Don’t be alarmed if you see mushrooms in your garden. When you see them, what does it mean, and are they a threat to your garden? Read on to find out why having mushrooms in your garden is a good thing, and they aren’t a threat to your plants.
Mushrooms are quite amazing. The many species of fungi in the family of mushrooms have adapted to a wide range of environments. You will find them in many colors and habitats. Each one is adapted to a niche that they occupy.
What we call mushrooms are really the fruiting bodies of the mycelium, which spreads below the ground beneath our feet. The mycelium spreads through the soil, looking a bit like a spider web. Some mycelium from certain species have a symbiotic relationship with trees and plants. The mycelium attaches to the tree roots and provides the tree with nutrients. In return, the tree provides the mycelium with sugars and carbohydrates it needs, through photosynthesis in the leaves.
Others, like the mushrooms pictured in the photo at the top of the article, spread throughout your mulch pile. These are growing on cedar mulch that we are using to mulch the garden. What the mycelium is actually doing is slowly breaking down the wood into rich, fertile soil. This mulch will be tilled into the garden soil over the winter.
The mulch that is tilled in will contain the mycelium, so when the temperature and humidity are right, there will be mushrooms that appear in your garden. Don’t give it a second thought, because seeing mushrooms in your garden is a good thing. It means you have healthy soil! Healthy soil is the holy grail of gardening. Without the proper soil nutrients, your plants will not look good, and won’t produce as well, if at all.
If you click on the image above and view it full size, you can see many small white dots. This is the mycelium surfacing to put out the fruiting bodies we call mushrooms. When you work this rotting wood into your soil, you are also incorporating the mycelium that is in the soil. By doing this, withing a relatively short time the mycelium will finish breaking down the small amount of wood within your soil. This will transform your soil into a rich, dark soil just perfect for growing your flowers or vegetables.
So the next time you see mushrooms in your garden, you can be happy. It is telling you that you have healthy soil and your garden is ready to produce a bounty of vegetables for you and your family. If you want to learn more about how we garden here on the homestead, you can read this article on greenhouse gardening.
A word of caution is in order. Never eat the mushrooms growing on your compost pile. Some mushrooms are edible, many are not, and some are deadly if you eat even a small amount. Don’t take chances. If you aren’t able to identify mushrooms in the wild, it’s best to leave them and enjoy them. They will send out their spores and decompose, adding nutrients back into your soil.