Do you spot wild mushrooms in your vegetable garden every now and then?
Mushrooms are fungi that can grow in any environment as long as it is rich in nutrients and decaying organic matter.
Their presence in your garden can be slightly unsightly, especially if you have worked hard on aesthetics.
They also compete with your plants for nutrients.
If you want to get rid of them, here is a thorough guide that will help you achieve that. Keep reading.
How Do Mushrooms Get In Your Garden?
Mushrooms come in thousands of varieties, each with very distinct characteristics.
They reproduce by releasing spores that can travel through water droplets or air. Those spores are everywhere and are so tiny the human eye cannot see them.
These spores latch onto surfaces like wood chips, straws, and sawdust for nutrients.
Gardening soil is particularly rich in nutrients and organic matter, which means that if a mushroom spore lands on it, it will grow and reproduce in no time.
Mushrooms and their spores can go undetected for a long time in the soil until they sprout.
A mixture of organic nutrients and mushroom spores is called spawn. It is the fungal equivalent of seeds for plants as it provides the foundation for mushrooms to grow.
Are There Any Benefits to Having Mushrooms in Your Garden?
Depending on the variety, mushrooms can be beneficial to your garden.
They help decompose complex organic matter, such as wood chips, rotten leaves, and mulch, into nutrients that your garden plants can use.
The presence of mushrooms in your garden is also a sign that the soil is healthy. Good mushrooms will not damage your crops. Instead, they go into a symbiotic relationship that benefits both.
Once the mushrooms complete their life cycle, they replenish the soil with nutrients as they decompose.
Additionally, according to scientific research, mushrooms create a communication framework for plants to send distress signals to each other in the event of insect attacks.
That way, neighboring plants can beef up their defense system before the insects get to them.
Can Mushrooms Growing On A Garden Prove To Be Poisonous?
A few varieties of mushrooms are poisonous when ingested. Therefore, you should be very careful when you handle them.
One way to tell the poisonous variety apart from the benign ones is that they commonly have an acrid and unpleasant smell.
On the other hand, non-poisonous mushrooms have a refreshingly mushroom-like smell.
There are more than 100 species of poisonous mushrooms. Some of the most common species that grow in a vegetable garden include:
- Autumn Skullcap (Galerina marginata)
- Destroying Angels (Amanita)
- Death Cap (Amanita phalloides)
- Conocybe filaris (Cortinarius)
- Deadly Dapperling (Lepiota brunneoincarnata)
When Is the Right Time to Get Rid of Mushrooms?
Mushrooms are easier to get rid of in the morning. Since fungicides are most active in humid conditions, getting rid of them before they dry up is advisable.
How Do You Stop Mushrooms Growing In Your Garden?
Just because mushrooms can be beneficial for your garden plants does not mean you have to leave them when they grow unwanted.
Wild mushrooms can ruin the look of your garden and could prove dangerous to your pets once ingested – even the non-poisonous ones.
However, getting rid of mushrooms can be quite tasking. Their spores are everywhere and difficult to control. Sometimes not even fungicides are effective.
The best option is to remove them from the garden as soon as they start sprouting, so they don’t produce more spores.
A few common ways to prevent mushrooms from growing or spreading include:
Introduce Copper Sulfate To The Soil
Copper sulfate removes about 99% of the mushroom population when applied at a rate of 2-3 pounds per 1,000 square feet. This is the most commonly used method to eradicate mushrooms from vegetable gardens.
Use A Bordeaux Mixture
This mixture is particularly effective in the rainy season because of its ability to cling to plants.
Mulching is an effective way to drastically reduce the moisture levels at the surface of your garden soil.
However, avoid using the straw as this promotes mushroom growth.
Add Nitrogen Fertilizer
Nitrogen-based fertilizers speed up the rate at which organic material decay, thereby drastically reducing the population and inhibiting further growth of mushrooms. You can adopt a monthly fertilizing routine for stubborn cases.
Nitrogen-based fertilizers also reduce the chances of spores maturing, making this method very viable for preventing the initial outbreak.
However, don’t use water-soluble or slow-release formulations of nitrogen fertilizers as they aren’t as effective.
How To Stop Mushroom Growth In Potted Plants?
Mushrooms can also grow indoors, as potted plants often contain spores embedded in the mulch or the potting soil. Their presence eventually causes more harm than good.
Since the surface area is small, controlling their growth is relatively easy. In addition to the methods used to remove mushrooms from the outdoor garden, you can try the following.
- Uproot them with your hands as soon as you spot them to stop their lifecycle. You can either trash them or use them to replenish the soil. If you use them to replenish the soil, remove the cap first as it houses the spores.
- Replace about 2 inches from the top of your potting soil to, hopefully, get rid of all of the spores and mushrooms thriving on it. While this may work, there are fair chances of more spores buried deeper into the soil.
- If replacing the top of the soil doesn’t work, and mushrooms keep reappearing, it might be good to change the soil completely. However, because you have to wash the plant’s roots to be sure you’ve removed all the spores, repotting could potentially damage it, especially if you’re not careful.
- Use a vinegar spray solution. All you need is a tiny amount of vinegar mixed with water. Spray it sporadically to prevent damaging your plants.
- Stick holes on top of potted plants and spray a simple solution of water and dish soap down. You would be preventing the growth of mushrooms by doing this.
- A solution of baking soda and water will increase the pH levels of the soil and make it inhabitable for mushrooms. However, pay attention not to spray your actual plants with fungicides as they can be quite harmful to them.
- Change the position of the potted plant to a less humid, cooler zone to inhibit the growth of mushrooms.
How to Prevent Mushrooms From Sprouting?
Although the above methods of removing mushrooms are pretty effective, the best method is to prevent mushroom growth in your garden completely.
It drastically reduces the chances of them growing at all and minimizes damage to your garden. Here are a few ways to achieve this:
Aerate Your Lawn
Aerating your lawn helps prevent a thriving breeding ground for fungi beneath your grass. It also allows nutrients and more oxygen to penetrate deeper into the soil.
Keep your grass low, and dethatch regularly to get rid of dead grass.
Always encourage healthy soil beneath the grass. Dig out and mix your soil with new soil periodically.
This will break up any fungal matter and destroy mushroom food sources deep in the soil.
Build Good Soil Drainage
Poor soil drainage can cause water to sit on your garden for extended periods, encouraging mushroom growth.
On the other hand, a well-maintained drainage system gets rid of excess water and keeps your garden clean and dry.
Several fixes, such as grading or water diversion, address poor drainage.
Avoid watering your garden at night, too, since mushrooms love dark and damp areas.
Maintain Your Lawn
To prevent the growth of mushrooms, keep your garden clean at all times. Rake your garden regularly and clean up dead leaves and grasses.
Do not allow piles of twigs and fallen leaves to become damp and begin to rot.
Mushrooms flourish in wet and dark areas. Try not to leave large areas of your garden under shade and allow enough sunlight in.
The fundamental first step is to prune large trees. Make sure that structures such as patio covers or umbrellas do not block sunlight.
Get Rid of Unwanted Organic Matter
Mushrooms thrive better with organic matter. Clean of your pet’s poop immediately before mushroom spores settle in.
Get rid of old tree stumps, old mulch, shrub roots, grass clippings, and other organic sources. Ensure your garden is completely free of dead or decaying matter as it encourages mushroom growth.
Use a Fungicide
While using a chemical fungicide is typically a last resort, for owners of large gardens, this is an effective way to prevent the growth of mushrooms or deal with stubborn growth.
Fungicides can go deep into the soil and deal with mushroom growth at the source. Fungicidal granules work the same way too.
Set up a Designated Compost Area
Compost is an excellent way to fertilize your soil and improve its health. But, this mixture is also an ideal breeding ground for mushrooms.
To avoid mushrooms growing in your compost areas, you can purchase a compost bin. This keeps your compost source contained and away from mushrooms.
Noticing mushroom growth in your garden usually means you have a healthy garden. They can be found anywhere from your vegetable garden to your potted plants.
Some mushrooms are poisonous, and exposure to them can cause health issues. Mushrooms can also prove dangerous when ingested by pets.
For your safety and the aesthetics of your home garden, it is best to get rid of any mushroom growth you find.
The simple methods mentioned above can help you achieve that — without causing damage to your plants.
I have found gardening to be my calling since being restricted to my apartment. I love studying rare species of plants and giving them a mention on my blog. I also love growing organic vegetables in my backyard.