filet beans

Barbara Pleasant

                                                                    Garden Writer

January 2015

My prediction is that 2015 will be a fine year for gardening, with boundless opportunities for all of us to grow tighter connections to the green world. Now is a great time to start!

In winter I enjoy working with my houseplants, which never get the attention they deserve when I'm busy growing good things to eat. Right now it's amaryllis time! After the blooms fade, I'll tend the bulbs as houseplants until cold weather passes, then let them grow outside in partial sun through summer. As long as I remember to let the bulbs dry down and rest from September through November, the huge flowers will bring cheer to the dreariest January days. 

Looking for something I’ve written, but can’t remember where? I know the feeling! In attempt to bring order to the chaos of hundreds of articles and blogs, I’ve set up Pinterest boards of my work. The categories range from permaculture and pollinators to growing onions and garlic. I hope you find my Pinterest guide easy to use and more enjoyable than reading through long lists.

Question of The Week: 
Will We Be Breathing Mushroom Spores?

I read an article you wrote in Mother Earth News, and I have a question. I want to start a kit in my garage, but I’m concerned that this might be dangerous due to mushroom spores. Will the spores start growing outside the kit so we are breathing them? Do you have any insight? JR

Hi JR,

It’s great to hear of a newbie to mushroom cultivation. You need not worry about mushroom spores, because you won’t be handling them. Spores are like the “seed” counterpart in plants, and because young cultures are prone to contamination from airborne fungi and bacteria, fragile spores are handled only in sterile clean rooms.

Once the spores germinate, they form white threads of mycelium, and they stay in that vegetative form until they fruit – the mushrooms are the fruit. The only way you would have spores in your house would be if you let the mushrooms go past the picking point. When fully ripe, mushrooms shed spores from their gills.

Starting with a kit is a good idea, and one of my first experiences was growing an oyster mushroom kit from Fungi Perfecti. It came with a plastic bag, which loosely covered the whole thing to maintain high humidity. Had hidden fruits released spores, the bag would have caused them to drop downward.  

These days I grow mostly shitakes, which are slow but super easy. Good luck with your mushroom growing adventures!

Explore My Gardens

Click around to learn more about my books, blogs, lectures, and of course my garden!  By the time you move on, I hope you feel inspired to garden a little more, and have a great time doing it.
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Thank you, Garden Writers!


Recently I received word that both my long-running Gardening Know How column in Mother Earth News and my GrowVeg Blog won Silver Awards of Achievement from the Garden Writers Association. I must be doing something right, among them working with the great creative teams. I am especially grateful to Cheryl Long, editor-in-chief at Mother Earth News, whose gardening passions run as deep as mine, and to Jeremy Dore at GrowVeg, who never runs out of great new ideas.

Barbara Pleasant
Blue Ridge mountainsei


Floyd, VA, USA

Near Roanoke on the

Blue Ridge Parkway

cat with hollyhocks
Magnus, who bears a family name from my Swedish ancestors

Short historial fiction

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