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buying compost

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buying compost

Post  debo on 5/5/2011, 10:11 pm

I am trying SFG for the first time this year. I have all the boxes made. Now I just need to fill with Mel's Mix. My only problem is finding different types of compost. I can find composted cow manure, Scott's humus and manure, mushroom compost, and a bag that says "Garden Compost" which does not list what is in it. Is that enough variety? Is Miracle Grow Garden Soil considered compost? I was hoping to also find worm castings, but I cannot find it. I did find (but didn't buy yet) a 1.5c.f. bag that I think was called Dr. Earth and this contained worm castings, bat guauno (forgot how to spell this), and sea kelp, but it was $20.00. This gardening project is really starting to add up! Any suggestions? Needless to say, I will be making my own compost in the future.

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Re: buying compost

Post  milaneyjane on 5/5/2011, 10:28 pm

You really need 5 types. I had one bed last year that only had two or three and it failed miserably compared to the other beds. I just went and picked up about 40 bags of compost tonight. I called around today first. I was able to get different type of cow manure composts, one with only plant material, mushroom, another with forest and poultry (the most expensive at $5 a bag), and another with horse manure. In all I found about 8 different types. I got mine at Home Depot, Menard's, Lowes, Walmart, Kmart, and a garden center. I probably called about 20 different places.
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Re: buying compost

Post  Miss M on 5/5/2011, 11:05 pm

You can look in places besides stores for compost, as well. Your municipality may sell or even give away compost made from yard waste collected over the year. Some have found compost on Craigslist. If you have a horse farm or chicken farm nearby, you may be able to get composted manure from them (just make sure it's composted before you put it into your garden!).

Rabbit farms are excellent sources of manure, and rabbit manure doesn't even have to be composted first. It can go straight into the garden. (We raise rabbits, and I do this myself.) You may have a meat rabbit business, or someone who raises rabbits for pets, nearby.

Think outside the stores, if you can't find what you need in the stores. If the "garden compost" doesn't say what's in it, I'd try very hard to avoid it. It could be loaded with peat moss, giving you too much of that ingredient.

The Scott's humus and manure sounded great at first, but I looked it up. The ingredients list says, "Contains: organic materials (peat, composted forest products, aged rice
hulls, or compost), composted manure, pelleted poultry litter."

The first ingredient is peat. If the last ingredient was peat, then you could probably get by with it. (The fact that it says "peat" and not "peat moss" just means that the peat is probably made of something besides sphagnum moss.) I'd try really hard not to use this product in my garden, though, because the MM is already 2/3 non-nutritional ingredients. Peat/peat moss and vermiculite help hold enough water, while letting excess drain away, and they help keep the mix light and airy. More peat/peat moss than the mix calls for means less nutrients.

The Miracle Gro garden soil says (on the website), "Contains rich
organic ingredients, sphagnum peat moss and manure to improve soil
condition and control moisture." Here, peat moss is second, which means it's still got a lot of it. I'd avoid this, too. (I've used it in containers, though.)

Don't give up on finding your composts! That Dr. Earth stuff is probably great, but $$$$$!!! You shouldn't have to resort to that kind of thing. You should be able to find what you need without spending a fortune. That said, SFG setup is initially expensive as gardening goes, because of the Mel's Mix. It's a one-time expense, however, as the only amending that must be done after setup is the addition of a handful or two of compost when you remove a crop from one of your squares.

I think of all the amending we did year after year in our row garden, all the expense, all the hard work, and we still couldn't grow anything like what we're growing now! And we won't have to do all that work again... at least, until we build another SFG! What a Face Be encouraged! The hair-pulling frustration finding all those composts is worth it in the end!

Miss M

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buying compost

Post  debo on 5/5/2011, 11:38 pm

Thank-you for all the information. I feel like I have looked all over for compost, but now I think there may be some more places to try. I did find a place that only does wholesale business that has compost. They told me who sells their compost and when I checked with that business, they told me it was compost mixed with topsoil and it was $23 a yard. I'm assuming that's not what I want (compost mixed with topsoil). I do have a neighbor that has a pet rabbit so I could try that. I am worried about getting composted horse manure from a horse farm. Will it contain a lot of weed seeds?

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Re: buying compost

Post  Miss M on 5/6/2011, 12:13 am

It shouldn't, if it's composted. The composting process kills weed seeds, as long as the pile heats up like it's supposed to.

One rabbit's probably not going to produce enough for your initial mix. Well, it will, but just not very quickly. Laughing With a pet rabbit, you may also be looking at separating manure from shavings, since the shavings would have to be composted in order to go into your garden. That's why I suggested something like a meat rabbit business, or a pet rabbit business, which would be less likely (especially the meat rabbit business) to use shavings, and you could get a larger quantity of manure faster.

I'm glad you're looking at other options, though! You are correct that you don't want the topsoil mix. Perhaps their supplier could sell you just the compost, before it's mixed with topsoil?

Miss M

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Re: buying compost

Post  walshevak on 5/6/2011, 5:35 am

How close is close enough in MM. Somebody jump in here and tell me if I'm way off base. But for those folks who are having so much trouble finding the 5 composts because so many of them are already mixed with peat, can you make an educated guess that half of the compost is peat, double up on the bags of compost and reduce the pure peat we normally use. Just a thought that flitted through my head.

But all these mixed composts just proves that Mel is right with his mix. He just goes one step more with vermiculite.


Kay

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