Every gardener knows the importance of using compost to nourish their garden and strengthen their plants. Compost is essentially organic matter, which has been broken down.
The substance is known as ‘black gold’ in gardening circles, and it is packed with nutrients that condition and fortify soil, allowing it to better support plant growth.
Compost is an important gardening tool, so it stands to reason that commercial compost – which is industrially made – is available across all gardening stores.
However, compost can also be made at home through a process called composting. If you’re establishing or nurturing a garden, you may find yourself wondering whether you should head to a gardening store and pick up commercially made compost or whether it’s better to try your hand making some at home.
So, is homemade compost better than commercial compost? As with most aspects of gardening, the answer is complex. Many gardeners prefer using homemade compost because they know what ingredients have gone into it, while others prefer commercial compost because they don’t have the time or expertise to try their hand at homemade compost.
Before exploring the advantages and disadvantages of both types of compost, it’s worth taking a few minutes to understand how they are each made. Both are made by breaking down organic matter, but the underlying processes are quite different.
How Is Homemade Compost Made?
To make compost at home, gather organic waste including food scraps, wood chips, leaves, hair, eggshells, grass, shredded newspaper, and cardboard together.
If you are cold composting, you need to build a pile with your organic matter and leave it to its own devices, turning it over with a rake every week.
If you are hot composting, you have to be more selective about what waste you are mixing together. You need to combine different types of organic matter to ensure that there’s the correct ratio of nitrogen to carbon. Because you have to consider ratios, hot composting is typically more complicated and more technical.
How Is Commercial Compost Made?
Commercial compost is made in bulk, using industrial machinery and technology.
Unlike in homemade composting, any organic matter, including meat and animal manure, can be used as the machinery used ensures that no pests get in.
There are three different processes:
- Windrow composting: organic matter is spread across rows, which are approximately five feet high and then turned occasionally.
- In-vessel composting: organic matter is placed into a packed container and then allowed to break down.
- Aerated static pile: All matter for composting is placed in a big pile and left to break down naturally – similar to the cold composting process.
Each of these methods takes a few weeks to produce high-quality compost.
However, as these are industrial methods, rest assured that you’ll always find commercial compost on your gardening stores’ shelves!
With this background knowledge of how commercial and homemade composts are made, it will be easier to understand which compost is better.
Advantages of Homemade Compost
If you feel like you can have a go at making it at home, homemade compost has several advantages as compared to commercial compost:
You have more control over it
When you make compost at home, you control what goes into it, and choose the organic matter you want to use to make it. Making your own compost is as simple as saving up your food scraps and other waste and then allowing bacteria to get to work.
Homemade compost may contain more nutrients
Some analyses of homemade compost have found that they are more nutrient-dense than commercial composts.
This is perhaps because some nutrients are lost while commercial compost is bulk processed.
In addition to this, commercial compost may contain more inorganic additives like gels, pesticides, chemicals, and even heavy metals. Depending on the quality of the commercial compost, the additives may be helpful or hinder optimum plant growth.
Commercial compost may also use an excess of easily available waste, like manure or wood shavings, which can impact its composition and quality.
Some studies have found that homemade compost is uniquely better for the soil in your garden because you have used organic matter that may have come from local soils as opposed to foreign soils.
Check out our article on how to start composting for beginners.
Better for the environment
Homemade compost can be better for the environment than commercial compost.
Copyright protected content owner: ReadyToDIY.com and was initially posted on December 28, 2019.
Both types of composting recycle organic waste – saving it from going into landfills and producing methane.
However, producing commercial composts requires transportation and mass processing, both of which use fuel and energy. Meanwhile, when you compost at home, you do not use any energy, as you are neither transporting nor using machines to compost.
Cheaper than commercial compost
Buying commercial compost is not too expensive, but homemade compost is much cheaper!
To make homemade compost, all you need is a compost bin or container if you are cold composting. If you’re hot composting, you need a compost thermometer and rake to turn over the compost.
If you calculate it in the long run, you’ll spend much more on bags of commercial compost than you will if you make it at home.
Copyright article owner is ReadyToDiy.com for this article. This post was first published on December 28, 2019.
Advantages of Commercial Compost
Considering the number of advantages there are to homemade compost, you may be wondering why you should even consider commercial compost.
It’s more convenient
Getting commercial compost is as simple as going to a store and buying a bag of it. Making homemade compost is a long drawn process and can take several weeks. Here’s commercial compost sold on Amazon.
If you need compost immediately or don’t have the time to take care of a compost pile at home, it may be better to use commercial compost.
Commercial compost may also be the better option if you don’t have the space to build a compost pile – or enough resources.
If you have a small household, it may be hard to find enough waste for compost. You may have to buy extra waste, which could be more expensive than buying commercial compost.
It’s expertly made
While cold composting is a simple process to undertake at home, hot composting can be more complex, especially for someone who has never tried it before.
Since commercial compost is designed by experts, some compositions of commercial compost can be better for targeting specific gardening concerns.
For example, if you’re looking for compost to condition your lawn soil, you simply have to look for a commercial compost designed for that.
Which Type of Compost Should You Choose?
You can see that both homemade and commercial compost have their advantages and disadvantages.
To decide which one you should choose, look at your unique gardening needs.
You should choose homemade compost if you:
- Have a good understanding of the composting process. Or, if you’re a beginner then be sure you have enough time and research on your hands to ensure you’re composting as well as you can.
- Have enough space and organic waste for the composting process.
- Are willing to wait a few weeks or even months for your compost to be ready.
- Want to be more environmentally friendly
- Want to save money on purchasing compost in the long run.
Meanwhile, you should choose commercial compost if you:
- Do not feel confident enough to navigate the technicalities of making homemade compost.
- Need compost immediately or do not have the space to make it yourself.
- Need compost for a specific purpose – like helping saplings grow or for your vegetable beds.
If possible, you should try using both commercial and homemade compost to see what suits your unique gardening needs and your garden best.
If you are wary about making compost at home, visit local farmers’ markets or gardening shows, where you will be sure to find local gardeners selling local homemade compost. It’s a great way to test whether homemade compost works well for you!
Whichever type you choose, do not doubt that compost is ‘black gold’ for your garden.
ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on December 28, 2019.
Investing time and effort into understanding which type of compost you should use will help you make your garden grow, thrive, and become more beautiful!