Mushroom Compost

Make your own Compost

    to grow mushrooms

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This is a very good recipe for making compost to grow edible mushrooms. The ingredients make for a nutrient dense mushroom compost that adds both flavor and richness to your mushrooms.


mushroom compost

Making your own Mushroom Compost is actually not hard at all.

The important thing to remember is you need both a carbohydrate source and a nitrogen source. These sources must be adequate to feed the microbes that will break down the mushroom compost starter. Just like us, microbes need energy (carbohydrates) and protien (nitrogen) to live. But its very benificial to have alot of organic matter (manure) for the microbes to colonize and grow in. And Water- very, very important. With out water your mushroom compost will not turn out.

Mushroom Composting is basically microbe decomposing. We feed the microorganisims and they inturn reward us with fresh mushroom compost. Water basically decides the amount of microbes, and the amount of decomposing that will go on. But dont get too crazy with water. Too much water and your mushroom compost will ruin

Overwatering the mixture causes air pockets to fill with water. This causes an anaerobic or "no-oxygen" state. The microbes breathe oxygen, so drowning them wont help you get mushroom compost. But then again too much air or too dry a mixture and the heat the microbes build up to decompose the compost will evaporate, keeping the compost too cool-resulting in a mushroom compost that isnt finished curing.

So what is the right ratio? That is a best kept secret of all Professional Mushroom Composters. I judge it by the look of the mixture, and its squeezability. I grab a handful and squeez it. If when squeezed, the compost mixture pours out water- its too wet. If when squeezd it doesnt have any water dripping, its too dry, If when squeezed it slowly drips water- its good. But what are the starter carbohydrate and nitrogen materials and supplements used in mushroom compost? Well the big one for Nitrogen is manure.

Manure by itself needs more nutrients because alot of them were digested already by the animal. Horse manure is better than cow manure because alot of the hay just gets broken down and not digested which helps you out alot. Cow manure is less nutrient dense because cows have more than one stomach, so the straw or hay gets broken down and digested. Chicken manure is very nutrient dense and can make compost too hot or strong for microbes to grow correctly. Thats why you dont use that much, its mainly used to balance out the horse manure. Horse manure is low in potassium and phosphorus, chicken manure replaces this for the compost. 

High dollar nitrogen sources like blood meal are expensive but take alot less of to make for a hot mixture. For example bloodmeal has a 13.5% nitrogen rating, while horse manure has just 0.9-1.2% nitrogen. I like using it because blood meal along with horse manure, it really helps in a more nutrient dense mushroom compost.

Cottonseed meal is another high nitrogen supplement to add to the horse manure. It contains almost 7% nitrogen. Along with cottonseed meal Cottonseed hulls are a great first step in the carbohydrate direction.

Microbes need energy. They get that energy from the carbohydrate sources we provide them.

Wheat straw is the most common starter carbohydrate source and has excellent texture that a good compost needs anyway. But by itself it isnt high in energy producing carbohydrates. So we need to add some supplements.

As previously mentioned Cottonseed hulls if you can find them are very high  in carbohydrates. But they are tough to get for the small mushroom grower. So an excellent alternative is good ole' molasses. It is easy to find almost any grocery store and feed supple house. Grape pomace is another hard to find yet high nitrogen source.

Most commercial mushroom compost is made from the cheapest waste products the mushroom farmers can get. Usually they consist of manure from chicken houses and horse manure from local stables and race houses. These are fine too use, but you need to remember that with cheap starter supplies, you get mediocre mushroom compost. Since your making your own mushroom compost why not go ahead and use the best products you can get. I always start mine with a base of horse manure and wheat straw, and add the high nutrient stuff in with it. The result are delicious flavorable mushrooms.

The balancing of the nitrogen to carbohydrate levels is very important. An imbalance will slow down the microbes growth and thus slow the production of compost.

Nitrogen source:



70-100 pounds of horse manure: The reason Horse Manure is most abundant in this mushroom compost recipe is the fact that it is full of microorganisms. The more microorganisms, the faster and better the compost will be made.

10 pounds of chicken manure

50 pounds of cow manure

1 pound of blood meal: This is one of those high dollar items, but its full of nitrogen for the microbes.


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