When you see mushrooms growing in your yard… how do you respond?
I used to know a neurotic gardener who would pull up all the mushrooms that grew in her yard and throw them away.
This is… stupid. Mushrooms aren’t going to harm your lawn or your garden. In fact, they play a key role in recycling nutrients. Without fungi, fallen trees would sit around for ages without rotting into the soil.
Though I titled this post “mushrooms create soil,” it’s not quite accurate, since mushrooms are just the fruiting body of a larger fungal organism.
The mushrooms that pop up in your yard aren’t just a “here today and gone tomorrow” plant-like organism that’s popped in for a brief visit before heading off for the great compost heap in the sky. They are just the “flower,” so to speak, of a multi-threaded fungi that may have been living beneath your front yard since before you were born.
When you see mushrooms, you are seeing just the tip of the iceberg. Many of the common mushrooms we see are very busy at an important task: the task of creating soil. Without fungi, we would have no forests.
If see mushrooms in your yard, be glad. They’re usually breaking down material that plants can’t access and making it available to the ecosystem.
They’re not some sort of evil invader – they’re a garden helper that’s actively engaged in making your property more fertile.
Plus, some of them taste pretty good.
Good post! What are your thoughts on mushroom compost, and would the field herbicide present in manure that you have written of recently be a concern in this application?
I think the same thing when I see an expanse of mushrooms in our garden areas. We’ve been expanding planting areas this summer by doing lasagna layers of manure and old barn bedding topped with mulch. Usually within a week of laying out a new area the whole thing will be covered with similar looking little mushrooms and I know that down deeper they’re turning all that rich organic matter into beautiful soil and leaving behind their own compostable remains, and I see the results of their hard work in the extraordinary growth of the plants in older areas. Mushrooms are a sign of a healthy soil system.
There is a passage in Edible Forest Gardens about building forest soil- soil specifically for growing trees- as fungal-dominated soils, as opposed to prairie/grassland soil, which is bacteria-dominated. I went around for the next year seeking out fungal-active logs and large branches to use to edge my forest garden beds, in order to “inoculate” my sterile sand with as many fungal strains as possible. It has worked so well!
Have no idea if this will help or not, but when I’m refreshing my Earthboxes or other containers for new plantings I will pick half the mushrooms I find around the yard, or neighbors’ yards if I ask permission first (they’ve stopped asking why I want something) and put them in when the container is about 1/2 full. Have been keeping records so next June when I pull the plants I’ll decide if it helped.