Mysterious? Yes, mushrooms can suddenly pop up, grow quickly, look amazing and then turn to mush within a few days. Random seems to be their family motto. But… the appearance of mushrooms is more predictable than one would initially expect. A fungus is only going to expend priceless energy on making a mushroom when the conditions are right. A mushroom has to work hard in making the tens of thousands of spores responsible for the next generation and that has to be done within a short timeframe. Tiring stuff. A fungus needs a trigger to get it out of bed and to put its clothes on. Stable weather conditions keep a fungus under the sheets but it springs into action when there is an intense cold shower and/or sudden dip in temperature. Think of the onset of autumn after a wonderfully warm summer period. A heavy rainshower shakes up the fungus and several days later the first mushrooms can be spotted peaking through the soil.
It has come to my attention over the last few years working with shii-take logs that shii-take mushrooms seem to prefer specific weeks to show themselves. Prediction has turned into almost certainty. The trigger needed to kickoff mushroom production seems to be just as much engrained in the time of year as well as a good cold bath or shower. The first week of October, week 40, generally produces a bountiful harvest. Basketfuls. Soaking should not take place after the last week of October, week 44. After this date the shii-take mushrooms grow just as fast as a snail race with no slime. Winter lethargy sets in and the shii-take snoozes until May. Week 20 is usually a magic week when the air is full of the promise of spring and dry shii-take logs react especially well to the first cold dunking of the season. About two weeks later, the logs are bursting with mushrooms and the season has begun again.