Are there any suppliers of weedkiller and pesticide-free compost/topsoil in Maryland?

Asked April 11, 2019, 10:22 AM EDT

Hello, I'm looking to convert part of my lawn into a vegetable garden, and I'd like to do it through sheet mulching with pesticide-free compost and topsoil. My county (Howard) has a spiffy composting facility that offers compost and topsoil, but it includes yard wastes from all my neighbors who put a lot of chemicals on their huge lawns to make them beautiful. I know the term "organic" is virtually meaningless in marketed compost/soil, but I'm still interested in trying to track down compost and topsoil that doesn't include these chemicals. I understand that there's no organic certification for home gardening soil amendments, but I'm wondering if you know of any organic farms or other suppliers locally that sell bulk soil and compost that are created without weedkillers or pesticides. Thank you for any tips you might have! Michelle

Howard County Maryland soil composting

1 Response

Hi- you may have found the test results for Howard Co. municipal compost:

It appears to be a high quality product. They test for heavy metals but not specific pesticides or classes of pesticides. However, I noticed that the bioassay produced 93% seed germination and high vigor suggesting that the compost does not contain the persistent herbicides that have been a concern in compost (aminopyralid and clopyralid).

Yes, many homeowners apply herbicides to home turf (please urge your neighbors to leave the clippings in place and not to send them to the landfill!) These herbicides breakdown in the elements and especially during the composting process and would present an extremely low plant or animal risk.

Other commercial compost products also usually make test results available and these sometimes include tests for certain pesticides (which includes herbicides). A number of vendors in the region mix topsoil and compost and they may also offer test results. Leafgro has their compost tested monthly by the US Composting Council and they used to post results but I can't find the reports on their website today.

Veteran Compost claims their compost is pesticide free and there may be other outfits in the region that sell compost made from pesticide-free feedstocks: