Posted on: November 25, 2022 Posted by: Debbie Teashon Comments: 0
Fall Leaves

Every month has a unique crop of gardening problems people look to for solutions. Lately, fungus, mushrooms, and slime mold seem to be the problem de jour.

Sometimes a problem in the garden is not a problem for plants, yet more likely from the homeowner’s aesthetic point of view.

I think mushrooms popping up around the garden or grass are delightful. Fairy rings in lawns are fun and come complete with folklore! An artist’s conk is a canvas for an impromptu drawing.

And slime mold is simply washed away with water, mowed, or raked. If it comes back, rinse and repeat.

However, not everyone agrees with me, especially those who seek perfection in their lawn.

Granted, an artist’s conk or artist’s fungus (Ganoderma applanatum) is a sign of a wound on a living tree; it also grows on hardwood logs and stumps. If it is growing on a live tree, it is a sign that the tree is declining. You must have the tree assessed for removal if the fungus grows on a tall one that can fall on your house.

On decaying logs and stumps, artist’s conks won’t harm anything. The top side of this fungus is woody, and under the wood is a white pore surface. When you etch something into the white, it turns brown. Let your children draw or write a message to the fairies on it.

Fairy ring fungi (Marasmius oreades) occur in rings or arcs in lawns. European folklore made fairy rings the gateway to where the elves gathered and danced. This mushroom species is edible, with several crops in a year. Be sure you correctly identify the species before eating them. It can be easily confused with other poisonous mushrooms that grow in rings.

For some people, the unsightliness comes from the fairy ring itself, a patch of brown grass dying next to an area of darker green grass. The mycelium (the living vegetative part of a fungus) stimulates grass growth; however, the dried-up mycelial matter inhibits the lawn’s development inside the ring. You can spray a fungicide on it, but the fungi will return in two months.

Growing a healthy lawn is the key to prevention. A lawn disease named Necrotic ring spot (NRS) looks similar to a fairy ring that appears in late summer to early fall. Prevention and control methods are found online by searching for Washington State University’s handout EB1734 Managing Necrotic Ring Spot on Turfgrass in the PNW.

For good lawn management, look for the handouts EB482 Home Lawns and EB1280 Turfgrass: Soil-Water Relationships.

From Teashon’s Garden Life column in the Kitsap Weekly, August 23, 2017.

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