It is the time of year when I look around in my world to find suitable materials with which to fortify, cover, amend and protect the garden beds and plants. Something about the appearance of crocus blooms triggers this search…
The available resources vary.
This year, for example, I discovered a mushroom farm hidden in the rural hills of my neighborhood. I have also discovered some pretty heated opinions online regarding the use of mushroom compost. What is it? Well, it is not composted mushrooms. Rather it is the stuff the mushrooms were grown in until it became depleted of adequate mushroom nutrients and was then made available to gardeners. At about $5 a yard, it was worth experimenting with. I got five yards.
I have learned that different sorts of mushrooms require different recipes of compost. What I have here in Mr O’s trailer grew oyster mushrooms and was made from a mix of hardwood sawdust and barley.
It will also contain some mushroom mycelium, which is actually the roots that make up the plant– the mushrooms we eat are just the above-ground fruit that this underground plant produces. I am rather interested in whether this mycelium would still grow some mushrooms in my basement. (Will I be able to resist experimenting?)
This mushroom compost has been outside in the rain since fall. It has a distinctive not unpleasant smell that sort of reminds me of corn silage only nicer.
Here is a closer picture.
I have been reading like mad about this stuff. People write online about mushroom compost having all kinds of poisons added to it and being “spent” material, and being “dead” (having been sterilized with heat) and over-salted with manures and etc.
The compost we bought comes from a certified organic mushroom operation so I am not concerned about bad additives. I also hear it becomes “alive” again very quickly and is good for improving clay and for use as part of a mulch recipe. I’ve read to avoid using it with roses and berries. I’ve also read it is great for roses and berries.
Well all things in moderation.
This is definitely not raw hardwood sawdust, but it is not utterly composted either. I will be mixing it with lawn clippings and last year’s leaves and other compost materials in the coming months, and using it as a mulch on some beds (not rhododendrons or azaleas–everyone seems to agree about this) and digging it into other places to help break up the clay soil. We are also getting some composted cow manure and it will go into the mix too. Really what I need is a cement mixer truck to accomplish all this stirring, but I will have to make do with my own power tools…
In other vastly unrelated news, my grandchild will be making her appearance any day now. She is predicted for March 20, which I have learned is the date of the vernal equinox this year.
Here is mom 4 days ago (phone camera). Will the baby wait for Spring?