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Free Compost !

Free compost!

Yea, and there is lots of it.

You can get totally free compost at this mushroom farm in Escondido.

Mountain Meadow Mushrooms

26948 N Broadway (at Bachelor Ln)

Escondido, CA 92026

(760) 749-1201

So you don’t live nearby:

Ok, so perhaps you’re reading this and you are thinking to yourself…
Well, this is great for them… but I don’t live anywhere near that place. 
If this applies to you then there is another option.

As it turns out, many (perhaps most) mushroom farms do this type of thing.

So, if you live in a place far far away from Escondido, just do some searching on the internet to see if there is a mushroom farm near you.  If there is a fungus business nearby, in all likelihood they have lots of great compost that they would love to give away.  It might be worth a quick search and a phone call to find out.  In addition, many town/counties have dedicated centers for yard-waste and make their own compost and mulch for local residents to pick up.

 

Free compost in Escondido

The view as you drive in the facility: free compost pile on the left and the main office marked by the arrow in the distance.

 

One man’s junk is another man’s treasure:

  • The awesome compost (that they give away for free) is actually stuff that they can’t use because it represents spent mushroom food.
  • Their ‘leftover’ compost is filled with lots of great organic material that most plants would love (worm casting, peat moss, manure, wood products).  The flyer that I scanned-in at the end of this article provides details about the expected nutrient information from mushroom compost.
  • After the mushrooms have done their thing, the leftover compost is piled up outside of their facility…  Just waiting for someone like you.
  • Note; I have heard that there might be a slightly higher level of salts in some compost due to the manure additives.  Therefore, it might not be the best thing for a few select plants like Avocados.

 

How I use the free compost: 

  • I put the compost around the root zone of many of my fruit trees.  The stuff gets muddy fast and absorbs well into sandy soil.
  • I originally didn’t think that you could use this compost as primary planting soil.  But I like to experiment… and I have tried it as the primary soil for veggies of all kinds.  Turns out that and it works great as a primary soil at least for veggies.
  • Below is a picture showing the harvest of just one day of picking from small garden boxes filled with nothing but mushroom compost.  I pick veggies in this amount about every other day and I consistently get about this much food each time.
  • Trying it for strawberries next.
Awesome fruit grown in mushroom compost

One day of harvest from small garden boxes filled with mushroom compost.

 

How to get the free compost (a few recommendations):

  • Call ahead to make sure they are open when you want to go.
  • The facility asks that you sign in at their main office before you get started.  It is very low key. The office is located just behind the large compost pile in the picture provided at the beginning of this article.
  • This place is a bit out of the way so I strongly recommend that you map it out on Google or Mapquest before you leave.  On my first trip out there, I used my GPS which put me on a wild goose chase.  If you find yourself driving on dirt roads then you are going the wrong way.
Free compost directions

Google Map to Mountain Meadow Mushrooms (circled in red)

 

What to bring with you to get the free compost:

  • Bring containers to put the compost in, or get a pickup truck and fill it up. This is totally free.
  • As an option, they will also load your truck with compost for a $25 fee (this was confirmed April 2016 which is the last time I was there).  However, that optional loading assistance is only available on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  In their flyer (scanned in and provided below) they recommend calling ahead to make sure that loading option is available.
  • Bring a shovel if you are filling up yourself.
  • Bring gloves and wear clothes you don’t like because this compost… well smells very ‘organic.’
    • Another words, it stinks like a barnyard on a hot day.
  • I have a bunch of other recommendations that I wrote about in a follow-up article. Please check out the tips for easy compost application article for more info.

 

Other suggestions:

  • Pick a day with decent weather.
  • The compost can be heavy and it’s hot out there.  Therefore, pick a cool day or go early in the morning if you can.
  • If it is raining, it will be a total muddy mess and the compost will be extra heavy.  Therefore, if the weather is wet, consider going on another day.

 

Update: I scanned in their small info flyer:

  • For your convenience, I have scanned in a small flyer they have available in their Mountain Meadow Mushrooms office.
  • The flyer provides hours and service information (such as additional loading options on Tuesdays and Thursdays)
  • The flyer also provides the expected concentrations of various nutrients in their mushroom compost (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, etc). Even though this mushroom business is in Southern California, they have obtained this mushroom compost nutrient information from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and MushroomCompost.org.
  • You can click on the flyer picture below to enlarge for easier reading.
Free mushroom compost

Mountain Meadow Mushrooms. Compost flyer. Click on image to enlarge.

 

More information about Mountain Meadow Mushrooms via Yelp.

 

About Thomas Osborne, MD

Dr. Osborne is a Harvard trained Radiologist and Neuroradiologist who loves to share his insight about medicine and gardening.

21 comments

  1. Hi, just recently found your site while searching for info on suriname cherry plant care. Then found out more info on why my dragon fruit is not fruiting. Awesome site! Thank you so much for your info.

    and great tip on compost from mushroom farm. We have one here in Ventura and will be giving them a call.

    again thanks for all the reat tips.
    Katheryne

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Katheryne
      Thanks for the awesome note.

      I am super happy to hear that the site has been helpful for you.
      Please feel free to share the articles you like with others.
      I am hoping that we can all learn from each other and the more people connected the better.

      Best,
      Tom

  2. I also stumbled upon your site looking up Red Baron Peaches, and now I am absolutely hooked. You have excellent tips which you are willing to share – the power of the internet. I too found a mushroom farm in Morgan Hill 15 miles away and the compost is good but a little awkward to transport in my Mustang! I found another source of Free compost: Coffee grinds which any Starbucks near you would be happy to provide. Just sprinkle the coffee grinds around the plant roots and then water it into the ground. This serves as a mulch but also seems to deter snails. I am not sure if there is any nutritional value in terms of Nitrogen, Phosphate, etc.but it seems to perk up the plant with a coffee jolt!!

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Thanks Sateesh
      It is really great to read your positive comments.

      Mushroom compost in your Mustang! lol, a sign of your true passion for growing.

      I tried some Starbucks Coffee grinds on my Blueberries. However, I didn’t do a controlled experiment to see how much it helped.
      However, it is cool to hear that it also keeps the snails away.

      • Yes I am a passionate gardener Tom. Inherited that from my mother. As to the Mushrooms in the Mustang. The only other choice would have been to transport the Mushrooms in my wife’s Mercedes 2012 E350. She would have killed me! LOL!

        In general, I want to compliment you on your organization of your gardening web site, and your desire to share your gardening knowledge freely, altruistically. I have browsed the internet and found sites with gardening tips but they are generally Nurseries selling their trees. At the other end, there are UC campuses such as Davies which almost write research papers on the subject but aren’t easy to read. Your site encourages the sharing on information which is what the internet was intended to do. I was always somewhat sceptical of the free internet concept when I contributed to the establishment of the IT infrastructure globally back in the pioneering days(1980s – and NO I did not invent the Internet. That honor goes to Al Gore). I wondered who would pay for the public infrastucture since I knew just how much Global Corporate giants spent on their infrastructure. But it is nice to see it all come together now and radically transform our lives through social networking. Bravo Tom, you have made a great contribution to Wikipedia of Gardening. Keep up the good work. Your fan Sateesh

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Thank you Sateesh for your very kind and encouraging words.

          I do try my best to share botanical knowledge in an accessible way. I am glad to hear that I am on the right track. In the words of Albert Einstein “If you can’t explain it simply you don’t understand it well enough”

          Hey Sateesh, I am curious to hear about what work you did to contribute to the establishment of the internet. Thank you for that.

          And a big LOL regarding Al Gore.

          Thanks,

          T

          • In my prior life I was Chief Information Officer and member of the Executive Board of General Motors, PepsiCo, Avon, NET, INTEL, McDonnell Douglas, etc and put in global networks, data centers, ERP and other Apps, pioneered Off-Shore IT to India and Korea, and led the development and deployment of CRM, SFA, Data Mining, Business Intelligence, Internet, Social Networking, etc. Just Google me. But that was my previous life. Now I indulge my passion for gardening with a vengence. BTW this past week, I picked up a 20 lb trash bag of spent coffee grinds from Starbucks, spread it all over my yard especially my fruit trees, and then spread 16-16-16 fertilizer and Ammonia sulphate. Luckily, this was followed by 3 days of much-needed rain so now I am praying for a bumper crop of Almonds, Apricots, Plums, Peaches, Grapes, Figs, Apples, Cherries, Pomegranates, Oranges, Lemons, Limes, Grapefruit, Avocados, Kiwis, Guavas. Will send you some photos soon. Best regards,

          • Thomas Osborne, MD

            Sateesh! A former CTO… your my hero!!!
            And of the big boys! Wow, your the technology VIP.
            Now I am your fan.
            My career is heading in a similar direction, but I am just an infant compared to your achievements.

            I to love tec and leading multidisciplinary teams, but my passion is my garden (and my family of course). Sounds like you are the same.

            Thanks for sharing.
            T

  3. I was curious if you have tried using the compost that they have at the Miramar Greenery? And if you did, the results? I was thinking about mixing it with mushroom compost this summer for tomatoes.

    Your website is very informative and helped me a lot in planting my trees. You are right about planting straight out into the native soil without amendment, I wasted two years. It didn’t work for the seven trees I planted. I will try again this year, this time I will do it your way. Thanks again for all good information.

    Eleazer

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Eleazer

      Good question. I have used the Miramar top mulch and have been very happy with it. They also deliver locally for a small fee.
      However, I have not personally tried their compost. However, I have heard from others that it is good quality.

      Glad to hear that you like the website. Thank you.

      I had the same experience planting trees at the beginning. Planting directly into our native Southern California soil has been a total fail for me.
      However, I have transplanted many of those trees into healthier soil mixes with great results. I try to get a big root ball and keep it intact. I mix in the rich soil in a larger hole around the root ball. The trees respond best when transplanting in the winter/dormant stage. However, I have also had success doing this in the growing season… but much pampering is needed if you are moving your plants then. I also tend to over water in this initial moving stage.

      Good luck and keep us posted.

      T

  4. Mushroom farm still offers free compost, just got returning call from these guys.
    Thank you for your very very VERY informative website!
    I am at Escondido and all in my freshly planted garden.Anytime you around – beer on me. You save me a lot of time!

  5. Hi Thomas,

    Thanks for creating this very informative site. As a newbie in the world of gardening I’m always looking online for tips and tricks. I’m focused in on citrus and exotic plants. Any experience with them? What is the best soil for them, watering and sunlight needs and tips and tricks on how to bear the best fruit. Thanks in advance.

    Glen

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Thanks Glen

      I do have a lot of experience with both citrus and exotic plants.
      On the website, just under the logo you should see an organized drop-down menu.

      There is a category just for citrus.
      Other categories for the types of things you are looking for.
      I have much more info in my head that I havent had time to write a formal article about so if you have specific questions, just let me know.

      best,
      Tom

  6. Hi Thomas,

    I meant to be more specific in the above comment, I was specifically interesting in the care of dragon fruit cacti.

    Thanks,
    Glen

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