The Q&A Archives: White Substance In Soil

Question: I created raised vegetable beds in an area the previous owners of our house had put their grass clippings. They also grew tomatoes in this spot. Turning over soil there is a white substance just under the surface that looks like threads or fibers spreading throughout the soil. It did not effect the growth of the plants I planted there last year. In late summer a lot of mushrooms sprouted in these areas. Could this be mushroom "roots"? Is there any way to eradicate it? This area enjoys full sun and has been amended with compost and peat.

Answer: What you've discovered is a natural fungus present when organic material decomposes. It won't hurt the roots of healthy plants because the fungus lives on decaying plant material. The fungus will die if you turn the soil and expose it to air and sunshine. Mushrooms growing above ground are an indication that something below is decomposing. Usually its an old piece of wood or a dead tree root, but in this case it's just a lot of decaying organic matter. The bed is perfectly safe to plant in and will probably produce lush, healthy plants because of all the organic matter it contains.

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