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Commercial (bagged or bulk) compost question Toplef10Commercial (bagged or bulk) compost question 1zd3ho10

Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

Commercial (bagged or bulk) compost question I22gcj10Commercial (bagged or bulk) compost question 14dhcg10

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Commercial (bagged or bulk) compost question

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Commercial (bagged or bulk) compost question Empty Commercial (bagged or bulk) compost question

Post  DMann 2/21/2024, 7:02 pm

Hello! This is my first post here, so apologies in advance for probably messing it up! I’m also on mobile which doesn’t help. 

Anyway I’m sourcing my Mel’s mix ingredients and there’s a compost that’s 33% food scraps and 66% yard waste such as leaves, grass clippings, shrubs, etc. The compost is clean and certified organic. With only 33% food scraps is this enough to count as 2 of my composts?? I’m having to buy them all and the other ones I’m considering are cow, shroom, worm castings. I really can’t find any others around here aside from chicken. This 33/66 mix is about 4 times more expensive than a straight yard waste option that is local. I’d like to avoid using both worm castings and this mix as just those two alone will cost me around $300. Anyway, and feedback on that mixed one would be greatly appreciated!! Cheers!
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Post  Turan 2/22/2024, 5:13 pm

Hi!
To me the food and yard compost counts as one compost, that is your basic mixture of any home grown compost. It is worth a lot if organic and clean because there is a huge problem in locally available straight yard waste being contaminated with persistent broad leaf herbicides. It is incredibly disappointing and frustrating to have this happen.
Personally I would get them all, just go light with the worm castings, I think 5% is the recommendation. I also wouldn't worry too much if you can only find 4 vs 5, the point is to have a wide variety, it needs to be fairly highly nutritious stuff because the peat has none.
Also do internal searches on compost, there has been a lot of discussions about this.
I hope that is helpful.

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Post  sanderson 2/23/2024, 12:11 am

Dmann, My first thought is how many beds are you building and are you limiting the depth of Mel's Mix to only 6-7". $300 for compost is a lot. Please explain what you planning so we can see if you can lower your costs.

In the last 2-3 years, folks have had trouble finding decent composts without fillers like coir, extra peat moss, sand, topsoil, wood fines, etc. We have been telling folks to do the best they can. Limit manure-based composts to 20% to keep down the buildup of phosphorus. Cow manure is generally lower in phosphorus than poultry. Limit worm castings (usually expensive) to 5%. Quality counts more than quantity of the number of composts. I like the fact that your 33:66 compost is certified. Mushroom compost is usually okay, but read the label for extra fillers.

For the other 2 ingredients, most people order coarse or super course vermiculite online. Watch for free shipping. A M Leonard is having a promo on free shipping with a purchase of $100 or more. $50 per 4 cubic feet is normal.

Compressed peat moss expands another 50% when fluffed. 

The more info you can provide, the better the advice we can provide.

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Post  DMann 2/23/2024, 4:39 pm

sanderson wrote:Dmann,  My first thought is how many beds are you building and are you limiting the depth of Mel's Mix to only 6-7".  $300 for compost is a lot.  Please explain what you planning so we can see if you can lower your costs.

In the last 2-3 years, folks have had trouble finding decent composts without fillers like coir, extra peat moss, sand, topsoil, wood fines, etc.  We have been telling folks to do the best they can.  Limit manure-based composts to 20% to keep down the buildup of phosphorus.  Cow manure is generally lower in phosphorus than poultry.  Limit worm castings (usually expensive) to 5%.  Quality counts more than quantity of the number of composts.  I like the fact that your 33:66 compost is certified.  Mushroom compost is usually okay, but read the label for extra fillers.

For the other 2 ingredients, most people order coarse or super course vermiculite online.  Watch for free shipping.  A M Leonard is having a promo on free shipping with a purchase of $100 or more.  $50 per 4 cubic feet is normal.

Compressed peat moss expands another 50% when fluffed. 

The more info you can provide, the better the advice we can provide.
 
Thanks so much for taking the time to reply!
I have 4 beds that I’ve used for traditional raised bed gardening for several years now: two each of 4’x4’x12” and two 3’x4’x12”. I realize 6” is considered the standard fill height- but I figured since the beds were already there I might as well use the volume. I suppose I could just fill halfway. My primary crops are tomatoes and peppers, and I like to bury my tomato starts deeeep. (Realizing I can bury them somewhat horizontally too) I will also be using the mix for 3-5 gal pots to hold summer squash. Oh and I’ll be doing cucumbers as well.  

Yes the 33/66 sounds awesome. Just not cheap. I had planned on doing 10% castings but could cut cost by lowering that and maybe adding some straight yard clippings compost from another state certified source- I would have to check that that one is OMRI too. The 33/66 is almost as expensive as castings.

After sleuthing around here some I found AM Leonard and had planned on the coarse verm from them. Peat is cheap locally thankfully.

Thanks for any ideas you may have!
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Post  sanderson 2/23/2024, 5:33 pm

DMann wrote:
sanderson wrote:Dmann,  My first thought is how many beds are you building and are you limiting the depth of Mel's Mix to only 6-7".  $300 for compost is a lot.  Please explain what you planning so we can see if you can lower your costs.

 
Thanks so much for taking the time to reply!
I have 4 beds that I’ve used for traditional raised bed gardening for several years now: two each of 4’x4’x12” and two 3’x4’x12”. I realize 6” is considered the standard fill height- but I figured since the beds were already there I might as well use the volume. I suppose I could just fill halfway.
You can leave 4-5" of the current bed fill and just top with 6-7" of new Mel's Mix.  If you already removed the fill, you can also use topsoil or washed sand for the bottom fill. More Mel's Mix does not equate better growing.

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Post  DMann 2/23/2024, 6:44 pm

sanderson wrote:
DMann wrote:
sanderson wrote:Dmann,  My first thought is how many beds are you building and are you limiting the depth of Mel's Mix to only 6-7".  $300 for compost is a lot.  Please explain what you planning so we can see if you can lower your costs.

 
Thanks so much for taking the time to reply!
I have 4 beds that I’ve used for traditional raised bed gardening for several years now: two each of 4’x4’x12” and two 3’x4’x12”. I realize 6” is considered the standard fill height- but I figured since the beds were already there I might as well use the volume. I suppose I could just fill halfway.
You can leave 4-5" of the current bed fill and just top with 6-7" of new Mel's Mix.  If you already removed the fill, you can also use topsoil or washed sand for the bottom fill.  More Mel's Mix does not equate better growing.
I like that idea! I had planned on pulling all the soil in case it was harboring any fungal/viral/bacterial junk and just spreading it around my lawn. But keeping it close to the garden may not mitigate that potential issue anyway. And yes topsoil would be a pretty cheap alternative too. Thanks!!
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Post  donnainzone5 2/24/2024, 11:39 am

I see that there are some Whole Foods markets in your region.

Some carry Cedar Grove compost, OMRI-certified.  It's one of my stand-bys.  Call around to find the nearest store and ask if and when it will be in stock.  Here in Central Oregon, it usually turns up around March or April.
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Post  DMann 2/24/2024, 12:37 pm

donnainzone5 wrote:I see that there are some Whole Foods markets in your region.

Some carry Cedar Grove compost, OMRI-certified.  It's one of my stand-bys.  Call around to find the nearest store and ask if and when it will be in stock.  Here in Central Oregon, it usually turns up around March or April.
Hey there! Unfortunately I’m relatively “rural” for this area and the nearest Whole Foods is about 1 1/2 hrs away over the bay bridge. And on the rare occasions I go there my car is usually too full of expensive cheeses to carry anything else! Very Happy  But thanks for the tip- I may keep it as an ace up my sleeve!
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Post  DMann 3/14/2024, 1:55 pm

sanderson wrote: Limit manure-based composts to 20% to keep down the buildup of phosphorus.  Cow manure is generally lower in phosphorus than poultry.  Limit worm castings (usually expensive) to 5%. 
One more question for you, when you give percentages, do you mean percentage of total Mel’s mix or percentage of overall compost?
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Post  sanderson 3/14/2024, 11:40 pm

20% of just the total composts.  One bag of manure-based compost + 4 bags on Non-manure compost.  I hope this helps.

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Post  Mikesgardn 3/21/2024, 7:09 pm

I see you are somewhere on the DelMarVa peninsula.  If you are willing to do a road trip, there is a great composting company in Aberdeen, MD called Veterans Compost.  They make a high quality Compost that I have used as a stand-alone compost for years.  No need to mix different composts. 
 
You can also pick up their compost at a home in Severna Park, MD  not too far from the bay bridge.
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