Mushroom Compost Vs Cow Manure: Which Is Better For Your Soil?

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Last Updated on December 27, 2022

Adding green to your abode makes it look much more invigorating than investing too much in unnecessary decorations that may make your house look superfluous. Growing healthy plants in your garden can only be made possible with healthy soil. Natural or organic fertilization with compost or manure is seen as a viable option for over-commercialized plant food, but which one is better for your garden soil, mushroom compost vs cow manure?

What is Compost?

Compost refers to organic materials that have been decomposed to provide nutrients to the soil during the growing season and at the same time, minimize food wastage. This step, called composting, is a relatively easy process to execute, assuming that you know which among the list is recommended for the process.

Although compost equates to minimizing food waste, particular things are highly discouraged to be part of the process like animals and milk products. Animal products take time to decompose; hence, they may serve as a breeding site for microbes, which invites diseases.

Therefore, it’s better to settle for plant and fruit products – mushroom compost, for example.

Mushroom Compost

Mushroom compost makes a good conditioning product for your garden soil, as it is organic and easy to find. There is a variation in the growing process for mushrooms; therefore, their composting process may differ from one another.

You can buy mushroom spawn in the market or prepare it manually. A single bag of mushroom spawn is steam pasteurized to get rid of weeds that competes with your plants in absorbing nutrients from the soil and also to eradicate other harmful substances to your plants.

The entire duration for mushroom composting normally takes about three to four weeks, with the temperature closely monitored to complete the process. After it has been completed, the leftover compost is utilized as a soil fertilizer.

Read more about Will Mushroom Compost Burn Plants?

Advantages of Mushroom Compost

Mushroom compost is capable of providing nutrients to your plants at an affordable rate. In addition, it also allows your soil to further increase its water-holding threshold – an advantage that minimizes its watering-need demands.

Most garden plants, may it be fruits, vegetables, or flowers, are compatible with mushroom compost. To further appreciate its effects, mix it thoroughly with the soil before use.

Mushroom Compost or Cow Manure: Which is Better for Your Soil?

Disadvantages of Mushroom Compost

Although mushroom compost is an ideal organic matter to use, you should be aware of where and when to use it due to its high-salt level. Salt-sensitive plants like azaleas are not compatible with mushroom compost, while seedlings may also be affected by the high amount of salt.

Learn if Mushroom Compost Is Good for a Vegetable Garden

What is Manure?

Another form of fertilizer that can be used in producing healthy plants is animal manure (usually cow, chicken, or horse manure). This organic fertilizer is also capable of giving off nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to the soil.

The animal waste used in manure processing is a cost-effective process that doesn’t cause any pollution at all. Moreover, it’s also capable of killing weeds and pests that disrupt the growth of plants.

There are three different types of Manure: green manure, compost manure, and farmyard manure. All three come from different sources but primarily aim to provide nutrients to the soil for the plants to grow well. Among the excretion present, those from cows serve as the best ones for gardening.

Cow Manure 

As mentioned, cow manure serves as the most ideal dung for gardening. Cows eat mainly grass, so it’s not unusual to see grass and grain in their manure. Cow manure isn’t difficult to find, as there are several cows in the field that excretes from time to time.

Composting manure is highly beneficial to plants, as it serves as an excellent culture bed for seeds, due to its high nutrient content. Although it’s a good fertilizer, heavy manures, like those from cows, must be combined with light materials (hays, straws) or ash/lime.

Mushroom Compost or Cow Manure: Which is Better for Your Soil?

Advantages of Cow Manure

Aside from providing a rich amount of nutrients from your crops and other forms of garden plants, it also increases the soil’s water-holding capacity – that means you won’t have to keep on watering your plant from time to time.

Another advantage of using cow manure is that it improves ventilation for your plants. Composting cow manure will also promote the growth of good bacteria in the soil. Good bacteria hasten the absorption of nutrients by breaking the aforementioned down into simpler forms.

Lastly, it’s also environmentally friendly, in a way that produces a small number of greenhouse gases.

Disadvantages of Cow Manure

Manure or waste may be beneficial for the soil, but it’s also considered a breeding site for bacteria like Escherichia coli, a pathogenic type of microbe. Aside from the presence of pathogenic bacteria in fresh cow manure, it also has a high concentration of ammonia that’s harmful to your plants.

To eradicate these problems, composting in the right way cow manure will kill most of the pathogens. Follow the steps mentioned here to reduce the risk of foodborne pathogens in your vegetable gardens.

You can buy these mushroom and manure compost on Amazon:

  • Espoma GM25 Organic 3-2-3 Chicken Manure- it is made in the United States and it is suitable for organic gardening.
  • Michigan Peat Garden Magic Compost and Manure- a balanced blend of organic peat moss and composted animal manure, it is ideal for improving a wide range of planting soils.
  • Mushroom Compost Organic Brands- this media contained wheat straw, fibrous peat, gypsum, dolomite, crushed feathers, cottonseed meal, peanut meal, and more. 
Michigan Peat 5240 Garden Magic Compost and Manure

Mushroom Compost vs Cow Manure?

Conclusively, both products are excellent sources of nutrients for your soil. Soil applied to either of these products end up producing healthy plants. However, between both processes, going for mushroom compost is a better option due to its less tedious process.

Albeit, you can still opt for composting cow manure to completely enjoy its benefits for your plants. In the end, choosing based on availability and cost plays a major role on your part.

Read about Plants that Don’t Like Mushroom Compost 

Does Garden Soil Have Manure?

Your garden soil may contain manure. However, this is not commonly found in the ground unless previously added. Many gardeners prefer using other types of fertilizers and organic matter to improve their soil quality.

How Do You Make Mushroom Compost With Soil?

You can make mushroom compost with soil by using the following ingredients: 

  • 35 – 40% soil
  • 35 – 40% straw
  • 35 – 40% animal manure (preferably horse)
  • Water


  1. Use a pitchfork or shovel to mix the straw and manure in a wheelbarrow or other large container.
  2. Add a layer of soil, and mix it well. 
  3. Moisten the mixture but ensure it is not soggy. 
  4. Spread the mixture out evenly in a flat layer on the ground. 
  5. Keep the mixture moist as it begins to break down and decompose.

Note: The manure provides the fungi with the nutrients they need to grow. The soil provides structure to the compost and serves as a bacteria and microorganism source to help break down the organic matter. 

Over time, the compost will become a rich, dark brown material. This will make it the perfect environment for growing mushrooms. 

What is The pH of Mushroom Compost?

The pH of mushroom compost varies. It is influenced by the ingredients used to make it and the stage of decomposition it is in. Generally, mushroom compost tends to have a slightly acidic pH. This can range from 6.0 to 7.0. Most mushrooms prefer this range. 

What Vegetables Like Mushroom Compost?

Mushroom compost is rich in nutrients and organic matter. Many vegetables can benefit when growing in this. Some may even prefer it and yield better results! If you have mushroom compost, you can use it to grow:

  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Eggplants
  • Squash
  • Cucumbers
  • Beans

Mushroom compost makes a great addition to most food gardens. However, if you’re growing berries, it’s best to plant them elsewhere. 

What Flowers Like Mushroom Compost?

Almost any type of flower can benefit from mushroom compost. Most types contain phosphate, potash, calcium, magnesium, and iron. Plants that enjoy these nutrients include roses, lilies, marigolds, zinnias, and sunflowers. 

Plants that don’t like mushroom compost prefer less acidic soil. If you have azaleas, gardenias, ferns, or zinnias, it’s best to keep your mushroom compost away. 

What Do Mushrooms in Soil Mean?

If you see mushrooms popping up, it means there’s an underlying fungal network present in your soil. This network is called mycelium, and it appears when soil conditions are optimal for fungi reproduction. 

Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of mycelium. If your soil is moist and warm, and there is a source of organic matter for fungi to feed on, you’ll likely see them. Fungi play an essential role in breaking down organic matter and releasing nutrients into the soil. If you have mushrooms in your garden, it can be a sign of a healthy ecosystem. 

What Edible Mushrooms Grow on Manure?

Eating the wrong mushroom can be fatal. If you see mushrooms growing in your garden, you need to be sure they’re edible before you take a bite. Many edible mushrooms grow on manure, so you’re in luck if you want to start producing your own. You can try growing shiitake, oyster, and enoki mushrooms on a mixture of straw and animal manure. 

If you’re after more flavor and texture, you can grow morels or chanterelles. These grow in manure too. Mushrooms can grow in various environments and climates. You can use more than manure if you want to explore other growing substrates. 


Having plants in your home provides excellent vibrancy in the surroundings than overly decorating your house with unnecessary objects. To produce healthy-looking plants, mixing your soil with mushroom compost or cow manure is one of the ideal steps to consider. Both materials enrich your plant with enough nutrients to keep your plants healthy and increase water-holding capacity.

Both mushroom compost vs cow manure has their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, it’s all up to you what to choose based on the availability and budget.


Where to buy mushroom compost?

If you don’t have space for composting or if your mushroom compost is not fully done, buying is a great option. So where do you buy mushroom compost? You can buy mushroom compost from all local home and garden stores.

You can as well buy mushroom compost online

Can you put fresh cow manure in your garden?

There are lots of benefits to applying cow manure in your garden. However, putting fresh cow manure in your garden is not advisable. Now some fresh manure can have some bad bacteria (e.g. E. coli) which can cause harm to humans when you consume the resulting plant. Bacteria that can be detrimental to your plants can be introduced by applying fresh cow manure. 

Also, weed seeds can be introduced to your garden because the digestive tract of a cow cannot break down seeds. Therefore, fresh cow manure can contain weed seeds capable of invading your garden. 

Raw cow manure is well comprised of a high amount of ammonium, nitrogen, and salts and these can burn your plants. 

This is why we recommend you hot compost your fresh cow manure before applying them in your garden. This way, harmful bacteria, and seed weeds neutralize too much nitrogen, ammonium, and salt. Therefore, your compost manure pile will produce healthy and safe plants.

We suggest you compost your fresh cow manure for a minimum of 15 days at a regular temperature of 131 Fahrenheit. Also, turn your compost constantly so all the manure attains the right temperatures. 

What is the best compost for vegetable gardens? Mushroom compost or cow manure

In regards to fertilizing your vegetable table, there are usually numerous options. The best out of these numerous options are compost and manure. Nevertheless, between mushroom compost and cow manure you might be wondering which is better. 

Our recommendation for the best compost for vegetable gardens is mushroom compost. Both mushrooms and cow manure are great. But cow manure is usually not recommended for edible crops such as vegetables as there is the chance of disease transmission to humans e.g. E. coli.

However, if you must use cow manure, hot compost them well. Also, apply them to your soil at least 3 or 4 months before you plant vegetable gardens. 

What is mushroom compost not good for?

Mushroom compost is not good for fruit crops that need an acidic medium. This is because most finished compost is neutral. It is also not suitable for lawn top-dresser only if the soil is already acidic. 

Mushroom compost is as well not suitable to be used as potting mix components. 

Can too much compost hurt plants?

Even though compost is a slow-releasing nutrient, too much compost can be detrimental to your soil as well as your plants. It can suffocate and even kill your plants. 

Take for example nitrogen and phosphorous. They are some of the components in compost. Nitrogen is assimilated fast and rain can easily wash them away. Also, nitrogen is easily converted to N2 and N2O gases that escape through the air.

However, phosphorous are assimilated gradually. It can’t be easily washed away by rain or converted. Therefore, excess phosphorous build up in the soil where it can reach a toxic level. 


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