What is the Best Compost for Garden?

carrying-compost-by-showel
Compost can be made from organic wastes.

During my early days of gardening, I envied the well-flourished garden of my neighbor. I desperately sought the key to thriving my garden until I found a shared secret of every green thumb- composting! 

Composting is a natural process that helps convert organic waste, such as food scraps and plant leaves, into a useful fertilizer that can improve soil and plants.

There are several types of composts, including vermicompost, mushroom compost, and manure. These composts are available as homemade and commercially packaged. They help retain water, balance pH, and improve soil structure and quality to grow plants healthily. 

Waste-and-compost
Decayable wastes are easy to make compost.

If your home expels decayable wastes daily, you may need to consider making composts for your plants. This helps you manage the waste and saves some money at the same time.

Wondering where to start? Keep reading this article; you may get all your queries solved here!

Why Compost to Garden Soil?

Compost is an organic material that you can incorporate into your garden soil to help the plants grow. It provides an excellent amendment to the soil.

According to US Composting Council, Compost has the following benefits.

  • Compost enhances healthy plant growth by balancing pH and soil density, absorbing water from the soil, and delivering nutrients to the ground.
  • Compost increases the soil’s organic matter content and helps build up the soil.
  • The addition of compost helps to improve the soil structure.
  • The use of compost suppresses pests and insects and prevents plant diseases. 
  • Compost prevents the growth of weeds, thus supplying nutrients to the plant of your wish.
  • The application of compost prevents garden soil erosion by binding the soil together.
  • Compost also delivers macro and micro-nutrients essential for plant nutrition.

Besides, compost has the benefit of reducing the emission of greenhouse gases.

Multiple types of Compost are available in the market, so you might be skeptical about the best one for your garden.

Best Natural Compost For Garden

Natural composts are mostly kitchen scraps, including coffee grounds, uneaten leftovers, fruit cores, peelings, and eggshells.

All you need is a bit of patience to turn your household scraps into composts, which will eventually be the best therapy for your starving plants. 

Here are some natural composts that will work the right for your small garden, vegetable garden, or containers. 

1. Leaves and Yard Trimmings 

Leaves and yard trimmings are one the convenient and inexpensive methods of composting.

To prepare compost from leaves and yard trimming, put them in a bin or piles. Cover with plastic, soil, or container lid and dig into the pile. In 6 to 12 months, your compost will be ready. 

Leaves and Yard Trimmings being gathered to make Compost.
You can make natural Compost from Leaves and Yard trimmings.

You can obtain faster results using a compost tumbler.

2. Manure 

As animal manure is rich in all nutrients needed for the plant to thrive, it makes an excellent organic compost.

The image represents manure used to make Compost.
Animal manure can be collected to prepare Compost.

You can place some twigs and straw in the pile and add moist ingredients like tea bags, food waste, plant waste, and manure.

Finally, cover the pile and wait for your Compost to be ready.

Keep turning your compost pile every few weeks.

Did you know? Some biodegradable wastes like fish, bones, meat, and dairy products are NOT suitable for composting.

3. Mushroom

Mushrooms are the most advantageous organic substances to add to your vegetable or flower garden.

Mushroom composts promote water retention and are richer in nitrogen than leaf composts. However, they are not suitable for germinating seeds and salt-sensitive plants.

You can mix the mushroom compost adequately with garden soils for ideal results.

4. Coffee Grounds 

Coffee grounds contain 2% nitrogen and are an excellent nitrogen source for plants.

The image represents coffee grounds that can be used to make natural Compost.
You can use Coffee Grounds to prepare Compost.

This Compost is best for acid-loving plants like blueberries, roses, and tomatoes. 

You can add 1/3 of Coffee Grounds to your regular compost pile. Ensure adding an equal amount of Carbon Sources like ground pieces of paper or dry leaves.

5. Banana Peels 

Banana peels are another easily compostable material. You can throw your leftover banana peels into the compost pile as a whole or chopped. 

However, the process completes faster when the peels are chopped.

You need to aerate the Compost well and turn the pile frequently.

Banana Peel Compost have Carbon and Nitrogen ratio of 35:1.

The image represent woman using banana peel for Compost.
Compost from Banana Peels is rich in potassium.

Banana peels add potassium, sulfur, calcium, sodium, magnesium, and phosphates to compost.

Specifically rich in potassium, banana peels make composts that are best for potassium-loving plants such as roses.

I suggest you bury the peels in the backyard with roses and let them compost naturally.

Why Compost from Kitchen Waste? Food Scraps make total of 30% of what is thrown away.

6. Egg Shells 

Egg Shells maintain soil calcium levels and reduce the soil’s acidity.

A person using egg shell to make compost.
The Compost from Egg Shells helps to reduce the soil acidity.

Caution! Be Careful of composting the rotten eggs since the smell can attract rats and other scavengers.

Composting eggshells is a very inexpensive way of grabbing the maximum benefits. The procedure includes washing the eggshells, crushing them, and mixing them with the regular compost pile.

Lastly, wait for your plant to turn green and healthier more than ever! 

Best Way To Make Compost For Garden

If I succeeded in convincing you to make your own compost, here are the golden steps to preparing compost at home.

Enjoy! 

1. Choose Your Location 

First of all, choose your open pile or compost bin.

Select a convenient location, and it must be well-drained and sunny. 

2. Alternate Layers

The innermost layer must be twigs and the immediately upper layer of leaves. After that, create an alternate layer of nitrogen-rich materials and carbon-rich materials.

Nitrogen-rich materials are the green items and Carbon-rich materials are the brown items in a compost.

3. Collect the Compostable Items 

Collect scraps from the kitchen. When full, transfer the wastes to the compost bin or pile.

Make sure to include more carbon-rich materials so the decay process is faster. 

Easy steps for composting.
You can prepare Compost on your own in 6 easy steps.

4. Add the Layers Until the Bin or Pile is Full 

As decomposition occurs, the contents keep shrinking. So, keep adding the contents until the bin or pile is full.

5. Cover the Bin/Pile 

Cover the bin or pile with a bin lid, soil, or plastic to preserve the moisture.

6. Harvest

Your 4-6 months of patience are finally over! Get ready for the pleasure of smelling the earth from your compost.

Remove the Compost from your bin/pile and leave the undone materials inside.

After the Compost is ready, you should use it within 3 to 6 months. The compost begins degrading after the decomposition process completes and reaches its peak.

If you need visual help with composting, try this out!

Best Bagged Compost For Your Garden 

Generally, all-purpose-peat-free composts are suitable for all plants. They combine green composting materials,  which can be a vital protein source for the compost microbes to boost the decomposing process. 

Though you can use both compost and topsoil to provide nutrients to the plants, their use can depend on the result you are trying to acquire.

Topsoil is best for a large plot of land, while compost is best for vegetable gardens, potted flowers, and plants.

You can also mix the two to provide balanced bedding for your garden and obtain the most favorable outcomes.

But if you don’t have a schedule for it, you can purchase the commercial or bagged composts. 

1. Best Compost For Garden Vegetables

Vegetables require nutrient-rich composts containing diverse organic matter like fruit and vegetable waste, eggshells, leaves, and coffee grounds. Here are some recommended products for garden vegetables.

Mountain Valley Seed Company Compost

The Mountain Valley Seed Company composts are Vermicompost that primarily enhance plant growth by promoting water retention in the soil.

This Compost is OMRI certified and is made of cow manure that has been processed and refined by red earthworms.

Earthworms act as aerators and help to break down the ingredients by mixing and crushing them.

It releases Nitrogen, phosphorus, and Potassium slowly and maintains a neutral pH, helping grow the plants green and thicker.

The image represents Bagged Vermicompost.
Vermicompost is best-suited for vegetable gardens. Source: (amazon)

Not to mention, it turned out to be an excellent alternative to chemical fertilizers. It provides an excellent soil amendment and maintains water retention. 

Pros

  • Clean, odorless, and convenient
  • Minimize plant disease and easy delivery of nutrients to plants

Cons

  • Expensive

Black Kow Compost

Black Kow Compost is a mushroom growing mix compost that comes in a bag of 41  pounds.  

Black-Kow-Organic-Brands
Mushroom Compost can be great for garden plants.

It is a good soil supplement to nourish the soil and feed the plants.

You can mix this mushroom compost with planting soil to help in the growth of plants. You can also use it as a dressing above the soil of potted plants. 

Pros

  • Higher organic matter content
  • Helps break down dense soil
  • Excellent for vegetables, especially broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower

Cons

  • Does not work for radishes, cucumbers, and beans
  • Expensive than regular composts
  • Unpleasant odor

Hoffman Compost

The Hoffman Compost contains nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium and is made of cow manure.

It improves the soil texture and is very suitable for growing organic vegetables.

The image represent bagged organic compost and manure.
Compost from Cow manure helps to improve the soil texture. Source: (amazon)

You can mix the compost in the soil or add it to the top.

Though it does not contain earthworms, it provides a platform for the worms to grow.

Pros
  • Contains balanced nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium
  • Easy to mix with the soil
  • Does not burn the plants
  • Odorless
Cons 
  • Higher price than other brands

2. Best Compost For Garden Soil

Dr. Earth Compost 

Organic substances like Forest Humus, Fir Bark, Peat Moss, Worm Castings, Soybean Meal, Fish Meal, Fish Bone Meal, soil Microbes, alfalfa meal, and kelp meal are the constituents of Dr. Earth Compost.

The image represents Dr. Earth all purpose compost.
Dr. Earth all purpose Compost balances the soil acidity and the NPK ratio. Source: (amazon)

This dark, rich Compost helps in the amendment of soil and balances the soil acidity and the NPK ratio. 

You can use the compost as mulch or break down the clay and unnecessary substances in the soil.

As this compost helps to balance the fungal activities in the soil, gardeners highly recommend it to hungry plants. 

Pros
  • Excellent for vegetable garden
  • Rich in organic nutrients
  • Improves soil texture
  • Helps the flower roots to grow
Cons
  • Expensive 
  • It may come with pieces of rock or other unwanted substances.

Malibu Compost Bu’s Blend Biodynamic Compost

Malibu Compost is a popular compost that is made from composting process with cow manure, grapevine trimmings, and added herbal preparations.

The image represents Malibu Biodynamic Compost.
Malibu’s Compost can be used for garden soil. Source:(amazon)

It serves as a good source of humus to the soil. You can see a dramatic improvement in soil quality with the slight addition of this Compost. It can be used for plants that prefer acidic soil and those that do not. 

Adding handcrafted ingredients exclusively to this compost makes it best suited for organic gardening.

Pros
  • Saves water 
  • Good consistency
  • Great for fruits and vegetables
Cons 
  • Not suitable for planting directly to the product.

Blue Ribbon Organics Compost

The Blue Ribbon Organics Compost is an OMRI certified Compost made with food recycles as the key ingredients. 

It also contains recycled materials like leaves and cut firewood.

The image represents Blue Ribbon Organic Compost.
The Blue Ribbon Organic Compost is rich in nitrogen. Source: (amazon)

The Compost enrichens the soil by delivering nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. It is specifically rich in nitrogen derived from natural materials.

Pros
  • Good texture
  • Odorless
  • Improves the soil texture
  • Suitable for corns and eggplants
  • Safe for any concentration
Cons
  • Expensive

3. Best Compost For Garden Pots

Coast of Maine Compost 

The Coast of Maine Compost is OMRI-certified and preservative-free compost made of grounded lobster and crab shells.

The balance of compost and nutrients makes it ideal for flowering plants and perfect for container gardening.

The image shows lobster compost.
The Lobster Compost is rich in nitrogen. (Source: Amazon)

With the blend of all essential minerals like phosphorus, calcium, and nitrogen, this Compost ensures all vital nutrients to the soil.

Pros
  • Helps in consistent drainage of water
  • Lesser of large chunks and rocks
  • Easy to use
  • Minimal smell
Cons 
  • Expensive for the quantity

Sustane Compost 

The Sustain Compost is composed of 4% total nitrogen. 

Composts Tea Bags work well for plants.
You can spray the tea brewed from the Sustane Tea Bag on your plants. Source: (amazon)

You should brew this bag by placing the tea bag in water for 24 hr and spraying it on your flowers or vegetables. 

The other way, you can install it directly into the soil.

When used on container plants, it promotes flower blooms and the healthier growth of your flower. 

Pros
  • Convenient to brew
  • Provides nutrients to the leaves and soil
  • Solves blossom rot, yellow leaves, and brown spots
Cons
  • Smelly after brewing
  • Expensive for the quantity 

Charlie’s Compost 

Made locally from chicken manure, cornstalks, straw, forest products, and hay, Charlie’s Compost is a good compost for all types of gardens.

Chicken Manure, the main ingredient of this compost, delivers essential nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium to the plants.

It provides the advantageous microbes that the plants need and results in a noticeable difference in growth and flowering.

This compost is cheaper and more mineral-dense than other manures, like cow and horse manure.

The image represents Charlie's Compost.
Charlie’s Compost helps in soil amendment. (Source: Amazon)

When used for garden pots, it provides an excellent soil amendment.

Pros
  • Only a small amount is needed to get the benefits
  • No odor
Cons
  • It can potentially burn your plants when the mixture is not light.

Sun Gro Compost

This is an OMRI-listed Compost that contains a blend of earthworm castings. It will be the best for use in patios, lawns, gardens, and garden containers.

You can use it as a  top-dressing or add it to water to make a casting tea.

The Black Gold Earthworm Casting helps in water retention. (Source: Amazon)
Pros
  • Contains a good amount of iron.
  • Helps in water retention.
  • Doesn’t burn plants
  • A good amount of  worm castings and good delivery of nitrogen
Cons
  • Expensive

Tips for Using Compost to Garden

Now that you have your compost ready, here are some tips that I think will be handy to apply to your garden.

  • For growing vegetables, pour the compost into each hole you are planting.
  • For growing flowers, loosen the soil and mix a 1-inch layer of Compost.
  • Generally, vegetable gardens need 1-3 inches of Compost.
  • You can use Compost as mulch by adding a layer of 2 to 4 inches above the soil.
  • For sandy soil, put a 4-inches thick layer of Compost over the ground and mix the Compost well, about 10 inches deep.
  • When using bagged composts, add layers of 1 to 2 inches at the beginning of the Spring.

Add compost to the garden soil before planting new crops. It is better to add Compost 3 to 6 weeks earlier than planting.

Are newspapers safe to Compost? 

As most people think the ink of newspaper is not safe to compost. However, it is not true.

Newspaper is safe to compost, but it breaks down slowly because of the high lignin content.

Will the compost smell terrible? 

The  Compost does not smell bad as long as you let enough air flow into the Compost.

If you sense an intolerable smell from the Compost, add some wood and mix it into the Compost.

Materials rich in nitrogen, including grass clippings, may result in Ammonia odors. However, you can prevent it by calculating the number of materials to achieve the correct carbon-to-nitrogen ratio.

Conclusion

Vermicomposts, mushroom compost, and several other organic Composts can be used in the soil for the healthy growth of plants.

These composts can be prepared at home and are also available in the market in bagged forms.

If you are an urban gardener, I understand you have no choices other than bagged composts. However, as far as possible, I urge you to use natural compost.

Natural Compost gives equal benefits and is easy for the pocket. Also, some results are worth the patience! 

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