People who have a garden already know how important a compost pile is. After all, composts provide vital nutrients to all types of gardens, and they can be started with just about anything – including mushrooms! Mushrooms? Yes, mushrooms, and it isn’t hard to figure out why.
Mushroom compost is an organic fertilizer specifically designed for growing mushrooms. It contains the vital nutrients mushroom growers need to achieve the best mushroom harvest. It is an inexpensive type of compost which can be nourishing for the garden, but it should be used with caution…
Generally mushroom compost is a type of compost used for growing mushrooms. Some people believe it actually is compost made out of mushrooms, but that is not the case. Mushrooms are fungi and very healthy, so it is no wonder they could be thought of as a great way to start a compost pile.
Are Mushroom Composts Common?
When mushroom farmers sell their mushrooms to gardening centers, they often sell the soil as well. Mushrooms, in fact, add a lot of nutrients to the soil, but that doesn’t mean composts made with mushrooms are good for any type of garden.
If people ask themselves, is mushroom compost good, the answer is, “not always.” Mushroom compost should not be placed in certain garden types, including salt-sensitive plants such as azaleas, camellias, and rhododendrons, to name a few.
In fact, if gardeners have a lot of plants included in the heath family in their yard, they should stay away from mushroom compost because it can actually harm the plants instead of helping them grow and thrive.
What else can mushroom composts be a detriment to? For one, germinating seeds, as well as very young plants, since they are usually very sensitive to high levels of ammonia and salt. For those who wonder why mushroom compost is sometimes bad, there’s a simple explanation.
Mushroom compost is high in soluble salt and unstable organic materials. While it is bad for certain plants, it is incredibly beneficial to many others. Before learning what types of plants can benefit from mushroom compost, it’s good to know what’s inside of this concoction.
How Mushroom Composts Come About
The specific ingredients that make up the average mushroom compost vary from one grower to another, but here are a few ingredients that are frequently found in this type of compost:
- Chopped straw
- Compounds containing nitrogen
- Manure from horses or chickens
When mushroom compost is commercially made, companies often add ingredients such as canola or cottonseed meal, potash, urea, peat moss, lime, and soybean meal. If it sounds complicated, it isn’t. Mushroom composts are usually successful even with few ingredients in them.
If used in a flower bed or vegetable garden, mushroom compost should be placed in the first three inches on top of any existing soil, then tilled in so that it becomes part of the original soil. For plants in containers, mushroom compost should make up about one-fourth of the soil itself.
One important note: mushroom compost has to be aged before it is used in any type of mulching capacity. This usually takes about two years because that’s how long it takes for the organic matter to decompose and the organic solutes to leach out.
Most people do not wish to wait two years after starting their mushroom compost pile, so most of them simply purchase this type of compost from a gardening center. Not only is it going to be good, high-quality compost, but it will have been already aged as well.
Some Benefits of Using Mushroom Compost
Mushrooms are made mostly of water, so one of the biggest advantages of using a mushroom compost is that less water has to be used when taking care of the soil. Other advantages include:
- Changes the soil’s pH balance
- Doesn’t produce harmful decomposition products
- Improves the soil’s structure
- Increases the resistance of the soil to erosion from water and wind
- Keeps the soil cooler when the weather is warm
- Provides lots of nutrients for the plants
- Stores up to 70% of its own weight in water
- Supplies the nutrients slowly over long periods of time
Mushroom compost is also good for nearly all plants, including trees and shrubs, establishing lawns, herbs and vegetable gardens, and most flowering plants. Once again, mushroom compost should never be applied to acid-loving plants and very young plants.
How and Where to Use Mushroom Compost
Even when mushroom compost is purchased from a supplier, the buyer needs to know that this compost is alkaline in nature and is also very chalky. Before using it, all of the visible chalk should be removed from the concoction so that it is healthier for the plants.
Many people also mix their mushroom compost with a garden compost that is neutral or only slightly alkaline so that there is no excessive amount of chalk built up in the soil. The less chalky the mushroom compost is, the better it works to spread nutrients in the soil.
With few exceptions such as the ones mentioned above, mushroom compost can benefit just about anything people wish to plant. That being said, if people wonder, is mushroom compost good for tomatoes, since tomatoes are technically a fruit, the answer is “yes.”
Tomatoes, in fact, do quite well with mushroom compost, in part because they are easy to grow and do well with just about any type of soil out there. Mushroom compost never harms tomatoes and also won’t make them harder to grow.
While we’re on the subject, for people who have wondered, is mushroom compost good for roses, the answer is a little different. Some growers have said their roses do well with mushroom compost, while others recommend not using it in topsoil.
Why? Because once the nutrients start to spread, there’s a slight chance that fungi might become a part of the rose bushes, and no one wants that. Using mushroom compost at the bottom of the soil when planting roses seems to work best for many rose-growers.
For roses, therefore, people might have to experiment and decide for themselves exactly where to put the mushroom compost in their gardens – at the bottom of the soil when the roses are being planted, or at the top like how compost is usually used.
How Does Mushroom Compost Compare with Mineral (Traditional) Compost?
Compared to other types of compost, mushroom compost is a bit more expensive, often costing from $2 per pound to more than $3 per pound. For people who wish to buy large bags of mushroom compost, this can get quite expensive.
Nevertheless, mushroom compost offers advantages that regular mineral compost doesn’t. The nutrients are spread more slowly and because of this, plants and trees can use them much more efficiently, so mushroom compost tends to be healthier.
Mushroom compost can also improve not just the physical characteristics of the soil, but also the biological and chemical aspects. Over time, the soil just gets better and better, providing the plants with everything they need to grow healthy and large.
For people who have never before used mushroom compost in their gardens, it might sound a little challenging, but this isn’t really the case. In fact, it shouldn’t take long for them to realize just how easy – not to mention beneficial – using this compost really is.
Mushroom compost can be used in lots of different plants, and while making it themselves isn’t something a lot of gardeners are interested in, it’s good to know that commercial centers have this type of compost available all the time, as well as some agricultural colleges and private growers.