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How mushroom compost can improve your garden soil

By Grace Chomba

Mushroom compost is rich in soluble salts.

Mushroom compost is soil that is left over after mushroom farming has been done. It has a high organic matter content of between 40 to 60 per cent on a dry weight basis. It contains chalk and is alkaline hence has high levels of soluble salts.

It has been used for years to amend the soil and for mulching purposes.

It is advisable to use it in a vegetable garden since vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, kale, kohlrabi, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower grow best where the soil is alkaline.

Alkaline soil protects the vegetables from being infected by clubroot disease caused by Plasmodiophora brassicae, a soil-dwelling micro-organism.

Mushroom compost acts as a slow-release nourishing fertilizer hence feeding your plants.  It encourages beneficial fungi, bacteria, and micro-organisms into the soil. This makes your plants look healthy and strong.

Using mushroom compost is a great way to improve and protect the soil pH that might be altered by excessive use of chemicals fertilizers.

It improves soil moisture retention by holding moisture in place required for the plant growth. This explains to us why some use it for mulching purposes.

Mushroom compost prevents the soil surface from crusting over and compacting. It also acts as a drainage aid by improving chalky, clay or compacted soils so that water runs freely.

According to John Hart, a soil scientist with the Oregon State University Extension Service, mushroom compost is rich in soluble salts and other nutrients and can kill germinating seeds and cause harm to salt-sensitive plants including rhododendrons, blueberries, and azaleas.

To avoid this, Hart recommends mixing it with garden soil before using it on young plants. Caution is needed while using compost manure for mulching purposes around perennials, trees, and shrubs.

Till about three inches of the compost into the top six inches of fairly dry garden soil if you are using it in flower beds and vegetable gardens.

“Containerized plants should only make up about one-quarter of the volume of compost manure in the container,” he added.

Comparing it with traditional compost it is a bit cheaper.

Lastly, the mushroom compost does not smell bad like other organic manure hence you can stick your hands in it.

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