What is Mushroom Compost & How Do I Use It?
Have you ever thought about using mushroom compost to enrich your garden, especially if you have an orchard? It is a great soil builder that will keep the soil moist and highly beneficial for breaking down dense clay.
The truth about mushroom compost is that it is actually a medium made of chopped straw, gypsum, and poultry manure. It is also possible that there are some other agricultural materials in it such as cottonseed meal, hay, cocoa shells, and straw horse bedding as well. This mixture is a base that is used for growing mushrooms in organic farming. Once it is harvested and mushrooms are finished, the substrate is treated with steam to eliminate possible pathogens, pests, or remaining weeds. After that, you can use the substrate to improve aeration and permeability of the soil, as well as help the soil filtrate and hold water.
There are many purposes of mushroom compost, and it is a great choice for your garden if you plan to enrich the soil, regardless of the condition and the area you live. There are only a few instances when it would be better to use another type of compost.
Mushroom Compost is Great For
- Newly established lawns
- Trees, including fruit trees (it is one of the best fertilizers for orchards)
- Growing herbs
- Growing vegetables
- Growing flowering plants
Avoid Using Mushroom Compost if Your Grow:
- Native plants
- Fruit bushes
- Acid loving plants (rhododendrons, heathers, azaleas, camellias, magnolias)
How to Use Mushroom Compost
You will want to mix your mushroom compost with soil and should not be used alone to grow plants in. If you are modifying your soil with neat mushroom compost you will want to mix it at a 1:2 ration- 1 part compost and 2 parts soil. There is also an option to purchase soil that is already pre-mixed with mushroom compost and this selection you can use as is, with no additional mixing needed. By mixing the compost it will dilute its salt levels and ensure nutrients are released slowly and evenly throughout.
Mushroom compost has a quite extreme water retention quality so if you were to plant anything in it undiluted, then you will probably find some fungal infection and rot, whereas by diluting it correctly, you will have a well-draining soil with many key benefits.
As well as mixing your mushroom compost with soil before planting, you can also use it as topsoil. To try this, add a few inches of your neat mushroom compost on top of your soil. Make sure to leave a gap around the stems of plants and trunks of trees. Another use for mushroom compost is as a soil amendment in houseplants, it helps with water retention and provides a slow release of key nutrients. Make sure with this application that you only add a small amount into your houseplant soil and make sure pots have drainage holes in base.
Mushroom compost works well for tropical houseplants that consistently enjoy moist soil; avoid using in pots that contain succulents, cacti, or any other houseplants that thrive in dry soil.
Advantages of Using Mushroom Compost
Mushroom compost has various benefits and advantages for landscapers, gardeners and homeowners alike. These benefits include the following.
Spent mushroom compost is created by growing mushrooms. It serves the purpose of growing mushrooms for several seasons before it is sold on as a general compost. Meaning it is a by-product of the mushroom growing industry and requires no additional resources to produce it. This make using mushroom compost an eco-friendly choice since you are recycling and re-using a product that would otherwise serve no purpose.
Improve You Soil Water Retention
As stated before, mushroom compost has a high level of water retention which is great for plants that like to have their roots kept in moist conditions, like ferns. This compost’s ability to retain water for longer periods of time means that you won’t have to water your plants as frequently. Some estimates indicate that when you mix mushroom compost with your soil you will cut the amount you need to water your plants by half. This also reduces your monthly water bill cost and conserves energy.
Improves Your Soil Structure
Typically, mushroom compost that is used commercially has a straw base. This added element to the compost makes it particularly good at improving the drainage of the soil, and it especially helps break down dense or clay soils. This improvement of your soil structure will reduce waterlogging and encourage more effective water drainage which will lead to healthier plant roots. The improved drainage will help prevent root rot and fungal infections.
Like many types of compost, mushroom compost will provide your plants with low levels of various nutrients to the roots over a period of time, as it gradually degrades. This makes it a great slow-release fertilizer, feeding the soil and therefor improving your plants health.
High in Calcium
Mushroom compost has high levels of calcium which make it especially great for growing fruits and vegetables that thrive with a good calcium supply. Tomatoes often suffer from a blossom end rot as a result of having too little calcium available in their soil, making this type of compost especially beneficial for growing tomatoes.
Your mushroom compost will improve the water retention and worms love moist soils. Having a soil that encourages earthworms to set up home in your garden is extremely beneficial to your plants, as worms improve the soil structure, improve drainage, and allow roots to be able to extract nutrients from the soil more effectively.