The soil in my raised bed is white and brown right under the surface. Is this a beneficial fungus? I've added quite a bit of compost to the beds, and they are filled at the bottom with wood and wood chips (kind of like a Hugelkultur bed).

It looks and smells good, but I had stunted plant growth in the bed last year. Many seedlings are barely able to grow. Could the reason be that decomposition is not complete?

Thanks for any help.

my raised bed soil

  • 2
    What is the depth of soil before you hit "wood and wood chips?" If wood isn't buried sufficiently it robs plants of nutrients until it finally breaks down... Is there any soil, or is it pure compost, then wood chips and wood?
    – Ecnerwal
    Feb 9, 2023 at 2:12
  • It does look like there isn't any actual soil, just plant material. Maybe need some good black topsoil mixed in. You might have killed off the usual topsoil bacteria. Maybe some "play sand" as well. That's sand that has had the rough edges tumbled off the grains. You can get it at most garden centers.
    – Boba Fit
    Feb 9, 2023 at 18:39
  • Good ideas, thanks. The bed did have garden soil as the top layer, but i do think i'm clearly seeing some sort of wood being decomposed here, and there is quite a deep layer of wood chips underneath. Another piece of context is that I live in Seattle with frequent light rain, so it appears this mycelia is very happy. I was just surprised to see how dry, light brown, and streaky it was!
    – Justin
    Feb 10, 2023 at 19:07

1 Answer 1


I think what you have used is better described as partly composted woody material.

As the comments indicate when wood and wood chips are in contact with soil and water they start to decompose often leading to fungus agents. These are harmless to plants.

I recommend turning over the bed with a pitch fork and adding whatever source of usable organic matter you prefer: top soil, compost, manure...

You can also add a nitrogen fertilizer which will speed up the rate of decomposition but this won't help your plants grow better until the woody organic matter is decomposed.

  • 1
    Thanks. I'll give that a try.
    – Justin
    Feb 10, 2023 at 19:08

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