QUESTION: Will mushroom compost burn plants? I saw some at the garden center and was thinking of trying it out in my garden this year. – Ursula E
GARDENING CHANNEL REPLIES: Yes, mushroom compost can definitely burn plants. To understand why this occurs, you must first understand what mushroom compost actually is.
Gardeners typically use mushroom compost as a base in their soil to release nutrients to their plants over the course of the growing season.
This compost is originally developed for the purpose of growing mushrooms. The mushroom gardener combines materials such as hay, straw, manure, and other organic materials to create an ideal growing location for mushrooms. That mushroom compost heats up hot enough to kill weed seeds, and then it is intended to grow a crop of mushrooms with.
Once these materials are composted together, the mushroom substrate is added. Once the mushrooms are harvested, the remaining materials are frequently packaged and sold as mushroom compost.
This is where you come in. Mushroom compost is great for use around your garden if applied correctly. There are a few options for using this material effectively around your garden or landscape.
Your first option is to mix the mushroom compost with other soil. This will dilute it, so to speak. You may also purchase the mushroom compost in the fall and allow it to sit all winter.
This is called the curing process and allows the mushroom compost to break down even further, making it more user-friendly.
In turn, you reduce the risk of this material harming your plants. Once cured, you may mix the mushroom compost with the soil of your plants or use it as a mulch around your perennial plants.
However, if you don’t mix the mushroom compost in with enough soil or if you don’t allow it to cure, you do run the risk of your plants becoming burned or killed by this material.
This occurs because mushroom compost has a higher salt level than other growing materials. The salt in this material can burn small or new plants.
Salt also stops the plant from absorbing necessary moisture and can even cause the plant’s roots to rot.
There is a time, place, and method for utilizing mushroom compost around your garden. However, it’s vital that this compost is applied correctly. Otherwise, you could be inviting trouble into your growing space.
Mushroom compost is a great way to utilize a byproduct and feed your plants. Just be sure to do so with care.