The Q&A Archives: Harmful or Helpful Fungi?

Question: I have created a garden patch here in the desert using a raised bed. I planted a mixture of annuals, perennials and shrubs. The mortality rate is understandably high due to the extremely high temperatures we experience,butI have had some success, and I seem to have a little "eco-system" going between plants and insects (like praying mantis). Recently however, probably as a result of soils used in its construction, a number of Lepiota chlorophyllum molybdites have appeared. I know they are poisonous but they teem with insects. Are they harmful to my plants? Should I remove them as a nuisance or should I keep some of them as alternative eating targets? I do not use pesticides.

Answer: Mushrooms often grow where decaying organic debris is in or just below the soil surface. It's likely the soil you're using came from beneath, or just at the surface of a plot of land that had decomposing tree roots and/or bark. While the mushrooms are not harmful to your plants, they may draw insects that wouldn't ordinarily visit your garden. As long as you allow them to grow, they'll send spores out, which will result in even more mushrooms. If it were my garden I'd rogue the mushrooms out, insects and all.

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