Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Fungal Affair

My housemates and I have planted a garden.

Townhouses in DC don't offer much yard space, but we have a modest little plot with just enough room for trash bins, a rangy rosebush, and a tired box garden that had clearly seen nothing but neglect before our arrival.

We ripped out the dried up tomato plants, tilled and mulched and etc, and sprinkled some seeds. Now we're nurturing carrots, beets, peas, arugula, spinach, basil, daisies, and marigolds. I've never successfully grown anything from seed before, but I would say we've seen raging success.

You may notice (or not, the pic is kinda small) that the beets refuse to be nurtured. No matter, I don't like 'em anyway -- instead, tonight I had a lovely arugula salad for dinner. Yummo.

You know what else we're growing? Mushrooms. You know where we're growing them? In our kitchen wall.

Situation: DC has experienced some heavy rains recently. (Welcome to spring. Yay thunder!) I had water issues occasionally in my old cave-like apartment, but have since then moved to a posh lil townhouse. Unfortunately, our new house has not proved exactly, um, waterproof? Let's just say an evening of games and guests turned into a frantic dash for towels and pots to catch drips.

The water damage is especially obvious in our kitchen, which was pretty terrible to begin with. Envision narsty pink wallpaper from the 60's, cobwebs that have fused to the surface in the humidity, grease stains splashed randomly here and there, and pink formica countertops with permament stains on them. Classy. Now add peeling narsty pink wallpaper to the mix, with dark blotches of water damage. KLASSY.

A contractor came to fix the leak. A few days later we noticed some wires poking out from behind the peeling-back wallpaper. Must be leftover from the contractor, I mused idly, grabbing an apple as I rushed out the door. Whatever, deal with it later. I kind of purposefully ignored the fact that wires poking out from a random pink wall with no outlets in it made no sense whatsoever.

Wires, amiright?!
Later that day, my housemate: "So, are those wires...or, something growing?"
Me: "Wires. They're definitely wires."
Her: "Are you sure?"
Me: "...Yes." *Leaves room abruptly.*

Upon closer inspection, they're not wires. They're mushrooms. Or fungi of some kind. And while I do love our garden, I don't want it that conveniently located. I prefer my veggies to grow outside. 

Landlord is on it, though. He's great. And I think when our back wall gets replaced, we'll be able to replace all the wallpaper. Win? I think so.


  1. Well, I love you dearly, so I will be blunt and tell you what could be the truth. Mushrooms may not be the only thing growing there. You might have icky, yucky, did-I-mention-that-I-nearly-died-from-exposure-to-it-at-age-four, mold problems. Our family mold and icky stuff expert, Michael, just read your blog and told me that when they peel off the wallpaper, they will likely find mold. According to him, mold loves wallpaper paste and both mold and mushrooms need food, warmth, and moisture to propagate. The food part is the wallpaper paste. Mushroom spores are everywhere. He says that he has seen so much mold growing behind wallpaper that the whole wall comes down with the wallpaper. The older the wallpaper, coupled with the leaky roof, increases the likelihood of mold. So, just in case the wall is a worse-case-scenario, move the crystal and good china, so to speak. Call me any time if you have questions or worries.
    I truly hope that it is all conjecture on my part, but just in case, we're there for you.
    Auntie Beth

  2. That sure does look like wires. Good luck with your mushroom eradication program.

  3. Great Story as always, Aff. I still think you'll graduate to writing a humorous column somewhere. Love you!


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