May 13, 2014
Most gardeners in southern Ohio struggle with hard clay soil, making it difficult to grow nice vegetables. Conventional fertilizers like 10-10-10 make the problem worse, doing nothing to build healthy garden soil long term. It’s rare to find a row-crop vegetable garden with loose, rich, well-drained and healthy soil. Raised beds help with the compaction problem, but in order to have fluffy, fertile soil you must add fresh organic material into your garden every season.
Mushroom compost is a one-step soil conditioner that has a magic effect on your landscape, lawn, or vegetable garden. A by-product of mushroom farming, this wonderful dark, rich, moist mixture will fertilize your plants while breaking up clay soils. It is a quick, sure-fire way to boost the performance of almost everything you grow.
Costing only a few cents per pound, mushroom compost is an organic blend of wheat straw, peat moss, cottonseed meal, cottonseed hulls, corncobs, cocoa bean shells, gypsum, lime, chicken litter and/or horse stable bedding. These materials are thoroughly composted and sterilized, and then placed into growing trays for mushroom cultivation. Each batch must be rotated out within 18-20 days before mushroom-killing pathogens can get established. Still rich in nutrients, the mixture is shipped by the semi-load as a soil enhancer. It never touches the ground until it arrives at our nursery.
Genuine mushroom compost is completely sterile, so unlike most compost it won’t add weed seed to your garden. It is considered non-burning when you incorporate it into the soil, mix it with other soils, or top-dress existing plants that already have an established root system. It is much too rich to plant into it directly, but mixed with other ingredients it is a magic booster for flowers, vegetables and even lawns.
When preparing new beds, apply a 3 inch layer of mushroom compost on the existing soil, till it in 5-6 inches deep, and then plant your plants and water thoroughly. Top-dress existing beds with a 1 inch layer and water regularly. The strong organic odor is a sign that the mushroom compost is full of nourishment, and will rapidly disappear.
There aren’t many things you can do as effective, easy and cheap as adding bulk mushroom compost to your growing soil. If you are filling planters or raised beds, find a nursery that can blend the mushroom compost with other ingredients such as pulverized topsoil or composted hardwood fines. Whatever your mixture, it should be fluffy enough to drain well and stay loose. If you take care not to pack it down, plant roots will rapidly fill it and you’ll have the best garden you’ve ever had.
Steve Boehme and his wife Marjorie own GoodSeed Nursery & Landscape, located at 9736 Tri-County Highway, near Winchester, Ohio. More information is available at www.goodseedfarm.com or call (937) 587-7021.