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What's the story with mushrooms?

Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

OK, you can tell I don't hang out here much (but I'm an avid composter; 3 bins and lasagna beds everywhere) b/c I'd know the answer to this if I did. Are mushrooms themselves good for your heap or is it just the soil they grow in? I've seen it written that "if you know of a mushroom grower, ask for some soil." Well, since our rain totals here in Northern MA is about 11" above normal, I AM a mushroom grower!!! I have mushooms of all sorts all down behind a slope on my property. There are enough to fill a couple of 1-gal pails.
1.Should I pick them and add them to the compost; or 2. dig up the mushrooms and their soil and add that to the compost; or 3. just leave 'em be?
Thanks!!!
Melissa

Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

I ususally don't bother to do anything with them. They are a type of fungus, which, of course, can go rampant in wet weather. Once the weather and the soil dry, they just seem to disappear. (often in a matter of hours on a hot sunny day).

Karen

Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

BUT, what can they do for my compost? Anything special?

I guess if they did, the makers of Miracle Gro would have bagged 'em up and sold them to us for a fortune ;0)

Burwash Weald, United Kingdom(Zone 9b)

I don't think they would do anything much - there is so little to them once they are rotting - maybe add fungus is all.

I suspect what they are talking about is that commercial mushroom growers have 'spent' manure/compost by the trailer load - they fill whole barns with the stuff to grow mushrooms and periodically have to haul it all out and replace it (I have no idea why, I guess it just gets exhausted). It is wonderful for a nutrient free (although slightly alkaline - they add lime) mulch or soil amendment.

Here in the UK, mushroom compost use to be free for collection - but with fewer and fewer mushroom growers it is getting pretty pricey and hard to find. (All the mushrooms are now coming from commercial growers in the netherlands and poland). So if you can find a grower, do some sweet talking!

West Pottsgrove, PA(Zone 6b)

Around here there are large commercial mushroom farms and it cost me $40 a ton plus a small delivery charge to have spent mushroom compost delivered. I wouldn't say it's nutrient-free, it's actually still fertilizer on the order of 1.8 - 0.6 - 2.2 NPK, 1.8% nitrogen, 0.6% potassium, and 2.2% phosphorous that is still hot from composting. It has salts in it and I wouldn't put it anywhere near azaleas and the like. I'm not sure, but I think they're required to sterilize it (with steam) here before it's sold, so no weeds whatsoever in the stuff I got.

I found the NPK numbers at this site:

http://www.eatmoremushrooms.com/2007/04/gardeners-friend-mushroom-compost-spent.html

There's a mushroom farm in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania that grows 50,000,000 pounds of mushrooms a year! It's the same town where Longwood Gardens is located - coincidence? lol

This message was edited Oct 6, 2008 1:32 AM

Burwash Weald, United Kingdom(Zone 9b)

good information Claypa. I would buy tons of the stuff at $40 a ton!!! Sheesh.

Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

I have heard that it's salt content can be pretty high, but I have no experience with it.

Karen

West Pottsgrove, PA(Zone 6b)

I spread it over a new bed area and planted annuals and some other inexpensive plants in it first for a few months, and let the rain (hopefully) leach the salt out. Everything seemed to grow great except the marigolds, but I blame the groundhog. The Cleomes were 6 feet tall! I should get some more this fall for another area, and plant it next spring.

Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

But what about the mushrooms themselves?

My yard is covered in them! I picked 2 gallons yesterday and spread them as an even layer in the compost. I hate the black, slimy heaps they leave in the grass; I hate stepping in them even worse! The black back spray when you mow 'em isn't far behind!!!

Burwash Weald, United Kingdom(Zone 9b)

Are they edibles? I love picking mushrooms, we even dry some of them for later use. Hmmmm, creamy wild mushroom soup with crusty bread - soooooooooo good.

Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

I don't know if they're edible; I wouldn't eat anything I found lying around in my yard! Well, cheesecake, maybe.

Bardstown, KY(Zone 6a)

Too funny Jax!!!

Doug

Hahira, GA(Zone 8b)

I agree! Actually, when Dh & I went to Switzerland in 2006 for our 25th anniv., in a tiny village we went through, there was a sign posted with a person's name & address for identifying mushrooms! Obviously a pretty popular activity in that area! Samantha

Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

I was on a hike w/ a group a couple of weeks ago. One man just grabbed some berries he saw and ate them! He said they were blackberries, but right next to them were poison ivy berries. It is too easy to grab the wrong thing. This is why we pay $$$ for an FDA and supermarkets!!!
Although, we all may wind up eating berries and mushrooms (and maybe squirrels). if the economy keeps going on like this!!! Sorry, no politics. But my little Jax DID bring me a live mouse and dropped it in my bed last night. Hey, he's bringin' home the bacon!!!
He's very sweet, and helpful ;0)

Thumbnail by Jax4ever
Burwash Weald, United Kingdom(Zone 9b)

Yes, I do think mushroom hunting is more popular here in Europe than in the US - and there is usually a resident in most villages who is brillant at doing the identification (we have a wonderful Polish woman who we can take our finds to - she even gives recipes!!) Post a photo - I'd love to see what comes up - you may start a whole new trend. And you can still have the cheesecake after.

Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

OK, ID time. I pulled this off of a tree in the woods- it almost seems like it's an extension of the wood itself, and it is as hard as can be:

Thumbnail by Jax4ever
Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

Here is the back, where it was stuck to the tree:
(Lovely, huh?)

Thumbnail by Jax4ever
Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

And the bottom, which is soft and white:
(Dave's Calendar, here I come.)
Any ideas???

Thumbnail by Jax4ever
Hahira, GA(Zone 8b)

Looks like some kind of fungi to me. Is there a fungus forum?? LOL Samantha

Hahira, GA(Zone 8b)

OOPS! there IS a ferns, moss & fungi forum - my apologies! Maybe they could help you ID your specimen there! Samantha

Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

I just bought an Audubon guide to mushrooms (it completes my collection, I think) and I still can't ID the darned thing. To the Fungus Forum!

Bardstown, KY(Zone 6a)

Check with Resin in the UK, he/she? knows all of that.

Doug

Burwash Weald, United Kingdom(Zone 9b)

Do check with the fungus forum, but I think this may be what you have. I have pasted the description from the RHS website for your information.

Heterobasidion annosum
a vigorous species causing serious disease in conifer forests, but also affects birch and beech. It produces tough brackets with a brown, corrugated upper surface and creamy white lower surface, found on the collar or superficial roots.

Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

Yikes! Serious disease! I should go back and see if I can find the tree it came from.

My new mushroom book is pretty funny. There are some known poisonous species which are marked as such, and many called "choice" or "edible". It carefully notes "not to experiment" where the edibility is not known!

Thanks for the info!

Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

I just looked it up, and it appears to be the one. The photo in the guide is terrible, b/c it shows the bottom, not the cinnamon-colored top. (Most mushrooms are white on the bottom!). It is informally called the "Conifer-based Polypore".

mulege, Mexico

One of the best mushroom books I've found is called "Mushrooms Demystified." Looking for edible mushrooms is not a hobby to be taken lightly. A mistake can mean serious illness or even death. Some mushrooms have several poisons in them and person who eats them may survive the first poison only to succumb to another. There is no easy way to identify those which are edible.

About the salts in the spent muchroom compost (or elsewhere): watch "The Greening of the Dessert" on Utube (Youtube?). Also check out the www.emamerica.com site as EM does what is also described in the video - it renders the salt inert so it is still in the soil but will not harm your plants.

katiebear

Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

Thanks, Katie. I have NO INTENTION of eating wild mushrooms! I am just one of those people who needs to know what everything is. If there were a terribly poisonous mushroom on my property, I would like to know about it. Just so I don't accidentally make a batch of cookies with it and send them to my ex.

All I really wanted to know is if assorted mushrooms pulled out of the lawn is good for the compost or not.

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