Pesky toadstools popping up in your lawn this summer?

Mushrooms, puffballs or toadstools may become a nuisance in lawns at certain times of the year. They usually occur during wet periods or during a warm or cold temperature stress period, explained Mark Viette, an Augusta County horticulturalist.

“The fleshy fungi usually grow on decomposing organic matter in the soil,” Viette explained. “Often the organic matter may be a buried stump, root or board. These fungi are good wood rotters. They may also be breaking down organic matter which is mixed with the soil.

“A radio listener brought me a large, giant white puffball that was about the size of a basketball. They can vary in size and be quite bothersome for some people,” Viette added.

Generally raking or breaking them up with a lawn mower is a satisfactory remedy for removing mushrooms from a yard or garden.

It is important to use caution around yard mushrooms, and never eat one unless you know it isn’t poisonous. (Click to Tweet)

“If mushrooms or toadstools are a severe annoyance, removal and replacement of soil to eliminate the organic source may be necessary,” Viette said. “In some cases, like dense shade, site alteration may not be possible and consideration should be given to tolerant ground covers as an alternative to grass.”

Use caution if you have pets in the yard that might eat mushrooms. “I have heard stories that dogs sometimes run out in the yard and have played with poisonous mushrooms and become severely sick,” Viette said. It is important to use caution around yard mushrooms, and never eat one unless you know it isn’t poisonous.

For more information and tips on managing mushrooms in the yard, visit the Virginia Cooperative Extension’s website.

Chilled Blueberry Soup

Blueberries and yogurt come together in this recipe to make a refreshing, chilled soup.

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Summer months in Virginia yield delicious fruits

Berry, berry delicious is one way to describe the luscious fruits that begin maturing at this time of year.

Virginia strawberries debut in May, followed by blackberries, blueberries and raspberries. Strawberry season is usually over by the end of June, but the other berries continue growing throughout the summer.

Berries provide vitamin C and are great sources of fiber and potassium. “Berries are bursting with nutrition,” said Austin Brooks, project coordinator at Virginia Cooperative Extension's Family Nutrition Program.

She added that berries—blueberries in particular—also are known for their antioxidants, which are special compounds in plants that help protect cells from damage.

Virginia berries also are an important crop. Farmers grow blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries, and many of the state’s berry farmers sell directly to consumers at farmers’ markets or on farms with pick-your-own fields or retail stands.

Important to beat the heat, and stay hydrated this summer

As temperatures sizzle this summer, take heat-related precautions to stay safe and healthy.

“Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate,” recommended Dr. Amy Johnson, a family nurse practitioner for Centra Medical Group in Bedford County and president of Bedford County Farm Bureau. “Drinking sports drinks in addition to water is helpful, as this helps replace electrolytes like potassium and sodium that are lost by sweating.”

hands-only cpr graphic

Becoming dehydrated can be dangerous for several reasons, Johnson cautioned.

“As dehydration occurs, the body will lose the ability to sweat, and this prevents the body from being able to cool itself,” she explained. “Increased body temperature can cause brain damage and swelling, muscle breakdown and kidney damage. Complications from heat stress can come on very quickly, and a person may not recognize the symptoms until they are very sick.”

Heat stress symptoms can include muscle spasms; abdominal, bicep, tricep, calf or thigh cramping; red spots and bumps or inflamed skin; dehydration; pale or clammy skin; fatigue and dizziness; shallow breathing; nausea and vomiting; rapid pulse; confusion or disorientation; or an altered mental state.

‘Increased body temperature can cause brain damage and swelling, muscle breakdown and kidney damage.’ (Click to Tweet)

Those who work outside are especially susceptible to heat stress. They need to frequently drink water and take breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas.

Individuals who appear to be experiencing heat-related illness need to cool off as quickly as possible.

“Get the person out of the heat to a building or car with air conditioning,” Johnson said. “If out in the open, go to a shady area out of direct sunlight. Start cooling them with cool rags, ice packs, fans and cold beverages. If there is concern about heat-related emergencies, it is important to have the person evaluated by medical staff.”