Well, we have had a great deal of liquid sunshine and with that being said; things grow, things we want and things we think we don’t want. Rain is the precursor for mushrooms. After our many torrential down pours at night we all are mostly likely to awaken to mushrooms and toadstools.
Hmm, what’s the difference between mushrooms and toadstools. I have to be honest every time I hear or see the word toadstool I picture a toad atop a red mushroom speckled with white polka dots perched to perfection. See the toadstool found in my garden in the featured picture of this blog above, I was bummed there was not a tiny toad sitting upon it like the photo below. LOL!
But the simple difference is mushrooms are edible and toadstools are not. And yes I know not all mushrooms are edible therefore those mushrooms are toadstools. Get it???
I will focus on mushrooms, so let’s get to what a mushroom is. Mushrooms are fungi more specifically the reproduction part of the fungi that live under the surface of the soil. They spread by spores into the air then go away when the sun appears or when the soil dries up. What you see above the soil is the fruiting body after all the major production is done underground. A fruiting body is the same as a flower on a plant, once that flower dies it spreads it’s seeds to continue procreating, thus the mushroom’s fruiting body is doing the same thing when it releases it’s spores.
The perfect making of a mushroom requires moisture, shade, cloudy weather, and rich organic soil; mix these up in any combination or all of the above and a mushroom is born!
Things to do in your garden to keep the mushrooms from appearing more frequently:
- Decrease shade – trim back or thin out branches on trees and shrubs
- Avoid compacted soil- if you notice standing water or damp areas after long periods of rain your soil is compacted. Therefore aerate the soil to improve drainage and decrease thatched areas that are over an inch. What is thatch? Thatch is little bits and pieces of grass that have died and have gathered above the soil.
See photo below.
- Lastly, be attentive to old trees and pets – remove stumps completely to prevent organic matter for mushrooms to grow in and pick up pet waste and do not let it sit on your lawn or soil for this to brings about mushrooms.
Keep in mind mushrooms are not all “bad” they are an indicator of rich organic matter in your soil. Mushrooms break down the organic matter and make the soil more productive. Mushrooms found at the base of trees near their roots is a good thing, as pictured in my garden.
But, those found on the tree such as the shelf mushroom pictured below is a warning for concern since the tree could be dying from the inside out, remember mushrooms start their growth out of sight in areas that are breaking down into organic matter. By the way, shelf mushrooms are edible at certain times in the season and are called “chicken of the woods” (Laetiporous sulphureus a bracket fungus)
A fairy ring is a natural occurring ring or arc of mushrooms that can grow up to 10 yards in diameter. The cute folk lore regarding this phenomenon suggests that fairies dance in the ring at night and rest when they are tired on the toadstools. I know you have a visual don’t you (giggling) does it look like this?
But this is what it would look like in nature for real.
Hopefully this information has given you a closer look at how a mushroom is made and also what you can do to minimize their appearance in your garden if you choose to do so; or you could just go with the flow and maybe experience a true fairy ring and actually spy on those fairies dancing in the night when they aren’t looking, smiling. Anyhoooo, enjoy mushrooms both in the garden and in your kitchen but beware of toadstools, now that you know the difference:)
Till next time enjoy the season of summer gardening and Happy Early Summer Solstice, it officially arrives this Friday June 21, 2019. ENJOY!