Mushroom compost, what is it? and can I use it in my garden?
Mushroom compost is a bi product of the mushroom growing industry; mushroom composted is basically composting straw as it usually has not reached a complete fine texture and rather course in nature. This is why many gardeners choose to use mushroom compost as cost effective mulch. Due to its woody course nature it is a good additive to the compost heap acting as an accelerator.
During the inoculation and mushroom growing process the straw bales are constantly being broken down by the mushroom mycelium. After multiple mushroom harvests the now dark semi composted straw is moved and turned by large machinery to aid the composting down of the used straw. As a bi product of mushroom production large quantities can be obtained quite cheaply and can be very high in nitrogen and plant essential nutrients.
As well as compost accelerator add mushroom compost to flower borders as a mulch to help suppress weeds and fertilise the ground by digging it in to the soil surface. Some speculation has arisen in the past that mushroom compost harbours honey fungus which can be deadly to trees but this has been proven to be completely false.
During the mushroom growing process chalk is added to the straw meaning mushroom compost has a high alkaline content. It is important to be aware of this as if your soil is already alkaline it could cause burning and damage to existing plants. Mushroom compost can help to neutralise very acidic soil conditions if this is a problem for you in your garden. If you are growing acid loving plants however like camellias and Rhododendrons beware they will not appreciate the alkaline chalk of mushroom compost.
Mushroom compost is a useful affordable fertiliser for the garden just make sure you understand the possible opportunities and constraints of its high PH value.