A common problem many gardeners face is having to deal with is mushrooms growing in mulch. Apart from making our garden bed look unattractive, they may cause some concern if you have pets or young children, as eating these can make one ill. The main reason these fungi pop up is due to a lot of rain. You might be wondering how you can get rid of them from your bark mulch. In this article, we will address a number of things you can do to rid your garden of these unwanted invaders.
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Why Are There Mushrooms in My Mulch?
You’ll generally see mushroom growth around trees, plants, and amongst landscape mulch and bark. The reason we often have this issue is that they get their energy from decomposing organic compost. Mushrooms thrive in a moist environment, and often our garden beds and lawn are quite damp after having been watered or receiving heavy rain.
Having mushrooms growing in your garden is a sign of good, healthy soil, and doesn’t really do any damage, other than making your garden look less appealing. Actually, having mushrooms in your garden could make your garden even healthier, so we would recommend leaving them in veggie and fruit gardens, and remove them from flower beds.
How to Kill Mushrooms with Vinegar
Vinegar is a natural solution to the problem. If properly applied, the acid in the vinegar will not only kill the mushrooms but also prevent them from popping up in your mulch again due to the chemical nature of vinegar.
Follow this step by step method if you wish to use this natural fungicide to remove mushrooms from mulch.
Dilute one part of white vinegar with four parts of water in a spray bottle.
Spray the mushrooms with the vinegar solution, making sure to cover your eyes with protective glasses. Hold the spray about 4 to 6 inches away from the mushrooms. Spray them generously, avoiding the grass or other plants.
Allow around three to four days for the vinegar to do its job and then respray any remaining living mushrooms. Keep monitoring until all have died, then remove the dead mushrooms from the mulch.
How to Deal with Mushrooms in Your Garden
Rake the Area
Mushrooms thrive in wet environments, so start by raking the area. Use a rake to mix up the mulch to loosen it and allow it to dry out. This will help prevent more mushrooms from growing in the area. Removing anything they could feed on will cause them to wither and die.
Trim Back Trees
Garden beds that are directly under trees may not be getting enough sunlight. If this is the case, trimming back a tree or two could possibly offer some relief. Shady areas are a key spot for mushrooms to grow. Shade prevents water from drying properly and will contribute to the growth of lawn mushrooms.
Remove Mushrooms by Hand
As mushrooms pop up in your soil and mulch, you might need to remove them by hand. Removing mushrooms by hand is a good choice if you’re only seeing a few spots of mushrooms pop up in your gardens. However, if you’re seeing dozens of mushrooms in the beds, and if organic matter is still available to feed on, these unsightly fungi will continue to grow, and that brings us to our next point — removing fungus affected mulch so that you won’t have to constantly babysit your gardens.
Remove Fungus-Affected Mulch
If you haven’t replaced your mulch for some time, it could be affected by deteriorating vegetation. This is the perfect environment for growing these toadstools. You can remove any affected mulch by using a spade or garden fork and adding a layer of new mulch. Then, use a rake to help mix it through. You can either get rid of the fungus affected mulch or, even if it’s affected by a mushroom or two, it can be added to your compost and used later once it has decomposed.
If you would prefer not to remove the mulch and would like to treat it, you could try adding some lime to the soil. This will not eradicate mushrooms but will slow their growth and make the soil more acidic. Sometimes this may be a good option and help your plants and flowers if they aren’t thriving where they are. Plants like hydrangeas love acidic soil and will benefit from this mushroom preventative method.
Learning to Live with Mushrooms
Sometimes, no matter what you do, these stubborn mushrooms just keep turning up. If this is the case, then you can simply leave them. You could even create a “fairy” garden using gnomes and ceramic mushrooms or toadstools to add character to your yard. Remember that mushrooms do help your garden by turning organic matter into nutrients. This will help your plants grow in a healthy manner.
How to Make Mushroom Compost
If you have flower or veggies garden beds, turning those obnoxious mushrooms into mushroom compost can add nutrients to your plants, helping to produce better edibles and brighter florals. Making mushroom compost is just like making regular compost at home. In this section, we’ll be walking you through step-by-step how to make mushroom compost to feed your gardens!
1. Mix Compostable Material Together
Mushrooms on their own can’t make enriching compost, so you’ll need to mix the mushrooms with other materials in order to create homemade compost. Mix the mushrooms with materials such as…
- Wood shavings
- Kitchen scraps
- Grass clippings
When mixing kitchen scraps into your mushroom compost, you’ll want to avoid foods like meats, greases, and processed foods. Stick to fruits and veggies for your homemade compost recipe. As for the manure you use, you’ll want to NOT use manure from pets like dogs or cats. Instead, use manure from cows, horses, or llamas.
2. Saturate Your Compost Pile
Once you have all of your compostable materials gathered together in a bin, you’ll then need to wet it with the garden hose only to the point of it feeling like a wet sponge. Take care to water the compost pile often, but not too much, or you’ll risk making your pile rot rather than turn to compost. The compost pile should feel warm and damp, not soggy and waterlogged.
If you’re new to composting, consider using a thermometer to monitor the progress your compost pile is making. The center of the pile should be around 130 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit as it “cooks”.
3. Turn Your Compost Pile Weekly
Once your compost pile has reached that internal temperature of between 130 and 150 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll want to toss the pile once a week with a shovel or pitchfork. This will allow oxygen to circulate all throughout the pile, aiding in the composting process and preventing material from getting squished and developing an odor or beginning to rot.
4. When Your Mushroom Compost is Ready
You’ll know that your mushroom compost is ready to use when the compost is no longer warm and because dry and crumbly. It will also have a general overall brown color to it, resembling the compost that you would buy commercially. When you fertilize your garden, be sure that you only put a layer of an inch or so in thickness. This will ensure that your plants get added nutrients, without being wasteful.
If you are finding new unsightly lawn mushrooms in your mulch, just remember to monitor the amount of water you use and follow these suggestions. Replace, remove, or rake the mulch when needed. Be prepared to embrace a mushroom or two as an added feature to your garden.