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5 types of compost- becoming impossible to find

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5 types of compost- becoming impossible to find

Post  sequoia on 3/23/2012, 3:54 pm

I am setting up my first square foot garden this season and I am more than a little frustrated. If I hadn't already dumped a lot of money into this I would drop it all together and just do regular raised bed gardening.

First, I could not find vermiculite in the Washington, DC area. I finally found it on line (7 springs) and ordered it for a pretty penny.

Now, I cannot find 5 kinds of compost. I only need 10 cubic feet so you would think this easy enough. But no. I have called all the major garden centers in the DC area and they all carry the exact same compost: Leaf Grow (maybe spelled LeafGro). Home depot and Lowes also carry a cow manure mix that feels very dense, which I've heard is not a good thing for compost. Come to think of it, the LeafGro feels pretty dense, too. At best that is only 2 types of compost. Where is this so called "mushroom" compost sold? Beats me. Maybe I'm doing something wrong?

Some will suggest farms but I live in the city. I found (on Craig's List) farmers that have horse manure compost but it is a good hour drive away. Seems excessive for a couple of cubic feet of compost! And it still doesn't make the magic 5.

At this point, I have about 1.5 cubic feet of my own compost so I can combine mine with LeafGro and cow manure compost and call it a day. If I do this, should I just resort to some fertilizer this year? By next year my compost system will be kicking out a lot more so this shouldn't be an ongoing problem.

Thanks for any comments. And sorry if I seem agitated, I am a bit Frustrated and particualry annoyed with Mel for his smiling attitude that this is all sooooo easy. When in fact, two of the major ingredients are very difficult to obtain.

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Re: 5 types of compost- becoming impossible to find

Post  H_TX_2 on 3/23/2012, 4:10 pm

In my experience Home Depot and Lowes will only have hardware that is useful to your SFG. Also here in Houston we have lots of chain garden centers with the city in their name and I found these to be unhelpful. When you are new to gardening and your only experience is basic yard work and planting things in the front bed those stores are what you typically have experience with. I too was frustrated and skipped the vermiculite until I planted my fall garden. Now after doing this for a year and searching for different things I know where the stores are that sell what I need. Before starting my SFG I had never heard of these stores now I'm like a kid in a candy store. Just because a store is a garden center or nursery does not necessarily mean they will carry what is needed for this type of garden. Just stick with it and hopefully you will find a couple of stores that carry what you need. Last year when I was searching for vermiculite a typical response from some garden centers was "what's vermiculite." These places will sell you lots of manure and Miracle Gro but not much that is useful for SFG. Just stick with it and it will pay off.

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Re: 5 types of compost- becoming impossible to find

Post  sequoia on 3/23/2012, 4:20 pm

H_TX_2 wrote:In my experience Home Depot and Lowes will only have hardware that is useful to your SFG. Also here in Houston we have lots of chain garden centers with the city in their name and I found these to be unhelpful. When you are new to gardening and your only experience is basic yard work and planting things in the front bed those stores are what you typically have experience with. I too was frustrated and skipped the vermiculite until I planted my fall garden. Now after doing this for a year and searching for different things I know where the stores are that sell what I need. Before starting my SFG I had never heard of these stores now I'm like a kid in a candy store. Just because a store is a garden center or nursery does not necessarily mean they will carry what is needed for this type of garden. Just stick with it and hopefully you will find a couple of stores that carry what you need. Last year when I was searching for vermiculite a typical response from some garden centers was "what's vermiculite." These places will sell you lots of manure and Miracle Gro but not much that is useful for SFG. Just stick with it and it will pay off.

Thanks for the response but I have called the "underground" garden centers. There are some good ones, too but they all carry the same compost "Leaf Gro", which is actually very good municipal plant compost packaged by the state of MD. Sadly, that is all I've found and a number of independent garden centers. Lowes and Home Depot both also carry it and also have the cow manure compost. But that is it. I'm now searching around on line to see if I can order some.

I am sure I haven't called every garden center/supply in DC but it is getting tiresome.

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Re: 5 types of compost- becoming impossible to find

Post  Furbalsmom on 3/23/2012, 4:21 pm

sequoia

The first year truly is the most frustrating. I tried using the phone as much as possible to locate both vermiculite and compost. It saved a lots of time and angst. Perhaps a vermiculite source will also be able to provide compost.

VERMICULITE DATA BASE

I was able to find some compost variety at hardware stores like ACE and TrueValue. WalMart, KMart, even my grocery store had at least two varieties.

As to the compost feeling dense, it probably is just damp or wet.

Good luck and hopefully the compost is closer than you think.

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Re: 5 types of compost- becoming impossible to find

Post  UnderTheBlackWalnut on 3/23/2012, 4:25 pm

Hi Sequoia!

Wow! I don't blame you for being frustrated! I looked up LeafGro and I think it's a humus from grass clippings and leaves. Cow manure would be a good addition to that.

In my area, I was able to find some mixed soil conditioner that was mainly manures, guano, humus, etc as well as some worm castings at HYDROPONICS stores. I don't know if that's what you mean by "underground" nurseries. There was one called Capital City Hydroponics I found online that look like they carry some Happy Frog and Fox Farm products as well as worm castings. Those stores had more options for me than the nurseries which, like your area, didn't carry but one kind of compost. If you can get around the fact that some hydroponics stores are sometimes selling to folks who grow...errr...indoor plants, they actually have a great knowledge about soil-less growing mixes. If you do have to get something that has peat in it, just be sure to lesson the peat you put in your mix.

Worm castings are one of the best things you can add to your mix and, while they can be a little bit pricey, most hydroponics stores do carry them and it sounds like you don't need too much. Smile

Keep us posted on how it is going for you... Smile

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Re: 5 types of compost- becoming impossible to find

Post  obrdrln on 3/23/2012, 4:26 pm

'Mon down to the Richmond, Colonial Heights, Petersburg area and I can hook you up with mushroom compost, manure/humus compost, forestry compost, and alpaca/leaf compost!! Then, later this month, chicken/horse/woodshavings combo!!!

It's taken a while to amass all of this stuff but......

Judy

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Re: 5 types of compost- becoming impossible to find

Post  obrdrln on 3/23/2012, 4:27 pm

And there's a source for worm castings in Alexandria!!

Still Judy

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Re: 5 types of compost- becoming impossible to find

Post  llama momma on 3/23/2012, 4:29 pm

I have found vermiculite in suburban and city hydroponic stores. You might have better luck in those stores. Hope this helps.

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Re: 5 types of compost- becoming impossible to find

Post  camprn on 3/23/2012, 4:49 pm

My first thought is aren't there mounted police in the city? where is the stable? If you have a car, I would encourage you to take Judy up on the offer.

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Re: 5 types of compost- becoming impossible to find

Post  walshevak on 3/23/2012, 4:54 pm

Home Depot in your area carries Scott's humus and manure.

Lowes in Alexandria lists 3 composts. Lowes in certain areas carry the Black Kow, Black Hen products. Call the manager and see if he can have some shipped in for in store pickup.

http://www.ginkgogardens.com/products.html

these folks don't say what brand

Frustrating too say the least.

Kay

National Zoo????

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Re: 5 types of compost- becoming impossible to find

Post  sequoia on 3/23/2012, 4:58 pm

obrdrln wrote:And there's a source for worm castings in Alexandria!!

Still Judy

Judy where is this source? Do you have a link?

Thanks,

Chris

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I feel your pain...

Post  kat51415 on 3/23/2012, 5:06 pm

I was right where you are just a few days ago. Nothing was coming together and we had already spent a fortune on just the materials to build the boxes. (It was a fortune to us, anyway.) I was searching in the vermiculite database and found a mom and pop nursery that really understands the SFG method. They carried everything for it but they are 179 miles from my home. Because we have so much into it already and we have no other options, we'll be making that trip. The good news is that you only have to build the base MM once. If you're diligent with your own compost, by the time you need it, you'll have your own. Hang in there. You're not alone! Wink

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Re: 5 types of compost- becoming impossible to find

Post  obrdrln on 3/23/2012, 5:33 pm

Found this on DC Craigslist, Chris. Went to Lake Anna SP last weekend but didn't get up to get any castings.......


email this posting to a friend washington, DC craigslist > northern virginia > for sale / wanted > farm & garden

please flag with care: [?]

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Avoid scams and fraud by dealing locally! Beware any deal involving Western Union, Moneygram, wire transfer, cashier check, money order, shipping, escrow, or any promise of transaction protection/certification/guarantee. More info
Worm Castings (World's BEST Organic Fertilizer!) - $20 (Bailey's Crossroads)




Date: 2012-03-21, 10:58AM EDT
Reply to: [email=mdbfc-2879556504@sale.craigslist.org?subject=Worm%20Castings%20(World's%20BEST%20Organic%20Fertilizer!)%20-%20%2420%20(Bailey's%20Crossroads)&body=%0A%0Ahttp%3A%2F%2Fwashingtondc.craigslist.org%2Fnva%2Fgrd%2F2879556504.html%0A]mdbfc-2879556504@sale.craigslist.org[/email] [Errors when replying to ads?]



Worm castings (worm poop) - natural, organic super-fertilizer!
Mix dry castings in soil, or brew into tea and water plants with it
- even BETTER than compost!
- helps bring back dried out, dormant lawns!

approx 4 lbs. for $20



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4 down, one to go -- compost

Post  Joyce_S on 3/23/2012, 5:38 pm

I was expecting to have a hard time finding course vermiculite, but it's the 5th type of compost that stumping me. No (By the way, the vermiculite database is how I discovered a wonderful little feed & seed store that will get more of my business, that's for sure.) Back to the compost, I have chicken, cow, mushroom and a compost that says it was created from food residuals and yard/wood trimmings. I wonder whether using the latter compost twice would be okay or if I should continue trying to locate a truly different type of compost for my fifth one?

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Re: 5 types of compost- becoming impossible to find

Post  camprn on 3/23/2012, 6:08 pm

Joyce, have you asked at the little feed and seed store if they know any local farmers that may have a bit of compost they may want to part with? Another place is to hit up the Farmer's Market if you have one and chat up the folks there.

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Re: 5 types of compost- becoming impossible to find

Post  B maier on 3/23/2012, 6:30 pm

I've always been a believer in doing the best that you can and not to worry about your best not being good enough. I only found 3 types of compost cow, chicken and something unknown (it was a cheap generic bag labeled "potting soil") I'm a little worried about that unknown stuff... but it was a small bag and I'm only starting with 12 squares. I think my mix might be heavy on the compost and light on the vermeculite, but oh well I'm using it anyway.

I'm not going to let myself stop because it isn't perfect, you shouldn't either. Fill those boxes as best as you are able and plant those seeds.Smile

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