The past few weeks have seen me making a furrow in the garden barrowing load after load of mushroom compost onto the beds. So far most has gone on the veg beds but as soon as the roses are all pruned those beds will get their thick mulch too. I would have liked to get this done earlier really but time and delivery of the compost didn’t allow that. So the race is on to get this all dug in the veg beds (apart from where the carrots will be sown) so the beds can settle before I get sowing in late March and early April.
Something has happened to the mushroom compost though. The last load I had last year was nasty, smelly stuff and nothing like spent mushroom compost. It showed no sign of having carried a crop of mushrooms. This year the loads are better but I am sure the stuff has never been cropped and I wonder if that is because the Irish mushroom industry is in trouble because of imports from Poland. This would be a shame because it was such an important industry. Not long ago most of the mushrooms I bought in the UK were grown in Ireland but I assume that cheap labour in Poland is killing the Irish industry – it is just a thought.
Anyway the stuff I am spreading is pretty ‘strong’ but it is moderately well composted. The soil here had not been improved with organic matter for many years until I arrived and in just two years it has been transformed with the addition of liberal amounts of mushroom compost, some gritty sand and, in some areas, some lime or calcified seaweed (substitute). More is better so I am making sure the soil gets an annual addition of organic matter. This helps improve soil structure and the worm population, adds some nutrients, improves the drainage of the clay soil and helps the soil retain moisture and nutrients.
Although it is being dug into the soil in many areas it will be spread as a thick mulch too where pumpkins and squashes are to be grown. I am aiming to go bigger and better with the pumpkins this year.