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Yes, mushrooms are plentiful; no, don’t prune now

By Danelle Cutting

Rowan Cooperative Extension

When I first started working in Cooperative Extension almost six years ago, a retired agent told me that during the fall and winter I would have a down time.

I can say without a doubt, I am still waiting on a slow period. My office looks like a tornado has hit, and I feel like the flood waters of tasks have not subsided. With that being said, our office still receives phone calls daily about lawns, gardens and even mushrooms.

Take a look at this week’s questions to see if they can help with a similar situation at your house.

Question: I attended your mushroom workshop a while back and have had pretty good success with growing mushrooms. Is it normal for my mushroom logs to be producing this much Shiitakes?

Answer: Although the rain we had a few weeks ago caused much damage to homes and property in many areas across the Carolinas, a benefit came in the form of increased mushrooms. Specifically for us, the Shiitake mushrooms had exponential growth. I checked my logs and I, too, had an incredible amount of mushrooms. This time of year, it is not unusual to have mushrooms, but the production is much better right now because of the weather. A lot of times, commercial mushroom producers will soak the logs to encourage mushroom production. This can be back-breaking work but with the torrential downpours we have received, the soaking was unnecessary. So, to this question, it is fairly normal to receive peak production, so enjoy it while it lasts; make some delicious soups or dehydrate the leftovers.

Question: Can I prune my shrubs and trees now?

Answer: It depends on the plant but for the most part, I do not recommend pruning now. I recommend pruning the majority of trees and shrubs during February. Some plants require pruning soon after blooming; an example is an azalea. For fruit trees, I usually do major pruning in late January until early March. Some light pruning can be done during the summer months. However, if there are any dead, diseased or damaged limbs on the trees or shrubs, they can be removed any time of the year. My only word of caution is that if you prune any diseased limbs, you need to have a disinfectant plan in place to reduce the spread of disease. For more information on the best time to prune, check out our pruning calendar: https://polk.ces.ncsu.edu/pruningcalendar/

Question: Is there anything I can do now to get started on my garden for next year?

Answer: There is always something to do, but a good garden chore to do now is to clean up your tools. Make sure to get them cleaned so that they do not have any soil debris. This will help prevent disease from spreading. It will also improve the longevity of the tools. This is also a good time of year to get your tools sharpened so that you will be ahead of the game next year.

If you have questions concerning pruning, mushrooms or how to get your garden started, call your local agent, Danelle Cutting, at 704-216-8970.

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