SSSHHH: Mushrooms growing in the wet.
SSSHHH: Mushrooms growing in the wet. Contributed

Mushies are a sign of a healthy ecosystem

I BROKE the 11th commandment this week - "thou shall not mow when it is wet"! But I had to.

I couldn't find my dog - she was lost in the jungle. Every row I did, I had to empty the catcher and that was with my mower on high. I had to use a catcher, as I couldn't break the 12th commandment, "thou shall always use a catcher"!

Now it looks as though my lawn's been scalped because it got so long all the undergrowth had died off. I'm afraid if I fertilise, the rain will wash away the fertiliser and make the next door neighbour's yard green. Yet I don't want to miss the golden opportunity of rain soaking in my fertiliser.

Yes, even with all the rain I still like to fertilise my lawn. I use Plant of Health's Lawn and Turf Fertiliser.

I find if I can get my lawn healthy, strong and thick now, it will last well during the cooler months. And if my lawn is thick, I shouldn't get as many weeds. The weeds, glorious weeds. I usually just weed kill my weeds with spray but at the moment there's never enough time in between showers to do this.

It was suggested to me that I do the weeding the old fashioned way - pulling them out by hand but honestly, that's like telling me that I could do the dishes by hand.

So, all in all it hasn't been a good week - broke a commandment and contemplated pulling weeds by hand. You can understand I was feeling a little uninspired this week to talk gardening.

But then I discovered mushrooms. I love mushrooms. Not just to eat

but to discover. A mushroom (or toadstool) is the fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting body of a fungus, typically produced above ground on its food source. We see a lot of mushrooms after rain, as moist conditions are perfect for mushroom reproduction.

I find it fascinating that no one really knows how many mushroom species there are (estimates range as high as 30,000 for North America alone). Supposedly scientists can't even agree on what constitutes a "species" of mushroom or on how they can be identified; and most of the species that have been named so far require microscopic analysis for positive identification.

Did you know that the most common depicted mushroom is a red topped one with white polka dots.

I most commonly associate this type of toadstool with fairy tales. It is a real toadstool, called Amanita muscaria and is highly poisonous and psychoactive. Most mushrooms are believed to be poisonous to eat, so never pick mushrooms from your garden - only eat the ones specifically grown for eating.

I was always under the impression that having mushrooms in my lawn and garden was a bad thing. But it seems it is the sign of a healthy ecosystem and mushrooms can help some plant root structures absorb water and nutrients.

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