Soil amendment reccomendations

    
Last year was my first year for my current garden. It was previously mostly lawn grass. I dug up the grass and buried most of it. In the fall I got a pick-up truck of mushroom soil and tilled it in real good...as deep as my tiller would go. I didn't add any ammendments after last growing season or at the beginning of this one. I did use some Miracle Grow directly around the plants a couple times last year but none this year. I did use some "slow release" Miracle Grow around some plants this year but only once at the beginning. In the fall last year I dug trenches and put all the collected leaves, almost exclusively Norway Maple, Lilac, and Burning Bush then coverd them with soil. I also threw all the kitchen scraps (just the plant based), coffee grounds, and egg shells, as well as the fall gord decorations, onto the soil. They were tilled in this spring. The leaves were burried sufficiently deep, or decomposed over winter, such that when I tilled this spring I didn't see much evidence of them.
Now my questions:
1. Is mushroom soil a good soil ammendment?
2. If it is how often and when would be the best time to add it, fall or spring?
3. If there are better ammendments what are they and when should I add them, fall or spring?
4. Based on what I have described, what am I doing right or wrong?
Many thanks, sparkie
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Yes, it's an awesome amendment.

If it's spent mushroom compost (soil in which mushrooms have already grown) then anytime is fine, early spring and late fall being probably the best. Raw sheep manure (as mushroom soil usually is) might be too 'hot' for anything but fall/winter distribution.

I guess a lot depends upon the soil with which you started, but basically any organic matter you can get your hands on... leaves, grass clippings, shredded bark, pine needles, composted manure, etc.

Seems like you're doing everything right.
Dave
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You have totaly missed one of the best there is! and it's cheap and adds to the soil itself ... What is it?
Steer Manure!!!
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to the

I use fully composted steer manure as a sterile top-coating that suppresses weeds yet looks like rich dark topsoil. Not good used this way for a seedling bed of course.
-paghat the ratgirl
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Dump a few yards of it on top of the area in the fall and before a freeze sets in, rototill it into the soil and then leave it set. The earthworms will thank you a whole bunch.
-- "In this universe the night was falling,the shadows were lengthening towards an east that would not know another dawn. But elsewhere the stars were still young and the light of morning lingered: and along the path he once had followed, man would one day go again."
Arthur C. Clarke, The City & The Stars
SIAR www.starlords.org Bishop's Car Fund http://www.bishopcarfund.Netfirms.com / Freelance Writers Shop http://www.freelancewrittersshop.netfirms.com Telescope Buyers FAQ http://home.inreach.com/starlord

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Yup.
Both.
You're doing fine. You can use just about any organic matter -- leaves, grass, etc. -- and you may find it even more beneficial to set up with a nice compost pile/bin so you can compost it before spreading it (6 one way, half dozen the other). You can also compost kitchen scraps (not meats mind you, just veges and fruits) in a separate bin, then apply them throughout the garden as well.
James
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I've done the same around my lilacs, but with wood ashes from the grill -- works out great, we get some nicely smoked foodstuffs and my lilacs get a little bit'o good stuff! :)

decided
Look at getting a bin that you can use -- they're a bit more tidy and take less from the yard's overall appeal. there are a number of options out there, including some that are actually small drums -- instead of using a pitchfork to turn it, you simply turn a crank and rotate it. :)
James
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snipped-for-privacy@zone6.com wrote:

You're doing great. Mushroom soil is a fine amendment; you can apply it at any time. In-place composting is also wonderful for improving the soil; as you found, it's also a great way to get rid of all of your biodegradable yard trash in the fall. You can also do this with shredded paper as long as it doesn't have plasticizers or metal-based inks. All of our newspaper goes into the garden instead of a landfill somewhere . . . my family has beaucoup jokes about 'eating the news'. :) We use it as mulch during the growing season, then till it under each fall.
The only thing I would suggest, if you have the room, is starting a compost pile. There's a few ways to do this; the trade-off is space vs. effort. Because I have a LOT of space, I do what is called cold composting. All the biodegradeable debris generated during the growing season is piled up in an huge heap. Big pieces of tree get run through a chipper shredder; but, most everything else is just flung on there as it comes. Back when we had horses, we also added all the muck-out from the stables. Then, we ignore it for a couple of years whilst the bacteria and earthworms and insects and other critters treat it as home-sweet-home. Come spring of the second year, we rake off about the top six inches of undegraded matter -- it is the first thing in the NEW pile, and use the compost in the gardens for that year -- tilling some in in the spring, and using the rest as top-dressing as needed -- flinging any really big chunks [usually pieces of wood] back into the new pile. Absolutely minimal effort; but, it means that I have four 6' x 6' piles of compost -- two processing, one being built, and one being used -- out in the way-back at all times.
When I had less free space, I did a modified form of this: Set up three 3' x 3' bins in a row. Finished compost is always in the center bin. In spring, remove the finished compost, and till it into the beds or apply as top dressing. Take the top part of last fall's pile, and flip it over into the empty bin to form the base of the new pile. Then, turn the remainder of the fall pile into the center bin, removing any really large pieces of debris as you go. Leave it to finish composting until fall. Meanwhile, as the growing season progresses, put any compostable material into the spring bin. Use a chipper / shredder to turn large plants, sticks, etc. into smaller pieces. Come August, stop building in the spring bin, and start a pile in the fall bin. Come fall cleanup time, put the finished compost on the beds, remove the top layer from the spring bin to the fall bin, turn the spring compost into the finish bin, and continue building the fall bin. Each pile gets turned once -- a great aerobic workout -- and you get two loads of compost a year.
If space is at a premium, get two of the rotating compost barrels. Fill one with compostable material until it is as full as you can get it, remembering to add a shovelful of soil. Then, start turning it every day. Meanwhile, you can be filling the second barrel with your next load of compostable stuff. In about two weeks, the first barrel will be ready to use; remove the compost, start a new load in it, and start turning the other. You'll have a continuous stream of compost to use every two to three weeks. This is hot composting, and it's pretty important that you pay attention to the various amounts of material that you are putting into the barrel. Too much green, and you'll get an anaerobic mess. Too much brown, and the bacterial action won't be able to take off. Too damp, and it'll just sit there and sulk. Too dry, and the bacteria, again, won't be active enough. So, try to put in about equal amounts of green and brown, and make sure that it's damp but not soggy. You'll know if the process goes off; it'll smell to high heaven . . . which is a good reason for not having the bins right by the house, BTW.
Chris Owens
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wrote:

Thanks Chris and others for your views. I stopped by the mushroom soil guy and I can get a full pick-up truck load for around $10. That's pretty cheap compared to fertilizer which may leach out of the soil with too much rain. I believe it is used. The mushroom plant up the road delivers it.
I have this burning bush, actually it's more like a tree, next to my wood pile which is next to my garden. I'm thinking to remove the bush which will give me room to expand the garden *grin* and room for composting activities. Can I take a cutting from the bush and start a new one? How would I best do this? I would of course keep the little guy under control in a nother area of the yard.
happy gardening, sparkie Zone 6
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It would be helpful to get a soil test so you know what you have and thus what you might need. Amendments to raise ph such as ground limestone are best added in the off season as well as other slow acting mineral compouinds
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$10!!! I'm in zone 6, too. Happen to be in Western PA? If so, please let me know where you got the load of mushroom manure!! Thanks

cheap
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