benefits of fungi

Fungi on the Homestead – 3 Benefits of Fungi

Have you seen mushrooms popping up around your homestead after the rain? Often ignored or treated as a pest, these mushrooms are actually quite beneficial to your homestead. Keep reading to learn 3 benefits of fungi for your homestead.

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After the rains come, I love seeing all the mushrooms popping up out of the ground and out of the woody debris I have scattered around my homestead.

When I see the mushrooms, I know that my efforts to work with nature have been effective. Fungi are critical to the success of a wild homestead.

There are many benefits of fungi on your homestead, but they can be broken down into 3 core categories of benefits.

Benefits of Fungi - 3 Categories

  • 1
    Building Soil
  • 2
    Helping Your Plants Grow
  • 3
    Providing an Edible Harvest

Fungi are the foundation of a healthy wild homestead—without them your plants will struggle and your harvests will suffer.

Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of fungi, and be sure to grab your free and easy-to-print checklist. The checklist is your shortcut to actions you can take now to establish beneficial fungi on your own wild homestead.

1. Building Soil

benefits of fungi - soil building

These little mushrooms seem to pop up everywhere I put woodchips. I love seeing them since they are a sign that the woodchips are breaking down into nice rich soil. These mushrooms tend to show up soon after a rainstorm.

One core benefit of fungi is the building of dark, rich soil. Fungi are primary decomposers, playing a vital role in the decomposition of dead plants.

Fungi are necessary for the breakdown of compounds such as lignin, found in wood. Without fungi, these compounds would not be able to be broken down by other decomposers, such as bacteria.

Through the decomposition process, these complex organic compounds are broken down into simpler compounds that other decomposers can use. The end result is that the carbon from dead plant matter becomes a part of the surrounding soil, improving the soil structure and water holding capacity.

This process also releases nutrients into the soil that your plants need to thrive. Without fungi, there would be no soil for your plants to grow in.

2. Helping Your Plants Grow, and Even Communicate

While it may seem hard to believe, your plants can actually communicate with each other using networks created by fungi in the soil.

This network is sometimes called the wood wide web.

Just like our internet provides connections between human communities and individuals, the wood wide web connects most plants—and especially trees.

This allows the plants and trees to share nutrients and support their young (by providing water and nutrients young plants can’t reach with their short root structure). Using fungal networks, some plants will even communicate warnings about pests, such as aphids.

Beyond interconnecting your plants and helping them share nutrients, fungi also provide nutrients and water directly to your plants in exchange for sugars created by the plants.

This sharing of nutrients and water between your plants and fungi through the wood wide web helps plants thrive. It’s a core benefit of fungi, and major reason why you should do all you can to support fungi on your homestead.

Your plants will be far more resilient if they are part of this interconnected community of fungi and other plants than if they have to go it alone.

3. Providing an Edible Harvest

benefits of fungi -great edible harvests

After putting down woodchips we started to find morel mushrooms coming up around our plants. This was a great surprise and the morels were great on homemade pizzas!

I’m sure you’ve had mushrooms before... Mushrooms are the fruiting body of the fungi. One great benefit of fungi is that some of them produce edible mushrooms.

On my own homestead, after I brought in a bunch of woodchips for sheet-mulching, I had morels showing up in the areas covered with woodchips.

You can also grow your own mushrooms by inoculating fresh logs. It can be fun to go out and hunt wild mushrooms, but the harvests are not guaranteed. When you grow your own mushrooms, you can get a regular harvest of specific mushroom types that you have picked out.

This is also a great way to ensure that you know exactly which mushrooms you are harvesting.

If you want to learn more about hunting and growing your own mushrooms, you should check out the following sites:

Get These Core Benefits of Mushrooms on Your Homestead

benefits of fungi - edible harvests

After placing woody debris around on my homestead I started to find turkey tail mushrooms on the wood. Turkey tail is medicinal and is supposed to help boost your immune system. I like to pick 1 or 2 as I walk out my door and chew on them as I commute to work during cold/flue season.

Without a healthy population of fungi, you won’t be able to build healthy soil, and your plants will be far less resilient than they would otherwise be.

But if you work with nature, you can create the right conditions for fungi to thrive. Working with nature will let you make the most of the benefits of fungi on your homestead.

The first step is to stop tilling your soil, which breaks up the fungal networks and collapses the air pockets in the soil making it harder for your soil to hold water, oxygen, and nutrients.

The next step is to ensure that there is plenty of organic material available, such as mulch. Without organic material, there won’t be anything for your fungi to eat and grow.

There are more actions you can take right now to create the conditions for fungi on your homestead, so you can get the most from the benefits of fungi.

To learn more about how you can support fungi on your homestead, make sure you grab your free and easy-to-print checklist, which has a series of actions you can take today to promote beneficial fungi on your homestead.

benefits of mushrooms

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Daron

Daron is a restoration ecologist, a lifelong gardener, and the founder of Wild Homesteading. He manages the restoration program for a local non-profit, and he applies restoration and sustainable gardening techniques on his family’s own wild homestead. He loves sharing the joy of growing food with his two beautiful children. In addition, to running this site Daron manages the restoration program for a local non-profit and is a husband to an amazing wife who makes this site and the homestead possible and daddy to 2 perfect kids.

  • Christopher Kott says:

    I compost my kitchen scraps and rabbit’s litter, whose bedding is composed of raw wadded paper byproduct, which the worms love. As we eat a lot of fungi, we have a few different species competing in around the compost and in the garden. Dominant, I think, is the King Oyster, but recently I have seen some enoki poking up from under the bin.

    Great blog. Found it on http://www.permies.com.

    • Daron says:

      Hello and thank you for your comment! Sounds like you have a great mix of edible mushrooms growing around your compost and in your garden. Did you inoculate the garden/compost area to get those started?

  • Hi Daron – interesting…”wild wood web” 🙂 Makes sense but just never really considered it before! Congrats on your feature at Homestead Blog Hop!

  • Laurie says:

    This is really cool! I learned a lot from your post. I had never heard of the wood wide web! Gonna tell my husband about that!

    I think I may have ID’d Turkey Tail Mushrooms today. I am pretty new to fungi hunting, but found my first harvests of Chanterelles recently, and now am sold on those.

    I’m glad you shared on the Homestead Blog Hop! Please come back! I’m one of the hostesses, and I enjoy learning about stuff like this!

    Laurie
    https://www.ridgehavenhomestead.com

    • Daron says:

      Hello and thank you! I’m still learning how to ID fungi too–there is a lot to learn but luckily Turkey Tail is one of the easier ones. I have it growing right out by front door!

      I appreciate what you all do with the Homestead Blog Hop! I used to share each week over there but when my daughter was born earlier this year I took a break from a number of things. Just getting back into the swing of everything including sharing on the blog hop.

      Thanks again!

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