Sources for topsoil and compost in Huntsville area?

alabamanicole(7b)March 8, 2007

My new property in Hartselle is pretty much all clay and needs lots and lots of soil amendment. I need a couple of truckloads of compost and topsoil (to start!)

I hear the cotton gins sell compost cheap, but the only ones I know of are an awfully long drive, and would be many, many trips in the pickup truck.

Anyone have any good sources? I would think with all the construction going on, topsoil at least would be easy to find.

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

The subject of cotton gin waste has come up before in this forum....and by ME! It was pointed out (and I should have thought of this) that the gin waste contains residues of the many toxic pesticides that are used to grow cotton. It's just as well that the gins are too far to be convenient!

Call the Huntsville Botanical Garden; it seems like they have compost to give/sell at some times of the year. (Or they might know of a source.)

We'll be locating some screened top soil for our landscaping purposes soon. I'll pass on the information when we get it. In the meantime, here's a local search.

Here is a link that might be useful: Top soil providers

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 3:50PM
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Thanks for the info. I was aware the Botanical Gardens gave away compost, but I sort of assumed it was in smaller quantities.

It's my understand that most pesticides should be broken down with thorough composting. It's not at the top of the list for me, but I am not sure what else is available in the area. For the long term, I'll be making my own compost but I do need a pretty sizable amount to get started. I'm also going to check out the farmer's co-op tomorrow morning - I need some services like bush hogging, too.

Thanks for that link -- I see a couple places right in Hartselle.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 9:48PM
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Well, I found a source of mushroom compost that will deliver to Hartselle, but prices are steep. Everyone else says they have mulch -- would could be compost eventually, of course, but not this year! I'm still looking for something a little closer.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2007 at 2:35PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Maybe you don't need as much compost as you think you do. Of course, you may be intending to amend your entire back 40, for all I know, lol!

I have that same impossibly hard, red clay soil. I've learned that with very little initial amending, it is darned great to grow just about anything in! Our lawn does just fine au natural, by the way.

When we began two new, large perennial beds, we tilled several pick-up loads of composted wood chips prior to planting. In this clay soil, that will be the only time the soil sees a tiller. Trees are planted into the native soil without a particle of organic amendments, and have done exceedingly well.

When I first moved into this area, and tried to put a shovel into the soil for the first time, I about fell to my knees and sobbed. I've learned better since then. Not only about the sobbing (useless) but about the shovel. A heavy duty auger is the way to go! lolol
But I'm serious about red clay comprising some of the best agricultural soil in the country.

Please forgive me ahead of time for being the Caped Crusader against Pesticides (as someone has called me, lol), but mushroom compost is often loaded with some pretty heavy duty chemicals required to keep down the fungus gnats, etc., that tend to be a problem with mushroom culture. Most people don't realize that when they use it, and it can be a real issue.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2007 at 3:48PM
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Rhizo, thanks for the heads up. I thought mushroom compost was the good stuff. Anyway, the price was prohibitive -- not the vendors' fault; he's just too far away and it added a LOT to the cost. They were pleasant and helpful folks and I just wish they were closer.

My soil looks rich. It's more brown than red, but I know the kind you are talking about. I have clay but it's not CLAY. It's even dark on top... half an inch! It helps that the land probably hasn't been anything except pasture for decades since Alabama was settled by white men. If you think that means I have more henbit and wild garlic than grass, you're right! I have been away for a long time, but I grew up in the South so my first reaction was more like resigned acceptance than grief. :)

I already had it turned to tear up the thick sod and after we get a good rain we'll plow it up. After the first year -- and maybe the second -- I hope to go plow-less and tiller-less. But getting holes dug for my berry bushes was slow enough; I could never have done the garden by hand.

I did find out that the Decatur-Morgan Landfill gives away FREE compost at the dump. I seriously don't think my muscles are up to showing up with a shovel and getting a significant amount. How good it is, I don't know.

I am guessing I need 5+ cubic yards, but at least half of that could be in a stable form to just break up the soil a bit, like maybe humus. If all else fails, I will price shop for bags of it and make a very trips.

After I get the spring chores done, I'll hit the Hartselle dump for a $5 pickup truck load of mulch (they scoop; free if you scoop) and compost it for next year along with my weeds and food scraps and coffee grounds and so forth. It's just this year that's a problem.

I found topsoil locally in Hartselle; $95 for a small truck (8 ton), $145 for the big truck. I did not ask if it was screened, because my primary use is to fill an area and put ground cover on top for erosion control.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2007 at 8:50PM
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"I found topsoil locally in Hartselle; $95 for a small truck (8 ton), $145 for the big truck. I did not ask if it was screened, because my primary use is to fill an area and put ground cover on top for erosion control."

Could you provide us the phone number ?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 4:11PM
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Sorry, Mike, that was 6 years ago and I haven't a clue who I was talking about then. (And I don't live in Hartselle anymore either!)

If you are looking for compost versus topsoil, the Botanical Garden has a loader a couple of Saturdays every month from spring to fall for leaf compost. There is some trash in it, but it's pretty decent, especially for free. I'm using it for mulch in my landscape beds.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 6:00PM
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Google Earth shows a large amount of chicken houses in your area that may help with building up your soil . I have used it over the years +horse manure or cow manure. A little goes a long way if it contains worms. Gotta have worms, gardeners' best friend. Wish you the best , beautiful country. Both of my sisters have plans to move to that area. One sister already has 25 acres there,the other is looking. .....It just takes time . Still looking for chinkapins. thanks

This post was edited by bulzi on Sat, Feb 16, 13 at 22:56

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 10:42PM
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May have a recent topsoil source for you if you're still looking. We're in Laceys Spring and DH had some small truckloads brought in last year to fill in some low spots for $100/load. It was good soil and mostly filtered. Did find a few chunks and small rocks but otherwise it was good. He's on Highway 36 and is a nice guy. Let me know if you're interested. No help on the compost. Was also going to suggest finding someone with chicken houses.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 8:27PM
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Chiming in again...For manure, this may sound crazy, but last night I saw something on the news about weird things to buy on Craig's List. Yep, you guessed it...Manure was one of the things in the Huntsville area you could buy. I don't know where, but it's possible. I haven't checked it out but anything goes.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 5:04PM
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There's a guy off Jeff Road and 72 who advertises free horse manure on Craigslist; $10 if he fires up his tractor and loads it for you. He's legit and very pleasant to deal with. Some have said they got nutsedge from his manure; I already had it so I can't say. :)

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 7:36AM
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topsiebeezelbub(z7 Al)

I would not order topsoil without seeing it first...I have seen some awful stuff delivered.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 6:27PM
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topsiebeezelbub(z7 Al)

Also, a pet bunny is a real fertilizer factory. Train him to go in a box with Yesterdays News. Bunnies make delightful house pets with a bit of preparation (hiding electrical cords is essential). I don't approve of keeping them in a little hutch...that's cruel.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 6:33PM
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