I was asked today by a customer about some mushrooms that had appeared in their compost. They had bought Sylvagrow certified organic peat free compost. To fill new raised beds. They emailed us asking if we could deliver more.
It’s nice to meet you and your gardens when delivering compost. On this occasion, we got chatting about small white mushrooms that appeared in the organic compost. “White mushrooms or white mycelium?” I thought. We chatted some more and I’m quite sure the fungi were friendly, breaking down the woody material in the compost.
The web beneath our feet
Mycelium are like the roots of mushrooms. You may see threads running through undisturbed soil, a woodchip pile, or in a bag of compost.
When mycelium fruit, they produce mushrooms. Often, this is the first we see of it. Fungi is a kingdom separate to plants. It’s vast, with probably over 3 million species. There are about 320,000 species of plant. So, it’s little wonder we rarely know exactly what we’re looking at when we see a mushroom in our garden.
Mycelium helps break down plant material with enzymes and improve water and nutrition uptake of plants. Invertebrates also feed on it. In short, it’s a good thing.
Fungi in our gardens
Particularly in a garden where we’re growing lots of perennial plants, we want to nurture fungi too. Fungi help create a thriving ecosystem.
Some fungi are pathogenic to plants. Rust, for example, white rot, or club root. We should be wary of signs of these but not overzealous in discouraging or eliminating other fungi.
Ways to support fungi:
Grow organically, without using fungicide, which kills fungus.
Grow perennial vegetables. They establish more roots and the soil isn’t disturbed by regular digging. See our stocklist for inspiration.
Mulch. No bare soil – keep it covered with compost, woodchip, hay, hedge clippings, leaf mould and so on. This keeps the soil moist and feeds the soil food web slowly. We use aged woodchip to mulch our potted plants.
Make a special brew of AMF – arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. These form a special relationship with plants, increasing their health. More on that another time.
Grow your own. Get better acquainted with fungi by growing your own mushrooms; there are some great kits on offer.
If you would like to buy Sylvagrow peat free compost, please see the details on our homepage and email your order to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be happy to deliver within 10 miles of Belper, Derbyshire.