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How to Use Mushroom Soil to Amend your Vegetable Garden
Mushroom soil can really make a difference in your vegetable garden. You would be surprised how much better vegetables and even flowers grow in mushroom soil. You need to use it properly, however. Misusing it can have damaging effects on your vegetable garden.
What is mushroom soil?
Mushroom soil, or mushroom compost, is what mushroom farmers who are in the business of growing mushroom for-profit use. Mushroom compost is an especially formulated soil to help maximize their profits. As it turns out, the formula for this is also great for vegetable gardens.
Every company that produces mushroom compost tends to tweak the formula a little bit, but most of these kinds of compost have ammonium, barn bedding straw, and rye straw, canola meal, chicken droppings, cottonseed, gypsum, nitrate, peat, potash, lime, and soybean meal. The producers carefully portion out these ingredients to try to nail down that exact formulation that will make their clients’ mushrooms really spring to life.
Before these producers ever ship out any of their product, they let it lay in heaps undergoing the process that changes these ingredients into compost. The two types of straw provide the infrastructure and the fuel for this transformation, while the chicken droppings provide the nutrition, believe it or not. It takes the bacteria about a month to transfigure these piles into the rich, mushroom compost that gardeners so cherish.
What happens during this period is that that those tiny unseen bacteria in the heaps start cooking up the insides of the heaps, transforming them into organic ovens. This purification process lays waste to any diseases that might remain in the chicken droppings. Once purified, the mushroom compost is ready for sale.
How do mushroom farmers grow mushrooms in this soil?
Once the private growers receive the mushroom compost, they place it in patches in dim, moistly ventilated, and low-temperature storage houses where the soil undergoes a second purification process to wipe out any pathogens or parasites that may linger on the surface of the compost. To do this growers pasteurize the top layer by heating it near 150 degrees.
With the compost now fully prepared, the growers inject mushroom spores into it. Submerged roots begin to create their subterranean networks and then there are mushrooms galore for about a month.
At this point, the private grower discards the mushroom compost. It still has plenty of nutritional value, but not enough to meet the for-profit grower’s intense demands. This is when the grower sells as much of the mushroom compost to the local gardening supply stores, nurseries, and landscapers as he can. This is when you can get some yourself as well.
What are the drawbacks of mushroom soil?
You need to be careful, however, with how you use your mushroom soil. Because mushroom compost is packed with salts and other nutrients, it can overwhelm plants that are just beginning to make their break to the surface of your garden. Rhododendrons and azaleas and blueberries are also particularly sensitive to mushroom compost.
What are the benefits of used mushroom compost?
This used soil is great for retaining moisture and feeding the plants in your garden. It’s not really what you want for your immature plants; new growths tend to get overwhelmed by the plenty as we mentioned above. To water down the mushroom compost, look to mix it with regular soil, or wait until winter to use it when your plants have mostly reached maturity and need the extra boost to make it until the following spring.
Perennials, shrubs, and struggling trees will be the ones to really thank you for the extra help. For your garden, mix your new compost half-and-half with regular soil, while your potted plants will only get one-fourth of the new power mix.
With this extra power boost, your garden should be prepared for even the harshest of winters.