World of Mushrooms

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G.L. Khajuria
The mushrooms are as varied and countless as are our flowering plants, herbs and shrub from lowest start to higher-ones. These are both palatable and non-palatable, poisonous and non-poisonous fungi mostly manifesting their wild existence. These mostly subsist on dead, dying and diseases (3D’S) trees both in standing and fallen form of logs in the forest. These as well exhibit their growth in a multipored form at various sites in and around the forest areas. Some of the palatable mushrooms exist on coniferous trees such as Kail and Chir in the form of behive and most of them are palatable.
In rainy season, some forms of fungi emerge out from ground, and around termite mounds when there is lightning with thunders which are spoken as ‘Khumbaan’ in dogri parlance. This variety of fungi is highly serving as multimedicinal properties in one form or the other. These exist both in wild and local habitation in rural areas. The tribal people are expert in identifying both the palatable and non-palatable mushrooms and mostly have such mushrooms as their favorite and delicious dish.
Around 2,000 species of mushrooms have been identified, out of which as many as 25 have been classified as edible. In delicacy, mushrooms are difficult to resist and that is why this variety forms the predominant part amongst other dishes displayed during important functions, particularly marriages menus. Its delicacy is peerless and non-resistible. These form the prominent part for the vegetarians in breakfast, lunch or dinner and are evergreen dish which in any way is not ignorable.
Mushrooms are of delicious taste and can be taken in a variety of ways: Mushroom with tea, coffee, in toasts with sauce.
The significance and awareness regarding nutritive value of mushrooms still remains obscure and unidentified. These warrant their awakening, promotion, propagation to encourage their cultivation, and this is not only by the farmers alone, but any person, which is having an inclination towards gardening, floriculture and horticulture etc.
Modern field in home gardening within and around home is, of course, much ahead never ever before. People of all ages are keenly enthusiastic in raising multihued variety of ornamental plants (Flowering-cum-vegetative-foliage). Globally, mushroom cultivation took its initiation far back around 17th centuray in France. Now, it has become a leading industry in many other countries like US, Germany, Holland, Switzerland, Britain, Australia, Italy, Canada, Korea, China, Taiwan, Japan and other countries. In a sense, mushroom cultivation has taken a worldwide phenomenon across the globe. Apart from vast, interest in its cultivation, it improves the economy in a bigger way, yielding hefty dividends for professional cultivators.
In our country, the full potential of mushrooms cultivation remains to be tapped as yet. In many parts of country mushroom cultivation is viable due to the ideal atmospheric conditions like Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, where mushrooms can very conveniently be cultivated in nine months of year under natural conditions. The availability of technical know-how has however made the mushroom-growers to cultivate not only in their backyards but indoors under proper climate conditions. In the recent times, the technology of mushroom cultivation has been considerably improved and diversified to cover a wide range of species suited to different geographical areas of the country.
At present, three varieties of edible mushrooms are being cultivated on commercial basis. These varieties are European mushroom (Agaricus bisporus), oyster mushroom(Pleurotus spp) and paddy straw mushroom (Poluartell spp). The scientific know-how for their cultivation on commercial basis have however, been for its initiation. The temperate weather of J&K, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, W.Bengal, Tamil Naidu are ideally suitable around the world.
In winter, mushrooms can conveniently be grown in plains of Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu.
In order to ensure good cultivation of mushrooms, complete darkness is no pre-requisite as the mushrooms don’t need sunlight at any stage in their cultivation. Manure is oftenly used in wooden trays which should be carefully kept on cemented floors with overhead roof and water availability nearby.
As stated earlier, many mushrooms have been found perched upon Kail and other coniferous trees in the forest. These are exhibited on decaying/decayed stumps which are of umbrella-shape and come under wide range fungi, which form a distinct type such as load stools, buff balls and these are found associated with lichens and ferns, microscopic yeast and are non-flowering being evolved much earlier than flowering plants.

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