Mushrooms on my Mulch? It’s a Good Thing!
One of the questions I hear often after an installation of plants into organic matter or after a heavy rain event is, “What do I do about the Mushrooms growing in my mulch?” The answer is, “Tell them thank you!”
Mushrooms growing in your mulch, composted beds or landscape beds are a really good thing and they are telling you that you have very rich organic matter. Otherwise, much like the presence of earthworms, they would not be there in the first place. Mushroom growth in your soil and beds is a sign of a healthy soil. These are not edible mushrooms, so never try a mushroom you do not recognize as the wrong mushrooms can be deadly, but they can be a huge advantage to your plants.
Have you ever noticed while planting, that little cluster of white webbing under the mulch that seems to have threads that travel throughout the mulch? I am here to tell you that there is an entire eco system beneath your feet. I highly encourage you to educate yourself on the many living organisms that make up the balance of this glorious planet we inhabit.
Mushrooms are the reproductive, flowering structures of fungi (unless there is a dying tree root which also produce fungal spores and growth wile decaying into compost) This growth is especially present right after a rain or after you compost and if you are concerned about pets or children consuming the mushroom, I suggest you simply till them back into your soil. Mushrooms are a fungi that, along with bacteria in your soil play an extremely important role in breaking down more complex organic compounds, proteins and carbohydrates that are used by other organisms.
Plants rely on soil fungi and bacteria to seek out and digest nutrients for them, which in turn feed soil organisms with sugars (or carbohydrates) they (the plant) make in photosynthesis. Hyphae, which are the thread like underground filaments, attach themselves to plant roots then reach far into the soil. They can increase the surface area of the plant roots a thousand times by creating a symbiotic relationship with surrounding plants. When plant roots and fungi hyphae work together, they form mycorrhizae which is an incredibly fascinating process.
Certain nutrients like phosphate are insoluble to plants and they must rely on mycorrhizal filaments to break down organisms in the soil like leaf litter and needed minerals to make those nutrients available to the plant. The tiny thread-like mycelia are much smaller than even the smallest root and mycorrhizae can reach to great lengths. (there can be miles of mycorrhizal filaments connected to your landscape). In exchange, the plant provides the mycorrhizae with carbohydrates from the plants leaves. The presence of mycorrhizae help hold soils together, improve soil structure and increase porosity that enhances the plants root growth. Mycorrhizae also protect plants from root diseases and suppresses soil-borne pathogens.
This process has been evolving for millions of years and many of the plants in your landscape depend on some type of fungal activity. If you are organic and have added lots of organic material (compost does not contain mycorrhizae but may encourage growth) you may already have this beneficial organism present in your soil. However, if you have ever used chemicals, have inherited a yard you are unsure of, have standing water, have over fertilized or used fungicides and you would like to be sure of this process, you can inoculate the fungi into your plants roots when planting. Here is a video and information on the process.
This is another great reason why organics in the garden are so important for your over all success. Creating the most symbiotic relationship with the planet as is possible, will result in the most healthy environment for the Eco system you want to create and nurture.
Happy Organic Gardening!
Lisa’s Landscape & Design (Like me on facebook)
“Saving The Planet One Yard at a Time”
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