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There are several good reasons to grow strawberries in your garden. Strawberries are a perennial plant that can last for several years and produce much fruit over that time. What is the best growing environment for strawberries, and do they like to grow in mushroom compost?
Strawberries do like mushroom compost if the soil is too acidic. The alkaline nature of the mushroom compost will amend the soil’s acidity to within the best pH range for growing strawberries. Strawberry plants are salt tolerant, so this aspect of mushroom compost is not a problem.
Strawberries are typically easy to grow, but as with any other plant, the growing environment is crucial for the health of the plant and the quality and volume of fruit it will produce. Mushroom compost is favored by some gardeners, but is this a suitable compost to include in your strawberry growing medium?
Can You Grow Strawberries In Mushroom Compost?
Mushroom compost is often considered a suitable growing medium for many plants, but we need to look at the growing environment best suited to strawberries to determine if mushroom compost is a good choice.
Many gardeners have success with growing strawberries in a growing medium that includes mushroom compost, but this type of compost must be used judiciously with strawberries.
In fact, many gardeners find that their strawberry plants actually thrive when they’re grown in mushroom compost! But this does not mean mushroom compost is always a good idea for growing strawberries.
As with any compost, you need to know something about the needs of the plants you are growing before deciding on the best compost to use in the growing medium. The same premise holds true when using mushroom compost in your garden.
Best Soil pH For Growing Strawberries
Strawberries prefer growing in slightly acidic soil with a pH of between 5.5 and 6.5. Since mushroom compost is more alkaline, with a pH of about 6.6 to 6.7, it seems counter-intuitive that mushroom compost can be good for growing strawberries.
For this reason, you should use mushroom compost with care when growing strawberries. If your soil is already on the alkaline side of the pH scale, adding mushroom compost can reduce the soil’s acidity to the point where the strawberries will not thrive.
If your soil is on the alkaline side, adding sulfur to lower the pH would be beneficial. You can also add peat moss or composted leaves to raise the acidity of your soil.
However, if your soil is slightly too acidic for successful strawberry growing, you can use mushroom compost to amend the soil and bring the pH to a more tolerable range for the strawberries.
What Is The Best Soil for Growing For Strawberries?
When it comes to soil, strawberries like it rich and well-drained. Good soil options for strawberries include sandy loam soils or a growing medium of the following mix.
- 1/3 peat moss compost if the soil is alkaline or 1/3 mushroom compost if the soil is too acidic.
- 1/3 perlite or vermiculite.
- 1/3 good quality topsoil.
You can use mushroom compost to regulate the pH of the soil or the growing environment to keep it suitable for growing strawberry plants.
As you can see from the mixture ratio, mushroom compost is not always the best compost to include in your strawberry growing medium.
The key aspect in selecting the right compost type is the current pH of the growing medium. As a result, you should check the pH of your growing medium to determine which choice, either a peat moss compost or mushroom compost, would make the best choice.
No matter what compost type you use, be sure to add it several weeks before planting strawberries so that it has time to settle and become incorporated into the soil.
Are Strawberries Salt Tolerant?
One of the negative factors of mushroom compost is its high salt content, making it unsuitable for plants with a low tolerance for a salt-rich environment.
Strawberries are salt-sensitive, so not too much mushroom compost should be included in the growing medium for these plants.
Excess salinity in the growing medium can result in leaf burn, where the edges of the leaves begin to discolor and eventually die and drop off. High salinity will also reduce fruit quality and yield.
Some strawberry cultivars are more sensitive to salt than others, so choose a salt-tolerant variety when using mushroom compost, such as Albion, Camarosa, or San Andreas strawberry varieties.
Fortunately, good quality mushroom compost can be obtained with lower salt content, making this issue less of a problem.
How Does Mushroom Compost Benefit Strawberries?
Many attributes of mushroom compost make it an ideal choice for growing strawberries, especially if a pH adjustment is needed in the soil.
Mushroom compost offers the following benefits for growing strawberries.
- Good drainage. Strawberries do not like soggy soil, and the good drainage characteristics of mushroom compost make it an ideal choice. The improved drainage and aeration will also help reduce the risk of fungal diseases.
- Excellent water retention. Mushroom compost is known for its excellent water retention capability, which helps to keep the soil moist and cool. This characteristic is ideal for strawberries.
- Soil aeration. As with other composts, mushroom compost adds structure and texture to the soil, providing good aeration in the soil, which benefits the roots of the strawberry plant.
- Rich in organic material. The organic material in the mushroom compost provides a slow-release nutrient source for the strawberry plant.
- Management of soil pH. Mushroom compost can be used to amend the soil pH to produce an environment that will encourage good growth and fruiting of the strawberries.
- Mushroom compost is a good mulch. Mushroom compost is an excellent mulch to use with strawberries because of its weed suppression capabilities from the high salt content.
- Low nitrogen. Mushroom compost is not high in nitrogen, which encourages fruiting rather than excessive foliage growth.
These mushroom compost characteristics benefit strawberries and produce a growing medium that encourages healthy, strong growth in the strawberry plants and good fruit development.
It is best to select a good quality mushroom compost to get the right nutrient value from the compost and lower salt content. Some inexpensive mushroom composts do not have enough nutrient value to benefit the strawberries.
Check out: Coffee Grounds for Strawberry Plants
Mushroom compost is not the best choice for all garden plants or vegetables, but it is suitable for growing strawberries where a pH amendment of the soil is required.
If your soil is already alkaline, adding mushroom compost to the growing medium for strawberries will not produce good results since the pH levels will be out of the ideal range for these plants.