Mushroom Soil

February 28, 2006

Mushroom soil or mushroom compost is a great organic amendment for enriching the soil used to grow fruits, vegetables, and even flowers. I’ve written about mushrooms quite a bit in the past few weeks, from indoor mushroom kits, to growing mushroom logs outdoors.

Enrich Garden Soil With Mushroom Compost

This entry doesn’t have anything to do with growing them, but rather how you can use mushroom soil in the garden to fortify the soil, increase the depth of your raised beds, and improve your soil’s texture.

Mushroom Compost PhotoMushroom soil is a by product of the mushroom farming industry and consists of the bedding material (straw, manures, and other organic matter) that is left over after the mushrooms have been grown and harvested. 

You can obtain scoops of composted mushroom soil from most nurseries and garden centers that sell tan bark and garden mulches. I purchase a truckload once every three or four seasons to incorporate into the garden’s raised beds.

Applying Mushroom Soil to the Garden

Fall is probably the best time to add mushroom soil to the garden, that will allow it to age and mellow over the winter. For convenience I’m usually not able to add mushroom compost until early spring, much closer to the planting season than I would prefer, but I haven’t noted any problems with over fertilization or burning of the plants or seedlings.

To be cautious I only add a two inch layer of the mushroom compost and mix it well into the top four inches of the soil in the raised beds. During the seasons that you incorporate the mushroom soil reduce the amounts of other organic fertilizers which are added to the garden.

Mushroom soil is inexpensive particularly if you purchase it by the truckload, and is especially beneficial if you’re unable to obtain or make regular compost to add to garden beds. In order to be certified as organic the mushroom soil must be composted at the required temperatures and avoid the addition of prohibited additives.

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  • Kevin McClafferty

    I have mushroom soil and I want to know how to take some of the smell away.

  • Kenny Point

    Kevin, where did you obtain your mushroom soil? It usually goes through some type of pasteurization process and it really shouldn’t have a strong or objectionable odor to it at all. If you are working with fresh mushroom soil that hasn’t been sterilized then I would not use it in the vegetable garden.

  • “In order to be certified as organic the mushroom soil must be composted at the required temperatures and avoid the addition of prohibited additives.”

    I have access to a bunch of mushroom soil that’s been sitting behind a house for some years now. Do you think it’s ok to use since its been sitting there for awhile?

  • Kenny Point

    Age wouldn’t affect the usefulness of the mushroom soil as long as it hasn’t been collecting weed seeds while it was just sitting there. Some of the nutrients may have been leached out but it can still be used to increase organic matter in the garden.

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  • sandrar

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

  • Dann

    A neighboring school uses mushroom soil on their football field and they do have healthy nice grass. Anyone have any comments on this practice?

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  • jenn bream

    We built a few raised beds and on day 1- we filled them partially with topsoil and mushroom soil, and on day 2 my husband just got mushroom soil…. I already planted spinach, carrots and radishes in this, is it TOO strong of the mushroom soil? What do i do now?

  • jakky

    Would you give me advice for the mushroom soil please? I put the mushroom soil about 2 cubic yard in my 16’x8′ vegetable garden. I am afraid that I put to much. Thank you.

  • Kenny Point

    Jenn, can you add more topsoil or topsoil and compost to the beds? For the beds that are already planted I would just let them go and see how they do but in general I wouldn’t want a high percentage of the soil to be made up of mushroom soil.

    Jakky, if it’s already done I wouldn’t stress over it too much. You can add more topsoil if that is feasible, otherwise just don’t add as much the next time you amend your soil.

  • Jo Ann Butts

    We tested our garden with a test kit, and it said we have VERY LOW nitrogen and phosphorous. Our garden does not do well, and we were wondering if mushroom soil would help it. Thank you, Jo Ann

  • Kenny Point

    Yes, the mushroom soil should help but an organic compost would be better if you can locate a source.

  • jenn bream

    Ok- So it’s been a little while since our 60% mushroom soil (40%topsoil) beds have been started/ planted in. I do plan on adding other compost – mine wont be ready for weeks/months and some Sq.Ft.Gardening ideas, like vermiculite ( sp?) and occasionally post back on here throughout 2011 summer to see how my garden is going. i am in souther PA, so yeah i’m already starting! Wish me luck~ ;o)

  • Kenny Point

    Good Luck Jenn!

  • Tim O

    I just built a new raised vegetable garden and put 7 yards of soil in it. I was going to add 4 yards of mushroom soil to it next then mix it with a tiller. Is that too much mushroom soil to use? If my garder is a foot deep is that enough or should I make it deeper?

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Tim, as far as depth is concerned it depends on the crops that you are growing with root crops benefiting from a deeper bed. But even for root crops a foot is adequate and the roots will penetrate beyond the newly worked parts of the garden bed. The soil ratios aren’t precise and it also depends on the quality of the soil that you started with. Your percentage of mushroom soil sounds a little high but will probably be fine for a one time application. Good luck with your garden!

  • Terrie

    I live in Harper’s Ferry, WV … WHERE can I buy mushroom soil???

  • Kathy

    Three months ago, I ordered 3 yards of top soil, mixed with 1 yard of mushroom soil. I added this to our already established vegtable garden. I was told that the mushroom soil just was deliver to the landscaping business and it should be very powerful. Thus, vegtable garden is having some problems. Green Beans and Lima Bean plants are getting burnt spots on leaves. In addition, I used extra top soil mixed with mushroom soil to fill in low areas in our lawn. I planted grass seed, however, as soon as it germinated and turned green, it rapidly decline in appearance and has since died. Could that be in relation to the mushroom soil?

  • Joanne Cermele

    I am giving up on the garden for tomato growing this year. I doesn’t get enough sun and I am having trouble protecting it from groundhogs. I also would get mostly giant plants and few tomatoes so I think the soil was too high in N along with too little sun. I am starting, what my co-worker calls a vegetable zoo. I adapted some hugh cheap tubs I believe meant for parties and I am filling them with my soil, my finished compost and bagged mushroom soil. I will be mostly the mushroom soil so it will be an experiment in using mostly mushroom soil to grow tomatoes in. Then they go into the “zoo” which is an area I am creating with galvanized wire fence material including under the buckets and over the buckets. Hence, Vegetable Zoo! I have a cheap soil testing kit. Does anyone have a comment on how well they work?

  • Mary Ann

    Is using mushroom soil for potted herbs and veggies okay? Do I need to mix it with anything?

  • Kenny Point

    Mary Ann, mushroom soil is fine for use in containers but I would mix it at least 50-50 with potting soil.

  • Terrie

    I asked earlier, but got no reply.
    Anyone know where I can purchase mushroom soil, in the Harper’s Ferry, WV, area? I have asked the local nurseries, and they are not familiar w/ it. I live very close to the MD and PA state lines, so no problem on picking it up myself.
    Any ideas??

  • Kenny Point

    Terrie, mushroom shouldn’t be difficult to locate… most of the nurseries and garden centers around here sell it by the scoopful. Organic compost is even becoming more readily available. I would just call around to the garden nurseries in your area until you can locate a source. Good luck!

  • Joanne C

    The Kennett Square area if Pa has many mushroom farms so it should be easy to find Mushroom soil in that area.

  • Polly

    Terrie, Sunny Meadows Garden Center on the Sharpsburg Pike, south of Hagerstown MD has mushroom soil; continues to get deliveries thruout the season; if you don’t have access to a pickup truck, they will shovel the soil into 5 gal buckets for you @$2 a bucket; good deal.

  • Terrie

    Thank you all for your responses. I’ll need it … I have red hard clay soil, and any and all amendments are a help. Thanks, Polly, for the tip on a specific seller. I’ll get on the phone w/ them right away! Thank you again.

  • Polly

    Terrie, forgot to mention, must have your own buckets; old spackle buckets, kitty litter buckets, etc.

  • Terrie

    Yah, I figured they would not be supplying the buckets, at $2 a pop! haha! I have plenty of kitty litter buckets, and my husband has a van we use to haul all kinds of stuff … so we’re off! Thank you again, Polly. I looked it up on the web, and found Sunny Meadows Garden and their ph. #. It’s only about 45 minutes from me (or perhaps less), so that’s very do-able.
    I appreciate your help so much!

  • Polly

    Terrie, were you able to get some mushroom soil?

  • Terrie

    Hi, Polly!
    No, no mushroom soil YET. My husband and I decided that we are going to rent a U-haul open, flatbed trailer and go up soon. If I’m going to make that trip, I’m going to buy lots, and make the trip worthwhile! ha! My soil is so rotten, I could probably use four or five flatbeds FULL! But I’ll start out with one load.
    Thanks for thinking of me!

  • Alissa

    I’m searching for a cheaper way to mulch my gardens and was told by a nice mennonite lady that using mushroom soil would be a great alternative in my veggie gardens, but I’ve also read some bad things about mushroom soil. Many of my plants are still in their first stages of growing, not very well established and certainly not large, hearty plants yet, and I’m wondering if it’s safe to use only mushroom soil as a mulch, spreading it a few inches thick over my already tilled and reworked soil? And if so, should I keep the mulch away from the plant stems for a few weeks or would it be better to just wait altogether to put the mulch down? Any and all comments would be helpful. This is my first year growing veggies in the ground and not containers and I want to do it right! Thanks so much! 🙂

  • A.M

    Hi, thanks for your useful information. I want to buy mushroom soil for my company with the best quality. Please give me some information about the most famous companies that export mushroom soil to other countries. Thanks for your help.

  • Vicki

    I use mushroom soil to mulch around peppers adn tomatoes. My pepper plants look like miniature trees when I finally clear my garden for the winter. My veggies do so much better with mushroom soil.

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