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School Gardens and Compost

by Sabrina

What’s the best kind of compost to use in a large school garden?

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Mar 13, 2012
Stick to the Basics
by: Dave

Hi Sabrina,

I’d like to start by listing a few different kinds of compost for people who are new to the field…

  • manure-based
  • vegan compost (100% plant based)
  • spent mushroom compost
  • certified organic versus non-organic
  • biodynamic compost
  • worm compost
  • municipal compost

  • and the list goes on…

As with most things in life, there really isn’t a single “best” compost for all gardens; however, if you twisted my arm and forced me to come up with an answer, I would have to say – the best compost is the one that provides your garden soil with the minerals it is deficient in. Not the answer you were hoping for, was it?

So let’s go in a different direction…

Ask yourself two questions – 1 – What compost products are available in your area (I can help you with that)? 2 – What can you afford?

Personally, I am a big fan of manure-based composts. I think they offer a more diverse set of microbes than purely plant-based compost.

If you can afford it, worm compost is a wonderful addition to almost any garden, but it comes at a price.

One word of caution – Make sure you avoid using composted biosolids (i.e. composted sewage sludge) in you garden. The link below has some additional information about biosolids and why you should avoid them in your garden (especially edible school gardens).

Organic Compost Doesn’t Always Mean What You Think

In conclusion, the best kind of compost for a school garden is one that you have access to, can afford, and most importantly, that provides some traceability (i.e. you can call the producer and find out what ingredients went into it).

Let me know what you decide.


Related Pages

Is Spent Mushroom Compost Really Spent?

Hint – It’s not. I’ve been staring at a sample of mushroom compost under the microscope for a few days now and it’s full of life.

Mar 13, 2012
Follow up question
by: Sabrina

Hi there,

Thanks so much for your thorough answer. I would love to take you up on the offer to help me find compost in my hood. The gardens I work in are in Toronto (Laurence Heights). I work for a non-profit and all the food we grow gets donated, so our budget is minimal. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.


Mar 13, 2012
Compost Suppliers in Toronto
by: Dave

Hi Sabrina,

I’ve listed several compost suppliers in the Toronto area below:

Also, I just wanted to say, “Keep up the incredible work! Please pass on our support to all of the other gardeners/urban farmers that you work with. And rest assured, by planting one garden at a time, we will change the world.”

By the way, how much compost do you need? If you need a lot, sometimes it’s cheaper to bring in a dump-truck load from outside the city.

Suppliers in Toronto:

Fiesta Farms Toronto Store
200 Christie St,
Toronto, ON
M6G 3B5, Canada

Global Repair
33 Bellefair
Toronto, ON M4L 3T7
(416) 686-3690

Greenbloom Landscaping
500 Lawrence Avenue West
Toronto, ON M6A 3B7
(647) 500-5263

If these suppliers can’t help you, please let me know and we’ll go elsewhere.

Don’t forget to send us pictures of the garden as it evolves.

Happy Composting!


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