A little while ago, I set out to create a vegetable garden for food purposes and a stunning flower garden for eternal pleasure. However, much as any gardener or farmer can attest, many considerations go into planting and taking care of your garden.
Besides having the garden, the resources, and the dream, a crucial element was missing, which was compost. With the help of a few garden experts and advice from authority figures, I came across and tried some of the best and worst bagged compost in the market.
With all the endless options available, I had to implement the best possible criteria for choosing the best bagged compost. Each brand offered different unique features and benefits from the other. Additionally, different compost brands price their products differently.
Unfortunately, when purchasing items, one of the misconceptions is that the more expensive an item is, the more likely it is the best quality. While there may be some truth to this since I came across some of the best bagged compost at relatively higher prices, I also came across overvalued, below-average compost.
Having tried and tested several options, I came across the best bagged compost that come highly recommended. Check out this buyer's guide for the top 10 best bagged compost you should try out for your farming needs.
What Are The Different Types Of Composting?
Ideally, there are 5 common types of compost: peat-based, peat-free, loam-based, organic, and multi-purpose compost.
So Let's get started explanation one by one.
1. Peat-based compost.
As a gardener, you have access to a wide selection of peat-based compost formulations. Peat-based compost is made from a peat base blended with different ingredients like fertilizer, lime, wetting agent, perlite or vermiculite, and sand/grit.
The exact use of the compost will determine the formulation
2. Peat-free compost.
These can be made from various base ingredients like coir, green compost, composted bark, and wood fiber. Ingredients are then added to either of these bases depending on the intended use of the compost
3. Loam-based compost.
The Joh Innes compost uses soil as its base. It is made from a mixture of grit/sand, loam, and peat with a high amount of added plant foods
4. Organic compost.
Organic compost contains a mix of several materials like composted barks, peat, and expanded wood fibers in different proportions. Organic composts are enriched with naturally appearing nutrients gotten from animals and plants
5. Multi-purpose compost.
It can be used in several applications, whether in pots, containers, hanging baskets, or beds and borders. Multi-purpose compost comes in various blends of ingredients to fulfill different purposes.
For instance, some multi-purpose composts will limit the amount of watering you will do by absorbing water and releasing it when applicable.
Some contain different plant foods that feed plants anywhere from 6 to 24 weeks.
How Do I Choose The Right Compost?
1. Is It Organic?
Organic is often the way to go for most farmers and gardeners. Healthy natural products have many benefits, unlike products with artificial or chemical composition. As such, you want to be sure you are purchasing bagged compost with organic origin or composition.
Typical healthy natural ingredients include poultry manure, old herbs, food waste, peat moss, plant trimmings, grass clippings, and leaves. You want to ensure your bagged compost has any ingredient that naturally falls on the ground and becomes or produces nutrients. Besides being organic, ensure the compost is pesticide-free.
2. Approved Compost
What are the compost's analysis results? One of the best ways to check for the best bagged compost is to request the test results of the current batch. Such are the results of the chemical and biological analysis for microbial and element levels.
Unfortunately, many compost suppliers in the compost industry have actively avoided the necessary and legal registration of their products within their respective states. As such, before purchasing bagged compost, ensure it is regulated and approved by the relevant authorities.
The Association of American Plant Food Control Officials regulates the sale of liming agents, soil amendments, fertilizers, and other related products. Check with the supplier to ensure you are buying an approved and licensed product.
3. Mineral Sourced
If you are purchasing non-organic compost, ensure you know which minerals are used in its making. One of the key factors I took into consideration was the NPK ratio. Improper phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium application can lead to toxicity or even dissipation. Ensure you apply compost according to your soil's general properties.
4. Large Bag
The size of the compost bag matters, depending on the size of the farm or garden. Therefore, one of the most important things you ought to do is estimate your farm's size and find its proportionality to the best compost bag. The bigger your garden, the bigger the compost bag you will need.
5. The scent of the Compost
Smelling the compost is one way to detect its maturity. The best compost should smell natural and earthy, which is also an added factor in determining its organic level.
6. Filler Ingredients
Some composts have additions for one reason or the other. However, for effectiveness, you want the bagged compost to be 100% compost. Unfortunately, compost products filled with sand or soil are not desirable for your wallet and your plants.
7. Moisture, Color, and Texture
The ideal moisture content for compost is the same as the garden soil. Extremely higher or lower moisture levels can affect your compost's effectiveness, making it virtually impossible to use.
Additionally, it is important to note that fully finished composed typically has a dark brown color. It should also have a fine, fluffy texture. You can still see and feel the original color and texture of the compost if it is not broken down fully.
Our Top 7 Best Bagged Compost Reviews
The above factors and buyer's guide should help you make the right choice when shopping for compost.
However, from my experience, below are the top 10 best bagged compost I have interacted with and can vouch for. It is important to note that each carries its unique features and benefits.
Check them out below.
01. Charlie's Compost 10lb –Best Overall
Why It is A Favorite
Right from the start, I would like to mention that this is my favorite bagged compost. While it is a favorite for many gardeners, seeing that it has a 4.6 out of 5 stars rating on Amazon based on over 1,500 users' reviews, I found it particularly interesting for other factors.
I find it highly commendable due to its balancing NPK ratio, delicate texture, and non-antibiotic formula. Surprisingly, it lacks any discerning odor despite it being made from chicken manure.
Moreover, everything in this is organic since the manufacturer composts products locally in windrows from corn stalks, chicken manure, important microbe inoculants, clay, hay, forest products, and straw.
My Experience with It
The texture was fluffy and as expected in my hands. As you may have guessed, I whiffed a handful in my hand to test its authenticity. It was fresh, earthy, and clearly no sign of chicken, except on the product packaging.
As recommended, I used the compost on a wide range of applications. I added it to my flower garden, vegetable garden, and dwarf trees in my compound. It is absolutely the best compost for vegetables.
Initially, I was worried about burnt roots considering I had previously used a different brand that unapologetically burnt my roots. However, I never had to worry with Charlie's Compost, owing to its well-balanced NPK ratio, unlike the previously spiked fertilizer.
Charlie's Compost was easy to apply, mix, and water in. Moreover, it composts within the shortest period (8-12 weeks), unlike others.
- Easy to spread and use
- Contains 10 lb. of compost which is enough to provide nutrition to your indoor and outdoor plants
- Made from 100% natural ingredients including chicken manure, corn stalks, straw, and more
- Doesn't require any pre-soaking or brewing before placing on the soil
- Provides microbes and fungus that are beneficial for plants
- It lacks any odor and has the right earthy smell you expect
- Fluffy texture
- High quality
- Versatile application. You can use it on shrubs, berries, and flowers, among others
- Organic materials
- Well-balanced NPK ratio.
Surprisingly, this has been my best bagged compost overall. It is reasonably priced, comes in good packaging, and is highly effective. I highly recommend Charlie's Compost for all the right reasons.
However, based on my interaction with other gardeners, the only notable downside would be the lack of a 25-pound bag available occasionally.
02. BRUT WORM FARMS
Why I Recommend It
It is evidently one of the best bagged compost soil in the market currently. I found it ideal for early lawn gardening and, ultimately, natural gardening. Additionally, the compost is very rich in organic matter, unlike my previous trials.
Based on other users' and my experience, BRUT WORM FARMS notably provides long-term nourishment to garden soil. Moreover, it accelerates and boosts nutrient flow, making it perfect for your growing plants. With its balanced nutrients and minerals, your plants will enjoy nourished growth and good health.
My Experience with It
Firstly, I would love to admit that this is one of the best bagged compost brands that ensure buyers get fresh, recently-mixed compost. I loved that it is purely odorless and non-toxic. My plants remained stable and healthy throughout, which I attributed to how the product treated my soil to balanced nutrients and minerals.
I found the 30-pound bag convenient with fresh mixing and ease of use. Generally, it was an excellent choice for my vegetables, houseplants, and flowers.
- Made from organic ingredients and high-quality and fresh earthworm castings
- Provides long-term nourishment to the soil
- Filled with beneficial microbes and bacteria that keep plants healthy
- Suitable for indoor and outdoor use
- Non-toxic and odor-free
- Produced on a worm farm ensuring quality and pureness.
- Doesn't include sand, sticks, and other items commonly found in outsourced compost
- It is free of unnecessary additions like sand and sticks
- Fresh production
- Odorless and non-toxic
- It comes in a reusable bag.
For a better outcome, I would suggest that the mixing ratio be maintained.
03. Espoma Organic Traditions Compost
Why I Recommend It
This compost starter is easily a very effective bagged bio-organic blend compost. It is the perfect choice for helping you produce efficient nutritious manure, which is an ideal soil conditioner. This organic compost starter is best for expediting the process of organic waste manure, food scraps, plants, and hat at residence.
It is perfect for fast and healthy composting due to its composition of billions of microbes. Its composting success owes to the fact that the billions of microbes are mixed with the proper pH balancers and energy sources.
In addition, it proves effective for fast and safe gardening owing to its composition of thousands of developed pathogens, also combined with proper energy sources and pH balancers.
My experience with It
Like its effective predecessors, this compost proved rather beneficial for my garden soil and plants. Unfortunately, I didn't like the strong smell it produced.
Why I Didn't Like It
While I wasn't as impressed as I had earlier anticipated, this also proved to be one of the most effective bagged compost I ever bought. The bags were comparatively smaller.
However, I found this compost bag particularly effective for my vegetable garden.
I noticed a faster-composting process, which was unlike other brands with equally the same features. However, when it comes to its downsides, this compost has a particularly strong smell if that is a turn-off for you.
I also found it a bit costlier than other compost options. Regardless, if you are willing to invest to get results, you can overlook its pricing and the strong smell and enjoy its effectiveness on your plants.
- Filled with nitrogen components that enrich the soil and stimulate plant growth
- Made from all-natural ingredients perfect for every organic garden
- Easy to use and beginner-friendly
- Contains 4 lb. of product that is enough to give all your indoor plants the nutrition they need
- Speeds up composting process more effectively than other compost
- It is an excellent soil fertilizer that you can use in both fall and spring
- It improves the biological and chemical properties of the soil
- It is organic and full of healthy nutrients
- Moreover, it accelerates the composting process quickly
- 100% renewable premium compost.
04. Hoffman HOF21045 Organic Compost
Why I Recommend It
This is one of the richest, all-natural garden plant food. It is a safe and chemically free way to grow organic vegetables and beautiful flowers. While it is surprisingly not common, this is one of the best cow manure that adds completely natural nutrients to keep your soil healthy. I recommend it based on its superb ability to improve soil texture and build humus content.
My Experience with It
The Hoffman compost was a brilliant addition to my vegetables. Unlike previously trying compost with cow manure, the Hoffman compost did not show any signs of burning. It was easy to apply. More importantly, I didn't have to worry about the negative effects of using non-organic compost.
- Made with organic ingredients that are safe to use for many plants
- Contains cow manure which is known to increase soil structure and aeration
- Creates humus content that helps with moisture and nutrient retention of the soil
- Encourages earthworm activity
- Non-flammable and easy to spread
- Gives off relatively little odor compared to other compost
- The compost is 100% organic
- It is affordable
- Versatile applications.
Fortunately, the product did not leave much to be disgruntled about. While it is certainly not the best on my list, I highly recommend its simplicity and effectiveness.
05. Jobe's Organic Compost- Best for Fast Composting
Why I Recommend It
Do you ever wonder why this compost is common among urban farmers and gardeners? I asked around and tried Jobe's Organic Compost starter to satisfy my curiosity and concluded that urban gardeners love to watch their plants grow faster. This compost starter is manufactured primarily to facilitate faster composting.
It is a rapid organic fertilizer with visible results. The compost is made from a mixture of bone meal, composted poultry, feather meal, and some manure. From my experience, it is a utility type of compost since it has numerous benefits for my soul and plants. Also, it plays different roles to ensure that nutrients are available to the plants and are also absorbable.
From my research, this compost is known as a starter since it breaks down complex molecules in compost material into tinier nutrients. It accomplishes such using microorganisms, fungi, bacteria, and a unique Archaea species. Consequently, it becomes extremely easy for your plants to absorb nutrients.
My Experience with It
I loved the packaging as much as I did with the product. However, the strong smell wasn't really a selling point. Like other effective baggage compost I used, the composting process was relatively fast, and the results were visually appealing for my soil and plants.
- Increases microbial activity and delivers fast results within 2 to 3 weeks
- Made from 100% organic compost ingredients
- Contains Biozome which is a mixture of helpful microorganisms that converts simple and complex minerals to nutrients that boost plant health
- Provides chemical-free nutrition
- OMRI Listed for organic use making it safe to use even in your indoor plants
- Abundant fast results
- OMRI listed
- It can be used for organic gardening safely
- It has top-notch water retention abilities
- It has a handcrafted blend texture
- No artificial chemicals.
The compost's major downfall is its slightly strong smell. However, despite this fact, it is a highly effective and recommendable bagged compost for all your indoor and outdoor gardening needs.
06. Michigan Compost Soil 5240
Why I Recommend It and Its Features
This is an effective best peat bagged garden compost that surprisingly comes in a 40-pound bag. It is a garden magic that impressed me severally, from its lack of odor to its impressive water retention capabilities.
It is a natural organic read sedge peat mixture. With high natural nutrient content, I noticed significant growth in my garden. Due to its versatility, I tried it on several plants, and its results have been nothing short of amazing.
My Experience with It
Michigan's peat bagged compost felt silky, almost like liquid silk. Upon first interaction, I noticed it had a deep black color and, fortunately, it was odorless. With time, I also noticed its ability to retain a reasonably sufficient amount of water and air in the soil, which reduced my need for constant watering of my plants.
- Contains a mixture of organic reed sedge peat and composted animal manure
- Provides natural nutrients that enrich various types of soil
- Contains 40lb of product enough to give nutrients to your indoor and outdoor plants
- Guaranteed high quality and chemical-free
- Helps with the soil's water and air retention
- Does not give off a foul smell
- Good water and air retention, reducing your need for constant watering
- The texture is silky, making it ideal for almost any type of soil
- It has a natural nutrient content
- It is odorless.
The only major downside of this bagged compost is that it is relatively more expensive than other compost with almost the same features.
However, regardless of this pitfall, I recommend this bagged compost, mostly for its versatile applications.
07. COAST OF MAINE
Why I Recommend It
Having gotten its name from a bay in northeast Maine, this compost is relatively and unfairly uncommon for its effectiveness. It is made from lobser and crab bodies blended with aspen bark. The compost is rich in calcium and nitrogen from the fish shells. Additionally, unlike other composts made from forest products, the compost is way less acidic.
My Experience with It
Though not fully impressed by the packaging, I particularly appreciated the fact that it is odorless with just a slightly earthy smell. I found it very dark, crumbly, yet moist with a fine grain. As expected, I found it effective.
- Suitable to use for all indoor and outdoor plants
- Made from all-natural ingredients
- Lightweight and easy to spread
- Contains 10lb of potting soil enough for a number of plants
- Guaranteed preservative-free mixture that gives your plants the most ideal nutrition
- OMRI listed for organic use
- Balanced mixture that promotes water retention and good drainage
- It is an extra rich soil conditioner
- Versatile application.
Unfortunately, the compost had a few bark chips, tiny twigs, and sand granules. While some people may find this not a turn-off, it may affect the quality and growth of some plants.
However, just as with other setbacks, if you don't mind the extra additions, I highly recommend this compost, particularly since it is also affordable.
FAQs Regarding The Composts
Question: Is bagged compost any good?
Answer: Yes, it is. For most urban gardeners, bagged compost is a readily available option to support plant growth. Additionally, bagged compost is convenient and may come with several nutrients sourced from different places.
Also, most bagged composts are analyzed and tested to ensure product quality. As such, any licensed bagged compost is guaranteed to be safe for plants and garden use.
Question: What type of compost is best for vegetables?
Answer: You need compost packed with the vital nutrients for your plant. Generally, while standard multi-purpose compost contains plant use, you may want to use organic compost for the best results for growing vegetables.
Some organic composts contain high levels of organic matter, making them perfect for vegetable patches.
However, depending on your needs and preferences, you can try combining some ideal compost choices for your vegetables.
Question: Can you grow vegetables in compost only?
Answer: You cannot grow vegetables (or plants for that matter) in compost only. This is because the material is too light and may cause water to drain quickly. Additionally, the compost may lead to a case of excess nutrients, which leads to toxicity.
Moreover, the soft and crumbly nature won't provide adequate support to your vegetables' roots.
Question: Which is better, manure or compost?
Answer: Compost is often considered better since it contains a higher nutrient concentration and lower water content, unlike manure. Manure is cheaper and more natural.
Therefore, the choice depends on your needs and budget.
Question: When should I add compost to my lawn?
Answer: Generally, compost is added in fall or spring. However, this will also depend on your location. If you live in cool-season areas, the fall application should be heavier while the spring application should be lighter.
On the other hand, in the sound, top-dress your warm-season lawn in early spring. However, consult with your soil test provider for the best dates to apply compost.
Compost is one of the most important considerations when gardening. However, if it comes to convenince, most gardeners prefer the option of buying bagged compost. Depending on the brand of compost you buy, expect different features and results.
Additionally, ensure you take into consideration the important factors to look out for when buying bagged compost. A few main things to look for in a bagged compost include its organic level, texture, smell, and whether it is approved.
The options reviewed above are the best bagged compost in the market due to several features. While they are priced differently, these bagged compost are promising, safe to use and ensure healthy plant growth.
Check them out from your local gardening store or an online vendor, and be sure to share what you feel about any of them.