Mushroom Compost in a raised bed?

wayner123August 24, 2011

Hello all,

I am now moving into my second year of gardening. I first did a container garden that worked well, but was limited by how many containers I had. Then I did some row gardening and that turned out okay, but not great due to the poor soil here in Fl. So then, I am looking to do a square foot garden.

I have everything ready and I went and got 2 yards of compost from West Volusia Shed. It was rather stinky, and I could have sworn a bit of heat came off when I was shoveling it out of the truck. However, I have turned it twice now and it smells like pure clean soil.

My question comes to you all, Can I plant directly into this compost in a SFG?

I know it might continue to break down and lose volume, but that's an easy fix. And there is no more heat or bad smell coming from it right now. I just don't want to ruin my timing for my fall garden and kill all my seedlings that I have ready to plant.

Any help is greatly appreciated, especially those of you who have experience with this West Volusia Shed Compost in particular.

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I don't know West Volusia Shed Compost .....

What's it like?...squeeze a handful....wet and dry...tell us about it.......

Compost by itself is not the ideal soil......How big is the bed ?

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 10:51AM
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I read about West Volusia Shed on here from various threads. I believe it's a spent mushroom compost. I don't know what's all in it, but from what I can tell, it looks like chicken manure, straw, seaweed, pine fines, and some other sort of woody material. Maybe a picture would help?

If I squeeze it, it does what loam would do, but that's not a conclusive test.

The raised beds will be 4'x 8'x 10". I will have 2 of them.

The main reason I ask, is because this "compost" looks more like a good potting mix then it does compost I have seen elsewhere.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 1:43PM
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marymilkweed(z9 Orlando FL)

Wayner123, I would follow the Square Foot soil recipe: 1 part peat moss, 1 part Course Vermiculite, 1 part compost. The compost can be any combination of aged manures, leaf compost and mushroom compost. Be sure to work some Greensand, Rock Phosphate, and Bone Meal in your soil mixture. Once you filled your new beds with this soil combination, only add additional compost each growing season and of course, your amendments. If you live in the Orlando area, course vermiculite and Canadian Peat can be purchased from Pro-SourceOne or BWI, both in Apopka/Plymouth on #441.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 9:36PM
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Yme405(10b SW Fla)

Hi there,

I'm trying a sort of SFG here in 10b, but am allowing more spacing because of my specific climate. I basically followed the Mel's mix with the peat, vermiculite and various composts, but I deviated from the 6" recommendation and went with 12"

This is my first season with SFG, but a local gardening friend has been doing a variation of SFG here for nine years successfully and gave me some tips on making it work in our area (yours may be different). For 10b I was advised the following: more spacing, soil depth of at least 10" for surface crops and 12"-18" for root crops to help combat heat and moisture loss, need to add the trace minerals in a slow release form (ie - bone meal, Azomite, greensand, etc...) at the start of each season when building up the soil depth because the very frequent downpours here can quickly wash out the mix, and keep a good eye on the watering needs outside of rainy season (for my area the soil could dry out very quickly), and need to have a mulch covering. I'm a ways south of you so, I also need shade cloth for mine during the intense sun periods and had to build the support for it into my bed design. My local advisor also has to strictly adhere to crop rotation due to bug build up and even has to redo his beds every few years or let them lay fallow for a good soil solarization every now and then to cut down on our gazillion bug and disease problems that will build up this far South.

I'm glad I found a local to ask about "variations" to Mel's mix - I asked in a few forums and was nearly stoned in the public square for thinking Mel's mix was not perfect the way it was for every situation. Guess those folks forget that the latest book is the third time Mel has revised his mix and that he has a different mix suggestion for countries that can't access the ingredients we can.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 9:17AM
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wayner - The mushroom compost that West Volusia sells is fresh, not spent. That's why is stinks when you buy it. It has cow manure in it, not horse. It also has soft rock phosphate in it so be sure not to add any more phosphate. It is best added to their topsoil. In fact, they sell it as a mixture now.

Since my garden is well established, I just add the mushroom compost once to twice a year and work it in. I use a lot of it in the spring but I go lightly with it in the fall because it holds a lot of moisture. Too much for when the temperatures drop.

My garden started out as a raised bed but I threw out unwanted sand around the perimeter causing it to become ground level after a while.

When I need to plant and the compost isn't aged enough, I plant each seedling in a small well of extra potting soil to give the compost more time to mature so it doesn't burn the young plants.

Best of luck with your fall garden.


    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 9:38PM
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Thanks for all the help. Since I have the space and time, I am going to try an experiment. I am going to mix some of the compost with topsoil and use that. And then in the other place I am going use straight compost. Since I am starting mostly from well established seedlings I don't foresee much damage. But we shall see.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2011 at 9:49AM
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I have done it and been just fine, but my source sounds a bit more aged than yours. I'm in North Florida, near Tallahassee, not sure the name of our local mushroom farm. One thing some folks do up here is to mix it 50/50 with other things from the nursery. A favorite mix is one scoop of potting soil and one of mushroom compost. Put the potting soil in your truck first and it will be easier to get out.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2011 at 7:44AM
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