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Beets grow well in loamy soils and are relatively easy to grow and maintain, making them a vegetable garden favorite, even with new gardeners. What compost can you use to provide a good growing environment for your beets? Will beets grow well in mushroom compost?
Beets can be grown in mushroom compost and tolerate the compost’s alkalinity and salt-rich composition. Mushroom compost can amend soil acidity to improve beet growth and improves soil structure to promote drainage, water retention, and the development of the beet’s root.
Mushroom compost has its place in the garden, but it is not good for all plants. If beets are on your planting schedule for this season, you may be interested to find out if mushroom compost provides a suitable growing environment.
Does Mushroom Compost Work for Growing Beets?
Beets and carrots are two of the first root vegetable crops that most beginner gardeners start with when experimenting with growing vegetables.
Beets are relatively easy to grow and do not require much maintenance if their growing environment is generally good.
The growing environment is the part that mushroom compost will affect the most, so it is worthwhile to investigate the best growing conditions for beets before adding mushroom compost.
Best Soil pH For Growing Beets
Beets do not like acidic soil and cannot tolerate soil with a pH below 6.0, which is leaning toward the acidic end of the pH scale, with a pH of 7 being neutral.
The best soil pH range for growing beets is between a pH of 6.0 and 7.0, making mushroom compost suitable with a pH value of 6.6 or 6.7.
Beets are not very efficient in absorbing boron and potassium, and acidic soils further inhibit the absorption of these essential minerals.
Mushroom compost can benefit beets by amending acidic soil to more acceptable pH levels, allowing the beets to grow and thrive.
Best Soil For Growing Beets
Beets prefer loamy to silty-loamy soil, which is loose enough to provide good water retention and drainage and allow the root of the beet plant to expand easily.
Compact soils are not good for beets, as the soil does not allow for the root to expand. Clay soils hold too much moisture and will cause the root to rot.
The soil must be well-drained to prevent the root from becoming soggy and potentially dying from root rot. The growing medium must also have good water retention and must remain moist; if the soil dries out too much, the root can split.
How Does Mushroom Compost Benefit Beets?
Mushroom compost can offer several benefits for growing beets, most of which are amendments to the soil to improve the growing environment for the plant.
Introducing mushroom compost to the soil will improve the soil structure to loosen the soil and provide more space for the root to expand.
The water retention properties of mushroom compost will help the soil retain more moisture, making more water available to the plant and keeping the soil cooler.
Improving the structure of the soil will also provide better aeration of the soil, giving the beet plant root more access to oxygen and improving the soil drainage. Improved drainage will contribute to preventing root rot in the beets.
One of the best benefits mushroom compost offers beet growers is the suppression of weeds when using mushroom compost as a mulch.
A 3-inch mulch layer of mushroom compost on top of the soil surrounding the beet plants will act as an effective weed suppressor while helping to balance soil temperature and prevent moisture loss.
Why Some Gardeners Don’t Use Mushroom Compost For Beets
Some gardeners do not encourage the use of mushroom compost for beets for several reasons, one of which is the chemicals used during mushroom production.
The mushroom compost you can buy at your local garden center is essentially secondhand compost that is recycled after mushrooms have been grown on the substrate.
Most commercial mushroom growers use strong chemicals to control flies and fungal diseases that can decimate the mushroom crop. These chemicals leach into the compost used as a substrate to grow the mushrooms.
Another concern that some gardeners have is that used mushroom compost has a lower nutrient level due to the mushroom growing that has used most of the nutrients in the compost. The concern is that the remaining nutrients are insufficient to promote the growth of large beets, which are heavy feeders.
Another concern is that the high salt content of the mushroom compost will draw moisture out of the beet plant root, limiting the size of the root.
Selecting a high-quality mushroom compost that has been well cured will limit the negative effect of the high salt content.
In my experience, mushroom compost is good for most vegetables that do not require an acidic growing environment. I have not seen any stunted growth in beets grown in soil with mushroom compost.
Beets are heavy feeders, requiring fertilizing during their growing cycle irrespective of the type of compost used.
However, if you intend to stick to organic growing methods, mushroom compost is not the most suitable compost due to the chemicals used during mushroom production.
What Is The Best Compost For Growing Beets?
Beets are nutrient-hungry plants that require a nutrient-rich and organic-rich compost to supplement the nutrients in the soil.
A good quality compost with generous amounts of potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorous is ideal as a soil preparation before planting. A good alternative compost for beets is worm compost, worm castings, or compost created from kitchen scraps.
Good quality compost, such as these alternatives, will reduce the necessity to feed your beets during the growing season.
An alternative mulch that works well for beets is grass clippings, which add a little more nitrogen to the growing environment, provide warmth early in the season and reduce water evaporation.
These alternatives are chemical free if you make them yourself, and they are easy to produce in your garden.
Beet growing is rewarding for gardeners of all experience levels, and taking a few basic measures to give the plants what they need will supply you with a good harvest.
Mushroom compost can be used for growing beets and is especially useful if you have naturally acidic soil or need to improve the structure of the soil.