You wouldn’t believe it unless someone took the time to convince you that mushrooms are fungi.
Unbelievable right? How can something as beneficial and needed by man for food, be a fungus? It’s funny how beautiful gold is always kept in dirty mud. This is the case for mushrooms.
Mushrooms, also called toadstool, is a fungus that grows on damp soils with little or no sunlight, and on the bodies of dead plants. Mushrooms can be seen growing overnight on deadwood or damp soil once the conditions for its growth are satisfied.
Upon intake of fluids, the leaves of mushrooms can expand and grow really large. This is why mushrooms are quickly harvested for food, just weeks after they sprout.
Mushrooms are a nutritious species of fungus. An edible mushroom fungus contains carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, vitamin C and Vitamin D.
It is also rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and sodium.
Mushrooms have different species, some of which are edible and others are largely inedible. The edible species include bay bolete mushrooms, black trumpet mushrooms, button mushrooms, caesars mushrooms, and a list of others.
China is a major producer of mushrooms and they have Interesting mushroom delicacies.
Mushrooms serve a lot of uses other than for nutrition to man. Although these species can prove to be toxic upon intake, there is a slim chance of leading to death.
They could cause pains and irritations in sensitive parts of the body as well as mental tractions, but they do not cause death.
Some mushroom species have psychedelic abilities and their intake could heighten the mental functionality of the mind, leading to experiences that could be termed highly spiritual and engaging.
In ancient medicine, shamans used to include mushrooms in drugs and concoctions to help the patients have greater visionary abilities.
Mushrooms are also an essential ingredient for making dye. Certain species can also be useful in water purification.
The last and most important use of these fungi to the soil and plants is their ability to foster decomposition. They are saprophytic and grow on dead plant parts to foster decomposition.
So yes, mushrooms are decomposers.
They are in fact the greatest species of decomposers known to man.
This article explains all about mushrooms and their composting process; as well as the various benefits of mushrooms in making compost for soil enhancement.
Keep reading to get to know every important fact about your mushrooms.
Are Mushrooms Good For Your Compost?
Compost is essentially made of decomposed plant and animal materials.
Compost manure or humus is added to soils to boost their nutrient level. Usually made out of dead leaves and plant materials, compost takes about two to four weeks to be ready to be added to the soil.
This is where mushrooms come in. Mushrooms are a saprophytic species, fungi to be precise, that feed on dead plant and animal materials to cause decomposition and release of carbon dioxide, water, and other nutrients.
The mode of feeding fungi and mushrooms is such that they first digest the plant materials before they ingest them. Indigestion, produce chemicals that aid decomposition.
So yes, adding mushrooms to your compost is good for your compost. It makes it more nutrient-filled and helps it decompose faster.
Mushrooms do the function of decomposition with the help of an element inside them called hyphae. The hyphae are a part of mushrooms that can cause the breakdown of any dead plant as well as hard tree trunks.
Mushrooms are primary decomposers that give room to a secondary decomposer to finish the job of decomposition and provide you with very rich compost.
If you were contemplating whether to include mushrooms in your compost, here is me saying a big “go ahead” because mushrooms are good for your compost.
Is Mushroom Compost Good for a Vegetable Garden?
Yes, mushroom compost for a Vegetable garden is good and should be used more often than chemical fertilizers.
The soil of a vegetable garden needs good aeration and adequate nutrients. Adding mushrooms to your compost helps to create these conditions for the plant.
Besides being used in compost, mushrooms are also good to grow alongside your vegetables in the soil. This is because they act as nutrient fixers.
They do not compete with the vegetable for sunlight as they do not even carry out photosynthesis.
Because mushrooms love to grow in damp soil, they are always there to drain excess water from the soil, leaving just enough water for the growth of your vegetables.
Mushrooms at death fix important plant nutrients to the soil and help plants do well. More mushrooms on the soil mean that the plants being grown on that soil will do essentially well.
Is Mushroom a Producer or a Decomposer?
Before we say whether mushrooms are producers or decomposers, you need to understand what a producer is and what makes for the title producer.
You also have to understand what a decomposer is and what makes for the title decomposer.
The word producer in gardening refers to plants that can make their own food using carbon dioxide and water in the presence of sunlight. This is essentially to say that plants that fall under the category of producers are able to carry out the process of photosynthesis.
Plants are able to carry out photosynthesis because of the green leaf chlorophyll pigment that they contain.
Decomposers, on the other hand, are plants that cannot make their own food. They are called saprophytes in that they feed on dead plants and animal matter and depend on that to make food.
Decomposers carry out saprophytism to feed. They cannot carry out photosynthesis because they do not have the green chlorophyll pigment.
Mushrooms cannot carry out photosynthesis to make their food, therefore mushrooms are decomposers.
Mushrooms are decomposers that carry out decomposition to break down food elements that in turn, benefit the soil.
What are Five Examples of Decomposers
Apart from mushrooms, here is a list of five other decomposers that exist in nature and help to break down materials into simpler states.
The following and how they carry out decomposition are explained below:
Insects like ants, beetles, and flies help to carry out decomposition in the soil.
Some insects feed on dead and decaying organisms and further quicken the decomposition process while others release enzymes that digest the substance before they feed on them.
Earthworms are an important class of decomposers in that they feed on the dead matter in the soil and decompose them in their stomachs.
They eventually pour back these digested materials into the soil which boosts its nutrient. Earthworms also help with soil aeration.
Bacteria do not usually carry out the process of decomposition. They only do the work of recycling nutrients back to plants making for good growth.
Scavengers set the process up for decomposers to begin the job.
Scavengers open up the plant and animal cells and tissues and make it easier to be accessed by decomposers.
Detritivores continue where decomposers stop. They act like decomposers but only complete the process of decomposition.
Benefits of Mushrooms in Gardening and Composting.
Some of the benefits of mushrooms in gardening and composting have already been discussed in the other parts of this article. Below are six benefits of mushrooms in gardening and composting. They are:
- Maintenance of soil ecological balance
- Nutrient provision to plants
- Variety of usage
- Resistance to pest and diseases
- Cheap Fertilizer
The roles mushrooms play in bringing about these benefits to the garden, are explained in a way that you can easily relate to. You can’t help but nod your head through the read as you discover how much of a benefit you have been deriving from this fungus- mushroom since your garden sprouted.
1. Maintenance of Soil Ecological Balance
Mushrooms help to maintain the soil ecological balance by the decomposition of materials that otherwise should have constituted hitches to the soil.
Since they are not toxic to the soil, they help prevent the growth of toxic gases created by the improper decomposition of materials in the soil.
2. Nutrient Provision To Plants
The Presence of mushrooms in the soil is a great way of fixing nutrients in the soil.
Mushrooms have hyphae that stretch through the soil to gather nutrients for the mushroom’s growth as well as the plant close to it.
Since mushrooms are fungi with short lifespans, they die quickly and the nutrients in them get into the soil, boosting the soil nutrient quantity.
3. Variety of Usage
Like we said in the introduction, mushrooms have a variety of uses in homes and the soil.
Mushrooms can be uprooted and eaten as food or they can be left to grow on the soil as nutrient fixers. They can also be put to use as raw materials for making dye or added to compost to aid decomposition.
You can plant mushrooms on the root path of your plants to serve as mulch to the plants.
As living mulches, mushrooms can take in excess water when water is sprayed or when there is rainfall, preventing issues of watering.
In hot climates as well, mushrooms have broad leaves that make for evaporation of water from the mushrooms rather than the plants.
The planting of mushrooms as mulch also inhibits the growth of weeds around your soots.
5. Resistance to Pests and Diseases
Mushroom compost is usually treated with steam to ward off pests and diseases. The addition of the compost to your garden helps you raise plants that are pretty resistant to plant pests and diseases.
6. Cheap Fertilizer
The use of mushrooms on the soil is an easy way of repairing lost nutrients. It is a cheap and easy way of fertilizing the soil.
You do not need to pay any money to purchase mushrooms as they grow on the soil by themselves under the right conditions.
Mushrooms also help to fix the soil pH level, aiding the growth and sustenance of plants.
Mushrooms are decomposers. They are also very beneficial to gardens and in composting. Even though they are fungi, mushrooms are an important part of soil nutrition.