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Good Gardening: Mushrooms

KLCC's Master Gardener John Fischer says mushrooms are a good thing to see in your lawn at this time of year.
John Fischer
KLCC's Master Gardener John Fischer says mushrooms are a good thing to see in your lawn at this time of year.

Lane County Extension Master Gardener John Fischer here with KLCC's Good Gardening. The fall rains have brought a surge of growth to my small front lawn. Green grass, and a large fairy ring of mushrooms. Both are good to see. The grass because it means the summer of brown is over; the mushrooms because they are an indicator of good soil health. The mushrooms we see are a small part of a much larger fungal organism that exists underground, and do the hard work of breaking dead wood into material that plants can use to grow.

The spore spreading mushrooms will fade quickly, and don't hurt the grass- they even made nice Halloween decorations this year.

The growing grass will probably need to be cut before colder weather sets in, and that gives you an ideal opportunity to keep the soil fertile while avoiding work - and waste. Let the grass clippings stay on the grass- especially now. You are probably not using the lawn so much this time of year, and the plentiful moisture will quickly break down the clippings, and return them to the soil.

If you really feel the need to gather the clippings, or better, strategically rake them off trafficked areas where they could be tracked into the house, put them in a pile, or your backyard composter so they can be added to the soil next spring. Removing grass clippings removes fertility, and creates a need for fertilizer that is unnecessary in Oregon. This is a good time to add lime to your garden- or lawn if it's needed, but never fertilizer before the rainy season. Especially with synthetic fertilizer, our wet winter will take the nitrogen past the root zone and straight into the groundwater - a lose-lose situation.

And the let sleeping plant matter lie philosophy should be your go-to soil fertility strategy throughout your yard. The more of last summer's crop can go back into the soil through composting or degrading in place, the better. The advice to remove diseased plant material still has merit, but hauling valuable undiseased organic matter out of your yard will still leave millions of spores waiting for the right conditions to grow.

I'm John Fischer with KLCC's Good Gardening.

Copyright 2021, KLCC

John Fischer is a Master Gardener and Master Recycler and the host of KLCC's Good Gardening and Living Less Unsustainably.