris
growers never attempt their culture in summer: the London ones very
rarely. It is in winter that their cultivation is carried on in full
vigour in the open air. Abundant crops are grown in the open air by the
market-gardeners of London and Paris. From their beds mushrooms are
gathered in quantities in mid-winter as well as in autumn. The Paris
market-gardener does not attempt the culture in mid-summer, and does not
think it practicable; but in the hot summer of 1868, and in the midst of
the heats of July, I found about half an acre of ground at Brompton
covered with mushroom-beds bearing well.

The following illustration is from a sketch taken in Nov. 1869, in
market-garden fields, between Kensington and Brompton. The beds, about
three and a half feet high and the same in width at the base, are
covered with the long straw or litter taken from the stable manure. Over
that is placed old bast mats, or any like materials, to keep the litter
in its place, and throw off the rain; the mats being kept in place by
tiles, bricks, old boards, or any like objects that may be at hand. This
is well shown in my illustration.

[Illustration: Fig. 26. Mushroom-beds in market-gardens at Earl’s Court,
Kensington. November, 1869.]

The manure employed is that brought from the London stables, the longer
litter being shaken out and put on one side to cover the beds. No care
whatever is taken in the preparation of the manure; it is usually made
into beds soon after it is brought home and before it is allowed to
heat, and then the beds are made in the form of potato-pits and beaten
very firm. The beds are spawned when at about a temperature of eighty
degrees, the pieces of spawn being placed about a foot or so apart, and
it is then immediately earthed, the ordinary soil being used, and the
bed covered to a thickness of a couple of inches. The success attained
by the market-gardeners of both London and Paris, with the ordinary soil
of the place in which the beds may be made, well proves the absurdity of
seeking for any particular kind of soil for covering mushroom-beds. Beds
made in this way in the autumn and winter months, and covered with a
thick layer of litter and mats, seldom require any watering. The culture
is not usually attempted in summer; the heat acting upon the littery
covering giving rise to insects which destroy the mushrooms; but with
care their culture is quite practicable at that season; in proof of
which I may say that during the last week of July, 1868, I saw them
gathered freely in a market-garden just beside the Gloucester Road
Station of the Metropolitan Railway, where by using a coating of litter
about a foot thick, and over that a layer of mats, it was possible to
procure them in good condition throughout the hottest summer within
memory. There are many acres of ground covered with beds made thus in
the market-gardens round London.

[Illustration: Fig. 27. Uncovered end of mushroom-bed in Paris
market-garden. January, 1867.]

We will next turn to the culture of the mushroom in the open air near
Paris. In old times the market-gardeners there used to grow it amongst
their ordinary crops with great profit, but since the champignonnistes
cultivate it under no danger from cold in the caves, the
market-gardeners, who used to raise it to a great extent in the open
air, do so now in a less degree. They begin with the preparation of the
manure, and collect that of the horse for a month or six weeks before
they make the beds; this they prepare in some firm spot of the
market-garden, and take from it all rubbish, particles of wood, and
miscellaneous matters; for, say they, the spawn is not fond of these
bodies. After sorting it thus, they place it in beds two feet thick, or
a little more, pressing it with the fork. When this is done the mass or
bed is well stamped, then thoroughly watered, and finally again pressed
down by stamping. It is left in this state for eight or ten days, by
which time it has begun to ferment, after which the bed ought to be well
turned over and re-made on the same place, care being taken to place the
manure that was near the sides of the first-made bed towards the centre
in the turning and re-making. The mass is now left for another ten days
or so, at the end of which time the manure is about in proper condition
for making the beds that are to bear the mushrooms. Little ridge-shaped
beds--about twenty six inches wide and the same in height--are then
formed in parallel lines at a distance of twenty inches one from the
other.

In a market-garden they may stretch over a considerable extent, their
length being determined by the wants of the grower. The beds once made
of a firm, close-fitting texture, the manure soon begins to warm again,
but does not become unwholesomely hot for the spread of the spawn. When
the beds have been made some days, the cultivator spawns them, having of
course ascertained beforehand that the heat is genial and suitable.
Generally the spawn is inserted within a few inches of the base, and at
about thirteen inches apart in the line. Some cultivators insert two
lines, the second about seven inches above the first. In doing so, it
would of course be well to make the holes for the spawn in an alternate
manner. The spawn is inserted in flakes about the size of three
fingers, and then the manure is closed in over, and pressed firmly
around it. This done, the beds are covered with about six inches of
clean litter. Ten or twelve days afterwards the growers visit the beds,
to see if the spawn has taken well. When they see the white filaments
spreading in the bed they know that the spawn has taken; if not, they
take away the spawn they suppose to be bad and replace it with better.
But, using good spawn, and being practised hands at the work, they
rarely fail in this particular; and when the spawn is seen spreading
well through the bed, then, and not before, they cover the beds with
fresh sweet soil to the depth of about an inch or so. For cover, the
little pathway between the beds is simply loosened up, and the rich soil
of the market-garden applied equably, firmly, and smoothly with a
shovel. With these open-air beds they succeed in getting mushrooms in
winter. A covering of abundance of litter is put on immediately after
the beds are earthed, and kept there as a protection. They have not long
to wait till the beds are in full bearing, and when they are in that
state it is thought better to examine and gather from them every second
day, or even every day where there are many beds. And thus they grow
excellent mushrooms, and in great quantity, all the further attention
required being to renew the covering when it gets rotten, and an
occasional watering in a very dry season.

Of course this kind of cultivation is perfectly practicable in private
gardens--where, however, I have not yet seen it carried out. Where there
is a mushroom-house or empty shed in which mushrooms may be grown, there
would be less occasion to pursue it, but there are many places in which
no such conveniences exist. In any case it is desirable that gardeners
generally should know to what a large extent this phase of the culture
is pursued round London and Paris, and how simply it is done. Instead of
mats, it would be an improvement to cover the beds with tarpaulin or
some other cheap material that would keep out the wet.



CHAPTER VIII.

CULTURE IN GARDENS, ETC., WITH OTHER CROPS IN THE OPEN AIR.


THIS is a phase of culture which may be pursued to great advantage in
every private garden, almost without cost and attention. The low
ridge-like hotbeds, for example, made for both long and short prickly
cucumbers, gourds, marrows, &c., are admirably suited for growing a crop
of mushrooms under the leaves of the subjects for which they were made.
If the spawn be inserted soon after the beds are made, or at any
convenient time in early summer, the beds will come into bearing in due
course. Perhaps they may do so when mushrooms are found abundantly in
the fields; but there are thousands of persons possessing gardens who
have no fields in which to cull mushrooms, and who would like to gather
them fresh in summer or autumn, if they could not afford to grow them in
any covered structure in winter. And this is but one way in which they
may be grown with summer garden crops, as will appear from the following
communication, by Mr. Ayres, to the _Field_:--

“The finest crop and the best mushrooms I ever saw were grown in the
open ground, and without any protection at all. I will tell you how it
happened. Some years back I had the charge of the garden of a noted
hunting establishment in Northamptonshire, one of the aids to success
being that the manure of an average of nearly fifty highly-fed horses
went to the garden, the owner remarking that, whatever other things I
might run short of, there would be plenty of ‘muck.’ Well, the best of
the hunters during the summer were soiled in loose boxes, principally
under cover, and in these boxes the manure was allowed to accumulate
until it began to grow too hot for the feet of the horses; then it was
indispensable that it should be removed. About midsummer it so happened
that nearly three acres of ground had been cleared of the spring crop,
spinach, early peas, beans, &c., and I had determined to devote the
whole plot to winter brassicas, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, &c. The
ground was brashy and very poor, and consequently I determined to clear
the boxes and put the whole of the manure upon it. It was carted away so
rich in ammonia that the men who loaded it shed tears, not from
sentiment, but from compulsion; and when the manure was spread upon the
surface it was nothing less than a foot thick--so thick, that the
proprietor said it was impossible for it to be dug into the ground.
However, clearing a trench at one end of the piece, thirty inches wide
and nearly a foot deep, the subsoil was broken up with strong steel
forks, and upon that the dung covering the next strip was placed, and
covered with the surface soil of the next trench; and so the work
proceeded until the manure was put out of sight. I may remark that the
dung, especially that around the walls, contained evidence of being
strongly impregnated with mushroom spawn, though this was not regarded
as being likely to produce a crop of the esculent. A soaking rain
falling, the ground was immediately planted with brassicas, which grew
as if they could not help growing--and in fact they could not.

“We had not planted for mushrooms, nor were mushrooms expected; but,
walking round one morning early in September, a bunch of splendid
fellows presented themselves, so large and thick and solid, that when I
took them in for breakfast my _chef de cuisine_ and ‘better half’ had
grave doubts as to whether they were ‘the real thing.’ However, they
were eaten, and the present writing is a proof that they did not poison
me. Returning to the plot, I found the bunch gathered was not a solitary
one--on the contrary, the ground was literally paved with mushrooms,
many of them so large that bushels were gathered for ketchup within a
few hours; while the retainers of a large establishment, down to the
lowest labourer, were in a fortnight positively sick of them, and
cartloads rotted upon the ground.

“The evidence of this unexpected success demonstrated two things--first,
that if the ground is freely manured with _fresh_ dung from well-fed
horses, mushrooms are almost sure to be produced; and, secondly, that
the more the ground is covered with the foliage of plants, the more
certain will be the crop. Thus we found more mushrooms under savoys and
broccoli than under Brussels sprouts--the former no doubt protecting the
crop from heavy drenches of rain, which we know are very injurious to
the mushroom crop. Since this example of mushroom-growing turned up,
nearly fifteen years ago, I have frequently concentrated the fresh
manure under a row of savoys or broccoli, throwing in at the same time a
dust of mushroom spawn or the dung of a spent mushroom bed; and, except
in very wet seasons, I have rarely failed to have a fine supply during
the months of September and October. One point of success I believe to
be essentially necessary, and that is, that water shall have a free
passage through the ground at all times; hence the necessity of
trenching the ground, if you expect mushrooms as well as brassicas.”

Even in gardens where mushrooms are well grown in enclosed structures
such results in early autumn will often be desirable; while in numbers
of places where there are few or no opportunities of gathering them in
abundance under other circumstances, crops in the garden will be very
welcome. Therefore utilise the old mushroom-beds!



CHAPTER IX.

MUSHROOM CULTURE IN PASTURES, ETC.


NOTWITHSTANDING the extreme abundance of the common mushroom in the
meadows and pastures of the British islands, and probably in similar
positions all the world over, it is scarce in many situations, and, it
may be, not a few persons would be willing to make it of more frequent
occurrence in their fields. There is an opinion not uncommon that this
cannot be done; that the mushroom is, to a great extent, a creature of
chance, and that it cannot be cultivated. This is not a philosophical
notion: there can be no doubt that the mushroom has to abide the results
of the struggle for life as well as any other species of plant.
Considering that we have taken the spawn from the fields and cultivated
it with great success in all sorts of positions, none of which it could
ever inhabit naturally, it is absurd to suppose that we cannot induce it
to grow in positions exactly similar to its native habitat. Found in
open, sunny meadows and pastures, and avoiding the shade of trees, it is
grown, as we have seen, in dark and deep mines; yet people suppose it
cannot be grown in those pastures in which it happens not to be found.
It is erroneously inferred that there is something in its constitution
or habit which causes it to occur in certain spots exclusively; but as
well might we say this of any other plant. We know well that hundreds of
native plants are hardy enough to grow almost anywhere, yet how many of
them are but locally distributed and rare! Again, many plants are weeds
in one district and unknown in another, perhaps, neighbouring one.

As the Rev. M. J. Berkeley remarks:--“It is almost useless to advert to
the notion, though a very common one, which would regard these
productions as the creatures of chance or of a happy concurrence of
circumstances favourable to their growth from inorganic elements. It is
true they often occur in unexpected situations, and from their extreme
rapidity of development seem as if they could not have originated from
anything like seed. But, as accurate inquiry has now thrown much light
on the mystery in which the origin of intestinal worms was lately
involved, so the phenomena which attend the growth of fungi are
gradually receiving light, and they are found to follow essentially the
same laws as more perfect vegetables.” It is, in fact, quite fair to
conclude that mushrooms, like most other plants, occupy but a small
space in the vast expanse of soil and site which are naturally adapted
for their growth. I read in a gardening journal that “it is impossible
to command a crop of out-door mushrooms.” I am positive that it can be
done with almost as much certainty as any other crop, provided we take
into consideration certain conditions. Of course, we must remember its
natural wants; the more we do so, the more certain of success we may be.
We know that it grows most abundantly in rich, upland pastures where
water does not lie, associated with the meadow foxtail, meadow and hard
fescue and cock’s-foot grasses, clovers, cowslips, daisies, yarrow, &c.,
and also with the thistles (_Cnicus lanceolatus_ and _C. arvensis_), and
other plants fond of similar soils. We know that it is rarely found
where the marsh plume-thistle (_Cnicus palustris_), tufted hair-grass,
and other marsh grasses and plants abound, and from the presence or
absence of these plants we may easily make up our minds as to the
positions that suit it best. Now, it has long since been proved in
gardens that it is quite possible to cultivate plants to a much higher
degree of perfection than they ever attain in a wild state, under
conditions entirely different, and it is not improbable that we should
be able to grow the common mushroom in soils and positions far removed
from those in which it naturally occurs. But there is no occasion for
anything of the kind. It loves well-drained and dry pastures and
meadows, and is not the country covered with such?

After selecting the position in which we wish to propagate mushrooms,
and no moderately dry pastureland need be without them, the next thing
to consider is the providing of the spawn. Hitherto this has probably
been the great difficulty. When nearly 20_l._ worth of mushroom spawn
was annually used in the mushroom-houses of a large garden, the expense
necessary to spawn a large pasture might well alarm the richest of
mushroom-loving landholders; but there is not the slightest occasion for
purchasing the spawn for this purpose. Every farmer and country
gentleman can make it as easily as, or more easily than, the
spawn-manufacturer, without any expense or inconvenience, the essential
thing being a quantity of rather short stable-manure.

Where this is gathered in large heaps it will be easy to obtain the
requisite materials at once. Where it is not so, a few loads of stable
manure unmixed with long straw may be thrown together in the open air
and prepared for the purpose. There is no occasion to place it in a shed
of any kind, though if there be one at hand so much the better. If
prepared in the open air it should be on a dry place; the materials
should be subjected to exactly the same preparation as when used for
making a mushroom-bed, before described. They should be made into a
potato-pit-shaped bed, and spawned in the usual manner. For this
spawning it is of course necessary to obtain a little spawn, whether
home-made or bought from the seedsman, or found in what the French call
“a virgin condition” in the dunghill. In any case it will not be found
difficult to spawn one or more beds in this way, particularly as there
is nothing to prevent people drying as much home-made spawn at one time
as will suffice for a year or more. The spawn should be allowed to run
through this bed, which should be covered with a slight sprinkling of
earth, and beaten pretty firm. When it has penetrated through the bed,
it should, just before it arrives at a bearing condition, be ready to be
used as spawn. The number of beds to be spawned in this way may be
limited according to the extent of ground on which it is proposed to
grow the mushrooms. This spawn may be inserted in the meadows in early
summer, the most suitable time is in genial weather in May, and the
spawn should be inserted in holes from six to ten feet apart.

The most expeditious and best way of inserting it is that termed
T-planting, striking the spade in the line represented by the
perpendicular of the T, and then in the horizontal one on the top,
pressing the spade back when in the last position, so as to readily
admit of the insertion of one or more pieces of spawn. The kind of spawn
made as I have recommended usually falls into small pieces, more likely
to impregnate the earth quickly than the stiff, brick-like pieces of
nursery spawn. The ground, after the insertion of the spawn, should be
pressed firm with the foot. As to the depth at which the spawn should
be deposited, it would be better not to put it at any given depth, but
so that while one piece of a flake may be at a depth of six inches or
nearly so, others may touch the very surface. This, it need hardly be
pointed out, would allow of the spawn vegetating at the depth and
temperature most congenial to it. It would be most desirable to spawn at
slightly different times, and, if possible, with different samples of
spawn: thus, for example, it would be well to use a mixture of old and
dried spawn with that taken fresh from one of the beds alluded to. If
this were not convenient, some part of the large bed of spawn might be
laid by to dry, and used a week or two afterwards. Probably the most
economical way of doing this on a large scale would be by employing a
number of boys, guided by an experienced workman.

It is scarcely desirable to attempt the culture in kept lawns, as no
matter how suitable these are for it, the appearance of a large crop of
mushrooms would have anything but a tendency to beautify the carpet of
turf, and would probably become offensive from their odour.

The preceding refers to the cultivation of mushrooms in pastures,
meadows, &c. There is not the slightest reason why a similar course of
culture would not succeed in fields amongst green crops. As large crops
of mushrooms have been produced in gardens under broccoli, &c., there is
no reason whatever why they might not be grown in the same manner under
field-turnips, mangold-wurtzel, &c. The spawn which could be so easily
prepared by any farmer, could be readily inserted in the sides of the
drills in which these crops are usually grown, the slight elevation of
which, by preserving the spawn from excessive wet, will favour its
development, and it would take possession of, and impregnate the manure
in the drill. In fact, prodigious quantities might be raised in this and
similar ways, with but little trouble; and should the fields be
afterwards laid down, as is not uncommonly the case, the pasture or
meadow would probably become a regular mushroom-ground.



CHAPTER X.

THE COMMON MUSHROOMS.


_Agaricus campestris_ (True Meadow Mushroom).

THE common meadow mushroom varies considerably, but, “common to all are
a fleshy _pileus_, which is sometimes smooth, sometimes scaly, in colour
white, or of different shades of tawny, fuliginous, or brown; _gills_
free, at first pallid, then flesh-coloured, then pink, next purple, at
length tawny-black; the _stem_ white, full, firm, varying in shape,
furnished with a white persistent ring; the _spores_ brown-black, and a
volva which is very _fugacious_.”--_Badham’s Esculent Funguses of
England._

[Illustration: Fig. 28. _Agaricus campestris_ (the True Meadow
Mushroom). Pastures, autumn; colour, white or pale brown; gills, salmon,
at length black; diameter, 3 to 6 inches. The spores are magnified 700
diameters.]

There is scarcely any one in England who does not feel himself competent
to decide on the genuineness of a mushroom; its pink gills easily
distinguish it from a kindred fungus, _Ag. arvensis_, the gills of which
are of a flesh-coloured grey, and out of the pickings of ten thousand
hands, a mistake is of rare occurrence; and yet no fungus presents
itself under such a variety of forms, or such singular diversities of
aspect! The inference is plain; less discrimination than that employed
to distinguish this would enable anyone who should take the trouble to
recognise at a glance many of those esculent species, which every
spring and autumn fill our plantations and pastures with plenteousness.
Neither is this left to be a mere matter of inference; it is
corroborated in a singular manner by what takes place at Rome; there,
whilst many hundred baskets of what we call toadstools are carried home
for the table, almost the only one condemned to be thrown into the
Tiber, by the inspector of the fungus market, is our own mushroom;
indeed, in such dread is this held in the Papal States, that no one
knowingly would touch it. “It is reckoned one of the fiercest
imprecations,” writes Professor Sanguinetti, “amongst our lower orders,
infamous for the horrible nature of their oaths, to pray that one may
die of a _Pratiolo_;” and although it has been some years registered
among the esculent funguses of Milan and Pavia (on the authority of
Vittadini), it has not yet found its way into those markets. Mr.
Worthington G. Smith, in his “Mushrooms and Toad-stools,” qualifies this
statement of Dr. Badham.

_Agaricus campestris_ is not generally appreciated in Italy, and indeed
is seldom eaten, and never appears in the markets, for the simple reason
that there would be no sale for it. There is an edict in existence
ordering certain fungi to be thrown into the Tiber, but it is now, and
has long been altogether effete; and whilst there is an abundance of _A.
Cæsareus_ (avowedly the most delicious of all fungi) for the markets of
Italy, it is not to be expected the consumption will be given up for
another and little known species.

_The Modes of Cooking this Species._--“The mushroom, having the same
proximate principles as meat, requires, like meat, to be cooked before
these become changed. The _Ag. campestris_ may be prepared in a great
variety of ways: they give a fine flavour to soup, and greatly improve
beef-tea; where arrowroot and weak broths are distasteful to the
patient, the simple seasoning of a little ketchup will frequently form
an agreeable change. Some roast them, basting with melted butter and
white (French) wine sauce. In patties and _vols-au-vent_ they are
equally excellent; in fricassees, as everybody knows, they are the
important element of the dish. Roques recommends in all cases the
removal of the gills before dressing, which though it secures a more
elegant-looking _entremets_, is only flattering the eye at the expense
of the palate.”--_Badham._


_Agaricus arvensis_ (Horse-Mushroom).

“_Pileus_ fleshy, obtusely conico-campanulate, then expanded, at first
floccose, then smooth, even, or rivulose; _stem_ hollow, with a floccose
pith; _ring_ broad, pendulous, double, the outer split in rays; _gills_
free, wider in front, at first dirty white, then brown, tinged with
pink.”--_Berkeley’s Outlines of British Fungology._

[Illustration: Fig. 29. _Agaricus arvensis_ (Horse-Mushroom). Pastures,
in autumn; colour, yellowish; gills pallid, at length black; diameter, 6
to 24 in.]

“This species is very nearly allied to the meadow mushroom, and
frequently grows with it, but it is coarser, and has not the delicious
flavour. It is usually much larger, often attaining enormous dimensions;
it turns a brownish yellow as soon as broken or bruised. The top in good
specimens is smooth, and snowy white; the gills are not the pure pink of
the meadow mushroom, but dirty brownish white, ultimately becoming
brown-black. It has a big, ragged, floccose ring, and the pithy stem is
inclined to be hollow. It is _the_ species exposed for sale in Covent
Garden Market. Indeed, after knowing the market for many years, I have
rarely seen any other species there; when the true mushroom, however,
_is_ there, it is frequently mingled with horse mushrooms, which seems
to show that the dealers do not know one from the other. In the wet days
of autumn, children, idlers, and beggars go a few miles from town into
the meadows to gather whatever they can find in the mushroom line; they
then bring their dirty stock to market, where it is sold to fashionable
purchasers; stale, vapid, and without taste--unless it be a bad one.

“When young and fresh, the horse mushroom is a most desirable addition
to the bill of fare: it yields an abundant gravy, and the flesh is firm
and delicious. It is a valuable plant when freshly gathered, but when
stale it becomes tough and leathery, and without aroma or juice.

“There is a curious, large, brown, hairy variety, of rather uncommon
occurrence, similar to the hairy variety of the meadow mushroom, the _A.
villaticus_ of Dr. Badham. It is a splendid form, but, I think, very
rare. I have only seen it once.

“Many country-folk readily distinguish the meadow from the horse
mushroom, and show antipathy to the latter, although they are always
willing to put it into the jar as one of the ingredients of ketchup.
Opinions appear to differ greatly regarding the excellence of this
species. Mr. Penrose writes:--‘I think young, and especially button,
specimens of this very indigestible; until they are well opened out,
they are unfit for use.’ Such, however, I must say, is not my experience
of button specimens.

“There is a strong odour attached both to the fungus and the spawn, the
ground just below the surface being frequently white with the latter; or
if horse-dung be kicked aside in a rich meadow frequented by
graminivorous animals, the earth will frequently present a snowy
whiteness from the spawn of this species, from which the young
individuals may be seen springing up.

“I once saw a sheep eat a large specimen with great apparent gusto,
although the fungus was full of maggots.”--_Worthington G. Smith._



CHAPTER XI.

MODES OF COOKING THE COMMON MUSHROOMS.


The following modes of cooking mushrooms may prove useful to some:--

_To Stew Mushrooms._--Trim and rub clean half a pint of large button
mushrooms; put into a stew-pan two ounces of butter, shake it over the
fire till thoroughly melted; put in the mushrooms, a tea-spoonful of
salt, half as much pepper, and a blade of mace pounded; stew till the
mushrooms are tender, then serve them on a hot dish. They are usually
sent in as a breakfast dish, thus prepared in butter.

_Mushrooms à la Crême._--Trim and rub half a pint of button mushrooms,
dissolve two ounces of butter rolled in flour in a stew-pan; then put in
the mushrooms, a bunch of parsley, a tea-spoonful of salt, half a
tea-spoonful each of white pepper and of powdered sugar, shake the pan
round for ten minutes, then beat up the yolks of two eggs, with two
table-spoonfuls of cream, and add by degrees to the mushrooms; in two or
three minutes you can serve them in the sauce.

_Mushrooms on Toast._--Put a pint of mushrooms into a stew-pan, with two
ounces of butter rolled in flour; add a tea-spoonful of salt, half a
tea-spoonful of white pepper, a blade of mace powdered, and half a
tea-spoonful of grated lemon; stew till the butter is all absorbed, then
add as much white _roux_ as will moisten the mushrooms; fry a slice of
bread in butter, to fit the dish, and as soon as the mushrooms are
tender serve them on the toast.

_To Pot Mushrooms._--The small open mushrooms suit best for potting.
Trim and rub them; put into a stew-pan a quart of mushrooms, three
ounces of butter, two tea-spoonfuls of salt, and half a tea-spoonful of
Cayenne and mace mixed, and stew for ten or fifteen minutes, or till the
mushrooms are tender; take them carefully out and drain them perfectly
on a sloping dish, and when cold press them into small pots, and pour
clarified butter over them, in which state they will keep for a week or
two. If required to be longer preserved, put writing paper over the
butter, and over that melted suet, which will effectually preserve them
for many weeks, if kept in a dry, cool place.

_To Pickle Mushrooms._--Select a number of small, sound, pasture
mushrooms as nearly as possible alike in size; throw them for a few
minutes into cold water; then drain them; cut off the stalks, and gently
rub off the outer skin with a moist flannel dipped in salt; then boil
the vinegar, adding to each quart two ounces of salt, half a nutmeg
sliced, a drachm of mace, and an ounce of white pepper-corns; put the
mushrooms into the vinegar for ten minutes over the fire; then pour the
whole into small jars, taking care that the spices are equally divided;
let them stand a day, then cover them.

_Another Method._--In pickling mushrooms take the buttons only and while
they are quite close, cut the stem off even with the gills and rub them
quite clean. Lay them in salt and water for forty-eight hours, and then
add pepper, and vinegar in which black pepper and a little mace have
been boiled. The vinegar must be applied cold. So pickled they will keep
for years.

_Mushrooms en Ragoût._--Put into a stew-pan a little stock, a small
quantity of vinegar, parsley, and green onions chopped up, salt, and
spices. When this is about to boil, the mushrooms being cleaned, put
them in. When done remove them from the fire, and thicken with yolks of
eggs.

_Mushrooms and Toast._--Peel the mushrooms, and take out the stems. Fry
them over a quick fire. When the butter is melted take off the pan.
Squeeze the juice of a lemon into it. Let the mushrooms fry again for
some minutes. Add salt, pepper, spices, and a spoonful of water, in
which a clove of garlic, having been cut into pieces, has soaked for
half an hour; let it stew. When the mushrooms are done, make a
thickening of yolks of eggs. Pour the mushrooms on bread fried in
butter, and laid in the dish ready for them.

_Mushrooms en Caisse._--Peel the mushrooms lightly, and cut them into
pieces. Put them into cases of buttered paper, with a bit of butter,
parsley, green onions, and shalots chopped up, salt and pepper. Dress
them on the gridiron over a gentle fire, and serve in the cases.

_Mushrooms à la Provençale._--Take mushrooms of good size. Remove the
stems, and soak them in olive oil. Cut up the stems with a clove of
garlic and some parsley. Add meat of sausages, and two yolks of eggs to
unite them. Dish the mushrooms, and garnish them with the forcemeat.
Sprinkle them with fine oil, and dress them in an oven, or in a _four de
campagne_.

_Baked Mushrooms._--Peel the tops of twenty mushrooms; cut off a portion
of the stalks, and wipe them carefully with a piece of flannel dipped in
salt. Lay the mushrooms in a tin dish, put a small piece of butter on
the top of each, and season them with pepper and salt. Set the dish in
the oven, and bake them from twenty minutes to half an hour. When done,
arrange them high in the centre of a very hot dish, pour the sauce round
them, and serve quickly, and as hot as you possibly can.

_Mushrooms au Gratin._--Take twelve large mushrooms about two inches in
diameter, pare the stalks, wash, and drain the mushrooms on a cloth; cut
off and chop the stalks. Put in a quart stew-pan an ounce of butter and
half an ounce of flour; stir over the fire for two minutes; then add one
pint of broth; stir till reduced to half the quantity. Drain the chopped
stalks of the mushrooms thoroughly in a cloth; put them in the sauce
with three table-spoonfuls of chopped and washed parsley, one
table-spoonful of chopped and washed shalot, two pinches of salt, a
small pinch of pepper; reduce on a brisk fire for eight minutes, put two
table-spoonfuls of oil in a _sauté_ pan; set the mushrooms in, the
hollow part upwards; fill them with the fine herbs, and sprinkle over
them lightly a table-spoonful of raspings; put in a brisk oven for ten
minutes, and serve.

_Mushroom Soup._--Take a good quantity of mushrooms, cut off the earthy
end, and pick and wash them. Stew them with some butter, pepper, and
salt in a little good stock till tender; take them out, and chop them up
quite small; prepare a good stock as for any other soup, and add it to
the mushrooms and the liquor they have been stewed in. Boil all
together, and serve. If white soup be desired, use the white button
mushrooms, and a good veal stock, adding a spoonful of cream or a little
milk, as the colour may require.

The following “family receipts” have been communicated by a friend:

Clean a dozen or so of medium-size, place two or three ounces of nice
clean beef-dripping in the frying-pan, and with it a table-spoonful or
more of nice beef gravy. Set the pan on a gentle fire, and as the
dripping melts place in the mushrooms, adding salt and pepper to taste.
In a few minutes they will be cooked, and being soaked in the gravy and
served upon a hot plate, will form a capital dish. In the absence of
gravy, a _soupçon_ of “extractum carnis” may be substituted.

_Mushrooms with Bacon._--Take some full-grown mushrooms, and having
cleaned them, procure a few rashers of nice streaky bacon, and fry it in
the usual manner. When nearly done, add a dozen or so of mushrooms, and
fry them slowly until they are cooked. In this process they will absorb
all the fat of the bacon, and with the addition of a little salt and
pepper, will form a most appetising breakfast relish.

_Mushroom Stems_, if young and fresh, make a capital dish for those who
are not privileged to eat the mushrooms. Rub them quite clean, and after
washing them in salt and water, slice them to the thickness of a
shilling, then place them in a saucepan with sufficient milk to stew
them tender; throw in a piece of butter and some flour for thickening,
and salt and pepper to taste. Serve upon a toast of bread, in a hot
dish, and add sippets of toasted bread. This makes a light and very
delicate supper dish, and is not bad sauce to a boiled fowl.



CHAPTER XII.

SOME OF THE MOST COMMON AND USEFUL EDIBLE FUNGI.


    “Whole hundredweights of rich, wholesome diet rotting under
    the trees; woods teeming with food, and not one hand to gather
    it; and this, perhaps, in the midst of potato-blight, poverty,
    and all manner of privations, and public prayers against
    imminent famine.”
                                                     _Dr. Badham._

VALUABLE as is the common mushroom, it is indisputable that not a few
other kinds are also capable of affording excellent food. Therefore,
figures are given of the most prevalent, useful, and easily recognised
kinds of edible fungi, as well as of the common mushrooms of our gardens
and markets. These figures have been admirably drawn by Mr. W. G. Smith,
and are accompanied by what seemed the most satisfactory accounts of the
characters and properties that are obtainable. The spores which
accompany the figures are uniformly enlarged seven hundred diameters.


_Marasmius oreades_ (Fairy-ring Champignon).

_Pileus_ smooth, fleshy, convex, subumbonate, generally more or less
compressed, tough, coriaceous, elastic, wrinkled; when water-soaked,
brown; when dry, of a buff or cream-colour, the umbo often remaining
red-brown, as if scorched; _gills_ free, distant, ventricose, of the
same tint as the pileus, but more pale; _stem_ equal, solid, twisted,
very tough and fibrous, of a pale silky-white colour.

[Illustration: Fig. 30--1. _Marasmius oreades_ (Fairy-ring Champignon).
Pastures, roadsides, and downs, in the autumn; colour, pale buff; _gills
broad and far apart_; diameter, 1 to 2 inches.

Fig. 30--2. _Marasmius urens_ (False Champignon). Woods and pastures in
the autumn; colour, pale buff; _gills narrow and crowded together_;
diameter, ½ inch to 1½ inches.]

The fairy-ring agaric is a valuable little fungus, and common on almost
every lawn. In hilly pastures it generally appears in broad brown
patches, either circular or forming a portion of a circle.

_M. urens_, the most acrid of all allied funguses, usually grows in
woods, though sometimes in the fairy-ring. However, its flat top and
narrow crowded gills cause it to be readily distinguished anywhere.

_Opinions on the Merits of Marasmius oreades as an edible Fungus._--“On
the Continent this species has long been considered edible, but on
account of its coriaceous texture it is dried and employed in the form
of powder, to season various made-dishes.”--_Dr. Greville._

“The common fairy-ring champignon is the best of all our funguses, yet
there is scarcely one person in a thousand who dare venture to use it.
With common observation no mistake need be made with regard to it. It
has an extremely fine flavour, and makes perhaps the very best ketchup
that there is.”--_Rev. M. J. Berkeley._

“An excellent flavour, as good as that of most funguses.”--_Dr. Badham._

_Modes of Cooking Marasmius oreades._--_General Use._--“Cut in small
pieces and seasoned it makes an excellent addition to stews, hashes, or
fried meats, but it should only be added a few minutes before serving,
as the aroma is dissipated by over cooking. It is the mushroom used in
the French _à la mode_ beef-shops in London.”--_Dr. Badham._

When stewed, the champignons require rather longer time to ensure their
being made perfectly tender. They are readily dried by removing the
stems from the fungus, threading them on a string, and hanging them up
in a dry airy place. “When dried, it may be kept for years without
losing any of its aroma or goodness, which, on the contrary, becomes
improved by the process, so as, in fact, to impart more flavour to the
dish than would have been imparted by the fresh fungus; though it is not
to be denied that the flesh then becomes coriaceous (or tough), and less
easy of digestion.”--_Dr. Badham._

_Champignon Powder._--Put the champignons in a stew-pan with a little
mace and a few cloves, and a sprinkling of white pepper. Simmer, and
shake constantly to prevent burning, until any liquor that may exude is
dried up again. Dry thoroughly in a warm oven until they will easily
powder. Put the dried agaric, or the powder, into wide-mouthed glass
bottles, and store in a dry place. It will keep any length of time. A
tea-spoonful added to any soup, or gravy, or sauce, just before the last
boil is given, will produce a very fine mushroom flavour.

_Pickled Champignons._--Collect fresh buttons of the fairy-ring agaric
and use them at once. Cut off the stems quite close and throw each one
as you do so into a basin of water in which a spoonful of salt has been
put. Drain them from it quickly afterwards, and place them on a soft
cloth to dry. For each quart of buttons thus prepared, take nearly a
quart of pale white wine vinegar, and add to it a heaped tea-spoonful of
salt, half an ounce of whole white pepper, an ounce of ginger-root
bruised, two large blades of mace, and a fourth of a salt-spoon of
cayenne pepper tied in a small piece of muslin. When this pickle boils
throw in the agarics and boil them in it over a clear fire moderately
fast, from six to nine minutes. When tolerably tender put them into
_warm_ wide-mouthed bottles, and divide the spice equally amongst them.
When perfectly cold, cork well, or tie skins and paper over them. Store
in a dry place, and keep out the frost.

Full-sized champignons may be pickled exactly in the same way, but will
require longer boiling, until indeed they become tender.--_Modified from
Miss Acton._

_Champignons quickly Pickled._--Place the prepared buttons in bottles
with a blade of mace, a tea-spoonful of pepper-corns, and a tea-spoonful
of mustard seed in each, and cover with the strongest white wine
pickling vinegar boiling hot. Cork or tie down as before, but do not
expect them to keep above three months.


_Agaricus procerus_ (the Parasol Agaric).

[Illustration: Fig. 31. _Agaricus procerus_ (Scaly Mushroom). Pastures,
&c., in autumn; colour, pale brownish buff; diameter, 5 to 12 inches.]

_Pileus_ fleshy, ovate when young, then campanulate, and afterwards
expanded and umbonate (blunt pointed), from three to seven inches
across. Cuticle more or less brown, entire over the umbo, but torn into
patches, or scales which become more and more separated as they approach
the margin. Flesh white. _Gills_ unconnected with the stem, fixed to a
collar on the pileus surrounding its top. _Ring_ persistent, loose on
the stem. _Stem_ six or eight inches high, tapering upwards from a
pear-like bulb at the root, hollow with a loose pith, whitish brown,
but more or less variegated with small and close-pressed scales.

Whenever an agaric on _a long stalk_, enlarged _at the base_, presents
_a dry cuticle_ more or less _scaly_, a darker coloured _umbonated top_,
_a moveable ring_, and _white_ gills, it must be _Agaricus procerus_,
the parasol agaric, and it may be gathered and eaten without fear. When
the whitish flesh of this agaric is bruised it shows a light reddish
colour.

There are but two other agarics that at all resemble it, and both are
edible. One about the same size is _Agaricus rachodes_. It is not
generally considered so good in flavour as _A. procerus_. Mrs. Hussey,
however, says plainly, “If _Agaricus procerus_ is the king of edible
funguses, _Agaricus rachodes_ is an excellent viceroy.” The other is the
_Agaricus excoriatus_, a very much smaller fungus, with a more slender
habit, a shorter stem, and no true bulb at the base. This elegant little
fungus is also very good eating.

The parasol agaric has a very wide range of growth. It is a common
fungus, and is in _high request all over the Continent_.

_Opinions on the Merits of Agaricus procerus as an Edible Fungus._--“A
most excellent mushroom, of a delicate flavour, and it must be
considered a most useful species.”--_The Rev. M. J. Berkeley._

“Were its excellent qualities better known here, they could not fail to
secure it a general reception into our best kitchens, and a frequent
place among our side dishes at table.”--_Dr. Badham._

“If once tried, it must please the most fastidious.”--_Worthington G.
Smith._

There can be no question but that, when young and quickly grown, the
parasol agaric is a delicious fungus. It has a light and delicate
flavour without the heavy richness which belongs to the ordinary field
mushroom. The writer has prevailed on many persons to try it; all
without exception have liked it, many have thought it quite equal, and
some have proclaimed it superior, to the common mushroom.

_Modes of Cooking the Agaricus procerus._--_Broiled Procerus._--Remove the
scales and stalks from the agarics, and broil lightly over a clear fire
on both sides for a few minutes; arrange them on a dish over fresh-made,
well-divided toast; sprinkle with pepper and salt, and put a small piece
of butter on each; set before a brisk fire to melt the butter, and serve
up quickly.

If the cottager would toast his bacon over the broiled mushrooms, the
butter would be saved.

_Agarics delicately Stewed._--Remove the stalks and scales from young
half-grown agarics, and throw each one as you do so into a basin of
fresh water slightly acidulated with the juice of a lemon, or a little
good vinegar. When all are prepared, remove them from the water, and
put them into a stew-pan with a very small piece of fresh butter.
Sprinkle with white pepper and salt, and add a little lemon-juice; cover
up closely, and stew for half an hour. Then add a spoonful of flour,
with sufficient cream, or cream and milk, until the whole has the
thickness of cream. Season to taste, and stew again gently until the
agarics are perfectly tender. Remove all the butter from the surface,
and serve in a hot dish, garnished with slices of lemon.

A little mace, nutmeg, or ketchup may be added; but there are those who
think that spice spoils the mushroom flavour.

_Cottager’s Procerus Pie._--Cut fresh agarics in small pieces, and cover
the bottom of a pie-dish. Pepper, salt, and place them on small shreds
of fresh bacon, then put in a layer of mashed potatoes, and so fill the
dish, layer by layer, with a cover of mashed potatoes for the crust.
Bake well for half an hour, and brown before a quick fire.

_A la Provençale._--“Steep for two hours in some salt, pepper, and a
little garlic; then toss in a small stew-pan over a brisk fire, with
parsley chopped, and a little lemon-juice.”--_Dr. Badham._

_Agaric Ketchup._--Place agarics of as large a size as you can procure,
but which are not worm-eaten, layer by layer, in a deep pan, sprinkling
each layer as it is put in with a little salt. The next day stir them
well up several times, so as to mash and extract their juice. On the
third day strain off the liquor, measure, and boil for ten minutes, and
then to every pint of the liquor add half an ounce of black pepper, a
quarter of an ounce of bruised ginger-root, a blade of mace, a clove or
two, and a tea-spoonful of mustard-seed. Boil again for half an hour;
put in two or three bay leaves, and set aside till quite cold. Pass
through a strainer, and bottle; cork well, and dip the ends in resin. A
very little Chili vinegar is an improvement, and some add a glass of
port wine, or a glass of strong ale to every bottle.

Care should be taken that the spice is not added so abundantly as to
overpower the true flavour of the agaric. A careful cook will keep back
a little of the simple boiled liquor to guard against this danger: a
good one will always avoid it. “Doctors weigh their things,” said a
capital cook, “but I go by taste.” But then, like poets, good cooks of
this order must be born so; they are not to be made.


_Coprinus comatus_ (the Maned Agaric).

_Pileus_ cylindrical, obtuse, campanulate, fleshy in the centre, but
very thin towards the margin. The external surface soon torn up into
fleecy scales, with the exception of a cap at the top. _Gills_ free,
linear, and crowded. Quite white when young, becoming rose-coloured,
sepia, and then black, from the margin upwards. They then expand
quickly, curl up in shreds, and deliquesce into a black inky fluid which
stains the ground. _Stem_ of a pure white, four to five inches high,
contracting at the top, and bulbous at the base; hollow, fibrillose,
stuffed with a light cottony web. The bulb is solid and rooting, the
ring is movable.

[Illustration: Fig. 32. _Coprinus comatus_ (Maned Mushroom). Pastures,
parks, and roadsides, summer and autumn; colour, snow-white; height, 5
to 12 inches.]

This very elegant agaric has also been called _Ag. cylindricus_, Schœff;
_Ag. typhoides_, Bull; and _Ag. fimetarius_, Bolt. It is common
throughout the summer and autumn months, on road-sides, pastures, and
waste places. It is extremely variable in size. Its general appearance
is so distinct and striking, that it cannot possibly be mistaken for any
other agaric. It grows so abundantly on waste ground in the dwellings
and farm-yards that it may be, says Dr. Bull, called the “agaric of
civilization;” and for both these reasons it is most valuable as an
edible agaric. If its merits were known, it would be eaten as freely as
the common field mushroom.

“The maned mushrooms,” Miss Plues has well said, “grow in dense
clusters, each young plant like an attenuated egg, white and smooth.
Presently some exceed the others in rapidity of growth, and their heads
get above the ground, the stem elongates rapidly, the ring falls loosely
round the stem, the margin of the pileus enlarges, and the oval head
assumes a bell-shape; then a faint tint of brown spreads universally or
in blotches over the upper part of the pileus, and the whiteness of its
gills changes to a dull pink. A few more hours and the even head of the
pileus has split in a dozen places, the sections curl back, melt out of
all form into an inky fluid, and on the morrow’s dawn a black stain on
the ground will be all that remains. And so on with the others in
succession.”

_Opinions on the Merits of Coprinus comatus as an Edible
Fungus._--“Esculent when young.”--_Berkeley._

“Young specimens should be selected.”--_Badham._

“No despicable dish, though perhaps not quite equal to the common
mushroom.”--_M. C. Cooke._

“If I had my choice, I think there is no species I should prefer before
this one: it is singularly rich, tender, and delicious.”--_Worthington
G. Smith._

Dr. M‘Cullough, Dr. Chapman, Elmes Y. Steele, Esq., and some other
members of the Woolhope Club, hold Mr. W. G. Smith’s opinion as the
result of considerable experience. It must be noted, however, that when
too young this agaric is rather deficient in flavour, and its fibres
tenacious. Its flavour is most rich, and its texture most delicate when
the gills show the pink colour with sepia margins.

_Modes of Cooking the Coprinus comatus._--The best and simplest method
is to broil it and serve on toast in the ordinary way. It may be added
also with great advantage to steaks and made-dishes, to give flavour and
gravy.

_Comatus Soup._--Take two quarts of white stock, and put in a large
plateful of the maned agaric roughly broken out; stew until tender; pulp
through a fine sieve; add pepper and salt to taste; boil and serve up
hot. Two or three table-spoonfuls of cream will be a great improvement.

The agarics for this soup should be young, in order to keep its colour
light and good. The maned agaric is recommended on all sides for making
ketchup, but here, also, it should be quickly used, and the ketchup
quickly made.


_Agaricus gambosus_ (the True St. George’s Mushroom).

_Pileus_ thick and fleshy, convex at first, often lobed, becoming
undulated and irregular, expanding unequally; the margin more or less
involute, and at first flocculose; from three to four inches across; of
a light yellow colour in the centre, fading to almost opaque white at
the edges; it is soft to the touch; more or less tuberculated, and often
presenting cracks. _Gills_ yellowish-white, watery, narrow, marginate,
annexed to the stem with a little tooth: they are very numerous and
irregular, with many smaller ones interposed, “lying over each other
like the plaits of a frill” (from 5 to 11, Vittadini). _Stem_ firm,
solid and white, swelling at the base in young specimens; but in older
ones, though usually bulging, they are frequently of even size, and when
in long grass they occasionally even taper downwards. This agaric is
usually nearly white, smooth, soft, and firm, like kid leather to the
touch, and, as Berkeley has happily said, “in appearance it very closely
resembles a cracknel biscuit.”

They grow in rings; have a strong smell, and appear about St. George’s
Day (April 23), after the rains which usually fall about the third week
in April. They continue to appear for three or four weeks, according to
the peculiarities of the season. They are usually to be found on hilly
pastures in woodland districts.

The St. George’s mushroom cannot well be mistaken for any other. The
fact of its appearance at this early season, and growing so freely in
rings, when so very few other funguses are to be found, is almost enough
to distinguish it. It has, however, very distinctive characters in
itself in the thickness of its pileus; the narrowness of its gills,
which are very closely crowded together; and the solid bulging stem.

[Illustration: Fig. 33. _Agaricus gambosus_ (St. George’s Mushroom).
Pastures, _in the spring_; colour, cream; diameter, 4 to 6 inches.]

The St. George’s mushroom is not an uncommon agaric in this country, and
where it does appear it is usually plentiful--a single ring affording
generally a good basket full. It should be gathered when young, or it
will be found grub-eaten, for no fungus is more speedily and more
voraciously attacked by insects than this one.

_Opinions on the Merits of Agaricus gambosus as an Edible
Fungus._--“This rare and most delicious agaric, the _mouceron_ of
Bulliard, and the _Agaricus prunulus_ of other authors, abounds on the
hills above the valley of Staffora, near Bobbio, where it is called
_Spinaroli_, and is in great request; the country people eat it fresh in
a variety of ways, or they dry and sell it at from twelve to sixteen
francs a pound.”--_Letter from Professor Balbi to Persoon._

“The most savoury fungus with which I am acquainted ... and which is
justly considered over almost the whole continent of Europe as the _ne
plus ultra_ of culinary friandise.

“The _prunulus_ (_gambosus_) is much prized in the Roman market, where
it easily fetches, when fresh, thirty baiocchi--_i.e._, fifteen pence
per pound--a large sum for any luxury in Rome. It is sent in little
baskets as presents to patrons, fees to medical men, and bribes to Roman
lawyers.”--_Dr. Badham._

The _Agaricus gambosus_ “is one that a person cannot well make any
mistake about. It sometimes attains a large size, is excellent in
flavour, and particularly wholesome.”--_Rev. M. J. Berkeley._

_Mode of Cooking Agaricus gambosus._--“The best mode of cooking
_Agaricus gambosus_ is either to mince or fricassee it with any sort of
meat, or in a _vol-au-vent_, the flavour of which it greatly improves;
or simply prepared with salt, pepper, and a small piece of bacon, lard,
or butter, to prevent burning, it constitutes of itself an excellent
dish.”--_Dr. Badham._ “Served with white sauce, it is a capital
appendage to roast veal.”--_Edwin Lees._ It may be broiled, stewed, or
baked.

_Breakfast Agaric._--Place some fresh-made toast, nicely divided, on a
dish, and put the agarics upon it; pepper, salt, and put a small piece
of butter on each; then pour on each one a tea-spoonful of milk or
cream, and add a single clove to the whole dish. Place a bell-glass, or
inverted basin, over the whole; bake twenty minutes, and serve up
without removing the glass until it comes to the table, so as to
preserve the heat and the aroma, which, on lifting the cover, will be
diffused through the room. It dries very readily when divided into
pieces, and retains most of its excellence. A few pieces added to soups,
gravies, or made-dishes, give a delicious flavour.


_Agaricus rubescens_ (Brown Warty Agaric).

[Illustration: Fig. 34. _Agaricus rubescens_ (Red-fleshed Mushroom).
Woods, summer and autumn; colour, sienna-brown; diameter, 4 to 10
inches.]

_Pileus_ convex, then expanded, cuticle brown, scattered over with warts
varying in size. Margin striate. _Gills_ white, reaching the stem, and
forming very fine decurrent lines upon it. _Ring_ entire, wide and
marked with striæ. _Stem_ often scaly, stuffed, becoming hollow; when
old, bulbous. Volva obliterated. The whole plant has a tendency to turn
a sienna-red, or rust colour. This is very distinctly shown some little
time after it has been bruised.

It is very common all through the summer and autumn months; indeed, one
of the most abundant mushrooms; “and it is one of those species that a
person with the slightest powers of discrimination may distinguish
accurately from others.”--_Badham._

_Opinions on the Merits of Agaricus rubescens as an Edible Fungus._--“A
very delicate fungus, which grows in sufficient abundance to render it
of importance in a culinary point of view.”--_Badham._

“From long experience I can vouch for its being not only wholesome, but,
as Dr. Badham says, ‘a very delicate fungus.’”--_F. Currey_, Editor of
Dr. Badham’s “Esculent Funguses.”

_Modes of Cooking the Agaricus rubescens._--It may be toasted, boiled,
or stewed in the ordinary way.

_Fried Rubescens._--Place the full-grown agarics in water for ten
minutes, then drain, and having removed the warty skin, fry with butter,
pepper, and salt. The ketchup made from _Agaricus rubescens_ is rich and
good. “As it grows freely, and attains a considerable size, it is very
suitable for that purpose, quantity being a great desideratum in
ketchup-making.”--_Plues._


_Agaricus nebularis_ (Clouded Mushroom).

[Illustration: Fig. 35. Agaricus nebularis (Clouded Mushroom). Woody
places, in autumn; colour, cream, with slate-coloured top; diameter, 4
to 10 inches.]

“_Pileus_ from two and a half to five inches across; at first
depresso-convex; when expanded, nearly flat or broadly subumbonate;
never depressed; margin at first involute and pruinose; occasionally
somewhat waved and lobed, but generally regular in form; smooth, viscid
when moist, so that dead leaves adhere to it; grey, brown at the centre,
paler towards the circumference. _Flesh_ thick, white, unchanging.
_Gills_ cream-colour, narrow, decurrent, close, their margins waved,
unequal, generally simple. _Stem_ from two to four inches long, from a
quarter of an inch to an inch thick; incurved at the base; not rooting,
but attaching by means of a floccose down round its lower portion and
for one-third of its length, a large quantity of dead leaves, by which
the plant is held erect; subequal, more or less marked with longitudinal
pits, firm externally, within of a softer substance. The _odour_ strong,
like that of curd cheese.”--_Badham._

“Common in certain places, but very rare near London. This species comes
up late in the autumn on dead leaves in moist places, principally on the
borders of woods. The gastronomic excellences of this species are well
known. When gathered, it has a wholesome and powerful odour; and when
cooked, the firm and fragrant flesh has a particularly agreeable and
palatable taste.”--_W. G. Smith._

“The _Agaricus nebularis_ requires but little cooking; a few minutes’
broiling (_à la_ Maintenon is best), with butter, pepper, and salt, is
sufficient. It may also be delicately fried with bread crumbs, or stewed
in white sauce. The flesh of this mushroom is perhaps lighter of
digestion than that of any other.”--_Badham._


_Lactarius deliciosus_ (Orange-milk Mushroom).

[Illustration: Fig. 36. _Lactarius deliciosus_ (Orange-milk Mushroom).
Under fir-trees, in autumn; colour, brown-orange; milk at first orange,
then green; diameter, 3 to 10 inches.]

_Pileus_ smooth, fleshy, umbilicate, of a dull rufous orange, turning
pallid from exposure to light and air, but zoned with concentric circles
of a brighter hue; margin smooth, at first involute, and then becoming
expanded; from three to five inches across. Flesh firm full of
orange-red milk, which turns green on exposure to the air, as does any
part of the plant when bruised. _Gills_ decurrent, narrow, each
dividing into two, three several times from the stem to the edge of the
pileus; of a dull yellow by reflected light, but being translucent, the
red milk shines brightly through them. _Stem_ from one to three inches
high, slightly bent and tapering downwards; solid, becoming more or less
hollow with age; short hairs at the base; sometimes pitted
(scrobiculate).

There is no possibility of mistaking this fungus. It is the only one
which has _orange-red milk_, and which _turns green when bruised_. These
properties distinguish it at once from _Lactarius torminosus_ or
_necator_, the only fungus which in any way resembles it.

This acrid fungus (_Lactarius torminosus_) is somewhat similar in shape
and size, and is also zoned. But the involute edges of the pileus are
bearded with close hairs. It is of a much paler colour, and with gills
of a dirty white. The milk, also, is white, acrid, and unchangeable in
colour.

The Orange-milk agaric chiefly affects the Scotch fir-tree, and is
generally to be found beneath the drip of the branches around the tree.
It is also found in hedgerows occasionally, but is most abundant in
plantations of Scotch fir or larch.

_Opinions on the Merits of Lactarius deliciosus as an Edible
Fungus._--“This is one of the best agarics with which I am acquainted,
fully deserving both its name and the estimation in which it is held
abroad, it reminds me of tender lambs’ kidneys.”--_Dr. Badham._

“Very luscious eating, full of rich gravy, with a little of the flavour
of mussels.”--_Sowerby._

“Cook them well, and you will have something better than kidneys, which
they much resemble both in flavour and consistence.”--_Mrs. Hussey._

_Modes of Cooking Lactarius deliciosus._--“The rich gravy it produces is
its chief characteristic, and hence it commends itself to make a rich
gravy sauce, or as an ingredient in soups. It requires delicate cooking,
for though fleshy it becomes tough if kept on the fire till all the
juice is exuded. Baking is perhaps the best process for this agaric to
pass through. It should be dressed when fresh and pulpy.”--_Edwin Lees._

_Stewed Deliciosus._--“The _tourtière_ (or pie-dish) method of cooking
suits _Lactarius deliciosus_ best, as it is firm and crisp in substance.
Be careful to use only sound specimens. Reduce them by cutting across to
one uniform bulk. Place the pieces in a pie-dish, with a little pepper
and salt, and a small piece of butter on each side of every slice. Tie a
paper over the dish, and bake gently for three-quarters of an hour.
Serve them up in the same hot dish.”--_Mrs. Hussey._

_Deliciosus Pie._--Pepper and salt slices of the agaric, and place them
in layers with thin slices of fresh bacon, until a small pie-dish is
full; cover with a crust of pastry or mashed potatoes, and bake gently
for three-quarters of an hour. If with potato crust, brown nicely before
a quick fire.

_Deliciosus Pudding._--Cut the agaric into small pieces; add similar
pieces of bacon, pepper, and salt, and a little garlic or spice;
surround with crust, and boil three-quarters of an hour.

_Fried Deliciosus._--Fry in slices, properly seasoned with butter, or
bacon and gravy; and serve up hot with sippets of toast. A steak in
addition is a great improvement.


_Morchella esculenta_ (the Morel).

Every one knows the Morel--that expensive luxury which the rich are
content to procure at great cost from our Italian warehouses, and the
poor are fain to do without. It is less generally known that this
fungus, though by no means so common with us as some others (a
circumstance partly attributable to the prevailing ignorance as to when
and where to look for it, or even of its being indigenous to England),
occurs not unfrequently in our orchards and woods, towards the beginning
of summer. Roques reports favourably of some specimens sent to him by
the Duke of Athol; and others, from different parts of the country,
occasionally find their way into Covent Garden Market. The genus
_Morchella_ comprises very few species, and they are all good to eat.
Persoon remarks, that though the Morel rarely appears in a sandy soil,
preferring a calcareous or argillaceous ground, it frequently springs up
on sites where charcoal has been burnt, or where cinders have been
thrown.

[Illustration: Fig. 37. _Morchella esculenta_ (the Morel). Woods, &c.,
in the spring; colour pale buff; height, 3 to 5 inches.]

_Pileus_ very various in shape and hue, the surface broken-up into very
little cells, made by folds or plaits of the hymenium, which are more or
less salient, and constitute the so-called ribs. These _ribs_ are very
irregular, and anastomose with each other throughout; the pileus
hollow, opening into the irregular stem. _Spores_ pale yellow. Neither
of these funguses should be gathered after rain, as they are then
insipid and soon spoil.

“M. Roques says the Morel may be dressed in a variety of ways, both
fresh and dry, with butter or in oil, _au gras_ or _à la crême_. The
following receipts for cooking them are from Persoon. 1st. Having washed
and cleansed them from the earth which is apt to collect between the
plaits, dry thoroughly in a napkin, and put them into a saucepan with
pepper, salt, and parsley, adding or not a piece of ham; stew for an
hour, pouring in occasionally a little broth to prevent burning; when
sufficiently done, bind with the yolk of two or three eggs, and serve on
buttered toast. 2nd. _Morelles à l’Italienne._--Having washed and dried,
divide them across, put them on the fire with some parsley, scallion,
chervil, burnet, tarragon, chives, a little salt, and two spoonfuls of
fine oil. Stew till the juice runs out, then thicken with a little
flour; serve with bread-crumbs and a squeeze of lemon. 3rd. _Stuffed
Morels._--Choose the freshest and whitest morels, open the stalk at the
bottom, wash and wipe them well, fill with veal stuffing, anchovy, or
any rich _farce_ you please, securing the ends, and dressing between
thin slices of bacon; serve with a sauce like the last.”--_Badham._


_Hygrophorus pratensis._

“_Pileus_ convexo-plane, then turbinate, smooth, moist; disc compact,
gibbous; margin thin; _stem_ stuffed, even, attenuated downwards;
_gills_ deeply decurrent, arcuate, thick, distant.”--_Grev. t. 91; Huss.
II. t. 40._

[Illustration: Fig. 38 (1). _Hygrophorus pratensis._ Pastures, in
autumn; colour, full buff; diameter, 2 to 3 inches.

Fig. 38 (2). _Hygrophorus virgineus_ (Viscid White Mushroom). Pastures,
in autumn; snow-white; diameter, ½ inch to 1½ inches.]

“On downs and short pastures. Very common. _Pileus_ tawny or
deep buff, sometimes nearly white, as in the next. Probably
esculent.”--_Berkeley._


_Hygrophorus virgineus_ (Viscid White Mushroom).

“_Pileus_ fleshy, convexo-plane, obtuse, moist, at length
areolato-rimose; _stem_ stuffed, firm, short, attenuated at the base;
_gills_ decurrent, distant, rather thick.”--_Grev. t. 166._ “On
downs and short pastures. Extremely common. Mostly pure
ivory-white.”--_Berkeley._

This species, exquisite in form and flavour, is one of the prettiest
ornaments of our lawns, downs, and short pastures at the fall of the
year. In these situations it may be found in every part of the kingdom.
It is essentially _waxy_, and feels and looks precisely as if made of
the purest virgin wax. The stem is firm, stuffed, and attenuated, and
the gills singularly distant from each other; it changes colour a little
when getting old, at which time it is unfit for culinary purposes.

A batch of fresh specimens, broiled or stewed with taste and care, will
prove agreeable, succulent, and flavorous eating, and may sometimes be
obtained when other species are not forthcoming.

“Several allied species enjoy the reputation of being esculent, notably
_H. niveus_; and my friend Mr. F. C. Penrose has eaten, and speaks
favourably of _H. psittacinus_--a highly ornamental yellow species, with
a green stem, sometimes common enough in rich pastures (and _said_ to be
very suspicious).”--_W. G. Smith._


_Cantharellus cibarius_ (Chantarelle).

[Illustration: Fig. 39. _Cantharellus cibarius_ (Chantarelle). Woods,
autumn; rich golden yellow; diameter, 2 to 4 inches.]

When young its _stalk_ is tough, white, and solid; but as it grows this
becomes hollow and presently changes to yellow; tapering below, it is
effused into the substance of the _pileus_, which is of the same colour
with it. The _pileus_ is lobed, and irregular in shape; its margin at
first deeply involute, afterwards when expanded, wavy. The _veins_ or
plaits are thick, subdistant, much sinuated, running some way down the
stalk. The _flesh_ is white, fibrous, dense, “having the odour of
apricots” (_Purton_) or of “plums” (_Vitt._). “The _colour_ yellow, like
that of the yolk of eggs, is deeper on the under surface; when raw it
has the pungent taste of pepper: the _spores_, which are elliptic, are
of a pallid ochre colour.” (_Vitt._) The Chantarelle grows sometimes
sporadically, sometimes in circles or segments of a circle, and may be
found from June to October. At first it assumes the shape of a minute
cone: next, in consequence of the rolling in of the margin, the pileus
is almost spherical, but as this unfolds it becomes hemispherical, then
flat, at length irregular and depressed.

“This fungus,” observes Vittadini, “being rather dry and tough by
nature, requires a considerable quantity of fluid sauce to cook it
properly.” “The common people in Italy dry or pickle, or keep it in oil
for winter use. Perhaps the best ways of dressing the Chantarelle are to
stew or mince it by itself, or to combine it with meat or with other
funguses. It requires to be gently stewed, and a long time to make it
tender; but by soaking it in milk the night before, less cooking will be
requisite.”--_Badham._


_Hydnum repandum_ (Hedgehog, or Spine-bearing Mushroom).

[Illustration: Fig. 40. _Hydnum repandum_ (Spine-bearing Mushroom).
Woods, autumn; colour, pale buff; diameter, 2 to 5 inches.]

_Pileus_ smooth, irregular in shape, depressed in the centre, more or
less lobed, and generally placed irregularly on the stem (eccentric); of
a pale buff or cinnamon colour; from two to five inches in diameter.
Flesh firm and white; when bruised it turns slightly brown. _Spines_
crowded, awl-shaped, slanting, soft and brittle, varying in size and
length, and of a faint cinnamon tint. _Stem_ white, short, solid,
crooked, and often lateral.

There is no possibility of mistaking the hedgehog mushroom: when once
seen it is always to be remembered. Its awl-shaped spines are crowded
beneath the pileus; its size and colour are most marked; it resembles
closely, as has been said, a lightly-baked cracknel biscuit in colour.

“This fungus occurs principally in woods, and especially in those of
pine and oak; sometimes solitary, but more frequently in company and in
rings.”--_Badham._

_Opinions on the Merits of Hydnum repandum as an Edible Fungus._--“The
general use of this fungus throughout France, Italy, and Germany, leaves
no room for doubt as to its good qualities.”--_Roques._

“When well stewed it is an excellent dish, with a slight flavour of
oysters. It makes also a very good _purée_.--_Dr. Badham._

“A most excellent fungus, but it requires a little caution in
preparation for the table. It should be previously steeped in hot water
and well drained in a cloth; in which case there is certainly not a more
excellent fungus.”--_Berkeley._

“A wholesome fungus and not to be despised; but not in the first class
as to flavour, requiring the help of condiments. It has the advantage,
however, of growing later than most funguses, and may be found up to the
middle of November.”--_Edwin Lees._

“One of the most excellent fungi that grows; its flavour very strongly
resembles oysters.”--_The Rev. W. Houghton._

_Modes of Cooking Hydnum repandum._--The hedgehog mushroom is dense in
structure, and in whatever way it may be cooked, all authorities agree
that it must be done slowly at a low temperature until it is tender, and
with plenty of stock or white sauce to supply its deficiency in
moisture.

_Stewed Hydnum._--“Cut the mushrooms in pieces and steep for twenty
minutes in warm water; then place in a pan with butter, pepper, salt,
and parsley; add beef or other gravy, and simmer for an hour.”--_Trans.
from M. Roques._

“Stew in a brown or white sauce.”--_Mrs. Hussey._

“Cut up in bits about the size of a bean, and stew in white sauce, when
it will almost pass off as oyster sauce.”--_The Rev. W. Houghton,
F.L.S._


_Agaricus orcella_ (Orgelle or Vegetable Sweetbread).

_Pileus_ thin, irregular, depressed in the centre, lobed, with undulated
borders, from two to three inches across. In colour clear white,
sometimes tinted with pale brown on its prominences, and occasionally
with a grey centre or even lightly zoned with grey. Its surface is soft
and smooth to the touch, except in wet weather, when it becomes soft
and sticky. The flesh is soft, colourless, and unchangeable. _Gills_
crowded, decurrent, at first nearly white, then pinkish grey, taking at
length a light brown tint. Spores pale brown. _Stem_ smooth, solid,
short, decreasing in size; central when young, but becoming eccentric
from the pileus growing irregularly. _Odour_ pleasant, usually compared
to that of fresh meal, but Dr. Badham and others think it resembles more
closely the smell of cucumber or syringa leaf.

[Illustration: Fig. 41. (1) _Agaricus orcella_ and (2) _Agaricus
prunulus_ (Plum Mushroom). Woody places, in autumn; colour, snow-white,
with pale rose gills; diameter, 2 to 4 inches.]


_Agaricus prunulus_ (Plum Mushroom).

_Pileus_ fleshy, compact, at first convex, then expanded, becoming
depressed in the centre, irregularly waved, and slightly pruinose; from
two to five inches broad; surface dry, soft, white, or sometimes grey.
The flesh thick, white, and unchangeable. _Gills_ crowded, deeply
decurrent, at first white, then a pale dull flesh-colour, or yellowish
brown. Spores pale brown. _Stem_ white, solid, firm, slightly
ventricose, an inch or more long, and half an inch thick; naked, often
striate, and villose at the base; often eccentric. _Odour_ like that of
new meal, but usually too strong to be agreeable.

There has been considerable confusion, writes Dr. Bull, between the two
Agarics _orcella_ and _prunulus_; some thinking that we have only
_orcella_ in England (_Dr. Badham_); and others only _prunulus_ (the
_Rev. M. J. Berkeley_), and others again that they are both the same
fungus, differing only in size. Dr. Badham and some others again confuse
_prunulus_ with _gambosus_, the fungus of early spring, and this has
arisen from the French term _mousseron_ being often applied to both
these funguses; but they are so essentially different as not to be
liable in any way to be mistaken for each other. _Agaricus orcella_ and
_A. prunulus_ are both placed on the same page in the illustration, so
that their close alliance may be seen at a glance. Fries treats them as
separate funguses, “in deference to ancient authority, since their
differences are chiefly in degree.” These differences are, nevertheless,
so well marked, that they are kept separate here. _Orcella_ is a smaller
and more delicate fungus than _prunulus_. It is thinner and less fleshy,
more undulated in its borders, and has a lighter and more agreeable
odour. _Orcella_ grows in more open glades than _prunulus_; it is
usually much whiter in colour, sometimes in high situations white and
glazed as an egg-shell, or even pottery. _Orcella_ grows more solitary
than _prunulus_, in light, scattered groups, showing an inclination for
the neighbourhood of oak-trees, and where it does grow it may be found
year after year in the same place, but seldom more than two or three in
a spot. Last year, 1869, when _orcella_ was pretty plentiful, _prunulus_
was not to be found in the situations where it grows usually most
abundantly. _Prunulus_ is the reverse of all this. It prefers more
shaded places, is larger, more fleshy, and with a strong odour rather
heavy and overpowering. It grows in greater quantities together, and not
unfrequently in crowded rings from four to six feet in diameter.

As edible funguses they should certainly be kept distinct. _Orcella_ is
light and pleasant in odour, and excellent in flavour: it is so tender
and delicate as to be termed, not inaptly, “vegetable sweetbread.”
_Prunulus_, on the other hand, though always good, is to many people
too strong in odour, and more coarse in taste.

_Opinions on the Merits of Agaricus orcella and A. prunulus._--“A very
delicate mushroom.”--_Dr. Badham._ “The flavour of _orcella_ is very
delicate, and equal to anything amongst fungi, or rather superior to the
majority. The same remarks apply to _prunulus_, which I think is the
same thing. It belongs to the first rank of edible fungi.”--_Edwin
Lees._

_Modes of Cooking Agaricus orcella and Agaricus prunulus._--_Orcella_
being usually found in small quantities, is best, perhaps, when broiled
and served on hot toast. _Prunulus_ will yield an abundance for broiling
or stewing, or both. “_Orcella_ should be eaten the day it is gathered,
either stewed, broiled, or fried with egg and bread-crumbs like
cutlets.”--_Dr. Badham._ “However prepared, it is most excellent; the
flesh is firm and juicy, and full of flavour, and whether broiled or
stewed, it is a most delicious morsel.”--_Worthington G. Smith._
“_Orcella_ will dry, and may be preserved in this way. It loses much of
its volume, but it acquires _un aroma suavissimo_.”--_Vittadini._ _From
the Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists’ Field Club._

_Edible Fungi in America._--To give an idea of the rich stores of fungi
that spring up in some distant parts of the earth, and in climes so
different to ours that one would at first sight suppose such fragile and
fugacious bodies as fungi would not abound in them, the following
interesting communication from Dr. Curtis, of South Carolina, to the
Rev. W. Berkeley is here given. It will prove well worthy the attention
of American readers:--

“You have asked me to give you my ‘experience with the eatable mushrooms
of America.’ This will be most satisfactorily done, I presume, in pretty
much the same style in which I would narrate it to you at your own
fireside. My experience runs back only about twelve or fifteen years.
You may remember that previous to this period I expressed a fear of
these edibles, as I had grown up with the common prejudices against them
entertained by most people in this country. Having occasionally read of
fearful accidents from their use, and there being abundance of other and
wholesome food obtainable, I felt no inclination to run any risks in
needlessly enlarging my bill of fare. Thus I had passed middle life
without having once even tasted a mushroom.

“But as under your guidance and assistance my knowledge of fungi
increased, a confidence in my ability to discriminate species grew up
with it, and a curiosity to test the qualities of these much-lauded
articles got the better of timidity; and now, I suppose, I can safely
say, that I have eaten a greater variety of mushrooms than anyone on the
American continent. I have even introduced several species before
untried and unknown. From the beginning of my experiments, however, I
have exercised great caution, even with species long recognised as safe
and wholesome. In every case I began with only a single mouthful. No ill
effect following, I made a second essay upon two or three mouthfuls, and
so on gradually until I made a full meal of them. Fortunately, I have
never blundered upon any kind that was mischievous, although I have
eaten freely of forty species. This is due, perhaps, to my general
acquaintance with species that have been long used in Europe, and hence
I have made no experiments upon new species which had not some affinity
or analogy with them.

“For instance, _A. campestris_ and _A. arvensis_ being wholesome, I did
not doubt but that _A. amygdalinus_ (a new species closely allied to _A.
arvensis_) might be safely attempted, and it has proved equally safe and
palatable. Indeed, this may be regarded as the safest of all species for
gathering, as it can be discriminated from all others even by a child or
a blind person. Its taste and odour are so very like those of peach
kernels or bitter almonds, that almost invariably the resemblance is
immediately mentioned by those who taste it crude for the first time.
This flavour is lost by cooking, unless the mushroom be underdone. When
thoroughly cooked I cannot myself distinguish it from _A. campestris_.
One or two persons have expressed the opinion that they can distinguish
it, and that it is not quite so good. Others, again, are equally
positive that it is better. In the crude state I deem it the most
palatable of all mushrooms, as it leaves a very agreeable aftertaste
upon the palate, fully equal to that of almonds. This is the thing I
sent you some years since for cultivation, but which failed to grow. I
very much wish it might be propagated in England, so that we might
ascertain whether it would undergo any change of qualities in a
different soil and climate. I have for some time been entertaining the
suspicion that such is the case with many of our species. Thus, in
European books the Morel is described as possessing a peculiar flavour,
that has given its name to the Morello cherry. I can detect nothing of
the sort in our morel. You speak of _A. Cæsareus_ (in _Introd. Crypt.
Bot._) as being ‘perhaps the most delicious of all fungi.’ This grows in
great quantities in our oak-forests, and may be obtained by the cartload
in its season; but to my taste, and that of all my family, it is the
most unpalatable of all our fungi, nor can I find many of our most
passionate mycophagists who will avow that they like it. I have tried it
in almost every mode of cookery, but without success. There is a
disagreeable saline flavour that we cannot remove nor overlay.

“In the _Tricholoma_ section, in which are several species long known as
edible, I did not hesitate to experiment upon any that had the odour and
taste of fresh flour. I began with _A. frumentaceus_, not learning from
books whether it had been eaten in Europe. To this I subsequently added
three new American species belonging to the same group. All are
excellent when stewed, and are especially valuable for their appearance
in late autumn, even during hard frosts, when other agarics are mostly
out of season.

“Again, there seemed such a similarity of texture and habit between _A.
cæspitosus_ (_Lentinus_, Berk.) and _A. melleus_, although the former
belongs to _Clitocybe_, that the temptation to a trial of it was
irresistible. As it is found here in enormous quantities, and a single
cluster will often contain fifty to a hundred stems, it might well be
deemed a valuable species in a time of scarcity. It would not be highly
esteemed where other and better sorts can be had; but it is generally
preferred to _A. melleus_. I have found this species very suitable for
drying for winter use.

“Among the _Boleti_ I ventured, in ignorance if it had ever been eaten,
to try _B. collinitus_, on account of its close relationship with _B.
flavidus_. I am not particularly fond of _Boleti_, but this species has
been pronounced delicious by some to whom I have sent it.

“So among the _Polypores_, I had no fear of harm from the use of a new
American species (_P. poripes_, Fr.), on account of its relation to _P.
ovinus_, in its texture and its flavour. The taste of the crude specimen
is like that of the best chestnuts or filberts. It has been compared
even with the cocoa-nut, and is certainly of very agreeable flavour. It
does not, however, make a superior dish for the table, being rather too
dry, but it is innocent and probably nutritious.

“Of the ‘_Merisma_’ group of _Polypores_, having already tried _P.
frondosus_, _P. confluens_, and _P. sulfureus_, I ventured, after some
hesitation, and with more than usual caution, to test the virtues of a
new American species (_P. Berkelei_, Fr.), notwithstanding the intense
pungency of the raw material, which bites as fiercely as _Lactarius
piperatus_. When young, and before the pores are visible, the substance
is quite crisp and brittle, and in this state I have eaten it with
impunity and with satisfaction, its pungency being all dissipated by
stewing. I do not, however, deem it comparable with _P. confluens_,
which is rather a favourite with me, as it is with some others to whom I
have introduced it. _P. sulfureus_ is just tolerable; safe, but not to
be coveted when one can get better. When I say safe, I mean not
poisonous. I cannot recommend it as a diet for weak stomachs, which
should be said of some other fungi of similar texture. I am here
reminded of an experience I had three or four years ago with this
species, which would have greatly alarmed me had it happened at an
earlier date in my experiments, and which would probably have deterred
anyone unused to this kind of diet from ever indulging in it again. I
had a sumptuous dish of it on my supper-table, of which most of my
family, as well as a guest staying with us, partook very freely. During
the night I became exceedingly sick, and was not relieved until relieved
of my supper. My first thought on the accession of my illness was of
_Polyporus sulfureus_; but as I remembered that inflammation was one of
the symptoms of fungus-poisoning, and I could detect no indications of
this in my case, I soon dismissed the rising fear, did not send for the
doctor, nor take any remedy. Others, who had partaken of the fungus more
freely than myself were not at all affected; and I presume my sickness
was no more induced by the _Polyporus_ than by the bread and butter I
had eaten. And yet, had I alone partaken of the dish, or had one or two
others been affected in like manner, doubtless the night attack would
have been very confidently attributed by some to the mushroom; or had
this been my first trial of that article, possibly I might ever after
have regarded it with suspicion. I learned a few days afterwards from
one of our physicians, that this kind of sickness was then somewhat
prevalent in the community, and could be attributed to no known cause.
For the credit of this species, therefore, we were fortunately able to
distinguish the _post hoc_ from the _propter hoc_.

“There are families in America that for generations have freely and
annually eaten mushrooms, preserving a habit brought from Europe by
their ancestors. In no case have I heard of an accident among them. I
have known no instance of mushroom-poisoning in this country, except
where the victims rashly ventured upon the experiment without knowing
one species from another. Among the families above mentioned, I have not
met with any whose knowledge of mushrooms extended beyond the common
species (_A. campestris_), called pink gill in this country. Several
such families live near me, but not one of them was aware, until I
informed them, that there are other edible kinds. Everything but the
pink gill, which had the form of a mushroom, was to them a toadstool,
and poisonous. When I first sent my son with a fine basket of Imperials
(_A. Cæsareus_), to an intelligent physician, who was extravagantly fond
of the common mushroom, the lad was greeted with the indignant
exclamation, ‘Boy, I wouldn’t eat one of those things to save your
father’s head!’ When told that they were eaten at my table, he accepted
them, ate them, and has eaten many a one since, with all safety and with
no little relish. Since that time our mycophagists eat whatever I send
them, without fear or suspicion.

“I have interested myself to extend the knowledge of these things among
the lovers of mushrooms, and also their use among those who have not
before tried them. In the latter work I am not always successful, on
account of a strong prejudice against vegetables with such contemptible
names, and an unconquerable fear of accidents. Yet, as in my own case,
curiosity often conquers these errors. When away from home I have
frequently obtained permission from a kind hostess to have cooked a dish
of mushrooms that I have found on her premises. It has rarely occurred
in such cases that the dish, then tasted for the first time, was not
declared to be delicious, or the best thing ever put in the mouth. This
latter phrase was once used in reference to so indifferent an article as
_A. salignus_. Indeed, I have found several persons who class this
amongst the most palatable species. To such persons a dish of fresh
mushrooms need seldom be wanting, as this one can be had every month of
the year in this latitude. I am induced to believe that the quality of
this species varies with the kind of wood it grows from, and that it is
better flavoured when gathered from the mulberry, and especially from
the hickory, than when taken from most other trees. Its fitness for the
table seems also to depend much upon the rapidity of its growth; those
which grow slowly, as is the case with some of our garden vegetables,
being of tougher texture and of less delicate flavour. A warm sun after
heavy rains brings them out in greatest perfection.

“I have several times been asked by persons eating mushrooms for the
first time, whether these things belong to the vegetable or animal
kingdom. There is certainly a very noticeable resemblance in the flavour
of some of them to that of flesh, fish, or mollusc, so that the
question, as founded merely on taste, is not an unnatural one. But I was
much struck with its propriety when reading an article in ‘Fraser’s
Magazine,’ a few years since, written by the late Mr. Broderip, who
therein says that mushrooms contain osmazome. If this be so, it
accounts both for their flavour and for their value as food. Of this
latter quality I had become so well convinced that, during our late war,
I sometimes averred, and I doubt if there was much, if any, exaggeration
in the assertion, that in some parts of the country I could maintain a
regiment of soldiers five months of the year upon mushrooms alone.

“This leads to a remark which should not be overlooked, upon the great
abundance of eatable mushrooms in the United States. I think it is Dr.
Badham who boasts of their unusual number in Great Britain, stating that
there are thirty edible species in that kingdom. I cannot help thinking
that this is an under-estimate. But if the Doctor is correct, there is
no comparison between the number in your country and this. I have
collected and eaten forty species found within two miles of my house.
There are some others within this limit which I have not yet eaten. In
the catalogue of the plants of North Carolina, you will notice that I
have indicated one hundred and eleven species of edible fungi known to
inhabit this State. I have no doubt there are forty or fifty more, as
the alpine portion of the State, which is very extensive and varied, has
been very little explored in search of fungi.

“In October, 1866, while on the Cumberland Mountains in Tennessee, a
plateau less than 1000 feet above the valleys below, although having
very little leisure for examination during the two days spent there, I
counted eighteen species of edible fungi. Of the four or five species
which I collected there for the table, all who partook of them, none of
whom had before eaten mushrooms, most emphatically declared them
delicious. On my return homeward, while stopping for a few hours at a
station in Virginia, I gathered eight good species within a few hundred
yards of the dépôt. And so it seems to be throughout the country. Hill
and plain, mountain and valley, woods, fields, and pastures, swarm with
a profusion of good, nutritious fungi, which are allowed to decay where
they spring up, because people do not know how, or are afraid, to use
them. By those of us who know their use their value was appreciated, as
never before, during our late war, when other food, especially meat, was
scarce and dear. Then such persons as I have heard express a preference
for mushrooms over meat had generally no need to lack grateful food, as
it was easily had for the gathering, and within easy distance of their
homes if living in the country. Such was not always the case, however. I
remember on one occasion during the gloomy period, when there had been a
protracted drought, and fleshy fungi were to be found only in damp,
shaded woods, and but few even there, I was unable to find enough of any
one species for a meal; so gathering of every kind, I brought home
thirteen different kinds, had them all cooked together in one grand
_pot pourri_, and made an excellent supper. Among these was the
Chantarelle, upon which I would say a few words in confirmation of what
I have already said upon the varying qualities of mushrooms in different
regions and localities. You have somewhere written of this mushroom as
being so highly esteemed a delicacy, that it is much sought for when a
dinner of state is given in London. Can this be because it is a rarity?
(for nothing common and easily obtained is deemed a delicacy, I
believe), or because you have it of finer flavour in England? Here,
where it abounds, no one seems to care at all for it, and some would
forego mushrooms entirely rather than eat this. It certainly varies much
in quality, as I have occasionally found it quite palatable, and again,
though cooked in the same mode, very indifferent. I have been unable to
ascertain whether this difference is due to locality, exposure, shade,
soil, moisture, or temperature. That soil has much to do with the
flavour of some species of mushrooms I am well convinced. In a parcel of
pink gills I have sometimes found one or two specimens, though perfectly
sound, of such unpleasant odour and taste as would spoil a whole dish.
So also with the snowball (_A. arvensis_), of which I annually find a
few beautiful specimens growing near my residence, upon a grassy turf
which covers a pile of trash made up of decomposed sticks, leaves, and
scrapings from the adjoining soil. Their taste and odour are perfectly
detestable. I had one specimen cooked, but no amount of seasoning could
abate the offensiveness of the odious thing; yet within a hundred yards
of these I gather specimens of the same identical species, which are of
fine flavour, equal to that of the best mushrooms. As I have before
intimated the varying flavour of mushrooms growing on different kinds of
wood, so here I suppose the unpleasant qualities of some specimens of
these two well-known and favourite species, may be owing to something in
the soil where they grow which they cannot assimilate, and so render a
palatable and wholesome species totally unfit for the table. Whether
such specimens, if eaten, would be poisonous or unwholesome, I do not
feel any temptation to prove. It is not probable that they will ever do
any mischief, for it is incredible that any human being should so
pervert his instincts as to swallow such a villanous concoction.

“Experience and observations like these would perhaps justify the
inference that an innocent species may sometimes be deleterious, on
account of its taking up some bad element from the soil. But as I have
never known a case of poisoning in families that are well acquainted
with the common mushroom or pink gill, that gather the specimens for
themselves, and have used this article of food annually for many
generations, I cannot agree with a suggestion somewhere made by you,
that perhaps all mushrooms contain a poisonous element, but some of them
in such small quantity as to have no appreciable effect. Now, had you
seen the quantities of stewed mushrooms swallowed at a single meal which
I have seen thus devoured, and with no more harm than from the same
amount of oyster or turtle soup, I think you would be forced to the
conclusion that such an amount, even of poisonous infinitesimals, must
have had some very unpleasant manifestations, or else be a very innocent
diet.

“It is said that the sale of the pink gill (_A. campestris_) is
forbidden in the Italian markets, because that species has often proved
to be poisonous. May not this have been occasioned by ignorant and
careless collectors or by worthless inspectors? To us in America, who
use this species so freely and fearlessly, the Italian’s curse, ‘May he
die of a Pratiolo!’ would have no more terror than ‘May he die of
aromatic pain.’

“Our best and standard mushrooms are the pink-gill (_A. campestris_);
snowball (_A. arvensis_); peach-kernel (_A. amygdalinus_); nut (_A.
procerus_); French (_A. prunulus_); morel (_M. esculenta_); coral
(_Clavaria_); and omelette (_Lycoperdon giganteum_). These are almost
universally in high esteem. Yet tastes differ on these things as on
fruits and vegetables; some putting one, some another, at the head of
the list, though fond of all and ever ready to use any of them--as one
who prefers a peach may yet relish an apple. There are some among us who
regard _A. procerus_ as fully equal to _A. campestris_, and I am almost
of the same opinion. When broiled or fried it truly makes a luscious
morsel. I mention in this connexion, that this species here bears the
name of nut mushroom, from a quality that I do not find mentioned in the
books which describe it. The stem when fresh and young has a sweet nutty
flavour, very similar to that of the hazel nut. Is this the case with
you? Its flavour is so agreeable that I am fond of chewing the fresh
stems. From this peculiarity in connexion with its movable ring, its
form and colours, I deem it a perfectly safe species to recommend for
collecting. We have no species likely to be mistaken for it, except _A.
rachodes_, and I fully tested the innocence of this before commending
the first to others. This has been suspected by some, but I have found
it harmless. Though pretty well flavoured, it is not comparable with _A.
procerus_, and the flesh is so thin and spongy that no one would choose
it when those of more compact texture are to be had. _A. excoriatus_, of
the same group, is a much preferable species.

“The Morel is one of my greatest favourites, but this is not found in
quantity except in calcareous districts. A few days since (April 21) I
had a dozen for supper, the largest number I ever had at one time.

“The _Lycoperdon giganteum_ is also a great favourite with me, as it is,
indeed, with all my acquaintances who have tried it. It has not the high
aroma of some others, but it has a delicacy of flavour that makes it
superior to any omelette I have ever eaten. It seems, furthermore, to be
so digestible as to adapt it to the most delicate stomachs. This is the
South Down of mushrooms.

“In this latitude (about 36 degrees) we can find good mushrooms for the
table during nine or ten months of the year. Including _A. salignus_,
which some are quite fond of, we can have them in every month, as this
species comes out during any warm spell in winter. _A. campestris_ makes
its appearance here as early as March, but is not in full crop until
September. Several excellent species of the _Tricholoma_ group do not
spring up until after frost sets in, and continue into December. Such is
the case too with _Boletus collinitus_, which sometimes emerges from the
earth frozen solid.

“These observations and experiences are confined chiefly to the
Carolinas; though I presume, from casual observations elsewhere, and
from information derived from correspondents in other States, that,
making some allowance for difference of climate and length of seasons,
what I have said is generally applicable to the whole country.”


_Why we should not eat Funguses._

The following interesting paper from the Rev. J. D. La Touche was read
at a meeting of the Woolhope Naturalists’ Field Club:--

“It is said that at Rome, when a mortal is about to be raised to the
dignity of sainthood, the precaution is taken of providing a ‘devil’s
advocate,’ who, by pointing out as strongly as he can all the faults of
the candidate, secures the fair discussion of both sides of the
question, and is a guarantee, moreover, that no unworthy aspirant to
such exalted honours should be rashly admitted to them.

“On the present occasion I make bold to present myself in this unamiable
capacity. No member, indeed, of this respected Club is seeking
canonization, yet, a step not less important is contemplated in the
enrolment of a hitherto despised and even abhorred member of the
vegetable kingdom among the list of its edible products; indeed, some
may consider such a step as of more importance to our race than the
apotheosis of a peccant mortal; and therefore it would appear that, if
in the one instance it is desirable that all the peccadilloes of the
candidate should be exposed, _a fortiori_, it must be so in the other.

“Let me, then, first observe that these gentlemen at the bar have
actually a very bad character, and that it is not likely that this would
be the case unless they were really great sinners.

“Here, some will exclaim, no doubt, ‘Prejudice, my dear sir! vulgar
prejudice is capable of the grossest injustice--ignorant prejudice has
driven from our tables a delicious article of food, and deprived the
poor of a wholesome diet.’ It is often said that he was a brave man who
first ate an oyster, and truly a more uninviting mouthful than it was
could scarcely be imagined; and yet the fact that it _is_ good and
wholesome soon disposed of any prejudice against it. And is it not
likely that such would be the case, were the fungus tribe fit for human
food? Can we suppose any prejudice arising from their leathery looks
would not evaporate like mists before the morning sun, were they really
the nutritious and delicious dainties they are described to be by their
enthusiastic advocates?

“I think it may be observed that the general character which a man bears
is, on the whole, a true one. That big school, the world in which we
live, contrives, in some way or other, to hit off pretty accurately our
average merit and take our measure, and though it may make a mistake now
and then in some particular instance, its general estimate is a fair
one; and so with funguses. There may be a too-sweeping condemnation of
all kinds of them: nay, it may be even probable that _Agaricus
campestris_ is not the best that grows, and yet, after all, the
prevalent distrust of the tribe is well founded.

“When, _e.g._, some family in a parish is known to have been poisoned by
eating a wrong sort, it is not surprising, nor can it be called stupid
prejudice, if their neighbours are ever after rather shy of the article
of food which produced that result. But it will be said that the
mischief arose from ignorance--had that family known the marks that
distinguish between the wholesome and the poisonous kinds this would
never have taken place. If ever there was a case in which ignorance was
bliss, surely this is it. A short time ago, I accompanied a scientific
friend in a foray among the funguses, which we made with a special view
to the improvement of our intended repast, and was on that occasion
struck with the elaborate precautions which seemed to be necessary to
observe in discriminating the good from the bad. It would almost seem
that Nature had purposely contrived a labyrinth of ingenious
stumbling-blocks to guard this mysterious product from the insatiable
appetites of mankind; and so it came to pass after all, my good
friend--who really seemed well up in the subject, and who found at every
turn some well-known test of wholesomeness or otherwise to guide him in
the specimens we collected--wound up the day by nearly poisoning a
member of my family: for he had, it appears, mistaken _Boletus flavus_,
a violent poison, for the very similar but wholesome and excellent
_Boletus luteus_--the only difference being that the pores of the one
are somewhat smaller and less angular than those of the other. Surely,
in this instance, knowledge (and it was not in his case a little
knowledge either) was a dangerous thing.

“But still it may be said that there are species the characters of which
are sufficiently well-defined, and that from these, at least, the
stigma ought to be removed. But even so, I would submit one or two
questions to those who may be inclined to admit this. 1st. Is it so
clear that a fungus which agrees with one person may not be very
injurious to another? One man has, to use a vulgar expression, the
stomach of a horse. Can I, an average mortal, calculate on possessing
such a treasure? I saw with my own eyes my scientific friend eat and
swallow an entire _Boletus flavus_, raw, without any apparent bad
effects either that evening or the following day, whereas a small
portion of the same kind, cooked too (I cannot, however, say _secundum
artem_), produced violent sickness on another individual, who, moreover,
had never before experienced sickness; indeed, this fact would seem to
suggest that the stomach may be ‘educated’ by long habit to bear this
noxious food, and, therefore, that its evil effects (harmless upon
organs well trained) happen when the _experimentum in corpore vili_ is
tried. My friend assures me that he has eaten the highly poisonous
_Boletus satanas_ with no worse effect than a little indigestion the
next morning. Can, I would ask, the experience of such a seasoned
digestive apparatus as his be any guide to those who have not gone
through the course of training which he has?

“Again, may it not be possible that the same kind of fungus which in
some instances is wholesome, may, if grown under different
circumstances, and supplied with different nutriment, assume very
different properties? And again, are we competent to judge of the
wholesomeness of a particular article of food unless it is tried by a
very large number of persons--unless it be ‘exhibited,’ to use a medical
term, on a great variety of constitutions? Indeed, is there not some
ground for thinking that such an exhibition would be in many instances
far from satisfactory?

“On the whole, it would appear that the advice of an eminent physician,
an ardent admirer of the fungus, was good and sound. When he heard of
the escape my family had on this occasion, he said that this article of
diet should be partaken of with ‘great caution.’ And by the way, is not
this itself a very suspicious expression? ‘Great caution!’ If I am
introduced to a gentleman, and told at the same time that I must conduct
myself towards him with ‘great caution’ or he will probably do me some
deadly mischief, it would hardly be thought a very hearty and promising
introduction; yet here we are told that this excellent family to which
we are so warmly introduced has some members belonging to it so
villanously disposed, that possibly we may pay for our acquaintance with
our lives. This is not very encouraging, and so the course adopted by a
young lady who indulges in these experiments, to whom I was speaking the
other day, would seem to be a very prudent one. She says she never
partakes of these dainties till she has seen the effect they have had
upon somebody else! But even so, only picture the ghastly scene which a
banquet of this kind would present; each guest looking anxiously into
his neighbour’s face, awaiting in terror the contortions which are to
show that he has partaken of the fatal dish.”

While Mr. La Touche’s paper should not deter us from using and showing
others the value of the quantities of _edible_ fungi now generally
allowed to rot in our fields and woods, and nowhere perhaps so abundant
as in the pleasure grounds and woods round country seats, yet, as
impressing the necessity of using due discrimination in gathering, it
may be read with advantage by all.



INDEX.


                                                                  PAGE

    AGARICUS amygdalinus,                                          147
        „    arvensis,                                              98
        „    Cæsareus,                                         97, 152
        „    cæspitosus (Lentinus),                                149
        „    campestris,                                            95
        „    cylindricus,                                          118
        „    excoriatus,                                           114
        „    fimetarius,                                           118
        „    frumentaceus,                                         148
        „    gambosus,                                             121
        „    melleus,                                              149
        „    nebularis,                                            127
        „    orcella,                                              141
        „    procerus,                                             113
        „    prunulus,                                             143
        „    rachodes,                                             114
        „    rubescens,                                            125
        „    salignus,                                             153
        „    typhoides,                                            118
        „    villaticus,                                           100

    “Agaric of civilization”,                                      119

    American Edible Fungi,                                         145

    Arches, Mushroom culture in,                                    47


    BOLETUS collinitus,                                            149
       „    flavidus,                                              149
       „    flavus,                                                163
       „    luteus,                                                163
       „    satanas,                                               164

    Bricks, mushroom-spawn in,                                      25

    Brown Warty Agaric,                                            125


    CANTHARELLUS cibarius,                                         137

    Cave-culture of mushrooms,                                      57

    Cellars, mushroom culture in,                                   51

    Champignonniste at Montrouge,                                   57

    Chantarelle,                                                   137

    Clavaria,                                                      158

    Clouded Mushroom,                                              127

    Common Mushrooms,                                               95
            „         how to cook the,                             102

    Coprinus comatus,                                              117

    Coral Mushroom,                                                158

    Covering for Mushroom-beds,                                     34
       „     advantageous to Mushroom crop,                         87

    Cucumber frames, Mushroom culture in,                           56


    FAIRY-RING Champignon,                                         108

    Fermentation of manure, how prevented,                          16

    Floor of Mushroom-house,                                      3, 5

    French mode of preparing manure,                                16
      „    Mushroom-caves,                                      57, 71
      „    Mushroom-spawn,                                          28

    Forsyth’s Mushroom-house,                                        7

    Frogmore, Mushroom-house at,                                     5


    GARDENS and fields, Mushroom culture in,                        77

    Gardens about London, Mushroom culture in,                      78

    Greenhouses, Mushroom culture in,                               53


    HABITATS of the wild Mushroom,                                  90

    Heating of the Mushroom-house,                                   6

    Hedgehog Mushroom,                                            139

    Horse Mushroom,                                                 98

    Hydnum repandum,                                               139

    Hygrophorus pratensis,                                         135
         „      psittacinus,                                       136
         „      virgineus,                                         135
         „      niveus,                                            136


    IRON injurious to Mushrooms,                                    74


    LACTARIUS deliciosus,                                          129
        „     piperatus,                                           150
        „     torminosus (necator),                                130

    Lawns, Mushroom culture not desirable on,                       93

    Lycoperdon giganteum,                                          159


    MANED Agaric, the,                                             117

    Manure, preparation of,                                         13
       „    Mr. Early’s method of preparing,                        14
       „    Mr. Barnes’s        „          ,                        14
       „    Frogmore            „          ,                        15
       „    how prepared by London market-gardeners,                15
       „    how kept from fermenting,                               16
       „    French mode of preparing,                               16
       „    summary of directions for preparing,                    17

    Marasmius oreades,                                             108
        „     urens,                                               109

    Mill-track Mushroom-spawn,                                      27

    Montrouge, Mushroom-caves at,                                   57

    Morchella esculenta,                                           130

    Morel, the,                                                    130

    Mouceron or mousseron,                                    123, 143

    Mushroom-beds, materials for,                                   13
        „      „   of sawdust,                                      19
        „      „   of leaves and loam,                          19, 21
        „      „   of street-sweepings, &c.,                        19
        „      „   chief point to be observed in making,            21
        „      „   best time for making,                            21
        „      „   depth of,                                        18
        „      „   in a stable,                                     30
        „      „   covering for,                                    34
        „      „   how to reduce the heat of,                       34
        „      „   how to ascertain the heat of,                    34
        „      „   how to spawn properly,                           35
        „      „   soil for earthing,                               37
        „      „   the watering of,                                 38
        „      „   vermin in,                                       39
        „      „   treatment of old,                            41, 46
        „      „   temperature of,                              33, 79
        „      „   soil for covering,                               79
        „    caves, contrivance for watering beds in,               75
        „      „         „      for making beds in,                 75
        „      „    localities of,                                  75
        „      „    depth of,                                   18, 76
        „      „    immense extent of,                              76
        „      „    at Montrouge,                                   57
        „      „    description of soil used in,                    61
        „      „    daily produce of,                               62
        „      „    appearance of beds in,                          61
        „      „    kind of manure used in,                         65
        „      „    difficulty in visiting,                         65
        „      „    at Frépillon, account of,                       66
        „      „           „      extent of beds in,                66
        „      „           „      plan of,                          68
        „      „           „      appearance of beds in,            70
        „      „           „      daily produce of,             66, 70
        „      „    preparation of manure in,                       71
        „      „         „      of spawn in,                        73
        „    crop, how to gather,                                   42
        „    culture in a shed,                                     45
        „       „    in arches,                                     47
        „       „    in stables,                                    49
        „       „    in cellars,                                    51
        „       „    in bottoms of old casks,                       52
        „       „    in cold greenhouses,                           53
        „       „    under stages in glass-houses,                  55
        „       „    in cucumber or melon frames,                   56
        „       „    in caves near Paris,                           57
        „       „    open-air in Parisian market gardens,           80
        „       „    in gardens among other crops,                  84
        „       „    in gardens and fields,                         77
        „       „    in summer,                                     77
        „       „    in gardens at Earl’s Court,                    78
        „       „    on lawns not desirable,                        93
        „       „    in pastures, &c.,                              88
        „    growing in open-air, Mr. Ayres’s account of,           85

    Mushrooms dislike coal and iron,                                74
        „        „    tar,                                          48

    Mushroom-house, chief requirement in the construction of,        2
        „      „    at back of hothouses,                            2
        „      „    floor of,                                     3, 5
        „      „    without artificial heat,                         4
        „      „    with slate or tiled roof,                        4
        „      „    with thatched roof,                              5
        „      „    condition of air in,                             4
        „      „    at Frogmore,                                     5
        „      „    how secured from damp,                        5, 6
        „      „    best position for,                               6
        „      „    how heated,                                      6
        „      „    used for forcing and blanching vegetables,       6
        „      „    under shed (Forsyth’s),                          7
        „      „    best kind of shelves for,                        7
        „      „    at Stoke Place,                                  8
        „      „    against wall, best roof for,                     9
        „      „    proper width of,                                 9
        „      „    Russian (Oldacre’s),                            10
        „      „    ventilation of,                            5, 7, 9
        „      „    with brick arched inner roof,                    9
        „      „    with close-bottomed shelves,                     9
        „      „    shelves of cast-iron grating for,               11
        „      „    necessity of cleaning,                          42
        „      „    temperature of,                                 33
        „    spawn, what it is,                                     23
        „      „    how obtained in the first instance,             24
        „      „    “natural” or “virgin”,                          24
        „      „    how to preserve,                                25
        „      „    in bricks,                                      25
        „      „     „   „   recipes for making,                    26
        „      „    mill-track,                                     27
        „      „    French,                                         28
        „      „    how to save the expense of purchasing,          29
        „      „    French, experiment with,                        30

    Mushrooms not produced by chance,                               89
        „     quantities exported from France,                      64


    NUT Mushroom,                                                  158


    OLDACRE’S mushroom-house,                                       10

    Old mushroom-beds, treatment of,                                41

    Omelette,                                                      158

    Open-air culture of Mushrooms at Paris,                         80

    Orange-milk Mushroom,                                          129

    Orgelle,                                                       141


    PASTURES, how to introduce Mushrooms into,                      92

    Parasol Agaric,                                                113

    Peach-kernel Mushroom,                                         158

    Pink-gill Mushroom,                                            158

    Places in which Mushrooms may be grown,                          1

    Plum Mushroom,                                                 143

    Polyporus Berkelei,                                            150
        „     confluens,                                           150
        „     frondosus,                                           150
        „     ovinus,                                              149
        „     poripes,                                             149
        „     sulfureus,                                           150

    Pratiolo,                                                  97, 158


    RAIN, injurious to mushroom-crop,                               87

    Red-fleshed Mushroom,                                          125

    Roof of mushroom-house,                                       4, 5

    Russian mushroom-house,                                         10


    SAWDUST for mushroom-beds,                                      19

    Scaly Mushroom,                                                113

    Shed, mushroom-house under,                                      7
      „   mushroom culture in,                                      45

    Shelves of mushroom-house,                                       7
       „    cast-iron grating for,                                  11

    Snowball Mushroom,                                             158

    Soil for earthing mushroom-beds,                                37

    Spawn, how to prepare without expense,                          91

    Spinaroli,                                                     123

    Spine-bearing Mushroom,                                        139

    Stables, mushroom culture in,                                   49

    Stoke Place, mushroom-house at,                                  8

    Street-sweepings for mushroom-beds,                             19

    St. George’s Mushroom,                                         121

    Summer cultivation of Mushrooms,                                77


    TAR, Mushrooms’ dislike of,                                     48

    Temperature of mushroom-beds,                                   33
         „      of mushroom-house,                                  33


    VEGETABLE Sweetbread,                                          141

    Ventilation of mushroom-house,                             5, 7, 9

    Vermin in mushroom-beds,                                        39

    “Virgin” mushroom-spawn,                                        24

    Viscid White Mushroom,                                         135


    WATERING of mushroom-beds, the,                                 38

    “Why should we not eat Funguses”,                              160


THE END.


       *       *       *       *       *


Transcriber’s Notes

Missing periods and quotation marks have been supplied where obviously
required. All other original errors and inconsistencies have been
retained, except as follows:

  Page 106: medium-sized changed to medium-size
            (or so of medium-size, place two)
  Page 123: Stafora changed to Staffora
            (the valley of Staffora, near Bobbio,)
  Page 138: Cantharelle changed to Chantarelle
            (dressing the Chantarelle are)
  Page 165: person--sunless changed to persons--unless
            (number of persons--unless it be)





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