Whether you want to grow tomatoes, carrots, or cucumbers, you need the best bagged compost for vegetable garden. If you want your soil to be just right, this is the guide for you.
Malibu Compost Bu’s Blend Biodynamic Compost is the best bagged compost for vegetable gardens because there are no pathogens, GMO’s, biosolids, sewage sludge, weed seeds, or anything synthetic in this mix. The ingredients are slow released to provide full nourishment to your vegetables.
Vegetable gardens require slightly different soil to flowers. This is because they require more nutrients to grow. Chances are, you do not have soil in your yard that is nutrient rich.
This is where having the best bagged compost can help you out. With the right compost added to your soil, you can get delicious and nutritious vegetables.
Once you have decided to get your vegetable garden going, you will be thinking about getting your soil just right. To boost the taste, color, and nutritional value of your vegetables, you will need a top-quality compost.
There are many different kinds of compost out there and you can even make your own.
Our guide is designed to help you get the right compost for those award-winning vegetables.
Table of Contents
Compost For A Vegetable Garden
The best compost for growing vegetables will need to be packed with nutrients. Some bagged soil will contain nutrients, but compost is recommended when it comes to growing vegetables. If you would rather use soil instead, check out my article Best Bagged Soil For Vegetable Garden.
The specific kind of compost and nutrients you get will depend on what you are growing. Carrots and cucumbers strongly prefer alkaline soils whereas potatoes like more acidic soils. You need to check the conditions of the soil you have first before deciding which compost to get.
How To Use Compost In Vegetable Garden
You should add compost to your soil for a vegetable garden to ensure they get the nutrients they need. Compost helps the soil to retain moisture and will also increase the microbial community that prevents unwanted pests from destroying your garden.
Compost also releases the nutrients slowly, which means your vegetables get what they need as needed. Make sure you add compost to your soil in the fall and spread several inches of it over the garden area.
As you dig holes for the vegetable seeds or roots, drop a handful of compost in each hole.
You can add additional compost once the vegetables start to grow. Ideally you want to add half an inch around the base of the plant. Some vegetables like tomatoes are heavy feeders and will need compost added each month.
How Much Compost For Vegetable Garden
There is such a thing as having too much compost. While compost supplies your vegetables with valuable nutrients, too much can have negative effects. This is especially true for manure-based composts.
Before you get the vegetables planted, you want to spread 2 inches of compost over the garden area. It should be tilled into the soil about 6 to 8 inches.
There are also compost calculators you can use to determine how much you should use. The general rule of thumb is 1/4 to 1/2 inch if applying to the top of the soil and 1 to 2 inches if you plan to amend the soil. The advised maximums are 30% to 50% compost in a soil blend
How To Make Compost For Vegetable Garden
When there are things in your refrigerator that you just cannot eat, make compost. No need to waste the food. Keep a container around like this stylish compost bucket from Amazon, to toss the food away you are not going to use.
The best items for your compost bucket will be fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, ground coffee, and shredded newspaper. You should also keep some stuff from your yard such as grass clippings, dry leaves, and bark chips
To make your own compost, start by mixing green and brown materials. You need to have enough to make a 3-foot deep pile. Combine the wet green stuff and the dry brown stuff you have been collecting.
Ideally, you want a ratio of 3:1, dry items to wet ones. For compost that looks too wet, add more brown items.
Regularly spray water over the pile to prevent it from drying out. Do not over water it though because this will kill the valuable microorganisms you need. You also need to keep an eye on the temperature, as the best compost will feel warm (130 to 150 degrees F.).
The compost will also need oxygen, so you will need to stir it frequently too. It will be ready to use when it looks, feels and smells like rich, dark earth rather than rotting vegetables.
Can I Use Mushroom Compost In My Vegetable Garden
Mushroom compost has a higher organic matter content than most other composts. It is therefore useful for improving soil and mulching. It can also be used for vegetable growth.
The vegetables this compost works best for include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.
The best kind will be made with well-rotted stable manure or composted straw. Mushroom compost usually contains chalk and alkaline and you will want to remove any large pieces of chalk before use.
You can buy mushroom compost from mushroom farms, manure suppliers, and garden centers.
Where To Buy Compost For Vegetable Garden
There are thousands of places in the United States where you can get bagged compost. The most common places to shop are:
- Garden Centers: These stores will hold bagged compost in bulk. In some cases, you can bag your own compost too.
- Mulch Suppliers: Some businesses that sell topsoil and mulch will also sell bagged compost.
- Amazon: The best bagged compost for vegetable garden can be bought on Amazon. They sell a variety of compost types, from organic, to worm compost.
Best Type Of Compost For Vegetable Garden
There are several types of compost out there. The main ones you can consider using for your vegetable garden include:
Regular Compost (Thermo-Compost)
This is made from a diversity of ingredients mixed in large piles. Both anaerobic and aerobic microorganisms are used to break down the ingredients. Farm and town scraps can be used as well as waste and animal feces.
The decomposition process takes between 3 and 6 months. Compost is environmentally friendly and requires little maintenance, but you need to remember that waste segregation is required for healthy compost.
Worm Compost (Vermicompost)
This compost is similar to regular compost except worms are used instead of microorganisms. The worms also have bacteria in their guy that help to break down the ingredients. Earthworms act as aerators, mixers, and crushers.
Vermicomposting is a natural and efficient technique for decomposition and recycling of animal wastes and plant residues. Municipal solid wastes, dairy and poultry waste, animal manure, and food industry waste can all be decomposed using earthworms.
This type of compost improves water retention in the soil and enhances both growth and yield of plants. The environmental conditions need to be properly maintained for the earthworms to thrive, otherwise the compost produced will not be good quality.
Composted Animal Manure
The quality of this will vary depending on what exactly is in it. Animal feces left to compost along is not very nutritious but when mixed with straw it can become similar to regular compost.
There are some risks that come with manure-based compost too. Some pathogens that are found in manure include:
- Campylobacter bacteria
- Giardia protozoa
- Cryptosporidium protozoa
These pathogens can cause illness and consume the vegetables causing them to be inedible. Manure compost can improve soil structure and save water, but you need to make sure you get a high-quality brand that will be pathogen-free.
This is considered the best compost to use for vegetable gardens. It contains a mix of materials including wood fibers, composted bark, and naturally occurring nutrients that come from plants and animals.
There will be no unnatural materials used and the best quality organic composts will have no pesticides or toxins.
Green manure is a form of organic compost that is deliberately made through mulching, plowing, and mixing crops with soil. Once the green manure is composted, it can be used to grow vegetables.
The use of this manure does not come with the same risks as using animal manure. It does however, add nitrogen to the soil and organic matter which improves the health of your vegetables.
Best Organic Compost For Vegetable Garden
Organic compost is the best compost to use. This makes sense because the process of composting is natural, so a natural product will be preferred. Composts that use recycled materials such as leaves, grass trimmings, and scraps create a much richer soil for your vegetables.
The compost will develop from these materials as microorganisms break the materials down Once the ingredients are turned into basic components, they feed plants more efficiently.
Compost needs to have a carbon to nitrogen ratio of 30:1. Anything less will not have enough nitrogen to decompose the materials efficiently. When making compost, this would translate to two-thirds of brown (carbon) materials and one-third green (nitrogen) materials.
In addition to the nitrogen and carbon content, there are other factors that matter for quality compost.
- Proper acidity (between pH 5.8 and 7)
- Proper temperature (above 50 degrees F.)
- Good aeration
- Adequate soil moisture
Compost Buyers Guide
Now you know what types of bagged compost are out there, you need to narrow down what will work for your vegetable garden. There are important things to consider when looking for the best bagged compost for vegetable gardens.
Who Makes The Compost
Sometimes you can live near a compost manufacturer and will be aware of their reputation. You can visit local facilities to see equipment, process, and most importantly, the ingredients.
It is also worth considering if the manufacturer is using sustainable methods for production. How environmentally friendly they are goes a long way to solid reputation. Ask around for reviews of manufacturers or try any of the top bagged composts we recommend below.
Can the manufacturer ensure that the compost you are buying is free of toxins and pesticides? This is a necessity when buying compost for your vegetables.
Not only do you want to keep your plants healthy, but if you plan on eating the vegetables you grow, you need the compost that feeds them to be toxin-free. Farmers use pesticides on hay and grains that can make their way into compost. Manure can also be affected by pesticides.
Biosolid waste is an additional problem in compost. Recycling of sewage is important, but you may not want it to be a part of your compost, and vegetable food.
Biosolids can contain antibiotic-resistant bacteria and heavy metals but will not be found in certified organic composts. Make sure you buy one that meets those standards to ensure your vegetables are safe to eat.
Even though compost is made from decomposed materials and products you throw away, it should not smell like garbage. The decomposition process also produces ammonia, but the compost should not smell like that either.
A quality compost will not have a bad odor but should have an earthy smell.
It should also feel damp, but fluffy and be a dark color. Any smells and heat being given off mean the decomposition process is not yet complete. This compost will not yet be balanced and will not benefit your vegetable garden.
5 Best Bagged Compost For Vegetable Garden
As mentioned, Amazon is a great place to get affordable and top-rated bagged compost for your vegetable garden. We did the research for you and below are the top 5 products we recommend.
Malibu Compost Bu’s Blend Biodynamic Compost is one of the most popular on the market and this blend is great for vegetable gardens. It not only nourishes your vegetables; it repairs the soil’s ecosystem and saves water.
The compost is Demeter-certified which is the highest agricultural standard in the world.
There are no pathogens, GMO’s,biosolids, sewage sludge, weed seeds, or anything synthetic in this mix, only hand-crafted quality ingredients. Ingredients are slow released to provide full nourishment and the local earthworms will love it too.
Natural Choice Compost is 100% organic and ideal for vegetable gardens. The ingredients are designed to promote growth and health and can be used for any number of planting projects. There are no synthetic materials and it can be used indoors and outdoors.
This compost is certified by OMRI (Organic Material Review Institute) and OIM (Organic Input Materials) and was developed with the environment in mind. There is no manure or toxic products so the local soil and your garden will flourish.
A top name in gardening, Black Gold Garden Compost brings a high-quality compost blend. Containing composted bark and Canadian Sphagnum peat moss, you get an ideal mix for vegetables.
This mixture also contains composted mushroom casing mix, composted peanut shells, and composted rice hulls, all organic, and all natural. Use this compost for any planting project, but it will especially nourish vegetable gardens. All vegetables included.
Blue Ribbon Organics offers a top-rated compost certified by the OMRI. Your vegetables will get a large spectrum of nutrients as well as disease-resistance, and high yields.
This organic mix is made from composted vegetables, grass trimmings, and other natural ingredients. Here is no odor and no toxins, only natural food for your plants. You can also pair this compost with worm castings and other natural fertilizers to get vibrant and healthy plants.
Even though manure is not always recommended for vegetables, the compost from Black Kow is the exception. Made from all organic materials, this compost has all the nutrients vegetable gardens will need and they are reduced slowly.
This compost mixture retains moisture especially to overly sandy soils and enhances aeration for clay-based soils. Black Kow compost also holds nutrients in the soil around the garden and breaks up the soil anytime the vegetables need additional nourishment.
Helpful Tips To Find The Best Bagged Compost For Vegetable Garden
Because there are so many bagged compost options out there, we want to provide a few additional tips to help you buy the best for your vegetable garden.
- Smell: Compost should not smell like ammonia, sulfur, or bad garbage. It should smell like damp ground and needs to be fluffy, and dark in appearance.
- Trash: Do not buy any compost that contains pieces of plastic or any garbage. Pieces of bark are acceptable, although properly decomposed bark will be fine.
- Cost: Even a top-quality organic compost should not be too expensive. You can find quality compost for under $50 and should never spend more than $75.
Growing a vegetable garden is a fun and exciting new venture. But you must put some serious thought into it before you start. It is not as simple as putting some seeds into the dirt.
Vegetables need nutrients and regular soil does not have those. You need to add compost to get a thriving garden and nutritious vegetables.
With so many compost options out there, we wanted to make the decision easy for you. Our guide and top recommendations will help you get this gardening project started right.
Follow our guide for the best bagged compost for vegetable gardens, and you will have vibrant, healthy, and delicious vegetables for every meal.