What is mushroom compost?
Mushroom compost is a versatile and useful gardening end-product of fungi culture. It accounts for an organic compost that supports vegetable varieties’ growth, and it can be used for both fruit gardening and floriculture. It’s also ideal for plants with hydrophilic features since it has mulch properties.
Generally, compost for mushroom cultivation constitutes agricultural products, such as stable horse straws, poultry solid excretes, cobs from corn, and hay, among other natural organic materials. These composts act as a substrate for mushroom cultivation.
Mushroom compost plug, for instance, is the mushroom substrate from which the mushrooms are already harvested. It’s then processed into a homogenous end-product, the mushroom compost.
Should the mushroom compost be needed again in mushroom cultivation, it will be pasteurized by steam to alleviate hygiene alarms from the subsequent mushroom growth. Provided that it’s not be used for mushroom, the compost can serve other agricultural purposes as its ideal for soil-enriching properties and nutrients.
However, nutrient content varies according to mushroom species grown in the compost and the different substrate preparation methods. For instance, the Straw mushroom uses mainly cellulose alone, leaving lignin still, whereas the rot fungi are antagonistic to straw. In regards to this, mushroom compost can serve lots of functions.
What are the best uses for mushroom compost?
· It can be used as a Fertilizer
Mushrooms compost is designed for mushroom growth; hence they serve as mushroom growth substrates. Moreover, it’s considered a valuable fertilizer when added to soils containing potted plants such as fruits and vegetables. They continually enrich the soil with organic matter and promote growth.
Since it contains significant nutrients for plant growth, it can act as a substitute for inorganic fertilizer. Different trials show that mushroom composts have recognizable traces of potassium, calcium, and phosphorus as well.
High calcium amounts in mushroom compost can help plants such as tomatoes grow and reduce the chances of blossom-end rot disease, which results typically from calcium deprivation. The compost also can retain water and prevent loss; hence it acts like organic mulch. Therefore, it’s ideal for crops that need much hydration, specifically the hibiscus flower, among other plants.
· Improving soil structure
Since spent mushroom compost contains tremendous amounts of organic content, it can help rebuild and enhance the soil’s physical structure. Soils that have progressive tillage properties always have minimal or less organic matter. Consequently, less or no organic matter in the soil will result in a poor physical structure. That makes the soil hard to work with and restrain drainage.
Undoubtedly, such tendencies are prevalent in horticultural zones and tillage systems that were formerly using farmyard manure. In this case, should mushroom compost be used, it will increase microbes and worms, which improve soil structure and porosity.
· It can be a Feeding to earthworms and insects
Earthworms and insects can either be fed to chicken, fish or directly fed to domesticated animals. Mushroom substrates usually contain cellulose, hemicelluloses, and lignin. Edible fungi, in this case, secretes enzymes that dissolve this organic material into absorbable foods; hence worms and insects can freely feed and breed.
The decomposed organic matter can be presented in the worms and insect bodies, hence optimizing the animal feeds’ nutrients ingredient ratio. Worms from Mushroom compost consist of 14% protein, significant vitamins, and micro-minerals such as iron, zinc, and magnesium.
Furthermore, mycelia remnants in the spent mushroom compost plug are rich with essential amino acids that other animal feeds lack. With regard to this, mushroom plug turns out to be an essential animal feed with nearly all nutrients that animals need.
Is mushroom compost high in nitrogen?
When talking about nitrogen, studies show that mushroom compost contains low amounts of nitrogen. However, mushroom compost contains lots of hypha proteins since much of the cellulose and lignin constitutes usually are decomposed. Despite the low nitrogen concentration, the hypha proteins presented through compost mushroom can be used on farms to prevent nitrogen deficiency.
Do worms thrive in mushroom compost?
Worms are prominently known to convert wastes into composts rich in nitrogen. They feed on dead leaves, fruits, and vegetables, as well as some fungi. However, they have a hard time digesting fats and meats.
In the case of mushroom compost, worms tend to thrive as soon as the mushrooms are harvested. Usually, mushrooms break down food in the substrate to soluble nutrients, making digestion easy for worms. They, therefore, thrive in mushroom compost, and they can be cultured as animal feed.
How much mushroom compost should I add to my vegetable garden?
When using mushroom compost for a vegetable garden, you have to till three-four inches of the mushroom compost into the six top inches of averagely dry garden soil. Should you use it for containerized vegetables, the fresh mushroom compost shall have to be about one-quarter of the container’s soil volume.
What’s best between mushroom and cow manure?
As the name suggests, the organic cow manure is made from cow excretes. It’s capable of inducing minerals like nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium in the soil.
The cow wastes used in cow manure preparation are cost-effective with no potentials for environmental pollution. Additionally, cow manure devours weeds and pests that may cause low yields from plants.
On the other hand, availability is not a cause for concern; cow dung is easy to find. Even though it’s an excellent fertilizer, cow manure is massive, and it must be combined with light materials such as ash, straws, and hay.
Pros and cons of mushroom compost and cow manure
Pros of Mushroom Compost
· It’s affordable and cost-effective
Mushroom compost is a proficient nutrient provider to garden plants at an affordable cost. It permits your soil to improve its abilities for water retention. That’s majorly an advantage that maximizes the utilization of water.
· Can be used on any garden crop
Most garden plants, whether fruits, flowers, or even vegetables, thrive well with mushroom compost. It’s even more effective if it’s thoroughly mixed with the soil before being used for gardening.
Cons of Mushroom Compost
· It requires a great deal of awareness and may cause acidic burns
Even though mushroom compost is ideal for gardening, you should be cautious and aware of when to use and how-to, as they contain high amounts of salts. Consequently, they are not ideal for Salt-sensitive plants, and they may affect seedlings through fertilizer burns. On the other hand, if properly prepared and used moderately, mushroom compost is always useful in growing seedlings and other garden crops.
Pros of cow manure
· Improves the soils water holding mechanisms
Cow manure provides your garden crops with essential nutrients and increases the soil’s ability for water retention. Consequently, you won’t have to water your plants consistently.
· Improves soil aeration
The other upside of using cow manure is that it promotes soil aeration and ventilation for the crops you are gardening. Cow manure promotes the growth of good microorganisms in the soil. In return, the microorganisms break organic matter into simple and absorbable nutrients, thus quickening the nutrient absorption rate.
· Allows for the breeding of worms and insects
The fact that mushroom composts allow for worm and insect breeding makes them outstandingly beneficial. That even means that you won’t go searching for poultry and other animal feeds.
Cons of cow manure
· The duration Preparation is time costly
It takes up to 180 days before manure becomes ready for use. Meanwhile, nothing can be cultured into the yet-to-be manure as it causes acidic burns. For instance, if you were to use mushroom compost, the benefit will be mutual since you can culture mushrooms on the substrates and deviate its use upon harvesting.
· Good for bacterial breeding
In as much as cow manure is beneficial to the soil, you have to consider it a breeding site for bacteria such as Escherichia coli, which is pathogenic.
· They contain excess ammonia
Leave the bacteria aside; cow manure is highly concentrated with ammonia making it hazardous for your plant. Excess ammonia means excess nitrogen, thus acidic burning of plants.
· They harbor parasites
For these parasites to be killed, cow manure will have to stay for long before being used. In turn, that requires more time, making it unreliable. Cow manure, at times, may also contain salts depending on the feeding environment.
If you were to compare it to mushroom compost, you would find that mushroom compost is sterilized; hence, no bacteria or parasites present.
In retrospect, there are many uses for mushroom compost. Should you consider using soil amendments, it will be wise if you opt for mushroom compost.
They are great for any garden crop and soil. They are also free from bacteria and parasites, and without forgetting, they serve consistently as soon as they are prepared, meaning don’t have to wait for them to get ready. They are also worth it if you are dealing with hydrophilic crops!