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Post  OhioGardener 2/24/2021, 9:04 am

While browsing through a flyer for Spring Gardening, I noticed an advertisement for a product called "Super Compost", which I had never heard of before. Went on-line to see what the product is, and was somewhat surprised to find it is just a blend of Worm Castings, Cow Manure, and Alfalfa Meal. This "Super Compost" is an 8# bag of compost for $29.98. The bag says you mix this compost with potting soil at a ratio of 1:4 to create 40# of potting soil.

Seems a little expensive at nearly $30.00 for 8# of compost.  So, I looked at the cost of the ingredients, which I can buy in larger bags:

Worm Castings, 30#, for $18.00
Alfalfa Meal, 5#, $8.50
Cow Manure, 40#, $5.28

If these are equally mixed to create 8# of "super compost", that would be 2.67# of each product:

Worm Castings: 2.67/30=.089   .089*18= $1.67
Alfalfa Meal: 2.67/5=.534          .534*8.50= $4.54
Cow Manure: 2.67/40=.067       .067*5.28= $0.35
   Total Cost:  $1.67+$4.54+$0.35 = $6.56

So, it appears that I can build 8# of my own Super Compost for $6.56, instead of the marketed price of $29.98.  Am I missing something here?

This is the product I looked up at Home Depot: 
https://www.homedepot.com/p/Soil-Blend-Super-Compost-8-lbs-Concentrated-8-lbs-Bag-makes-40-lbs-Organic-Planting-Mix-Plant-Food-and-Soil-Amendment-SBSC8/308649645

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Post  markqz 2/24/2021, 12:29 pm

OhioGardener wrote:
Worm Castings: 2.67/30=.089   .089*18= $1.67
Alfalfa Meal: 2.67/5=.534          .534*8.50= $4.54
Cow Manure: 2.67/40=.067       .067*5.28= $0.35
   Total Cost:  $1.67+$4.54+$0.35 = $6.56
This is a good list to keep handy!
OhioGardener wrote:  Am I missing something here?
Yes, a marketing department. You could do it too:
Radio Voice wrote:Try our all new OhioGardener Caffè Mocha Compost! Now with 20% more caffeine! Sourced locally! Sold globally!
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Post  OhioGardener 2/25/2021, 7:58 am

markqz wrote:
OhioGardener wrote:  Am I missing something here?
Yes, a marketing department. You could do it too:
Radio Voice wrote:Try our all new OhioGardener Caffè Mocha Compost! Now with 20% more caffeine! Sourced locally! Sold globally!

funny post   lol!

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Post  has55 2/25/2021, 10:03 pm

plus it a living product. home depot will store it in the sun, killing everything in it.
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Post  sanderson 2/25/2021, 10:08 pm

rofl

Besides, alfalfa meal should be composted in the compost pile and not used straight in the MM.

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Post  yolos 2/25/2021, 11:38 pm

sanderson wrote:rofl

Besides, alfalfa meal should be composted in the compost pile and not used straight in the MM.
I think you may be wrong about alfalfa meal having to be composted in the compost pile.  (unless you were just kidding).
https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/soil-fertilizers/fertilizing-with-alfalfa-meal.htm
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Post  OhioGardener 2/26/2021, 7:13 am

I have used both Alfalfa Meal and Alfalfa Pellets directly in the garden without composting, and it is quickly broken down by the microbes and worms to create plant-available nitrogen.  It does not burn the plants like synthetic/chemical nitrogen does.

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Post  markqz 2/26/2021, 1:03 pm

OhioGardener wrote:I have used both Alfalfa Meal and Alfalfa Pellets directly in the garden without composting, and it is quickly broken down by the microbes and worms to create plant-available nitrogen.  It does not burn the plants like synthetic/chemical nitrogen does.

Re your first post, could you list the sources you used? HD doesn't have alfalfa meal or cow manure (they do have steer manure). Their listed price for worm castings is twice that you list. Same for amleo.com.

Thanks!
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Post  OhioGardener 2/26/2021, 1:31 pm

markqz wrote:
Re your first post, could you list the sources you used? HD doesn't have alfalfa meal or cow manure (they do have steer manure). Their listed price for worm castings is twice that you list. Same for amleo.com.

No problem! 

For Worm Castings, I used "Wiggle Worm Soil Builder" worm castings, which I purchase at the local hydroponics shop: 30# bag, $18.00.  An alternate source I have used is from a local worm farm, Gardener's Thumb Worm Castings, which has a 40# bag for $20.00.

For cow manure, I used "Black Kow Composted Cow Manure" from Lowe's: 40# bag, $5.28.  Rural King has the same product for $5.95 per bag.

For Alfalfa Meal, I used "Down To Earth’s Alfalfa Meal", which I purchase at the local hydroponics shop: 5# box, $8.50.  They also have a different brand (don't remember name), which is a 3# bag for $9.00.

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Post  markqz 2/26/2021, 2:28 pm

OhioGardener wrote:
- For Worm Castings, I used "Wiggle Worm Soil Builder" worm castings,
- "Black Kow Composted Cow Manure" from Lowe's: 40# bag, $5.28. 
- For Alfalfa Meal, I used "Down To Earth’s Alfalfa Meal",

It seems like you're fortunate to have some good compost sources handy. For worm castings and alfalfa meal, the best I could find was twice your price. For composted cow manure, the best was more like 10 times your price. For some reason neither the local HD nor Lowes carries cow manure. They do carry composted steer manure, and it is pretty cheap.

Thoughts on steer manure? I've used it in the past. It's kind of atrocious stuff to handle, and takes days for the smell to calm down. I'm thinking of paying for a delivery next time around.

So, anyway, for people who mostly have an HD handy, "super compost" might not be a bad deal.
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Post  OhioGardener 2/26/2021, 5:40 pm

markqz wrote:It seems like you're fortunate to have some good compost sources handy. For worm castings and alfalfa meal, the best I could find was twice your price. For composted cow manure, the best was more like 10 times your price. For some reason neither the local HD  nor Lowes carries cow manure. They do carry composted steer manure, and it is pretty cheap.

Thoughts on steer manure?

I can't imagine composted cow manure being worth $50 a bag! Farmers give that stuff to the composting company to get rid of it. Maybe I should have kept my cows! Smile 

I don't have any experience with composted steer manure. Lowe's here sells a 1 cu ft bag of Composted Steer Manure for $1.58, but I've never bought any. The contents says it is a blend of manure and compost, with no mention of the ratio or proportions of each.

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Post  has55 2/27/2021, 6:56 am

markqz
Do you have a farm and feed store near you. I get my products there at the cost the farmers pay. After a while they give me some items free because our relationship develop into friendship with the owner.
Yesterday, I picked up cornmeal for 15.00 for 40lbs for fungal control to use in my first direct winter planting experiments of tomatoes and peppers, another feed store wanted 30.00
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Post  yolos 6/11/2021, 7:24 pm

I have a couple of questions. In the past I never composted any diseased plants (powdery mildew) or plants damaged by insects (spider mites and cabbage loopers).

Question 1 - I grow peas every spring. Every year as the weather heats up, I get powdery mildew. I control it with milk. I have never composted the plants but I still get the mildew every year even though I rotate crops to different beds. So why shouldn't I just compost the plants if I am getting the same disease every year no matter what I do.

Question 2 - I get spider mites on my beans and cowpeas every year. I do not spray for them because I can get a good enough harvest before they are completely destroyed. I also rotate beds. This year was a new bed that had never been used before. I still got spider mites. So why shouldn't I just compost the plants if I am getting the same insect damage each year.

Question 3 - I get those caterpillars every year on my brassicas. I know I can use BT to control them or cover them with row cover. But some times I don't get around to taking care of them because I can get enough broccoli without spraying. So why shouldn't I just compost the plants if I am getting the same insect damage each year.

I know the literature says don't compost in these instances but based on my practices, I still get the disease or insect damage each year. I do not like to spray my veggies with anything if I can get a good enough harvest to satisfy myself. But it just breaks my heart not to be able to use all that material in my compost pile.


PS - I use a 3 x 3 x 3 compost pile and try to get it hot but it really never gets hot enough to kill of the diseases or insect eggs.
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Post  OhioGardener 6/11/2021, 7:58 pm

Yolos, I compost all those things, and have never had a problem with them being passed on to other plants. But, I check the temp of my compost daily when it is in the early stages, and it always reaches 150ºF to 160ºF which kills most any pathogen.  But then, these are the words from the Oregon State University Extension Service on this question:

"Should be no problem at all. Powdery mildews only survive on a living host and the composting process will kill the fungus as well as the plants. Not many plant pathogens survive the process. There is some evidence that plants with Verticillium wilt might survive and be a problem when used as mulch." (OSU Extension Service)

Spider Mites overwinter in the soil, and will be back year after year unless eradicated before the end of season when they drop into the soil.

The pesty little caterpillars that attack the Brassica plants arrive by those white cabbage moths laying eggs on the undersides of the leaves. If left to maturity, those caterpillars will turn into more moths to lay more eggs. Any of those eggs or caterpillars left of the plant will not survive the composting process.

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Post  yolos 6/11/2021, 8:03 pm

Thanks for those answers OG.  I will compost all.  One further question - will it help eradicate the spider mite or eggs if I spray the soil after I cut down the bean plants.
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Post  OhioGardener 6/11/2021, 8:29 pm

yolos wrote:Thanks for those answers OG.  I will compost all.  One further question - will it help eradicate the spider mite or eggs if I spray the soil after I cut down the bean plants.

Unfortunately, I don't know if that is the case, but I doubt it would have much effect. They are probably already burrowed into the soil by that time.  When I see an outbreak of spider mites, I spray the plants every few days with Spinosad, which quickly controls them.  I have read that Spinosad can be root-fed to the plants via watering to systematically kill the spider mites, but I have not tried that.

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Post  jimmy cee 6/11/2021, 11:39 pm

Something folks seem to either not know or maybe tend to forget..
Worm castings, compost are not all the same quality.
Take worm castings, castings can be made from all leaves
               compost can be made from all leaves.
These will not have the same quality as castings and compost made from many different ingredients.
I'll post afew photo's of some of the may items I once used to make my compost..
Believe me when I tell you there is quite a difference in plants outcome when using quality compost..

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Post  sanderson 6/12/2021, 3:32 am

Ah, the fun days of building a quality compost pile. Sad

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Post  donnainzone5 6/12/2021, 12:00 pm

I wish I could get my hands on some produce rejects.  Around here, I'm told that those materials go to a composting facility (local dump?).  If that were the case, why isn't that same bagged compost sold at the grocery stores?
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Post  OhioGardener 6/12/2021, 12:45 pm

jimmy cee wrote:Something folks seem to either not know or maybe tend to forget..
Worm castings, compost are not all the same quality.
.
.
.
Believe me when I tell you there is quite a difference in plants outcome when using quality compost..

So true, so true. And, much of the bagged "compost" that is sold is nothing more than "forest products", i.e., leftovers from logging processes.

Also frequently forgotten is the value of Compost Tea in improving plant health and reducing pest activity.

sanderson wrote:Ah, the fun days of building a quality compost pile. Sad

And, don't you miss those days? Smile  I love checking the composter and smelling that sweet new earth scent. Smile 

donnainzone5 wrote:I wish I could get my hands on some produce rejects.  Around here, I'm told that those materials go to a composting facility (local dump?).  If that were the case, why isn't that same bagged compost sold at the grocery stores?


Locally, we have an organization called GoZERO which collects food scraps from grocery stores, restaurants, etc., composts it, and then sells it to farmers or others that want bulk compost.

I get free pulp from juice bars, which I mix with coffee grounds and pine pellets to make some really great compost. On a typical day I will come home with 10 gallons of juicer pulp and 100# of Starbucks coffee grounds. Those all turn into great compost.  However, GoZERO has been contacting the larger juice bars about providing their pulp to them, so the free pulp may go away.

Another free source of compost I have been experimenting with is the "mash" left over from the hops used to make beer in the local craft brewers. So far I have not had great success with it, though, as it seems to take a long time for that mash to compost. I probably haven't gotten the balance correct in the composter yet.

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Post  donnainzone5 6/12/2021, 3:19 pm

Thanks for the tips!

I thought that it isn't a good idea to include citrus pulp and peels in compost.  Otherwise, the juice pulp would be a great idea.

I'm about 2/3 of a mile from a brewery.  Still, I wish I could get defective produce from the grocery store. Hmmm....  I've made a few friends there who might be able to slip me some from time to time.
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Post  OhioGardener 6/12/2021, 3:36 pm

donnainzone5 wrote:Thanks for the tips!

I thought that it isn't a good idea to include citrus pulp and peels in compost.  Otherwise, the juice pulp would be a great idea.

There is no problem composting the citrus pulp and peels. They can't be used in a worm bin, but they break down just fine in compost.

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Post  donnainzone5 6/12/2021, 3:47 pm

I was under the impression that citrus repels worms from compost piles.
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Post  sanderson 6/12/2021, 5:16 pm

Donna,  I slowly built up a relationship with vendors at the Farmers' Markets.  I left 5-gallon bucket with them after explaining that I only wanted culls or rotten produce.  I did not want to be in competition with still usable produce that was donated.  Once the citrus has composted down with the other ingredients, the worms will enter.

OG,  Yes, I miss composting.  When it was time to make a new bin, we would start around Wednesday, collecting Starbuck's free coffee grounds, horse manure from the Ag Dept at the college, mowing leaves - old straw - alfalfa hay, placing the piles on a large blue tarp.  Friday night, we would hit the biggest Farmers' Market for culls.  Maybe the smaller Saturday morning Market.  Lots of culls during our 100*F+ heat waves!!  Saturday I, or we in later years, would start layering in the ingredients, soaking with a hose wand.  Then the probe thermometer and turning would start.  To think that so many free ingredients could turn into compost.  Sigh.

Jimmy, Your little wood chipper looks like the one I bought.  Only, I used the chips to mulch flower beds and build up a little strip of BTE.

Haul from Farmers' Market.

Super Compost?  Compos42

Chopping produce.
Super Compost?  Compos44

Starbuck's collection.

Super Compost?  Coffee10

Dancing on coffee pucks to break them apart!

Super Compost?  Compos43

Assembling ingredients. Yes, I even cleaned out the pantry.

Super Compost?  Compos45

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sanderson
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Post  ralitaco 6/12/2021, 9:20 pm

Those are some great ideas for getting multiple ingredients for the compost, especially the farmer' market.

I also think that several of us here would like to see a video of you doing your coffee puck dance - Very Happy
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