Help buying bulk compost? Basic principles plus local brand names
I need a couple cubic yards of compost this year to top off my veggie beds. (I forgot to do so last season, so this year I'm going to be adding as much as 8-10 inches of compost in each bed.)
In the past I've never given much thought to the compost or amendments I've bought because I was only doing a few inches at a time and it was easier/cheaper to buy 10 bags than pay the cost of delivering bulk. So I usually just grabbed several bags of whatever bagged mulch/amendments my local nursery had on promo (buy 3 get 1 free) of bumper crop or pay dirt or gold rush. Usually a combo of bark fines/chicken manure labeled mulch/compost.
But this year, since I'm needing so much more---and maybe because there's been so much controversy this last year about human manures showing up in municipal composts---I've become a little more cautious about what I'm buying. (Cautious is my euphemism for slightly paranoid. LOL)
Here in the bay area, we do have several good reliable bulk suppliers like American Soil and Acapulco Soil... but like I said I've started hyperanalyzing the options.... and I feel completely stuck and unable to decide what to do.
Of my local options, they each have an OMRI certified compost option---these are entirely plant-based composts from municipal grass clippings, dropped off yard waste, and tree trimmings. They go by many brand names such as Wondergrow and Z-Best. On the one hand they are OMRI certified which seems ideal, but I still fear what people throw into their green waste bin, and what chemicals and pesticides they throw on their lawn that end up in the green bin.
Also, Wondergrow might also include city food scraps composted.
We also have the option of blending these OMRI plant-based composts with composted chicken manure... but of course I've come to realize that the chicken manure is most likely from factory farmed chickens. I don't know how to get away from that. And of the animal composts, chicken is probably the only one I'm comfortable with in the garden as I'd like to stay away from cow/steer manure.
I feel compelled to mix in some composted chicken manure, because I tend to think (but don't know if this is true) that the more sources of compost you add, the richer the brew you make in your garden. I suppose I got that from the Mel Bartholomew books, where he says to use to 5 different sources of compost. But the guy telling me about the z-best plant compost said that it is very complete and I wouldn't need any animal manures. So what's the truth?
So... what do you all use when you need to get large quantities?
Are you swayed by the OMRI certification?
Do you use animal manures, even if their source isn't from an organic operation?
Are the plant based composts sufficient?
Are you comfortable using composted food-scraps when those food scraps don't come from your own table? (I think my hsuband fears we'll be using other peoples ground up composted McDonald's burgers. LOL)
And if you have any personal experience with Z-Best, or Wondergrow, could you let me know?
I should also say I'm not growing for sale or distribution, so I don't *have* to claim my garden is organic... I just try to stick to organic principles as well as I can for my own preference.
PS... I'm not quiet close enough to Sonoma to get Grab n Grow which, I've heard is phenomenal.