What Gardeners Should Know Before Buying Compost


In the past we have often talked about the problem with cheap compost, it’s often poor quality. We always recommend making your own compost as the best option and one of the main reasons we suggest this is because people often don’t know the full extent of they are actually using when they buy competitively priced, bargain compost. Manufacturers of such products produce what they supply through the use of what the general population recycles in their green bin, otherwise known as green waste.

The problem with ‘cheap and cheerful’ compost

The problem is, when compost is made with green waste, manufacturers don’t necessarily know the full extent of the raw materials they are starting off with. In the UK for example, manufacturers won’t be able to keep tabs on what 60 million people are putting into their green bins and whether it is appropriate for use in producing their compost products. Nobody will know for sure whether people are putting food waste or dog waste in their green bins which could cause dangerous bacteria such as E. Coli, and while compost produced from green waste is supposed to be heat treated to tackle any problems this may cause,  the pressure of meeting supply and demand may mean manufacturers don’t do so adequately.

If you’re going to buy compost, you should know this

With this in mind, we feel that if people are going to stick to buying shop bought compost, they should do so through making informed decisions rather than simply buying the cheapest product and wasting money on something that potentially may not only be ineffective but also detrimental to the user.

When buying good quality compost, you should look for a product which is peat, coir or bark based. We don’t necessarily advocate for the peat-based compost due to the damaging effect of peat mining on the environment, however, coir and bark based compost are two very good quality peat-free alternative compost options on the market for those of us who are environmentally cautious.

With bark, peat and coir based compost, the raw materials are essentially inherent. Manufacturers of compost composed of these raw materials will add the relevant and necessary fertiliser and limes among other things to create the optimum environment for plant nutrient uptake in their compost. High-quality compost does come with a price, however, manufacturers add a bespoke combination of nutrients (such as MPK – Monoptassium Phosphate and trace elements) to their compost that is designed to complement the raw materials.

Have the same standard as a professional grower

Another thing to take into consideration is whether the compost you buy would be fit for a professional. While you might not be interested in becoming a professional gardener, it’s fair to assume you aren’t in the business of wasting money either? Considering whether the compost you buy would be fit for professional use is a great way to assess whether the product is likely to be effective for the job you want it to do.

A good starting point for this would be to understand what to look for in shop bought compost that would indicate it isn’t suitable to be highly effective on an industrial level. There are plenty of compost products which claim to be to a professional standard or ‘professional quality’ yet the compost does not resemble the what professional growers and farmers would use in the agricultural industry.


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