Are Mushrooms Good For Your Compost?

You might wonder why suddenly you have mushrooms in your compost pile when you didn’t add any.

Inevitably your following thoughts could be whether it’s good or if you need to get rid of it immediately. 

You can stop holding your breath… Mushrooms are highly beneficial to your compost pile as it speeds up the composting process by breaking down organic matter.

Why Do Mushrooms Grow in Compost?

For mushrooms to have grown in your compost pile, spores have most likely blown over and landed in the compost.

Here, the conditions just happen to be perfect for allowing mycelium growth and producing the mushroom (as the fruiting body).

After all, a compost pile has all the ideal conditions for fungi growth: enough organic material, a lot of moisture, and the perfect temperature.

Another reason why you could be seeing mushrooms is that after the spores landed in your pile, you haven’t turned your compost, and the mycelium was allowed to grow undisturbed.

The composition of your compost could’ve also led to mycelium and mushroom growth as there’s plenty of material for the mycelium to feed on.

So, Is It A Good Thing To Have Mushrooms In My Compost?

Having fungi (mushroom, yeast, and molds) in your compost is nothing to be concerned about. In fact, they can be highly beneficial to your compost.

Fungi are decomposers. This means they break down dead and decaying organic matter.

Mushroom’s mycelium can break down some of the most challenging natural ingredients. They can disintegrate residues that can be too challenging for bacteria, like materials that are too acidic, dry, or low in nitrogen.

Additionally, as the fungi break down organic material, heat is generated.

So, in summary, having fungi in your pile is beneficial because they accelerate the whole process of composting in multiple ways.

Not only that, but they can also enrich your compost. Mushrooms are high in nutrients such as copper, potassium, and phosphorus.

As the mushrooms are broken down in the pile, their nutrients will be passed down to the soil. So, mushrooms in your compost will indirectly enrich your plants through the soil.

While having fungi is harmless for your compost, there may be some types that can cause some trouble around the pile in your garden. This could happen as they release spores to reproduce and land on other areas of your backyard or garden.

Fungi, in general, are beneficial to the soil and environment they live in. However, some could have undesired effects.

For example, the shotgun or artillery fungi (Sphaerobolus species) shoot spores high into the air. These spores leave black spots that can land on different surfaces, including cars, plants, and outdoor areas of your house. These spots are hard to remove and damage the surfaces they land on.  

What If I Don’t Want Mushrooms Or Fungi In My Pile?

If you don’t want mushrooms in your compost pile, there are a few things you can do.

Make sure you add a good ratio of green materials and nitrogen-rich sources to your compost. Also, turn the pile with a shovel or pitchfork regularly to disturb any mycelium.

What Kind Of Mushrooms Grow In Compost?

The type of mushroom growing in your compost will depend on several factors. For example, what organic materials you have in your compost and at what stage of the decomposition it’s in.

Other factors also include the season, where you live, and what other mushrooms are growing in the area, as their spores could’ve landed in your compost.

Having said that, it’s possible to define a few common types of mushrooms you can expect in your compost.

For example, you might find a Wine cap or Stropharia if you have leaf litter and decomposing wood chips in your pile.

Another type of mushroom you’re likely to encounter is Blewits mushrooms because they thrive on organic garden yard waste material.

Is It Mold Or Mushrooms?

Mold and mushrooms are both fungi, although you should be able to recognize the differences if they grow in your compost.

While mold is often invisible to the naked eye, if there are colonies of mold growth, you should be able to see it. Mold will have a fuzzy appearance and can be different colors such as brown, black, green, orange, pink, or purple.

You might see mycelium and mistake it for mold. Mycelium, the underground network that produces mushrooms, is generally a bright, splendid white color. It will also grow branching out in a more organized way, while mold grows more in patches.  

Does It Matter If It’s Mold?

You don’t have to worry if you detect mold in the compost. Mold is also a fungus, so it also breaks down organic matter and facilitates the process of organic matter decomposition.

Can You Add Mushrooms to Your Compost Pile?

 It’s a great idea to add mushrooms to your compost pile. This will help speed up the decomposing process, enrich your compost, and add nutrients to the soil. However, there is a difference between adding cooked and uncooked mushrooms.

Adding cooked mushrooms will still add nutrients to the pile, but you need to add them to hot compost. This is to ensure they decompose quickly and won’t produce bad smells that can attract pests to your compost.

Another potential issue with cooked mushrooms is that they could contain traces of cooking oil. Adding too much oil into your compost pile could create a water-repellent barrier around other organic materials, displacing water and reducing the airflow. This will increase the risk of bad smells and slow the composting process.

What About Poisonous Mushrooms? Can I Throw Those Too?

You can add poisonous mushrooms to your compost, or if you see them, you don’t need to remove them. These mushrooms will break down in the compost and the soil and will leave behind the nutrients that enrich your soil.

Nevertheless, if you are concerned they might spread to other areas of your backyard and harm small children or pets, it’s best to remove and dispose of them.

If you only pluck the mushroom, the underground network will still as you’ll only be removing the fruiting body. Try turning the compost as well to break the mycelium network. Regularly check your pile to make sure there are no new mushrooms growing.

Summing Up

Mushrooms are the most common type of fungi. They play an important role in the decomposition process, helping break down organic matter and enriching soil.

Therefore, if you see any mushrooms (or even mold) growing in your compost pile, remember they are not bad and don’t need to be removed. They can help your compost decompose faster and add nutrients to your soil.

However, if you’d like to get rid of them, always remember to break the mycelium or underground network.

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