“My lawn! My beautiful lawn! Disgusting toadstools are showing everywhere! How do I get rid of them?”
Similar words pop up from homeowners everywhere at this time of year and yet those very words reflect myths, half-truths and a lack of understanding of a world that exists under our feet. With an openness to this hidden world, one can grow to appreciate that all mushrooms are diverse, important, useful and, if you still prefer, avoidable.
The term “Toadstool” is often used generically to describe umbrella shaped mushrooms usually believed to be poisonous and spoken with an accompanying disgusting expression. They are neither used for toads’ resting places nor are they all poisonous. In fact, those so named (mostly of the Agaricus genus) have a full range of members of varying degrees of toxicity, including acceptably edible examples ranging from the medicinal to exotic gourmet.
Within this varied group are the mushrooms found in grocery stores ⎯ white button, crimini and portabella. It is worth noting that all three of these mushrooms are the exact same specie, Agaricus bisporus, only with different light treatment and at different stages in their development.
The presence of mushrooms in your lawn or anywhere is generally a sign of healthy soil beneath. On the surface mushrooms feed the soil by breaking down organic matter into usable components.
Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of a much larger organism made up of branching threadlike mycelium below the surface that share a relationship with the roots of your trees, plants and lawn, trading chlorophyll sugars for highly efficient root extension, mineral and nutritional sourcing. The mycelium is a vital part of the soil food web, which, along with bacteria and microorganisms, provide a living system within the soil. It is worth noting that use of strong chemical fertilizers 10-10-10 or higher will kill this soil balancing and thus the mushroom but at the expense of the lawn being addicted to and needing more and more chemical fertilizer.
If your goal remains to have a nice green mushroom-free lawn, the short answer is water less and in the morning. The cooler night temperatures and breezes of fall provide the perfect fruiting signal for the mycelium below to get into production. The one remaining component needed for fruiting that you can control is to lower the moisture within that night soil. So early morning watering is the ticket.
But, then again, do you really want to miss out on those magical creatures from another world below?
Jerry Poupard is a self-directed student of mycology in areas related to soil, nutrition, medicine/nutraceuticals, environmental remediation, business and therapeutic applications. For more information on the various aspects of the world of mushrooms check out his Facebook Group: Mycorrh Rising I E