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I get 2-3 yards of compost out of my suburban Midwest USA garden's compost pile every year, but I want 10+ yards.

My local garden supply center sells compost, but I can not afford their rates. Big box stores sell bagged compost, but it is more expensive and worse than the garden center's product.

What sources of low cost, acceptable quality compost are accessible to a home hobby gardener?

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    What is the goal that you want the compost to accomplish? Commented Apr 6 at 4:29
  • What city / country are you located in?
    – greggles
    Commented Apr 6 at 12:33
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    @Brōtsyorfuzthrāx Work some humus into heavy soil, improve garden drainage, feed the worms, gradually raise grade around some trees. Normal domestic compost stuff.
    – MackM
    Commented Apr 6 at 22:24
  • @greggles Suburban Midwest USA
    – MackM
    Commented Apr 6 at 22:24

2 Answers 2

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Look for horse and pony owners (particularly - other animals work, but most other animals are associated with farms that have a use for the compost themselves.) Most are delighted to have someone come and haul away their manure pile, and most use enough bedding (woodchips, shavings, or straw) to make it a tolerably good compost mixture.

The older parts of the pile may already be well composted. The newer parts will need further composting at your garden to be usable. That's a normal tradeoff for low-cost compost.

Also look for community/municipal composting programs, which divert compostables from the garbage stream and compost them en masse for redistribution to customers and/or third parties.

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  • can also look for mushroom farms - they might give you their used substrate
    – G. B.
    Commented Apr 15 at 13:53
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If you have a place that accepts compostables near you I'd inquire about what they do with it. In my city in the rocky mountain western states of the USA, all compostables end up with 1 company who composts everything. In turn, they sell their product (and even give it away, sometimes). If you buy direct from them it's a great deal. They also have some retailers who mark up their product different amounts, but it's all the same thing inside the bags.

Other products called "compost" may not truly be compost. You also only want your beds to be partially compost (1/4 or so) and 3/4 other material.

If you use animal manure, be sure you get it delivered and mix it periodically for at least 6 months before using it. It should heat up in the pile as part of the "hot composting" process which helps kill off some of the potential pathogens.

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