Bark- and Peat-amended Spent Mushroom Compost for Containerized Culture of Shrubs

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  • 1 Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs, Horticultural Research Institute of Ontario, Vineland Station, Ont. L0R 2E0, Canada

Four deciduous ornamental shrubs [`Coral Beauty' cotoneaster (Cotoneaster dammeri C.K. Schneid); Tartarian dogwood (Cornus alba L.); `Lynwood' forsythia (Forsythia × intermedia Zab.); `Variegata' weigela (Weigela florida Bunge A.D.C.)] were grown in trickle-fertigated containers. There were eight media consisting of 25% or 50% sphagnum peat or composted pine bark, 25% sand, and the remainder one of two sources of spent mushroom compost; four media with 509″ peat or bark mixed with 50% spent mushroom compost; and a control medium of 10070 pine bark. Initially, higher than desirable salt levels in all compost-amended media were leached quickly (within 2 weeks of planting) and not detrimental to the species tested. Unlike cotoneaster, which showed no difference in growth (shoot dry weight) due to medium, dogwood, forsythia, and weigela grew significantly better in all compost-amended media than in the control. Growth of these three species was 20% greater in peat-based than in bark-based, compost-amended media. Dogwood and forsythia grew slightly more (+8%) with spent mushroom compost based primarily on straw-bedded horse manure than with one based on a blend of straw-bedded horse manure, wheat straw, and hay. The addition of sand (25%) to a mixture of 50% peat or bark and 25 % spent compost produced a medium with minimal compaction.