ok to add wild mushrooms to compost??

madlyn88(8b)November 10, 2010

Hi helpful ones - I have a round compost container I add clean grass, brown leaves and some select ferns and kitchen veggies. I am seeing many mushrooms - unknown species in the yard this year (it's Oregon, duh) and I am tempted to add them to the compost. Is that advisable?? Thanks, M

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Certainly ... they will get composted along with the rest of the pile.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2010 at 8:15PM
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Isn't this the best mushroom year ever !
They're in unexpected places and besides the normal ones, we have so many new ones ! Can't go but a few feet..and there's another new one. Plus different ones as I walk past other yards.

It's been amazing !

    Bookmark   November 11, 2010 at 12:02AM
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Oh yes! It's been an astonishing! mushroom year here in my yard. If you doubt it, image-google Phallus ravenelii, and imagine having thirty (or more) of those things standing around your yard for all the neighbors to see.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2010 at 8:39AM
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The way I see, we envision that whatever we put into a compost pile should break down and ergo, become something that is good for what it becomes and what it can do for our garden soil.

Is putting fungus into our garden soil what we should be doing. I'm not saying that a fungus can do much harm....can a fungus do any good.

To that then, I suggest mushrooms will break down the same as.....but I'd rather not admit a fungus to what is given my garden soil.
Just because we say that when we see mushrooms, something good is going on under the surface---breakdown of material is happening and the mushroom is the fruit of that action.
We than say the mushroom is not doing any harm....
OK.....but is it doing any good?

    Bookmark   November 11, 2010 at 10:45PM
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Mushrooms are higher in nitrogen as a percent of dry matter than most other vegetable matter. In that sense, they do a lot of good as compost.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2010 at 12:55AM
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Higher in nitrogen.. that makes sense. I know if I step on them they turn into dirt really fast. All I'm left with is a memory.

Thanks.. good to know for sure what's going on there.

Where is a good place to learn more about mushrooms... those in the PNW in particular ? Beginner level stuff.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2010 at 2:40AM
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What heppens to the mushrooms, toadstools, left where they grew? They get digested and returned to the soil they grew in. Mushrooms are vegetative waste and therefore are compostable as is anything vegetative except Poison Ivy, Oak, or Sumac.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2010 at 8:14AM
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Plaidbird I'm sure we're pretty close and I'd suggest the extension would probably be a good source of information on mushrooms. I had a professor in botany who travelled the US helping coroners figure out what kind of mushrooms were in some unfortunate corpses, so I would advocate great knowledge before ingestion of mushrooms. At the same time, I've heard some gardeners out here rave about mushroom compost (just don't eat it, course, I'm thinking you shouldn't eat any compost, but that's just me...)

    Bookmark   November 12, 2010 at 5:01PM
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I don't think anyone was questioning or suggesting eating the mushrooms but rather if they could be added to the compost. Which of course they can - they compost as well or better than any other type of organic matter.

FYI, mushroom compost is a blend of materials, some composted, that mushrooms are grown in for commercial production, not the composted mushrooms themselves :-)

    Bookmark   November 12, 2010 at 6:18PM
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Thanks gardengal! I didn't know that about mushroom compost. On the eating, I was rather aiming that comment at plaidbird asking about learning about mushrooms in the area.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2010 at 8:07PM
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@OP: you are in Oregon. Try the Oregon Mycological Society. Looks like a fun group. Be sure to go on some of their field trips. That's the best way to be safe picking mushrooms to eat, and to eat the most exquisite mushrooms.

Here is a link that might be useful: Oregon Mycological Society

    Bookmark   November 12, 2010 at 10:37PM
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Mushrooms are such a pain in the rump ;-(

I bought this 40.00 Gigantic Coffee Table Mushroom Encyclopedia and it has 1000 pictures of Mushrooms
(so I could find edible mushrooms and such) , I have never found a single mushroom from that stupid book...OY VEY

There must be 50 billion mushrooms and besides buying them at the store, whats a guy to do.... you know the one I try ,is the one that'll make you sick ;-(

    Bookmark   November 13, 2010 at 1:28AM
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I SO know what you mean Jon! I saw a kit to grow your own mushrooms last year, but because of my prof's rather vivid stories, I decided to pass.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2010 at 4:40AM
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We have the same birthday ! Dec. 5th. Yaa..it's almost here. :) Thanks for the idea about checking the extension service.

Excellent page ! I've found their list of links and it looks great.

Agreed. I often pick though the mushroom book at Powells, but I'm afraid they only confuse me more.


I hadn't really thought about it, but the caution to not be eating stuff was a perfect warning. As a native, and an older one at that, I'm more than familiar with our yearly media stories of who got sick, died or got lost in the woods mushroom picking. It was nice to see they found that first lost woman this year.Not always the case.

My purpose is to identify the mushrooms growing in my yard because I like knowing such things by name. Plus learning how they fit into the big picture.. how they work as part of the eco system. It seems to me each tree has certain mushrooms that live with it.

My neighbor has property up in the Columbia Gorge where he clears trees every fall / winter and cuts pieces into fire burning sizes. Then brings that into town giving a truck load at a time to low income people that heat with wood. And there's often a piece for me.. a pretty one that will look good in my garden.

I love these things as edges and pot lifters. but the best part is the different mushrooms that grow from each one every fall. Different than what I'm used to seeing here in Portland. I also received a load of wood chips from him a couple years ago and that was placed here and there for paths. yes.. more alien life forms there. In checking neighbors yards on my walks I'm seeing more varieties and those odd ones do have logs from someplace being used.

So it seems I'm becoming a collector. Now that I see the ones in my yard have not only stayed from year to year, but are increasing, it time to understand more. But boy, oh boy, it's another new language to even try to start the process.

And no eating mushrooms for me. Cooked they taste like slugs to me, and it's only recently I've been able to deal with fresh ones well meaning friends put is salads. uck ! But I think they are beautiful.

Oh.. I have managed one ID so far of one pretty I have on one old tree trunk piece. They are tiny. I think the photo is slightly magnified.

Here is a link that might be useful: Gymnopus acervatus photo

    Bookmark   November 13, 2010 at 4:28PM
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We have been told for many years not to eat Rubarb leaves but we do compost them so composting, but not eating, wild and unknown mushrooms is possible.
About the only plant material I would not compost would be the Poison Ivy, Oak, or Sumac if I found any.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 7:16AM
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eaglesgarden(6b - se PA)


Your point is well made. I would add to the list, however, any plant that has rhizomes as a plant that should not be composted (unless you have a HOT pile, and can assure that the rhizomes will be killed by the heat). My piles never get hot enough for a sustained period that I would feel comfortable with rhizomes in my piles.


Do not be concerned about adding mushrooms to your compost, there are already fungus in your pile. Fungi are some of the best decomposers in the world, and we should be glad to have them in the pile, they can work at low temps, whereas the bacteria that we could on, generally need/generate a higher temp. Cold composting is done, in large part, due to fungi.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 8:55AM
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There's lots of 'vegetative' matter that shouldn't be added to compost piles including leaves that have come from a diseased tree, or rhizomes of iris that have shown signs of borer or the many other pathogens that inhabit this planet.
We are reminded many times about why certain things happen to bring leaves to the ground prematurely the pick-ups should not be given to the compost but garbaged.
The writer mentions horse manure she wants added to a compost pile and that is a no-no as long as the resulting compost is given to tender plants.
Wood that has been burned and turned to ashes, if such comes from 'treated' wood, should not be given to a compost pile and especially where such compost is then applied to a garden growing foodstuffs.

If we wish good to come from the pile, then we don't add bad.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 2:22PM
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goren, I have to take exception with some of your theories on what to add or not add to the compost. Technically, anything organic (or what was once growing/alive) can be added to the compost. The entire intent of compost is the process of decomposition or the breaking down of chemical compounds into their chemical elements. That's why compost is used to remediate contaminated or diseased soils.

If one does cold or static composting, then I agree that hard to digest (in microorganism terms) materials should be avoided. And since cold or static composting does not generate sufficient heat, you might be well-advised to omit diseased plant material. But if you are maintaining an active compost that generates heat, there are minimal concerns. The heat generated by a well-maintained and actively turned compost is adequate to neutralize any disease pathogens as well as weed seeds, plant rhizomes, most chemical pesticides and just about anything else in the way of organic matter you care to add. Just get a compost thermometer to measure heat in the pile to ensure you are achieving proper levels.

And there is absolutely nothing wrong with adding horse manure or any other herbivore or ruminant manure to the compost. In fact, this is probably the ideal way to neutralize the potential of pathogens as well as dissipating the excessive nitrogen present in fresh manures that can cause burning of sensitive plants. Properly composted manure - either used on a stand-alone basis or mixed with other OM - is a primary source of soil fertility for organic farmers and is a fully approved by the OTA.

I think you are being unnecessarily cautious about suitable ingredients and limiting yourself as to what you can and can't add.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 3:46PM
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eaglesgarden(6b - se PA)


There is a big difference between synthetic chemicals used in "treating" lumber, and the natural compounds found in "poisonous" mushrooms. One will break down naturally by a composting process, one will not.

Secondly, your initial post was a concern about fungus being added to your soil. Fungus is in the soil, naturally, whether you add it or not. Are you familiar with "Mycorrhiza" and the relationship with plant roots?

    Bookmark   November 15, 2010 at 8:53AM
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