The mushroom experiment is going well! I'm impressed with the variety of plants that are now sprouting in 100% mushroom compost. I am especially excited to see how the heat-loving plants will do in the warmth of the mushroom. Cantaloupes have germinated and I just transplanted the watermelons in. Soon will be the sweet potatoes and peanuts. I also put Malabar spinach seeds in this afternoon.
Here they are at 5 weeks after germination. Only 2 of the 5 seeds I received have successfully germinated, so I have to be really careful not to mess these up! You can see the typical habanero-style leaves with a purple tint to them, possibly a result of the T8 lights. Most of the plants turn purplish under the fluorescents.
How do you tell the difference? The female plant has flowers! I have wasted several years growing male plants because I thought they might need a few seasons to get established and start producing. Luckily I gave a plant to my dad, and his vines have done fine flower-wise. I even made beer the past two years with his harvested hops. A few weeks ago I took a chunk of his rhizomes and plan to replace my dud plants with his. Here they are rooting in the window:
Growing my own hops, I am always looking for a good outlet for homebrew supplies. It has been a while since I went to Tanczo's on Jacksonville Rd, only because it is inconvenient to my commute, but I'm glad I stopped today. They now carry a good line of homebrew kits and ingredients, and the emplyees have gotten very interested and knowledgeable about their new hobby section.
I didn't set out to experiment the effectiveness of using mushroom soil, but the results are already coming in. There is a huge difference with the Romaine. The following are all from the same stock, started about a month ago under lights in Jiffy trays.
First, romaine in a 6 in. pot filled with sifted garden compost. Pretty normal. Plant is about 10" high and growing strong.
The second is in half compost and half mushroom. You can see that is is much darker and isn't growing up the way it should. About half the size of the one above. Outer leaves are 5" long.
Now we have pure mushroom in the raised beds. Very dark and stunted. These plants are only about 4" high and leaves are deformed.
Man these things grow fast. I started plucking them out this morning. I ate them right over the sink, as always, fresh-picked, washed and sprinkled with salt. This variety is oblong in shape rather than round and very mild.
This is one big pile of poo. One thing we have plenty of in Berks County is mushroom soil. This is at one of the local Mennonite farms. They were loading up their field spreaders as I pulled up. $10/yard is a fantastic bargain for such a rich soil additive. Another great thing is that it is sterile and there are no seeds in it.
The peppers appear to be very happy in 100% mushroom soil beds. The tomatoes are growing a little slower than the ones in regular compost. Transplanted red onions are doing fine, and turnips, spinach and carrots have germinated in the mushroom soil.
The only questionable crop is the romaine lettuce. Usually it grows tall and compact, but the lettuces growing in 100% mushroom are very dark green and the leaves are spreading out on the ground instead of growing up. Will update.