If you'd like to know, "Where can I purchase mushroom compost?" you might not be asking the right question. Instead of where can I purchase mushroom compost, perhaps you should be asking, why should I purchase it?
Mushroom compost is the latest fad among gardeners, particularly organic gardeners seeking sources of bulk compost or simply good composts for the garden. Many organic gardeners swear by mushroom compost and insist that they grow great flowers, fruits or vegetables when using mushroom compost as a soil amendment.
While the name would have you think that mushroom compost consists of composting mushrooms, it's actually the compost that's left over after mushroom farmers grow and harvest their crops. Yes, there are actually farms that grow mushrooms, the same as farmers grow corn, soybeans and any crop.
Mushrooms need a rich base of organic material in which to grow and thrive. Mushroom farmers typically create this base with an organic material such as horse or cow manure. Spent hay, straw, old corn cobs and other organic matter, often from food processing facilities, is added to the horse or cow manure, mixed together and aged to form the compost. Mushroom farmers typically grow several crops of mushrooms on one pad of compost before selling it off as mushroom compost or mushroom soil.
Pros of Mushroom Compost
There are several pros of mushroom compost. It's relatively easy to find in bulk or bags, and it's odorless, although some types may have a bit of an odor at first which goes away over time. The heat from the composting process kills all the weed seeds that may fall out of the hay, straw or other plant material, so it's sterile and won't add weeds to the garden. It is said to hold water well, thus providing plants with readily available moisture.
Cons of Mushroom Compost
The cons of mushroom compost really depend upon where it was produced. If you're buying it to add to an organic garden, be very sure that it's from an organic source. Some mushroom farmers must use chemicals against fungus and flies, the two major pests for mushroom crops, and chemicals such as Diazinon are routinely used. Be sure the compost is certified organic; some farms do raise organic mushrooms.
The biggest criticism of mushroom compost is that it lacks many essential nutrients. If you think about it, that makes senses. The original compost has already been used to grow three crops. After feeding three crops, it's then bagged to be added to your garden. Three crops have already fed on the compost, and the resulting mushroom soil can be low in nitrogen and other nutrients.
Where Can I Purchase Mushroom Compost?
If you're still interesting in buying mushroom compost or mushroom soil, there are plenty of places to find it both locally and online. Do your homework and shop around, comparing the prices for bagged and bulk. For those looking for small amounts or bags, the best place to find and purchase this type of compost is at a local retailer.
- Home centers: Major home and garden retailers such as Lowe's and Home Depot carry mushroom compost. It may be difficult to find in fall and winter when the garden centers typically turn into holiday decoration centers, but it's usually available spring and summer.
- Local garden centers: Local garden centers frequently carry bags of mushroom compost or mushroom soil.
- Phone book: Look in your local Yellow Pages for bulk suppliers of compost or mulch if you need a lot of mushroom soil. It may be more economical to purchase it by the ton, as long as you have the room to store it until you can move it into the garden.
- Online: Online, you can find mushroom compost at many gardening websites.
- Dixie Landscape Supply offers bulk mushroom compost by the truckload nationwide; call for prices and availability.
- High Mountain Compost offers the same mushroom compost used by professional mushroom farmers to the public. This is not the same thing as many mushroom composts, a compost product on which something has already been grown, but fresh compost. They are located in Port Townsend, WA.
- Life Soils offers mushroom compost and other soil amendments.