What is mushroom compost?
Is it made for mushrooms, or does it come from mushrooms?
Can you make this yourself, or do you need to buy it?
Mushroom compost is a popular choice among home gardeners as well as commercial growers. It’s a nutrient-rich, healthy compost that can be mixed with your existing soil to provide optimum growing conditions for many types of plants.
This kind of compost comes from mushrooms, and it is a byproduct of mushroom growing. Compost is created with the needs of mushrooms in mind, and those mushrooms are then grown within that very compost. Once they’re harvested, their spores and some of their waste remain in the compost, providing even more nutrients than it would’ve had ordinarily.
This healthy, vibrant compost is then sold to individual gardeners or other growers for use on their own plants. Because of the many nutrients present in the compost, it keeps plants healthy and happy, and it’s generally considered to be a better choice than traditional compost for many varieties of plants, too.
Most of the time, it’s best to purchase your mushroom compost from a company that harvests mushrooms. However, it’s not impossible to make it yourself.
In this article, we’ll show you a quick and easy how-to guide that can help you learn everything you want to know about making your own mushroom compost. Read on to discover more!
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Making Your Own Mushroom Compost
It’s not too difficult to make mushroom compost, but the process is a little different from traditional compost. Understanding the basics is a good way to get started, so read through the information here before you move on to our guide below.
Can you make it at home?
- The short answer is: yes! You can make mushroom compost at home. However, you’ll need to plan ahead, as it can be tricky to make mushroom compost and will require you to grow your own mushrooms first before harvesting the healthy soil they help create.
- It can take at least half a year to completely grow your mushrooms and then process your mushroom compost. This is a lengthy process, but it’s very rewarding if you’re able to stick to it.
- If you choose not to go this route, there’s no shame in buying mushroom compost instead! Just be sure to go through a reputable seller for this purpose.
Pros of making your own mushroom compost:
- It doesn’t cost much to get started making mushroom compost. Some other types of at-home compost production require a pricey setup, and even though they may pay off in the long run, they can be too expensive for some individuals to ever get started trying.
- When you make your own mushroom compost, you’ll have the benefit of enjoying a crop of fresh mushrooms that are home-grown before you use the soil for your other plants.
- When you use mushroom soil, you’re helping your lawn and garden soil retain water more successfully. The longer this goes on, the healthier your natural soil will become. It’s a win-win situation for all the soil involved!
- Most plants that are commonly grown in gardens love mushroom compost and respond well to its use.
Cons of making your own mushroom compost:
- It can take a very long time to process your compost from start to finish. Since you must first wait for mushrooms to grow before you can even begin the composting process, you may be at this task for a long time, and the payoff may not be worth the effort to some individuals.
- It’s easy to mess up a batch of mushroom compost and make yourself have to start all over from the beginning. This can be a disheartening experience and can create a lot of frustration, too.
- Mushroom compost can and often does cause mushrooms to sprout all around your backyard. The spores are carried from the compost pile by the wind, and they may land throughout your yard, causing mushrooms you don’t want year-round.
- Finally, mushroom compost takes up a lot of room and may require more space than you have to process it. It’s usually done in large batches, so keep this in mind when planning.
- Soil from your backyard
- Manure, preferably from chickens if possible
- Mushroom bacteria syringe (available from many mushroom suppliers)
- Compost pile location in your yard
- Combine the soil, straw, and manure in a pile. Mix well before continuing.
- Add the syringe of mushroom bacteria. You may also be able to grow mushrooms from other sources, but injecting the compost with a syringe is the best and easiest method.
- Mix gently once more.
- Allow the compost to heat for up to two months as the bacteria flourishes. Turn regularly, but be sure to do so gently.
- When your mushrooms have grown, harvest them within a few days.
- Afterward, continue processing the compost pile for a few more weeks before you use it on the plants in your garden.
- Keep the compost pile at 140 degrees Fahrenheit whenever possible. This will pasteurize the pathogens that could be present in the compost due to the manure.
Note: If you have no method of heating your compost pile regularly, turn it more often to ensure the whole pile has a chance to heat up equally.
- After a few weeks have passed, let the compost cool to the same general temperature as the air outside.
- Now you can use your mushroom compost! Mix it in a 1:1 ratio with your existing lawn soil for best results, and spread it around your plants to see improvement in just a short time.
Note: Do not use the mushroom compost directly on you plants without mixing it first, as it will burn the roots and leaves due to the high nitrogen levels present.
How do you use this type of compost, anyway? Can you just throw it on the ground and let it do its job? Generally speaking, mushroom compost is so rich in nutrients that it needs to be cut with regular soil to keep from overloading plants with vitamins and minerals. Too many nutrients can burn or rot plants, so mix this compost with your regular backyard soil for best results. You may also need to keep it moist, depending on the climate and conditions where you’re growing your plants.
Is mushroom compost effective on other types of plants, or is it really only meant for use when growing mushrooms? You can use this type of compost for growing a round of mushrooms, and after they’ve been harvested, you can then use the remaining composted soil with mushroom waste and spores included to fertilize other plants. You do not have to use mushroom compost only for mushrooms!
Only very sensitive plants should be kept compost-free. Rhododendrons are one example of a type of flower that may be too sensitive for use with compost. You should also not add compost to carnivorous plants or to some species of orchid. Be sure to research the plants you’re growing before adding mushroom compost to any of them.