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Is bagged compost REALLY compost?

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Re: Is bagged compost REALLY compost?

Post  Daniel9999 on 4/14/2012, 11:10 pm

@plantoid wrote:The Harvest Supreme .. may have a fair alkaline ( ground up shells ) content if they as the labeling says for they are advertizing it as good for breaking up clay soils . The lime in the crushed shells helps " crumb " clay soils.

I'm also fairly sure that " Fir Bark " takes ages to fully compost so it may upset the intended average nitrogen levels in the mix for a couple of years .

Its somewhat worried me as well.

I can say from personal experience with the product that it did have a fair amount of wood splinters in it....which made me doubt if the bark was as composted as Gardner and Bloome claim.

To be sure I have been testing my pH levels and so far everything is neutral.....Nitrogen tests are good so far as well.

But then again it was only roughly 1/5 of my compost mix and I only tested the mix as a whole after I mixed the Harvest Supreme in.

I will keep testing to make sure....but so far everything is germinating and I have not noticed any problems yet.

I should have tested a bag of the stuff BEFORE I mixed it in but I was so giddy with my brand new ANSFG book that...well you know...aleast I had the wherewithal to start with only one SFG bed to become familiar with the method before I made a bunch of beds!

I plan on buying a single bag in the future and testing it soon.

I am also gonna see how my bed performs this season and see if any problems crop up.

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Re: Is bagged compost REALLY compost?

Post  Pisachi on 4/15/2012, 1:41 am

@camprn wrote:A big fat zero % is just right. I do not buy anything that says 'top soil' if I can help it. What a Face

Amen brother. I preach the same thing. Been burned by that one once. "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me."

I hook a flatbed trailer to my pickup, and drive about 30 miles to a wood-mulching/composting facility. They compost all the wood chippings and grass clippings for a large, urban area. (Just north of Dallas)

Last time I was there, I got 4 cubic YARDS of some great compost for $17 a yard. The great part is that this way I can see it, smell it, and handle it BEFORE I buy it. Hard to beat the price too!

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Re: Is bagged compost REALLY compost?

Post  Unmutual on 4/15/2012, 8:23 am

In answer to the question in the title of this thread: No, bagged compost is not necessarily compost. As far as I know, there are only two bagged compost products that I would consider compost: black kow composted cow manure and black kow mushroom compost. I'll post some pics of the ingredients once I recuperate from volunteering at the spring garden show(I also have another random "peat compost" bag in the back yard that I used for a camellia/blueberry bed that I'll take a pic of too).

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Re: Is bagged compost REALLY compost?

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 4/15/2012, 8:56 am

@Unmutual wrote:In answer to the question in the title of this thread: No, bagged compost is not necessarily compost. As far as I know, there are only two bagged compost products that I would consider compost: black kow composted cow manure and black kow mushroom compost. I'll post some pics of the ingredients once I recuperate from volunteering at the spring garden show(I also have another random "peat compost" bag in the back yard that I used for a camellia/blueberry bed that I'll take a pic of too).

So all of the bagged "compost" that Mel says to use and that people do use is no good?

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Re: Is bagged compost REALLY compost?

Post  camprn on 4/15/2012, 9:04 am

@Too Tall Tomatoes wrote:
@Unmutual wrote:In answer to the question in the title of this thread: No, bagged compost is not necessarily compost. As far as I know, there are only two bagged compost products that I would consider compost: black kow composted cow manure and black kow mushroom compost. I'll post some pics of the ingredients once I recuperate from volunteering at the spring garden show(I also have another random "peat compost" bag in the back yard that I used for a camellia/blueberry bed that I'll take a pic of too).

So all of the bagged "compost" that Mel says to use and that people do use is no good?
TTT it's not that simple and you know it. Basically it is buyer beware; try to avoid compost blends made with 'top soil' and wood chips; bark is a better choice over wood chips.

If you can get it from a local source like a dairy, goat, rabbit, poultry or horse farm, there will be mostly manure with bedding material, with the occasional horse shoe, but that is to be expected.

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Re: Is bagged compost REALLY compost?

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 4/15/2012, 9:42 am

@camprn wrote:TTT it's not that simple and you know it. Basically it is buyer beware; try to avoid compost blends made with 'top soil' and wood chips; bark is a better choice over wood chips.

If you can get it from a local source like a dairy, goat, rabbit, poultry or horse farm, there will be mostly manure with bedding material, with the occasional horse shoe, but that is to be expected.

what's the difference between bark and wood chips?

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Re: Is bagged compost REALLY compost?

Post  camprn on 4/15/2012, 9:49 am

@Too Tall Tomatoes wrote:
@camprn wrote:TTT it's not that simple and you know it. Basically it is buyer beware; try to avoid compost blends made with 'top soil' and wood chips; bark is a better choice over wood chips.

If you can get it from a local source like a dairy, goat, rabbit, poultry or horse farm, there will be mostly manure with bedding material, with the occasional horse shoe, but that is to be expected.

what's the difference between bark and wood chips?
Well, one is bark, much easier to break down and one is wood, which takes much longer to decompose thus using more nitrogen from the other components in the mix. This is the reason that shaved bark mulch is a better choice as a mulch on a garden bed, it wont really draw much nitrogen from the soil. Wood chips are good for paths and the like, they draw more nitrogen from the soil.

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Re: Is bagged compost REALLY compost?

Post  tomperrin on 4/15/2012, 9:57 am

@Too Tall Tomatoes wrote:

How would they stop someone from buying topsoil in one town and taking it to the next?
I wonder if it's doable to make my own compost to sell.

When a developer skims off the top soil prior to building, he has to have a permit. Everything follows from the permitting process and the local planning board. Developers then resell the top soil to local landscapers at a premium. None of the original topsoil gets returned to the development with all the negative consequences that implies. Not only does the new homeowner get a thin stick house, he gets cheap grass laid down over clay.

I think we should consider all of our products and byproducts as potentially marketable as we get better at this. It does help to ameliorate the SFG start up costs. For example, cutting down my two silver maple trees (which we found out were infected by carpenter ants) cost $600. (I've done enough pulp & timber logging to know my limitations). But my 1/3 share of the split wood fills 3 pallets 4 feet high and we're not done yet. Seasoned firewood costs $175 a face cord here in NJ, while Home Depot sells kiln dried firewood safe for transport to NY at $1 a stick.

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Re: Is bagged compost REALLY compost?

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 4/15/2012, 10:04 am

@camprn wrote:
@Too Tall Tomatoes wrote:
@camprn wrote:TTT it's not that simple and you know it. Basically it is buyer beware; try to avoid compost blends made with 'top soil' and wood chips; bark is a better choice over wood chips.

If you can get it from a local source like a dairy, goat, rabbit, poultry or horse farm, there will be mostly manure with bedding material, with the occasional horse shoe, but that is to be expected.

what's the difference between bark and wood chips?
Well, one is bark, much easier to break down and one is wood, which takes much longer to decompose thus using more nitrogen from the other components in the mix. This is the reason that shaved bark mulch is a better choice as a mulch on a garden bed, it wont really draw much nitrogen from the soil. Wood chips are good for paths and the like, they draw more nitrogen from the soil.

Thanks for that explanation. What a Face

That reminds me that I should consider using a layer of mulch between my boxes and along the top edge so that I don't have to use my lawn mower and weedeater.

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Re: Is bagged compost REALLY compost?

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 4/15/2012, 10:08 am

@tomperrin wrote:
@Too Tall Tomatoes wrote:

How would they stop someone from buying topsoil in one town and taking it to the next?
I wonder if it's doable to make my own compost to sell.

When a developer skims off the top soil prior to building, he has to have a permit. Everything follows from the permitting process and the local planning board. Developers then resell the top soil to local landscapers at a premium. None of the original topsoil gets returned to the development with all the negative consequences that implies. Not only does the new homeowner get a thin stick house, he gets cheap grass laid down over clay.

I think we should consider all of our products and byproducts as potentially marketable as we get better at this. It does help to ameliorate the SFG start up costs. For example, cutting down my two silver maple trees (which we found out were infected by carpenter ants) cost $600. (I've done enough pulp & timber logging to know my limitations). But my 1/3 share of the split wood fills 3 pallets 4 feet high and we're not done yet. Seasoned firewood costs $175 a face cord here in NJ, while Home Depot sells kiln dried firewood safe for transport to NY at $1 a stick.

That reminds me of the developer who built up this land that I'm living on. The village I'm in used to be a dairy farm. And you can imagine how rich the topsoil was. Well when this person bought the land, he had most of the topsoil removed and sold elsewhere. Now all of the homes in here have nothing but crap rocky soil. Overall the landscaping around here is real nice but that came at a premium.

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Re: Is bagged compost REALLY compost?

Post  walshevak on 4/15/2012, 7:46 pm

And then there is my son's house which is built on sand hills. Forty years ago the developer put down some topsoil. I added topsoil a few times. He added topsoil 5 years ago. But all the topsoil has just sifted down into the sand which will also not hold water and grass, veggies and flowers won't grow. He ignores the lack of grass and everything else is in beds or pot of MM. The live oak trees grow though. Guess they can get down deep to the water table.

Kay

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Re: Is bagged compost REALLY compost?

Post  plantoid on 4/15/2012, 11:04 pm

@Too Tall Tomatoes wrote:
@Unmutual wrote:In answer to the question in the title of this thread: No, bagged compost is not necessarily compost. As far as I know, there are only two bagged compost products that I would consider compost: black kow composted cow manure and black kow mushroom compost. I'll post some pics of the ingredients once I recuperate from volunteering at the spring garden show(I also have another random "peat compost" bag in the back yard that I used for a camellia/blueberry bed that I'll take a pic of too).

So all of the bagged "compost" that Mel says to use and that people do use is no good?



No , not at all ...... Mel was /is fully aware of the poor quality of some of the so called composts on sale .

So the shotgun approach ( get enough shot all at once down range and you should hit the target ) of using a minimum different types should in theory give you some worthwhile nutrients to hit your plants with when making up the inital beds .

From then on you should endevour to make your own which should be far superior if you follow the suggestions in his book & give you outstanding results .

You could do worse than re reading the pages 87 to 106 about the use of the five different compost and see if you can understand it better.. the compost is the core of the system ..

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Re: Is bagged compost REALLY compost?

Post  Unmutual on 4/16/2012, 11:58 am

@Too Tall Tomatoes wrote:
@Unmutual wrote:In answer to the question in the title of this thread: No, bagged compost is not necessarily compost. As far as I know, there are only two bagged compost products that I would consider compost: black kow composted cow manure and black kow mushroom compost. I'll post some pics of the ingredients once I recuperate from volunteering at the spring garden show(I also have another random "peat compost" bag in the back yard that I used for a camellia/blueberry bed that I'll take a pic of too).

So all of the bagged "compost" that Mel says to use and that people do use is no good?

Some folks have already been kind enough to answer this, but I'll put in my 2 cents also.

Most things to do with gardening are not regulated at all. Couple this with the fact that gardening is very geographical in nature, it can be down right confusing to new gardeners and old gardeners alike(and every one in between). Gardening falls under "the more you learn, the less you know". If anyone ever tells you that they know everything about gardening, they're wrong.

So, we come to compost. I have locally available about 15 types of bagged "compost". Out of those 15 that I have found, only 3 are actually compost. This does not include the other compost that is available, but for that stuff you need pickup truck, or some way to contain it(like garbage cans or heavy duty bags) for transport. Even then, this stuff may not be compost, we've had some scams in our area before.

There are ways to tell if it's compost or not:

1) Compost will smell earthy, if there is no odor then you might want to be suspect, if there is a strong odor, then you will have to let it cure some more(such as in the case of chicken manure).

2) You will see no discernible items in the compost(ie: you shouldn't be able to tell what was broccoli stem or what was leftover salad). Wood takes a long time to break down, so they aren't really an indicator on whether it's compost or not(unless there are a lot of sticks in it).

3) While good compost can hold 1/3 of its volume as water, moisture really isn't an indicator of the 'compostiness' of a bagged item. Many people store compost dried.

4) Luckily at big box stores, there are usually a couple bags that have been damaged, so you can easily take a peek at what you're buying.

Now to the meat and potatoes of this thread. The first two composts are from Black Gold(I mistakenly called them both Black Kow).







The next pics are of something that claims to be peat humus, but it really isn't. Humus is that layer of decaying/decayed organic matter found on a forest floor. Sand isn't compostable, fly ash is burnt matter and is an industrial waste. The bark is composted since I didn't find any in there and I couldn't actually distinguish any peat moss. While I didn't use this in my SFG bed, I'm sure some people have.


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Before the Season Ends . . .

Post  sfg4uKim on 5/6/2012, 12:12 pm

. . . does anyone else have contributions for my "bagged compost" research?

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Re: Is bagged compost REALLY compost?

Post  UnderTheBlackWalnut on 5/6/2012, 1:01 pm

Yes - I need to get you the info I have...

In the meantime, I made this little video to show how I might research bagged compost and what I might look for now that I've learned a little more... Please excuse the "ums"... I never took a speech class, and it shows. Sad
Oh yea, and forgive the dog barking...a normal occurrence around my house. Smile

I thought it might help! Smile

Click the link and then click the triangle in the center of the video to start it. You will need sound.
How I Research Bagged Compost

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Re: Is bagged compost REALLY compost?

Post  Daniel9999 on 5/6/2012, 1:32 pm

I do.

Fox Farm Planting Mix..........................


Fox Farm Happy Frog Soil Conditioner.............


Contains composted forest humus, earthworm castings, bat guano, oyster
shell and dolomite lime (for pH adjustment), humic acid (derived from
Leonardite), rock dust, and mycorrhizae (beneficial microbes).

Dr Earth Natural Choice Compost.........................



Ingredients....Forest Humus, Fir Bark, Peat Moss, Worm
Castings, Alfalfa Meal, Kelp Meal, Soybean Meal, Fish Meal, Fish Bone
Meal, MicroActive™ Seaweed Extract, Aloe Vera, Yucca Extract, and Oyster
Shell & Dolomite Limes with Probiotic beneficial soil Microbes plus both Ecto and Endo Mycorrhizae.


Its also worth nothing that all Dr Earth Products come with a pledge to be free of GMO's, Chicken Manure, and Sewage Sludge(biosolids)
http://drearth.net/blog/products/organic-soils/natural-choice-all-purpose-compost/

Sorry about the tiny lettering in the ingredients above....I am having problems getting it sized right here.

On a side note I am kinda of worrying that this discussion about purchased composts is scaring some people new to SFG...it seems anytime some one new posts one of the composts they purchased for their new SFG it gets torn down by other members as containing things like Excessive amounts of peat that will throw off the proper balance of the Mel's Mix ,Nitrogen robbing wood products, Herbicide Contaminated Yard Waste, Sewage Sludge, Soil, ect........it can make some people feel like Mix they spent so much money on and time sourcing is garbage..

I think we (myself included) all need be a little careful about how we go about this and try not to to discourage or scare away those of whom rely on purchased composts if we can.

The problem with most purchased composts is not as bad as some make it out to be.....my garden has the Gardeners and Bloome Harvest Supreme ....which has pointed out in this thread has evil nitrogen robbing wood chips and Ph killing Oyster Shell lime in it..... and yet my plants have have not all died off in some horrible garden apocalypse...in fact they are doing pretty good.







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Re: Is bagged compost REALLY compost?

Post  cheyannarach on 5/6/2012, 1:58 pm

I agree with you on how to approach it Daniel, well said. We don't want to scare them off affraid . I have used some less than perfect composts and as I have continued to learn I just keep amending them to a better blend! And my gardens are growing right along cheers

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Re: Is bagged compost REALLY compost?

Post  sfg4uKim on 5/6/2012, 4:43 pm

1. LOVE the video - really helpful.

2. Daniel - your point is very good. I'm certainly not trying to scare anyone off of SFG, but how many times has someone told us they were disappointed in the SFG METHOD and listed the composts they used which primarily contained peat?

My "goal" is to help people make informed decisions - if you use this stuff, maybe buy more of it & skip the peat (or use less). My plan is to contact as many of the companies as I can to find out HOW MUCH of each ingredient there really is.

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Re: Is bagged compost REALLY compost?

Post  RoOsTeR on 5/6/2012, 6:32 pm

I wouldn't call it scaring people off, but rather educating them.

If you are using compost that is only 10% manure and the rest is peat, then adding your additional 1/3 peat moss as part of your Mels mix, your mix is going to be off. At some point the nutrients from your manure are going to be depleted and what you're going to have is mostly peat and vermiculite. Your actually better off skimping on the peat and vermiculite .

I will agree that sometimes things could be worded differently, but our forums purpose is to help educate and get people on the right path so they will be successful.

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Re: Is bagged compost REALLY compost?

Post  Kelejan on 5/6/2012, 7:51 pm

For me, I go mostly by the ingredient analysis. If it does not list them, then I give it a pass.

If it says 1 - 1 - 1 or .5 - .5 - .5. then I think that can be a good start.

Then look to see if it contains things like peat, sand etc. if it does, then give it a pass.

Then see if it contains actual manure from steer, cow, chicken, etc. etc. then I go for it.

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Re: Is bagged compost REALLY compost?

Post  SwampCatNana on 5/6/2012, 8:12 pm

@CCgirl75 wrote:I would love to know where to find the 5 composts already mixed. The brand was posted earlier(I can't find the name), but I couldn't find it anywhere in my area online.

Also, a database where you can buy Mel's Mix would be awesome, too!

I'll do what I can to help with this database.


MM is sold in their store in Utah. They said it is not sold anywhere else or on-line.
Lee

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Re: Is bagged compost REALLY compost?

Post  RoOsTeR on 5/6/2012, 8:18 pm

Garden Time/Mel's Mix is sold in places all around the country. There are lot's of Lowe's that carry it:
http://www.lowes.com/pd_308781-78212-GT%2B11670_4294936085_4294937087_?productId=3178997&Ns=p_product_prd_lis_ord_nbr%7C0%7C%7Cp_product_qty_sales_dollar%7C1&pl=1¤tURL=/pl_Lawn+Garden_4294936085_4294937087_?Ns=p_product_prd_lis_ord_nbr%7C0%7C%7Cp_product_qty_sales_dollar%7C1&facetInfo=&stop_mobi=yes

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Re: Is bagged compost REALLY compost?

Post  Daniel9999 on 5/6/2012, 10:00 pm

@RoOsTeR wrote:I wouldn't call it scaring people off, but rather educating them.

If you are using compost that is only 10% manure and the rest is peat, then adding your additional 1/3 peat moss as part of your Mels mix, your mix is going to be off. At some point the nutrients from your manure are going to be depleted and what you're going to have is mostly peat and vermiculite. Your actually better off skimping on the peat and vermiculite .

I will agree that sometimes things could be worded differently, but our forums purpose is to help educate and get people on the right path so they will be successful.

I am sorry if I seems I am criticizing the thread itself.

I am commentating on certain other opinions on bagged compost that have popped up in places...not criticizing sfg4ukim for starting this thread or the purpose of the thread.....I think its a great idea.

I just think some thinks some things in regards to bagged compost are being overblown by others....I happen to actually agree with both you and sgf4ukim about the peat issue and what should be done about it....other people have other opinions about you should do in said situation...I am disagreeing with those other opinions not yours.

@sfg4ukim

I was not trying to imply that you in particular were scaring people. Sorry.

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Re: Is bagged compost REALLY compost?

Post  Turan on 5/6/2012, 10:14 pm

@Daniel9999 wrote:
@RoOsTeR wrote:I wouldn't call it scaring people off, but rather educating them.

If you are using compost that is only 10% manure and the rest is peat, then adding your additional 1/3 peat moss as part of your Mels mix, your mix is going to be off. At some point the nutrients from your manure are going to be depleted and what you're going to have is mostly peat and vermiculite. Your actually better off skimping on the peat and vermiculite .

I will agree that sometimes things could be worded differently, but our forums purpose is to help educate and get people on the right path so they will be successful.

I am sorry if I seems I am criticizing the thread itself.

I am commentating on certain other opinions on bagged compost that have popped up in places...not criticizing sfg4ukim for starting this thread or the purpose of the thread.....I think its a great idea.

I just think some thinks some things in regards to bagged compost are being overblown by others....I happen to actually agree with both you and sgf4ukim about the peat issue and what should be done about it....other people have other opinions about you should do in said situation...I am disagreeing with those other opinions not yours.

@sfg4ukim

I was not trying to imply that you in particular were scaring people. Sorry.

This whole thread including these last posts is a conversation that I seem to be needing. I can use the guidance. So thanks.

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Re: Is bagged compost REALLY compost?

Post  sfg4uKim on 5/6/2012, 10:20 pm

I didn't take it as a criticism. Smile

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Re: Is bagged compost REALLY compost?

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