Nowadays, people are becoming aware of food waste education. That’s why they’ve realized that home compost is the perfect way to prevent any kind of kitchen scraps and yard waste from being dumped into landfills. Even they can easily make soil for growing healthier food. However, mushroom composting is one of the additions that’s loved mostly in the garden.
Such kind of soil is perfect for retaining moisture. Also, it will aid in breaking down your clay soil. Now, you might have questions like what is mushroom compost made of, and how do you use it in your garden? Chill, keep reading this blog because we have got your cover.
What is mushroom composting?
Mushroom compost is also referred to as SMS or Spent Mushroom Substrate. It is a kind of nutrient-rich organic matter that is being produced as a byproduct mainly for commercial mushroom cultivation. A multi-step process is required to create it, which begins by growing several mushroom species like shiitake, button, etc. on a substrate of organic matter such as peat moss, straw, etc. As such mushrooms grow, they extract nutrients from the substrate, which can leave behind partially enriched and decomposed material.
In the end, you’ll get mushroom compost, which is an earthy-smelly and dark substance that is a kind of valuable soil amendment. Due to its numerous benefits, it’s highly sought after by farmers and gardeners. But it’s vital to note that mushroom compost can turn alkaline. That’s why their application should be considered about the specific plant’s pH requirements. This compost represents an effective and sustainable way to boost soil health and recycle agricultural waste. Thus, among growers and horticulturists, mushroom compost is considered a popular choice.
How to make mushroom compost?
1) Selection of Raw Materials
You can start by choosing suitable raw materials. Some of the common options are hay, peat moss, straw, or just a combination of these. According to the type of mushroom you’ve planned to cultivate, you can choose a substrate.
The chosen substrate is required to be pasteurized to eliminate any kind of harmful microorganisms that can compete with mushroom mycelium. You can do this by heating the substrate for several hours. The duration might vary according to the substrate type.
3) Inoculation with Mushroom Spawn
After pasteurization, you can cook the substrate to an appropriate temperature, mainly around 70-75°F. After that, mushroom spawn or a vital mushroom mycelium on a grain-based substrate is introduced into the pasteurized substrate. Over several weeks, the mycelium will colonize the substrate, which will break the organic material and extract nutrients.
4) Mycelium Growth
Throughout the substrate, the mycelium will grow during this phase. This will break down all the complex organic compounds into simpler ones that are easily available to plants. It is vital for maintaining proper environmental conditions, comprising humidity and temperature, to ensure healthy mycelial growth.
5) Fruiting and Mushroom Harvest
Once the substrate is colonized by mycelium, then it’s time to encourage fruiting. You can achieve it by introducing favorable conditions like increased humidity and lower temperatures. As mushrooms mature, you can harvest them.
6) Post-Harvest Processing
Now, you’re done with harvesting mushrooms, and you’ll left with SMS or spent mushroom substrate. This is full of nutrients that have undergone partial decomposition at the time of mushroom growth.
SMS is now, subjected to a composting process. It comprises mixing it with other organic matter, such as manure, green waste, etc. to improve its texture and balance the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio. Further, the composting process breaks down organic matter, which stabilizes the material and kills any remaining pathogens.
8) Curing and Maturation
For several weeks to months, this composted SMS is allowed for curing and maturing. This period allows beneficial microorganisms to boost the nutritional content and quality of compost.
9) Quality Testing
It’s vital to conduct tests to ensure that the compost hits the desired level of maturity. Make sure that it’s free from pathogens and contaminants.
When this compost is deemed suitable, you can use it as a soil amendment in nurseries, farms, or gardens to promote healthy plant growth, improve water retention, and boost soil fertility.
What is mushroom compost good for?
1) pH Adjustment
This kind of compost tends to be slightly alkaline and that’s why it’s perfect for too acidic soil. It can aid you in raising the pH level of your acidic soil, which makes it suitable for a range of plants.
2) Organic Gardening
Due to its natural composition, mushroom compost is a first choice for many organic gardeners. You can use it as an organic soil conditioner, which will avoid the need for chemical soil amendments or synthetic fertilizers.
3) Container Gardening
If you’ve potting mixes for container gardening, then it would be better to use mushroom compost. It is an excellent choice for potted plants because it has nutrient-rich and moisture-retention properties.
4) Soil Enrichment
Mushroom compost comes with rich essential nutrients comprising potassium, nitrogen, etc. Such kind of nutrients are slowly released over time because compost too continues to break down, resulting in a steady supply of nutrition. With this enrichment, you can promote robust plant growth and enhance soil fertility.
5) Mulching and Top Dressing
Now, you might know that you can incorporate mushroom compost into the soil, but you can even use it as a top dressing or mulch. Whenever you apply it to the soil surface, it will aid in suppressing weeds and retaining moisture. Thus, nutrients will be released as they break down.
6) Disease Suppression
During the composting process of mushroom cultivation, it comprises pasteurization, which can kill several weed seeds and harmful pathogens. In simple words, when you incorporate mushroom compost into the soil, it can aid in reducing weed pressure and suppressing soil-borne diseases.
If someone wants to make mushroom compost, then it is considered one of the meticulous processes. It requires proper environmental control, knowledge of mushroom cultivation techniques, and requires attention to detail. If you do it correctly, then it can lead to sustainable and valuable resources for horticulture and agriculture.