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Monday, January 13, 2014

Winter is the Best Time to Shop for Compost

Q. I was checking the mulch products at Whiting Bros. and they have a product called Ferta Mulch.
They label it "Humic Composted Mulch". It looks like finely chopped up  bark. They recommend it to improve the quality of your soil. They have a picture of it on their website. I can buy a ton of it for $40.00. I'm expanding my vegetable garden by approximately 20x30 so the 2 cubic ft bags at  the big box stores are out of the question.  My soil is very sandy. What do you think?

A. I don’t know this product so it is hard for me to judge. Looks, smell and how it feels are not always the only things when judging composts. This is going into your garden and it will impact your garden for a long time to come. 

A compost produced in Nevada I worked with years ago. It was beautiful to look at. Smelled perfect. All the reports were exceptional but it had high boron levels that were overlooked and could not be used in local markets.

            If there is something in it that is detrimental, like high boron, it could impact your production for years to come. You cannot tell if high boron is present, for instance, by looking at it. You need to see reports on the product.

            Any company selling compost should be conducting regular testing and provide reports available to you regarding the level of quality of their product. This should include chemical, physical and reports on biological activity. All of these are important.
Homemade compost added to vegetable garden raised beds. When you cannot be sure of its source and how it is made, it is better to make it yourself.
            I have reviewed regular reports from ViraGrow regarding the compost they began importing into the valley last summer. This is the old Western Organics that has moved across town now near Losee Road and Cheyenne.  

I did obtain a copy of their most recent lab reports on their products and it looks good on paper. They had it analyzed by two different labs. One is the very prestigious lab in Oregon connected with the soil food web. Everything is in safe limits and plenty of nitrogen in the mix. The only drawback is that it does have some Class A biosolids which is permitted by law. There is a product without biosolids but it is very expensive compared to this one. The reports look very good. I will be conducting some other tests including some trials of their product in the coming months. Stay tuned on my blog.
I would tell you to shop around more, get an idea of which companies are testing their products on a regular basis and go from there. I don’t remember ViraGrows price offhand but give Sal Ramirez a call at 702-497-7371 and check with him. If you talk with Sal, mention you talked with me or saw this on my blog and ask him about the discounts. He can usually swing some deals. Delivery is expensive so if you can pick it up at their site you will save alot of money.

1 comment:

  1. If anyone has tried this compost, please reply. Vista has compost for the same price, but it is mostly cow manure. It is still very hot and smelly for about a week.