Tag Archives: Mushrooms

Them troglodytes knew…

When I first heard Bill Mollison mention the subterranean dwellings in central Turkey and when Nina first talked about the fairytale houses of Cappadocia from her “must see places” list I hadn’t put two and two together. It wasn’t until we were winding around the eroded landscape on our bus entry to Goreme that it clicked. Two and Two suddenly became eighty four!

Ancient volcanic eruptions blanketed this region with thick ash, which solidified into a soft rock—called tuff—tens of meters thick. Wind and water then went to work on this plateau, leaving only its harder elements behind to form a fairytale landscape of cones, pillars, pinnacles, mushrooms and chimneys, which stretch as far as 40 meters into the sky.

So erosion shaped the incredible landscape of the Göreme valley, but thousands of years ago the troglodyte people used what Mother Nature created and began carving an amazing chamber and tunnel complex into the soft rock. Beginning in the fourth century A.D. an urbanized—but underground—cultural landscape was created here.

In caves and below ground are living quarters, places of worship, stables, wineries and storehouses, all dug into the stone. The underground city that we visited yesterday is only 10% excavated and is thought to be 10km long with eight subterranean levels and enough space for 30,000 people. It was a little claustrophobic but we got a great sense of what it would be like to live down below.

Evidence shows that every household kept pigeons using dovecotes, also carved into the rock. The droppings from the birds were vital to the viticulture and allowed them to maintain the fertility of their gardens, with apricots, mulberrys, pears and melons grown around the vegetable patches.

This has to be one of the finest examples of natural building in the world. It goes one step further than using local materials. The templates for each house were created naturally with zero human effort. The people then had to chip away at the insides to hollow out a home for themselves, similar to permaculture’s holy grail of harvesting as maintenance. The temperature inside remains a constant 16-18 degrees, perfect when it’s plus 42 degrees above ground.

We’ve been searching for examples of “working with nature and not against it” on this journey and we certainly found it here in Cappadocia.

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Porcini’s in Popolano

After a really wonderful day in Venice with Ma and Pa we decided that an Italian countryside chill out was needed and hopped on a train south to Popolano, a small village inside the Tuscan region.  The rain only enhanced the lush green vegetation amongst the rolling green hills.  It was my first taste of the Italian countryside, I felt it soothing my soul, just what we needed!

Hardly time to settle into our room before Giovanni our host knocked at the door with a big box of mushrooms.  His father had been out that morning and hauled in a monster catch.  We were invited to go foraging the next day if the weather was fine.  A sunny day following a week of rain is perfect for the porcini at this time of year.

The language barrier reared it’s ugly head once again and so we were not quite sure when or where we would go but at around 2pm we got a knock on the door and were ushered into a little 4×4 panda with Giovanni’s father Roberto and whisked of up into the mountains.

Roberto obviously knew what he was doing and it felt like he was also passing his knowledge on to Giovanni as he pointed to different shades of green and distinct arches in the grass.  They both had cool little rake-type-comb things.  They showed us where to look and then got busy scratching around in the field.

A very different technique than when Nina and I were wandering through the New Forest unable to miss the hundreds of mushrooms thrusting themselves towards us.  We had to hunt hard for them and to make things harder someone had already been to this patch earlier in the day.

We hunted around for a good couple of hours and found ourselves enough fungi for dinner.  We were told that in another two weeks there would be many more mushrooms and they’d be bigger too.  We were on the cusp of fungi season and so retired to our home for the evening eager to cook up our new found treats.

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November at The Patch

On returning from our road trip we came back to a very different Patch.  As we move through autumn our vegetable garden has started to die back although there are still a few bits and pieces to harvest.  The trees have started to lose their leaves and the medlar has dropped some fruit.  The green roof is looking great and we’re really keen to get this finished in the next couple of weeks.   Other jobs in the coming weeks will be the planting and mulching of a new delivery of fruit and other interesting trees as well as soft fruit and nitrogen fixers for the food forest.  We’ll be planting and then mulching and adding other support plants to create balanced guilds that will have a better chance of survival in our absence.

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A visit to see Paul in Sheffield was also on the cards and it was a great place to start some ground work for my diploma pathway.  I made full use of Paul’s flat whilst he was at Uni and we even managed a walk in the Peak District which looks amazing at this time of year.  After a quick stop over for a party in London, I travelled down to Bradford-upon-Avon for my belated Diploma induction and a catch up with Richard, Michelle and Grace.  It was great to also see some other Diploma students and old friends permablitzing their lives!!!  Couldn’t help a little mushroom hunt when I got back to Norfolk.  Goose common is right next door to The Patch and is a great foraging spot.  Only poisonous fungi about today though…  Diploma work to do…

Devon

After leaving the New Forest and spending a few days on the Jurassic coast we came to Devon.  This amazing county has so much to offer.  We visited victorian walled kitchen gardens, did a bit of basic cider making, toured around Martin Crawford’s Food Forest demonstration site, picked more mushrooms, visited travelling friends and explored Dartmoor with them.  We checked out the last remaining working water powered forge and Lydford Gorge… amazing times.

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Finding Food Down South

We found ourselves on the Isle of Wight in the middle of September and on visiting an amazing garlic farm we stumbled across the beginnings of our new found addiction – mushrooms!!!  It was the perfect time of year and so we treated ourselves to a great new book by Roger Phillips and began our exploration the fungi world.  It took me back to when I was a child hunting for mushrooms with my sister in the forests around Thetford.  We got a taster on the Isle of Wight before moving into The New Forest.  Wow!  The place was teeming with them and it wasn’t long before we’d come to recognise and find some nice edibles.  The Trumpet Chanterelle, Hedgehog Fungus and the Cep were our first true wild muchroom cooking experiences.  We were addicted.  Another amazing wild food down in that part of England is the Sea Buckthorn Berry, it’s little orange berries provided an incredible amount of nutrition. Find more information at PFAF

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