Nature loves stupid people too!

Aloha Friend!

Don’t let this happen to you!

An ugly spooky disgusting-looking fungus growth pops up in your garden one day.

Fear comes in to you because it looks like a Halloween zombie coming to take over.

You decide to pick it up and it releases a cloud of cinnamon brown powder into the air, and you’re instantly freaked out that it’s going to multiply all over the place.

You decide to get rid of it before it can spread.  You wrap it in plastic and dispose of it.  And you hope that sucker never comes back!

Then, feeling smugly smart and happy that you caught it in time and disposed of it, you go on with life and forget about the whole incident.

That’s what I did.


What’s really scary is looking back at how stupid my decisions were!!!

Fast forward several years, it’s a hot, dry October. A couple more of them pop up.

Don’t fungi usually grow in rainy weather?  Like Irish green gardens with mushrooms. These popped up in dry conditions.

This time, (thankfully I’m getting smarter), I searched for ugly brown fungus on Google and soon found it in the images.

I could hardly believe what I read!  This ugly fungus is the greatest gift a gardener could ever receive!

It’s the food forest gardener’s holy grail, grand prize, jackpot, best garden helper ever!

Pisolithus arrhizus!!!  Mycorrhizal fungi!!

These are the fruiting heads of the Mycorrhizal fungi!!

If you see these in your garden, hoot, holler, and jump for joy!!


Look what I read on the website BayAreaMushrooms:


It is late summer, when crumbly dog turds appear along the sidewalk, and we know that autumn is coming. Dog turds as harbingers of our favourite season!

In a time of year when there is not much moisture around, in the midst of our rainless California summer, these mushrooms are able to grow and form firm juicy fruitbodies. They are so firm, and have so much turgor that they can even push up the pavement and pop up in other unexpected places to shed their spores.

They do not get points for beauty. I remember a foray in Denmark into a dry sandy pine plantation where these weird fungi were sticking their heads up. Their ugliness was admired by all of us, but nobody wanted to be photographed with them…

pisolithus asphalt

Officially, the dog turd fungus is called Pisolithus arrhizus, one of many names for it. The name is derived from the Greek and means the ‘rootless pea-stone’. Dead man’s foot and Dye ball are two other common names for it. Older names for the genus include Polysaccum — the mushroom with the many bags. You’ll also find ‘tinctorius’ as its species name, referring to its qualities as a dye for wool — this has been known for a long time; Micheli mentioned it already in his book from 1729; can we assume that even in antiquity it was used as such? We can compliment all those mycologists in finding very suitable names for this species.


Pisolithus starts out as a club-shaped dark brown object, that when cut open shows those ‘peas’ — little compartments in which the spores are formed. Arora described them aptly as ‘rice crispies in tar’. In this stage, the mushroom is firm, wet, and stains our hands. In the next phase the top matures, the outer wall disintegrates and a dark chocolate brown dry spore mass is visible. Those spores are well suited for air transport — they have pigmented hydrophobic walls, and are spiny, real long-distance dispersers.

spores pisolithus spores 2

The fruitbodies wither slowly and can, when not kicked, remain in place for months up to a year.


There is wide variation in the shape and size of the species – from round and small ones to humongous amorphous lumps. Do these forms represent different stages of one species or many species with each their own host?



As already hinted at above, Pisolithus is widely used in initial inoculation of tree seedlings especially for forestry purposes. Here also different species are probably used, but the name given to the fungus is in most cases P. tinctorius. Paul Stamets’ Fungi Perfecti sells a mycorrhizal mix containing Pisolithus tinctorius (with four species of Rhizopogon). Pisolithus is ideal as it is so well adapted to drought.  Mine tailings, dry sandy areas, restoration projects — Pisolithus will grow and help establish the young tree seedlings. Judging from the abundance of the species with full-grown trees here in California, it is also a good competitor which is not rapidly displaced by other fungal mutualists when the tree grows up. 

Pisolithus arrhizus is very common here, both in the city, and in more natural habitats under oak. Many people who come to the fungus fair comment that it grows in their yard. In the northern Sierras and Lassen area it is common, especially in disturbed areas, in foothill woodland and open oak woods.

As the species fruits in those times of year that are too dry for others, it can easily be missed by ‘normal’ mushroom forays. So there is only one record in the NAMA voucher data base, from the 2000 foray in Newton, Texas. Fortunately, there are more herbarium specimens, and Grand reported that within the U.S.A. the species was found in 36 states, with most finds in the east, and in the western states. Many specimens grew in dry and disturbed areas, from open fields to sand dunes, sometimes without obvious tree hosts.

pisolithus berkeley

From its appearance it is not easy to guess the closest relative of our dog turd fungus. But, the presence of pulvinic acids and their derivates point in the direction of the boletes; these are the pigments that stain the wool. Molecular comparisons have confirmed that bolete connection. In a study by Binder and Bresinsky, Astraeus hygrometricus, another drought adapted ‘bolete’, is a sister group to Pisolithus. A bit further removed in the family tree are Scleroderma and real boletes like Gyroporus and the eastern Boletinellus merulioides.

Enjoy the presence of this species — autumn is on its way, and your tree has a useful partner on its roots!

Thank you for the great info, Bay Area Mushrooms!


I’m over-joyed, shouting Hallelejuh over discovering a mychorrizal fungi in the food forest!!!

Not thrilled with myself for disposing of it last time, without understanding what it is nor its purpose in the garden.

#1 Lesson learned:

Ugliness is not a good reason to hate something, or to kill it.

#2 Lesson learned:

Nature gives you good gifts, even if you are too stupid to know it!







Pisolithus arhizus

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Pisolithus arhizus
Pisolithus arhizus02.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Fungi
Division: Basidiomycota
Class: Agaricomycetes
Order: Boletales
Family: Sclerodermataceae
Genus: Pisolithus
Species: P. arhizus
Binomial name
Pisolithus arhizus
(Scop.) Rauschert (1959)
  • Lycoperdon arrizon Scop. (1786)
  • Pisolithus tinctorius (Pers.) Coker & Couch (1928)

Pisolithus arhizus [1] is a widespread earth-ball like fungus, which may in fact be several closely related species. Common names include dead man’s foot and dyeball.[2] It is known in Australia as the horse dung fungus, in South Africa as perdebal, and in Europe as the Bohemian truffle. This puffball‘s black viscous gel is used as a natural dye for clothes.[3] Pisolithus arhizus is a major component in mycorrhizal fungus mixtures that are used in gardening as powerful root stimulators.[4]

Amazing wealth is found in nature’s powerful abundance

Mathematics expresses itself in nature through the songs birds sing, the fractal patterns in trees, the designs of leaves, flowers, and roots and the infinite potential in seeds.

I’ve spent every day of the last 6 years observing and enjoying nature as I grow a food forest.

I originally grew the forest garden so I could enjoy the juicy fruits, tasty nuts and seeds,the lovely fragrances, and the healthy herbs.

That’s great abundance right there, but as it turns out, that’s only the beginning of the abundance I discovered.

The plants in the food forest also reproduce themselves exponentially, so the abundance expands exponentially!


The branch of math called Calculus deals with exponential increases where numbers get bigger really fast and approach infinity. This best describes the kind of math I see in the food forest.

In this image, check out the orange number line climbing rapidly as it approaches infinity.

Graphic Image of numbers getting larger and approaching infinity. From

I see this type of exponential growth curve going on in the food forest every day.

Seeds, which grow in great abundance in the food forest are the best example of exponential growth. A perfect example of this phenomenon is this romaine lettuce plant that grew from a single seed.

This romaine lettuce plant grew from 1 seed. We enjoyed eating the leaves of the plant as it grew. After a few months, it stopped producing leaves and began to produce these puffy white flowers. Inside of each flower are about 10 or 20 seeds. (yes, i counted several of them). I picked off the flowers and seeds to plant elsewhere in the food forest, and a couple days later, more flowers grew back to replace the ones I picked. I took this picture after I picked most of the flowers and the second round of flowers had grown to replace the first.

One (1) seed can grow into thousands (1000’s) of seeds of it’s kind in as short as 3–6 months.

What kind of Return on Investment can you get from a well planted seed?

Let’s say, as in the picture above, that you “invested” 1 lettuce seed by planting it in the ground and letting it grow for a few months. Then you harvested 1,000 seeds that grew from that lettuce plant, so you ended up with 1,000 seeds.

Here’s the simple “Return On Investment” formula:

Copied from

(1000 seeds gained — 1 seed invested) = 999 more seeds than you started with

999 seeds / 1 seed cost of investment= 999% return on investment.

If you get a return of 1000 seeds from growing 1 seed, then you get 999 more seeds. Divide the 999 seeds you got by the 1 seed you put in and there’s your ROI percentage.

999% return on investment for growing a seed — in under 6 months.

Compare that to the stock market, where you can expect to average 6% Return on Investment per year. That’s if you’re lucky and you keep your money invested in the stock market for 30 years.

Imagine how many seeds you might have after a few years of planting seeds!

If you plant a tree instead, you will receive fruit and seeds from that tree for decades! We are grateful to have several fruit trees that are over 30 years old and are still producing fruit. Someone else planted them long ago, and we continue to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

If you really want to see abundance, look to a garden rather than an interest-earning financial account.

Have a look at how nature’s abundance happens in this video:


Here’s a video I made about a 110 year old oak tree that grew from an acorn.


From the single acorn grows the mighty oak!



Here’s an orange tree that’s over 30 years old.

Aloha food forest Navel oranges grow on an over 30-year-old orange tree!
Navel oranges grow on an over 30-year-old orange tree!
This orange tree is over 30 years old, and still gives delicious fruit. Plant a fruit tree, get fruit for generations!

Another good example of nature’s abundance is multiplication through roots. Look at these bananas that expand their roots into the soil and pop up new banana plants.

This growth isn’t exponential like seed growth, but still it multiplies with repeated additions of new plants.

New banana trees grow from the roots of existing banana trees

There’s no doubt that a food forest produces an amazing abundance of good food for people. Everyone talks about eating healthier food, and this is a simple, direct way to get healthy food. Forest gardens work in harmony with Planet Earth’s natural processes.

The food forest also produces a healthy habitat full of good food for many animals. The animals feed on plants and on each other to create a balanced population.

We have seen coyotes, rabbits, squirrels, gophers, lizards, birds, insects, possums, raccoons, mice, rats, snakes, skunks and cats. They go about their business, doing what they were born to do, whatever it might be. It feels really good knowing that they like being here in the food forest!

If more people everywhere around the world grow forests of food , we can go a long way toward healing our planet and providing healthy habitats for animals and people.

I hope for a future with food forests growing everywhere on a healthy planet Earth. Where clean water flows, and happy people enjoy plenty of food, love for one another, lots of laughter, and a spirit of co-operation as a big wonderful family of human beings!


Thanks for reading this post.


Aloha Farms food forest

3 Things Cannot be Long Hidden: The Sun, The Moon, and The Truth

Aloha Friends!


Great news – here’s some more truth!




Check out the video below and let us know what you think in the comments below.

Wishing you Peace, Love, and Aloha!!!





Permaculture Home Building!

Aloha Friends,


Check out this uplifting and hopeful video, which shows a low-cost way to create beautiful homes.

Imagine what an exciting game-changer this could be! 

Homes for all!!!




Geoff Lawton’s Zaytuna Farm Tour Video Provides a Peek into Paradise!

Aloha Friends!

By watching the video below, you can be with permaculture master Geoff Lawton as he leads us into the peaceful, abundant future we could all share on planet Earth!

In this must-see video, he shows how the inhabitants of Zaytuna Farm live in an abundant, peaceful, earthly paradise that they designed and created!

Not only has Geoff demonstrated once again how to work in harmony with plants and animals to create quick abundance for all, but he also shows the way to work collectively and peacefully with other human beings to complete the circle of abundance.

Some highlights in this video include:

  • harvest and save water  
  • Use gravity to irrigate slopes, create ponds, dams, and a rice-patty.
  • Use dribbler pipes and swivel pipes.
  • How they garden on a floating garden raft in a pond
  • How Muscovie Ducks add fertilizer to the water that flows to water the plants.
  • How Turkeys and Cattle enjoy life while adding benefits to the ecosystem.
  • Anaerobic bacteria releasing iron oxide on the surface of run-off water.
  • recycle and re-purpose old things for new uses
  • create quick kitchen gardens
  • fertilize naturally
  • live off-grid
  • Geoff’s perspective about “Designed-Disturbance”, which explains how sometimes permaculture design requires us to disturb the surface of the earth to direct and capture water
  • How chickens like to work as minor disturbers, helping create food forests and how they enclose chickens with fencing and move the chickens throughout the food forests.
  • See a favorite hand tool called a rice-knife that they use to cut, chop-and-drop.
  • See gardens, food forests, interns working,
  • See plant-nurseries, the children’s nursery, worm farms, composting systems.
  • See unusual yet wonderful crops that are easy to grow.
  • Hear how they disfavor plants they don’t want and favor the plants they do want.
  • See a fun, unscripted scene featuring Geoff’s dog Possum, who rounds up and captures a wayward chicken and waits for Geoff to come pick it up and put it back into the coop where it belongs!
  • Hear Geoff’s straightforward advice on how to choose land for your permaculture system.
  • Tips on earth works, using a cover crop of japanese millet and cow pea covers bare earth that was dug only two months earlier. 
  • Observe how the plants perform and respond to more and less fertile areas of the landscape.
  • He finishes by walking through a natural forest, where he loves to visit and observe.
  • Plus you get to enjoy Geoff’s pleasant personality throughout the video.

Check it out for yourself 🙂


Green Gold – Documentary by John d. Liu


Aloha Friends!


Here’s another great class in Permaculture!


Thank you John D Liu for inspiring and educating us, a new world of natural growers here on our Beautiful Shared Earth!



Replace Weeds with Seeds

Aloha Everyone,

The official start of Spring is just days away, and gorgeous healthy weeds are popping up everywhere.  We have dandelions, thistles, spurge, mares tails and a wide variety of other  volunteers that I can’t even name growing right up through the mulch!
What I’ve come to love about these volunteers is that they are really here to help. They get the garden started where nothing is growing, creating healthy nitrogen-rich leaves, and  breaking up heavy clay soil with their roots!  See here how useful these gardening allies are for creating crumble, friable soil where once we had dense clay!  
I’ve been enjoying time in the garden, listening to the birds sing, breathing in the fresh air and getting exercise as I pull up weeds and drop seeds or small seedlings in the holes left behind, burying the seeds or seedlings back up and then tearing up the leaves and dropping them for mulch. I give some of the dandelions leaves to the turkeys too – they are very fond of eating dandelions!
I’ve been planting lots of corn seeds because I still have a huge bag of corn seeds left over from last years crop, even after we ate a lot of fresh corn, froze some, and popped some. This year, I hope we can sell some too!
Well that’s our post for today – when you pull out weeds, replace them with seeds (or seedlings) of your preference!

Break off the flowers and seed pods from the weeds for disposal before you drop the leaves back on the ground, if you wish to prevent more weeds from self-propagating.


The Secret Underground World of Food Forests

Aloha Friends!

Please enjoy this video featuring Paul Stamets, a truly revolutionary man who is dedicated to teaching the world about the Mysterious World of Mushrooms and how they affect food forests. 

He makes this subject exciting and compelling and you will be so grateful you got a chance to hear him speak.




Peace, Abundance, and Aloha to You!

Aloha Farms food forest Logo Roots Grow Fruits!
Roots Grow Fruits!






Hügelkultur Will Make Your Arid-Climate Garden Burst With New Life

Aloha Friends!

Hügelkultur is a German word meaning “hill culture”.  Simply put, it’s a way to speed up the decay of fallen branches, logs, twigs, canes, vines, or any other dead vegetation by covering it with soil.  Once its covered with soil, the diverse soil-dwelling life-forms feed from the vegetation as they decompose it, creating richer, moister soil as they feed. 

Hügelkultur is not a new concept!

For thousands of years, people worldwide have imitated nature by creating hügelkulturs.  Our modernized world nearly forgot about this process until recently, when world-famous permaculture experts Sepp Holzer, Paul Wheaton and Geoff Lawton brought the practice into the limelight and now promote it as a perfect practice for working in harmony with Earth.


Practicing hügelkultur achieves these results:

  1. Hide the garden’s unsightly “dead” vegetation
  2. Feed the soil-dwelling life-forms that help your garden flourish
  3. Enrich garden soil as vegetation decomposes
  4. Release moisture into the garden soil

Hügelkultur works in synergy with earth’s natural processes!

Hügelkultur happens all the time in nature.  When a forest tree falls to the ground, fungi, microbes and insects feed on it as they help to decompose the tree into rich humic soil.  It once was a tree, but it becomes part of the soil that feeds plants with rich nutrients.

Hügelkultur works all around the Earth!

Hügelkultur works in all environments – from snowy mountain tops to rain forests, to deserts. 

Since our climate is dry and we get very little rain, we have learned how to use hugelkultur to benefit our food forest, and here is what we’ve learned.

How to Optimize Hügelkultur for Arid-Climate Gardens

In dry climates, if you lay a pile of fallen vegetation on the ground uncovered – it will take years or decades to decompose. 

If you cover that same pile of vegetation with soil, and  it will decompose faster, but if it’s not completely covered, that will delay the process. 

For our first hügelkultur, we followed this diagram we found on Wikipedia. This method didn’t work too well for us in our dry climate, although it works well in moist climates.


We had a pile of branches sitting on top of the ground, so we dug up some soil from elsewhere in the garden and covered the pile with the soil.   We didn’t cover all of the vegetation completely, so some branches stuck out.  Over time, the soil settled down further, which exposed even more of the vegetation.  After a year or two, we covered the pile with more soil, but that pile ended up taking years to become a rich garden bed.  

Hugelkultur pile atop the soil - not buried
Hugelkultur pile atop the soil – not buried This pile took much longer to decompose than the hugelkulturs we buried completely in the ground.

Here’s how the unburied  pile looked a couple years later – in the lower left area of the picture – it still had not decomposed!

Hugelkultur - to bury or not to bury
In Arid Gardens, Burying the Hugelkultur completely speeds the decomposition process dramatically.

The next hügelkultur we made, we completely buried the spent vegetation into the ground, and found that the soil rapidly became fertile.  In the picture above, where you see pumpkin vine, potatoes, and corn – all growing vigorously – that’s the hügelkultur where we completely buried the vegetation, which rapidly decomposed and jump-started the soil with new life!

Here’s how the process works:

Rake any sheet mulch to the side to expose bare dirt. Set the mulch aside to use on top of the completed hügelkultur.

Hugelkultur Step 1 - Rake aside covering of mulch
Hugelkultur Step 1 – Rake aside covering of mulch to expose the soil


Dig your trench deep and long enough to hold the spent vegetation.

Hugelkultur Step 2 - Dig Trench Deep and Long Enough to Hold Vegetation
Hugelkultur Step 2 – Dig Trench Deep and Long Enough to Hold Vegetation

Beginning with the largest pieces, fill the trench with your fallen branches, twigs, canes, vines, leaves, manure, fruit and veggie peels.

Hugelkultur Step 3 - Add Large Branches
Hugelkultur Step 3 – Add Large Branches

Hugelkultur Step 4 - Fill the Hole with Smaller Pieces
Hugelkultur Step 4 – Fill the Hole with Smaller Pieces

Cover the vegetation back up with the soil you dug out of the trench.  Our chunky clay soil needs a soaking of hose-water to help settle it in.  Water the pile to help settle it, then cover the pile with mulch.  

Hugelkultur Step 5 - Using the Soil You Dug out of the Trench, Bury  the Vegetation and Cover the Soil with Mulch
Hugelkultur Step 5 – Using the Soil You Dug out of the Trench, Bury the Vegetation and Cover the Soil with Mulch


That’s it – you’ve completed the hügelkultur.  

We had great success planting garlic cloves on the mounds immediately, and in the following spring our seeds grew vigorously in their new home. 

Practicing Hügelkultur allows us to recycle our forest vegetation and enrich our soil with little expense or effort.


Top 10 Reasons to Practice Hügelkultur in an Arid-Climate Garden:

 1. The trench you place the material into will also serve as a water reservoir in times of rain, capturing water for the water table
2. Broken and trimmed branches and other forest material transform into humic garden soil
3. Provide food for the soil-dwelling creatures
4. Release moisture into the soil as it decomposes
5. Sequester carbon into the soil and reduce carbon in our atmosphere
6. Requires less work than chipping or shredding material – especially larger branches and logs
7. As a raised-bed substitute, it requires no wood frame structure.

8. Just bury the material once, and leave it alone – enjoy the results for years to come.
9. Increases soil health and nutrition in the form of humic soil, which helps plants thrive.
10. Burning your fallen vegetation may be dangerous and will cause the potential humus to go up in smoke and release carbon into the atmosphere. Hauling it away requires a truck burning fossil fuel to carry it somewhere else.   Burying it is free and helps planet Earth!


Do’s and Don’ts: Creating Hügelkulturs in Arid Climates

  • Do dig a hole deep and long enough to hold your material and to leave you with enough soil to cover it back up.
  • Do leave the soil you dig up next to the trench, so it will be close to the trench when you’re ready to back-fill.
  • Do cover the material completely with soil.   
  • Don’t leave any of the material sticking out of the soil, as it will wick away your moisture and lengthen the decomposing time.
  • Do include fruit & veggie peels, grass clippings, green weeds (no seeds), leaves and  a little sprinkling of manure (if available) for a nitrogen source.
  • Do be mindful of any seeds you may be adding to the pile in the form of weeds or spent flower heads. 
  • Do add only those seeds you want to see growing next season!
  • Do cover the soil mound with organic mulch such as leaves, straw, chipped material or compost.
  • Do water the mound to help settle it – unless you prepare the mound just before a rain!

Here’s a quick look at a Hügelkultur we created:

Look for an upcoming post on where to position a Hügelkultur to be most helpful to existing plants and trees.

Aloha to you!

Aloha Farms food forest Logo Roots Grow Fruits!
 Roots Grow Fruits!

Thank You Kind Readers, We are so Grateful for Your Comments!

Aloha Everyone 🙂

Thank you so very much to the many kind readers who have been cheering us on here on this blog with encouraging comments – we appreciate hearing from you!!!

We’ve learned that it’s one thing to send out our message into the world, but something else entirely to receive back so much encouragement – it was unexpected and it feels amazing!  It brings us joy and even laughter each time we receive your encouraging words and funny comments!

Overwhelmingly you are most interested in Ways We Conserve Water, so we will explore how growing food forest-style is itself a way of conserving the water that’s in the soil.  We’ll share some ideas to get you inspired.

Here are the answers to a few questions we received from the comments:

Is there a way to subscribe?

On the front page, Aloha! down toward the bottom on the right side, is a  “Subscribe to Aloha Farms Food Forest Blog” section.  If you enter your e-mail address in the box, the system will send you a confirmation e-mail, if you then confirm that you want to subscribe via the link in the e-mail, you will be subscribed!

How long have we been blogging? 

We had a blog called [email protected] from November 2013 to November 2015. (Hardly anyone saw it!)  In November 2015, we created this website blog by transferring the information from the old blog into this one.  So in total, we’ve been blogging for about 2.5 years already – although it feels like we just started!

Do we have any tips on how to get onto yahoo news?

Nope!  We don’t know how that happened – and we didn’t even know we were on there until you told us!  We still have quite a bit to learn 🙂

How frequently do we update the website?

We don’t have a set time schedule, but we try to put out new information when we have a great idea to share!

Thanks Again, and Much Aloha to you All!

The Aloha Farmers, Elizabeth & Eric