Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Organic Compost Survey

I am in the planning stages for adding the final two raised beds to my garden. These will be 4x6 foot beds and will house 12 tomato plants along the long edge, trellised up nylon cords, leaving 36 squares for other plants. Since I have to fill these beds with Mel’s Mix and my own supply of compost is limited, I have been researching what types of organic compost are available in my area west of Boston. First of all, I have written off Lowes, Home Depot and Wal-Mart. I am only looking at what is available in bags at  local garden centers and nurseries.

The following is the list of bagged organic composts I have found and review in this diary, along with my own compost:
  • Dave’s Own Compost
  • McEnroe Organic Premium Compost
  • Dr. Earth Natural Choice Compost
  • Vermont Compost Company Compost
  • Coast of Maine Quoddy Blend Lobster Compost
  • Gro-Well Organic Garden Compost
  • Jo-Barb Farms (Bolton, MA) Compost

Dave’s Own Compost

I have a black plastic compost bin behind the shed which I use to produce my own compost. I used to use 4” square plastic-coated fencing cut into sections and rolled into cylinders. I could fill these with leaves and pine needles, then throw in kitchen scraps and some top soil. Harvesting was easy by just pulling the fencing straight up, leaving the pile standing there. The top layer of partially decomposed material could then be pitch-forked back into the bin, leaving the pile of completed compost sitting there to be screened and used in my garden.

Unfortunately, the open nature of the bins made it easy for squirrels and raccoons to play around and toss the contents all over the place, plus they tended to dry out very easily in warmer weather and were easily crushed by heavy snows and falling tree limbs. I switched to the plastic bin two years ago and it has worked out fairly well. The bin gets some leaves, plus garden refuse and kitchen scraps, including egg shells, coffee grounds, tea bags, melon rinds, corn husks and cobs, spoiled produce, stems from collards and kale, etc. I fuss at my wife to keep fruit and avocado pits out of the scrap bucket since they do not decompose in anyone’s lifetime and are as obnoxious as rocks in the compost.

My own compost is dark brown in color, crumbly with good tilth. Some partially composted egg shells and pine needles are present but that doesn't bother me. It looks lighter in color than the bagged composts because it was drier when I took it out of the bottom of the bin.

Harvesting my own compostDave's compost closeup

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