Comparing brands of compost is not as simple as opening a consumer comparison magazine and looking at recommendations. Most commercial brands of compost are produced locally, so compost purchased in Montana will differ from compost purchased in Florida or California. Additionally, there are no industry standards that guide how a compost bag is labelled. These composts vary in quality based on whatever local waste byproducts are used to make the compost. Fortunately, you can compare compost brands in the garden centre with a simple exam.
- Skill level:
Pick up a handful of each compost and feel it. Compost should be loose and granular without large chunks of undecomposed material. Avoid compost varieties with large chunks of bark or other solid materials in it.
Look over the compost. Compost should be dark brown or black in colour. The darker that compost, the more rich it is in organic materials.
Pick up a bag. Compost should be moist, not dry or soggy. Since compost is sold per weight, if it is soggy or waterlogged, you will mostly be paying for water in improperly stored or packaged bags.
Smell the compost. Good compost should have an earthy smell. Most bagged composts will have a slightly musty smell from being confined in plastic. If compost smells sour or rotten, avoid it.
Tips and warnings
- If you are buying compost in bulk, you can request a lab test result. Large, reputable compost producing companies should have lab test results available for consumers.
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