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I plan to start my first this year and was going to do raised beds and I've got a question about soil.  I was told by our organic supplier that we can get free compost from the city and that would be good starter.  But I'm under the assumption that compost is different than soil.  So I guess my question is; would compost alone work for starting raised beds?

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Yes and no.  Usually municipal compost is made out of leaf, stick, and other yard waste collected by your town, this is from what I've experienced usually a little coarse and not fully broken down.  Also you have two types you can distinguish between in compost, fungal rich compost and bacterial rich compost, the yard waste compost is usually fungal heavy and is only one component of a balanced system.  If you're tilling you can dig a little deeper and add this under a layer of top soil and it'll continue to break down and fertilize through that action.  You should also start composting your food wastes to get some bacterially rich compost, with vermiposting being the best option.
Thanks for the info Jeffrey.  Our municipality has a food compost program so I wouldn't be surprised if they are mixing it in with the yard waste.  I'll check into that when I have a chance. 
That's excellent, my municipality hasn't gotten that far yet.  I'd be surprised if they were mixed too but you never know.
I'll let you know.
Rotted manure is good for growing veg as it has loads of nitrogen and other nutrients and also helps the soil retain moisture. You don't have to support the corpse industries to get manure either as horse poo is as good as any!
Thanks, I'll keep my eye out for some.
If any of you are in or around MD and want some horse manure...... I've got loads and loads! We spread it though, so what would be available on a given day would be fresh, and have some wood shavings mixed in. It's great to compost it for about 2 months.

I started a raised bed garden on my porch and I used organic vegetable-growing soil and everything is growing beautifully! It never crossed my mind about compost. Is there some reason this is better than buying organic soil like I did?

Good luck with your garden!

Well for us the compost is free from the city.  I thought it was better than the $200 this company wanted to deliver a couple yards to us.  And pesticides have been banned around here for a few years so the compost is considered organic as well so we are happy with that.
That's excellent Perry!
Compost is technically a verb. What you get from composting stuff is mulch and soil. So yes, if you have fully composted organic material that should work fine.
Good to hear!

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