Hello fellow readers, Have you ever heard of fairy rings? Neither have I until now.
I always enjoy questions from Craig of Frelinghuysen, New Jersey. Without exception, his garden dilemmas always bring a chuckle. Remember his willows gone wild with the icky sticky slime? This time, he has two rings that have made reoccurring visits to his lawn over the past few years in the same place. Each one is about ten feet wide and spaced five feet apart.
He and Caroline live in front of a farm field and think perhaps pesticides used over the years are causing the mysterious rings. Their wellhead is located in the vicinity, so the worry of chemicals is undoubtedly warranted. Craig worried the worst – that they’d discover the contamination that would cause chemical remediation costing tens of thousands of dollars. “Maybe it would be best to sell and get out of Dodge before the discovery.” Holy moly!
Leave it to Craig to drill down to get to the bottom of the mystery. So much so that he dug a three-foot hole to investigate if indeed he had something buried in the yard – perhaps old abandoned silos, he thought? Then is wife Caroline’s research offered relief, revealing they likely have fairy rings.
Fairy rings show up in lawns during the spring and summer months. They appear as dark green or brown circular bands ranging in size from a few inches to fifty feet. The fairy ring fungus grows outward a few inches to several feet a year. Mushrooms can then develop in a circle outside of the rings during spring and fall after periods of heavy rain.
Centuries ago, people thought that the mushrooms appeared where fairies had danced the night before – hence the name fairy ring. Other folklore tells us that these bizarre formations are the work of supernatural beings or portals to other worlds.
There are about 60 mushroom species that can grow in the fairy ring pattern. Grass-loving mushrooms such as the edible Scotch bonnet, Marasmius oreades, are the best known. Then there’s Agaricus campestris, which are also edible but are often confused with Chlorophyllum molybdites, which are poisonous.
It’s indeed been an excellent year for mushrooms. We had a volleyball-sized fungus that we’ll have to chat about next week. I learned our neighbor Bill ate his volleyball. What a fun guy!
Garden Dilemmas? AskMaryStone@gmail.com (and now on your favorite Podcast App.)
Click through to Craig’s Willows Gone Wild
and Bill’s Volleyball Mushroom
Thanks, Lexi, for being such a good sport and posing for your fastidious father. I can’t wait to hear what Craig’s next garden dilemma will be!