Water-balloon Mushroom Fruits, The Tao of Terroir and everything you want to know about soil.

July 6, 2023

Did you know mushroom is really just the fruit of a giant mycorrhizal (probably perennial) organism that lives underground?

I learned that in a mushroom class I took over the weekend.  I kinda knew this tidbit of information, but mostly I didn’t – at least not stated quite like that.

And do you know why mushrooms can grow so quickly? (like, literally overnight) 

It is because they don’t grow by cell division (as does most everything else on the planet).  They are more like balloons where a bunch of mycorrhiza line up in whatever formation that they do and then they blow up. Like filling a water balloon. This is how they just appear, so suddenly.

The Tao of Terroir – Or how and why plants grow differently in different places.

Terroir (/tɛˈrwɑːr/, French: [tɛʁwaʁ]; from terre, “land”) is a French term used to describe the environmental factors that affect a crop’s phenotype, including unique environment contexts, farming practices and a crop’s specific growth habitat.


Lately, I am fascinated with all things going on underground (and not just mushrooms).  It started when Bernadette Giblin wrote The Tao of Terroir (part 1) for Issue # 3 of PITH + VIGOR‘s print newspaper. And it continued and intensified when I researched and wrote The Tao of Terroir (part 2) for Issue #4 .

>>>(Hard copies of the P+V newspaper are sold out. But you can still download the .pdf versions of all the issues of PITH + VIGOR – A print newspaper for people with dirt under their nails)

I’m working on creating an online version of both of these stories. But for now, you’ll have to suffice with the originals. (which, as full double page spreads, were, IMO, much cooler than a blog post anyway).

The Tao of Terroir - learning about soil and how it creates beautiful and tasty regional nuances in our plants, vegetables, and flowers. by rochelle greayer

The idea behind the two pieces was to introduce some of the people who are talking about the soil and its impact on terroir – as related to everything we can grow (other than wine) and then, to link together all the different piece of this hidden world.  

The underground ecosystem is complex and fascinating and not one that we know as much about (at least when you compare it to our knowledge of what is going in above ground).

So, it isn’t completely surprising that these mushroom facts were new to me – even though I just wrote this whole piece and maybe should have already known them?

I’m curious, do you think of mushrooms as the water-balloon fruits of a giant underground living thing?  Or did I just tell you something new?

– Rochelle

Expert voices of the soil. by bernadette giblin illustration by samantah dion baker for

You might also be interested in these soil and mushroom posts:

illustration for these two pieces by Samantha Dion Baker

REgister now!

A Free Master Class



  1. Jack Lenders says:

    Love your site, and its view on gardening.
    But I couldn’t let this slight error go uncorrected.
    True a mushroom is the fruiting body of a giant underground mycorrhizal.
    But it’s not a plant in any way. Mushroom are completely separate kingdom of organisms. I.e. Eubacteria, Archae, Protista, Fungi, Plantae, and Animalia.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Does Your Garden Need a Makeover?

Learn my 7-step system to design and build a stunning garden anywhere in the world.


Join my Free Class!

Understand the 5 mistakes everyone makes when creating a garden. (Save yourself time, money, & headaches and get much better results!)

See how to work directly with me (but at a DIY price!) to
design and create your own gorgeous garden.