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Cucumbers are relatively easy to grow, making them a popular garden vegetable for most aspiring gardeners. Choosing the right growing medium for your cucumbers is one way to ensure a successful crop, so is mushroom compost a good choice for growing cucumbers?
Cucumbers like mushroom compost in their growing medium. Mushroom compost increases moisture retention, promotes drainage, and suppresses weed growth. The high calcium levels in the mushroom compost promote good fruit development and increase the strength and health of the plant.
Creating the right growing environment for your cucumbers sets the foundation for healthy plants and a good crop yield. Mushroom compost works well for many vegetables, but do cucumbers like mushroom compost in their growing environment, and does it benefit the plants and the fruit production?
Can You Grow Cucumbers In Mushroom Compost?
Mushroom compost has many benefits in the garden, especially for improving moisture retention, providing structure and controlled drainage to clay and sandy soils, and for pH amendment.
While these benefits are good for the soil structure and the growing environment, is mushroom compost a good choice for growing cucumbers?
Mushroom compost is essentially a waste by-product of the mushroom growing industry. Mushroom compost starts its life as a bedding environment for the commercial growth of mushrooms. Once the medium has been used for two or three mushroom growing cycles, it is removed, sterilized, treated, and remarketed as mushroom compost.
There is much debate in gardening communities about the benefits of mushroom compost; some gardeners are adamant that it is beneficial to many vegetables, while others believe that it does not add much value to the soil.
Since the medium has been taken out of circulation in a mushroom farm, many gardeners believe that the nutrients in this compost are depleted. This is not the case, but rather that the medium is simply no longer suitable for growing mushrooms.
Cucumbers do very well when grown using mushroom compost. The plants produce a better yield, and the plants themselves are stronger and healthier.
What Benefits Does Mushroom Compost Offer Cucumbers?
Mushroom compost is not good for all vegetables, but cucumbers flourish when it is included in the soil. The cucumber plants are sturdier and more resistant to pests and disease, and the cucumbers produced are crunchy and large.
How does the mushroom compost benefit your cucumber plants? The following are the main benefits your cucumber plants will experience from mushroom compost.
Mushroom Compost Amends Soil pH For Cucumbers
Soil pH amendment. Mushroom compost is known to be beneficial as a soil pH amendment medium. If your soil pH is too low or acidic, it will affect the cucumber development.
Cucumbers prefer a pH of between 6.0 and 6.5 pH. Mushroom compost has a pH of 6.7, which helps reduce the acidity in the soil to tolerable ranges for the cucumber.
The more alkaline nature of mushroom compost means you should not add too much to the soil if your soil pH is already close to the upper limit of 6.5 for cucumbers. If the growing medium’s pH is too high or alkaline, it will also affect the growth of the plant.
Mushroom Compost Offers Slow Release Nutrients For Cucumbers
Mushroom compost does not dump a huge amount of nutrients into the soil that leaches away quickly with rain or watering.
The nutrients in the mushroom compost are released slowly over time, preventing the need for frequent fertilizing to boost the cucumber plant’s growth and fruit development.
Mushroom Compost Can Reduce Fungal Diseases In Cucumbers
Cucumber plants are susceptible to fungal infections, such as powdery mildew, which can coat the leaves of the plant and reduce its ability to photosynthesize.
The powdery mildew also takes nutrients directly from the plant, which can cause the health of the plant to deteriorate and the fruit yield to be reduced.
As part of the processing that mushroom compost goes through, it is sterilized to kill any fungi or bacteria in the medium that could remain after growing mushrooms.
This action effectively sterilizes the mushroom compost and makes it safe to use with plants that are susceptible to fungal infection. Mushroom compost will not introduce additional fungal spores to the growing medium that could promote the spread of these infections.
Mushroom Compost Suppresses Weed Growth
When used as a compost and as a surface mulch around your cucumbers, the high salt content of the mushroom compost acts as a good suppressor for weeds.
The high salt content combined with no light reaching the soil surface discourages weed seeds from germinating. Weeds can outgrow cucumber plants and use water and nutrients in the soil that are intended to boost the growth of the cucumber plant.
The weed suppression benefit of mushroom compost will limit the weeds that will grow in the soil and compete with the cucumber plant.
Mushroom Compost Boosts Fruit Development In Cucumbers
Plants that produce relatively large fruit, such as tomatoes and cucumbers, benefit from higher calcium availability in the soil.
Calcium assists the plant in producing large, healthy, and abundant crops on these plants, making mushroom compost an ideal medium for cucumbers.
The higher calcium levels also help with the plant’s leaves and stem structure, growing stronger, healthier, and more robust plants.
Mushroom compost also contains other elements such as potassium, magnesium, zinc, and copper as micronutrients, all of which are beneficial to produce healthy plants and fruit.
Strong, healthy plants are more resistant to disease and attack from pests and have the energy to put into fruit development.
As a result, the quality of the cucumbers produced and the number of fruit produced by each plant increases with mushroom compost, both as compost and mulch.
Mushroom compost is not suitable for all vegetables, but it does benefit growing cucumber plants in your garden, raised beds, or containers.
The important consideration when using mushroom compost with cucumbers is to ensure the soil pH is not affected to the point that the growing medium is unsuitable for the plants.
Besides monitoring pH levels, mushroom compost is a good compost to use with cucumbers, and your plants will reward you with a good cucumber harvest.