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Giant Fungus (toadstool?)

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2002
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by Sue S on November 05, 2002 08:02 PM
Hello All,
I just joined the Gardener's Forum and I'm hoping some of you have had some experience with my current problem. Last fall I planted spring and summer bulbs in two planter boxes. Beginning about a month ago, I started noticing these giant fungus growing beneath the lobelia in the box. They look like dark brown "cow pies," but they have gills and are definitely mushroom-type growths. It seems like when I pull them out, the dirt and mulch that comes with them (and the first 3-4 inches left in the box) is clumped together and has a grayish spotty look to it.
Does this mean the dirt is "contaminated" and should I throw it all out and start over? I've got spring Iris and summer Lilies that are already starting to sprout so I need help soon.
Thank you for any information you can share.
Sue
by Plant Doctor on November 13, 2002 05:07 AM
There is nothing that you can do to get rid of mushrooms, that are growing in the ground. However as in your case they are in a planter, you may be able to do something about it. Look for a piece of decaying wood under the soil. More then likely the fungi spores are coming out of it. If you have a lot of organic mulch incorporated into your potting soil, that may also be the source of your problem. If you have good clean soil, and a wooden planter, the planter may actually be the source of the problem. If so, take everything out, and stick it in your oven, on its lowest setting for a few hours. Be careful, and check it frequently to make sure it does not get too hot, and start burning. If need be, leave the door open a crack. This will sterilize the wood killing any spores, that may still be present.
If your planter is painted or stained, please do not try this though. As it will more then likely reach the flash point of the paint and ignite, creating a much larger problem then the one you all ready have.
I would not bother using a fungicide, as they do nothing to stop mushrooms.

Good luck

Mike

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by Sue S on November 13, 2002 06:18 PM
Hi Mike,
Thanks for the suggestions. As the planters are at least 4 feet long, the oven idea won't work, but I did pull out as much of the affected dirt as I could. Then I filled it back up with potting soil and a little pay dirt and left off the mulch. I haven't seen any fungus regrowth yet, so let's hope for the best.
Thanks again, Sue

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