A Guide to the Best Bagged Compost for Raised Beds

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

You just DIY’d a raised bed in your garden. Perhaps you want to grow some fruits, vegetables, or herbs like me. While you can choose to make your homemade compost from fruit and vegetable scraps, I would highly recommend you to try out bagged compost if:

  • It is your first time planting.
  • You need more compost than you can make.
  • You don’t want the hassle of making your own compost.
  • You need the compost in a hurry.

Nevertheless, if you are considering making your compost at home, you should familiarize yourself with which items are compostable and which are not.

Urban Gardening, Garden, Plants

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However, getting the right bagged compost for your organic gardening needs is not always easy.

Best Bagged Compost for Raised Beds

hand holding compost with worms

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There are 4 types of bagged compost available in the market:

  1. Yard waste compost – made of grass clippings and other plant wastes.
  2. Manure-based compost – made of chicken, horse, and cow manure. Composted cow manure is one of the most popular ones in this category.
  3. Worm Castings compost (vermicompost) – made of worms that feed on manure.
  4. Mushroom compost – made from mushroom manure.

Fruit and vegetable waste composting

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So I crafted a comprehensive list of bagged compost for you to choose from that will cater to all your farming and gardening needs, both indoors and outdoors. You can choose which one works for you from this list:

1. Charlie’s Compost: Best Bagged Compost for Outdoors

Last update on 2023-01-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Charlie’s Compost is made in Calhoun, Kentucky, and is Certified Organic. The ingredients include chicken manure mixed with other organic materials, such as straw, cornstalks, hay, and clay. These materials are left to compost for about 8 to 12 weeks.

Staff at Charlie’s Compost ensure that the compost has the right amounts of carbon dioxide and is at the right temperature. It is also air-dried.

hand dropping compost on soil with green plant growing

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A typical bag is about 10 lbs and is 12.4 by 7.6 by 3.9 in dimension. Further, the Nitrogen, Potassium, and Phosphorous levels are 0.5, 0.4, and 0.5, respectively. Therefore, the recommended ratio is 1 part of compost for 4 parts of soil.

Charlie’s compost is more versatile than other bagged compost as it can be mixed with worm castings to produce an even more nutritious compost option.

However, if you have pets, you should consider setting up an enclosure and cover for your raised bed, as they might confuse the compost with delicious dirt. I say this out of experience; my dogs found it delectable. In addition, it has no smell, making it an ideal option for indoor and outdoor plants.

40 Lbs Charlie's Compost

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One of the best features of buying Charlie’s Compost is that the company has an effective customer care unit. You can communicate with them via telephone or social media. The communication is on time, seamless, and effective.

Moreover, the customer reviews are impressive. Indeed, Charlie’s Compost’s bite is more than its bark.

compost bags

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Cautionary Tip: I used too much of Charlie’s Compost, which burnt some of my plants. So, be careful about how much compost you use per square foot of acreage, and avoid stuffing your potted plants. Remember, quantity does not substitute for quality.

Pros

  • No clumping
  • Versatile

Cons

  • A bag may eat a bit too much from your wallet.

2. Wiggle Worm Soil Builder with Earthworm Castings: Best Bagged Compost for Soil Building

Worm Castings Organic Fertilizer, Wiggle Worm Soil Builder, 4.5-Pounds
  • Beautiful growth and yields of your plants
  • Nutrients in earthworm castings are plentiful
  • Slowly feeds the plant for long periods of time
  • Just a handful will make your plants happy
  • Excellent for indoor or outdoor plants; houseplants, vegetables, flowers, and more

Last update on 2023-01-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Wiggle Worm Soil Builder with Earthworm Castings by UNCO Industries literally turns mediocre soil into valuable black gold. What I realized sets it apart from other bagged composts is its use of earthworm castings, which help improve aeration, increase water retention, and repel pests.

Wiggle Worm Soil Builder Earthworm Castings 30lb

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It improves soil structure which aids the rapid growth of plant roots. The particles that make up the compost are shaped to allow for better drainage. Therefore, the soil will not become waterlogged.

However, it isn’t only earthworm poo that makes up this compost – I thought the same, I really did. The worm castings are covered with calcium carbonate in the worms’ gut. This poop then contains all the necessary minerals for plant growth, such as nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous.

Wiggle Worm Soil Builder is odorless and sterile, suitable for indoor and outdoor plants. I really expected it to be a bit smelly, considering it is worm poo. I was pleasantly surprised.

It is effective as a fertilizer that won’t burn your plants so, whether you use it for potted plants or vegetable garden beds.

earthworms in the soil in a person' hands

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Making your vermicompost may be difficult and imperfect. Wiggle Worm Soil Builder aims to produce pure earthworm casting that does not have impurities such as sand or worm eggs. They screen the compost for these impurities and remove them without sterilization.

flower garden

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Further, vermicompost must be constantly moisturized with non-chlorinated water to maintain at least 10% moisture levels. The compost should be stored in a breathable container.

Pros

  • A sweet, earthy smell
  • Great texture and consistency

Cons

  • Overfertilization may happen due to high nitrogen content

3. Sustane Compost Tea Bags: Best Bagged Compost for Soil Microbiology

Sustane CTB Fertilizer, Brown
  • Provides a controlled dose of all essential nutrients for foliar and soil application

Last update on 2023-01-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Have you ever heard of compost tea bags? Well, let me educate you. Just like ordinary tea bags, compost tea bags are brewed over time. Sustane Compost tea bags are compostable and biodegradable. They are also permeable, allowing water to seep through and mix with the compost.

Making and Using Manure Tea in Your Garden

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Alternatively, you can mix the compost tea bags with water and spray the liquid on your plant leaves or soil. The recommended ratio of mixing is one tea bag per gallon of water. The water should be between 60° and 100°F.

The composting process is quite easy. Let the compost tea settle for at least 24 hours so that the microbes have sufficient time to break down nutrients. Also, make sure to use the brew within 36 hours of making it. For instance, I refreshed my tea weekly.

Organic fertilizer - 4-6-4 - Suståne Natural Fertilizer Inc - NPK / with  trace elements / powder

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One of the best things about Sustane Compost tea bags is that you do not need to make detailed measurements; it is all premeasured. Further, you will have no waste left when using these tea bags. This works well for potted plants.

Sustane Compost tea bags are made from turkey litter. They are pathogen-free, have no weed seed, and have no blood or bones mixed. Since it is made of organic ingredients, it can be used on all plant types, from bushes to herbs.

The Nitrogen: Phosphorous: Potassium (NPK) ratio is 3:5:3.

 

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Value for money

Cons

  • Bags may break if mishandled

4. Blue Ribbon Organics OMRI Certified Natural Premium Organic Compost for Plants: Best Bagged Compost for Your Garden, Farm, or Lawn

Ribbon Organics OMRI Certified Organic Compost Size: 7.9 Gallons, 32-35 Pound Bag
  • Improves soil structure & aeration
  • Promotes water retention
  • OMRI Certified for Organic Use
  • Safe for use at any concentration
  • Pairs wonderfully with worm castings & other soil builders

Last update on 2023-01-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Perfect for raised beds, Blue Ribbon Organics compost has the following features:

  • It can be used with other fertilizers, such as worm castings.
  • It can be used at any concentration.
  • Third, it is made up of organic, all-natural ingredients; nothing more, nothing less.

Blue Ribbon Organic Compost OMRI Certified

Image Credits: greatlakesbiosystems.com

The compost works to regenerate soil, so if your garden soil needs some replenishing, this compost is the best fit. It should be tilled into the soil before a planting season or at the end. It can be a top dressing or mulch for your flower and vegetable garden beds. I used it as a top dressing for my jasmine flowers, and it worked wonders.

taking care of jasmine flowers

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The ingredients that make up this compost include grass clippings, vegetable waste, and other garden debris. I was wary about the presence of weed seeds but was happy to know that they constantly tested their compost for the presence of weed seeds and unwanted pathogens. It is therefore certified organic compost.

Pros

  • Great texture
  • No mold infestation

Cons

  • I found it a bit pricey.

5. Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm “Real Worm” Compost 4lbs: Best Bagged Compost for Soil Amendment

Uncle Jim's Worm Farm "Real Worm Compost 4lbs
  • Comes straight from the same bins that our worms are raised in.
  • VERY nutritious and created from our worms.
  • 100% Natural (means no Chemicals!)

Last update on 2023-01-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Red wriggler worms at Uncle Jim’s go by various fancy names, such as ‘nature’s wonder workers’ and ‘champion composters.’ I love the latter more.

With Uncle Jim’s worm compost, you may get worm eggs or twigs because the compost is harvested directly from the compost bin where they are grown. However, no chemicals are added.

Uncle Jim's Worm Farm Live Meal Worms (3000 Count) : Patio,  Lawn & Garden

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As with all other bagged compost, it should be stored in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and moisture. Proper storage extends the compost’s shelf life for up to 6 months. Using it within its shelf life guarantees that the volume and microbial activity remain constant, per the manufacturer’s desired intention.

Sometimes, a bag of Uncle Jim’s compost may come with live worms. While this may raise concern for some gardeners (I’m not included), it shouldn’t be an issue. These champion composters will aerate your garden soil further, supporting optimal plant growth and producing healthy plants.

Since they are made of real worms, caution should be placed if you use the compost indoors. These bugs and pests may infest your house if you do not properly use and store the compost.

red wriggler worms used in vermiculture

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The compost improves soil quality and soil amendment. Therefore, the soil becomes more aerated and has proper drainage. Soil amendment is when essential nutrients are added to the topsoil. Consequently, you get healthier plants. Alfalfa meal is also used as a soil amender.

Pros

  • Pure earthworm castings
  • Very easy to use

Cons

  • Not recommended for indoor gardening

6. Spagmoss Premium New Zealand Sphagnum Moss for All Types of Flowers: Best Bagged Compost for Flowers

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Spagmoss Premium New Zealand Sphagnum Moss for All Types of Flowers 150 Grams (12 Liters)
  • Normal use is for orchids, but may also be used for all pets especially reptiles, Ideal for all terrariums
  • Very clean, no sticks or trash
  • 70% of product is 100mm+ long, light tan, cream color with some green tips
  • Harvested from carefully managed, sustainable swamps to guarantee availability
  • Naturally air dried to preserve the optimal quality

Last update on 2023-01-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Spagmoss Premium New Zealand Sphagnum Moss is derived from the sphagnum moss’s dead, decaying plant matter. When sphagnum moss is harvested from bogs, it is dead and decayed, and it is then called (sphagnum) peat moss.

hand holding sphagnum moss

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These plants, whether living or dead, can store water up to 16 times their normal dry weight. This makes them effective manipulators of the habitat they find themselves in. Consequently, the soil they grow in will be moist and support plant growth throughout. Peat moss is, therefore, very effective for sandy and clay soils found in my raised beds.

besgrow spagmoss

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It has a low pH of 4.0, making it a suitable soil amendment for plants growing in highly alkaline soils, which makes it best for all types of flowers. It is also light brown, green, or gray and occurs as a dry, stringy texture. Further, this peat moss is airy and lightweight, which I found rare for moss compost.

The composting process is intricate, producing a high-quality type of peat moss. It is hand-sourced in New Zealand swamps, then transported via air to processing centers where it is cleaned and air-dried.

Pros

  • Holds moisture well
  • No junk or pests in it

Cons

  • It's too small for an average-sized garden.

How to Choose the Best Bagged Compost for Raised Beds

Some farmers may prefer using a potting mix to buying bagged compost for their raised beds and vice versa. The difference between these two is slight but present nonetheless. Potting mix is sterile and does not contain soil, ensuring plants grow from neutral soils.

Planting mixes are made when good soil is blended with quality compost. Your raised bed already has soil; therefore, it does not need planting mix but compost.

green plants on black metal train rail during daytime

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Moreover, good quality compost should be:

  • Dark in color.
  • Moist but not wet.
  • Crumbly in texture.
  • Without soil.
  • Earthy and have a good smell.

Pro Tip: For more tech-savvy farmers, you can make your compost using electric smart waste kitchen composters. They save you both time and energy.

Conclusion: The ADAM Test

The general rule of thumb when deciding which bagged compost works best for you should not be limited to price or public reviews. While these also matter, these additional points should take precedence. Your bagged compost should be:

  • Alive: It should have microbes and living worms.
  • Diverse: It should contain different ingredients, such as food scraps, yard waste, and dry leaves
  • Aeration: It should be airy enough.
  • Moisture: Compost should be moist but not wet. It could be dry as well but mixed with water during application.

Gardening tips on growing tomatoes - New West Record

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While not all compost will tick all four boxes, satisfying at least some is sufficient to make your bagged compost a winner.

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About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books

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