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Noob question - please don't be too harsh

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Noob question - please don't be too harsh Empty Noob question - please don't be too harsh

Post  doityourselfer on 4/13/2010, 12:42 pm

I am new to square foot gardening. I picked up a second hand copy the old book, read it and then found out there was a new book. I bought and read that. After much looking both on-line and in store, I have come to the conclusion that it is very expensive to gather up the ingredients to make a proper Mel's mix. The closest Vermiculite source is 1 1/2 hours away, and I can only find 4 different kinds of compost. Really three as one has soil and peat already in it. It will cost me $50 to fill each 4x4 box

Here is my question, although I am hesitant to ask. Would it be OK to plant with Miracle-Gro moisture control potting mix? I can get 64 Quart bags at my local Lowes for about $14. it is Item #: 235180 Model #: 74064300

Three bags will just overfill a 4x4 square. The item description says it is good for outdoor container plants. It will cost $42 to fill each box.

Thoughts?
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Post  elliephant on 4/13/2010, 12:56 pm

For $8 more you get something without the chemicals of Miracle Grow. Also, those chemicals (the "miracle") will be depleted in one seasom and you'll have to start over.
With Mel's Mix it's a one-time expense and then you just add a trowel of compost to each square you replant.
I think the $8 difference is well worth it. Have you checked to see if your city has a composting program? Mine does and I can get compost for $1.49 a bag. Would be even cheaper by the truckload.
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Post  scbusf on 4/13/2010, 1:02 pm

Have you tried to find vermiculite at a Feed store? That's where I found mine.

Also, I only used 3 types of compost because that's all I could find. We have a local composting program and that's what every single local garden center carries.

Sherry
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Noob question - please don't be too harsh Empty Order Vermiculite online

Post  Belinda on 4/13/2010, 1:26 pm

You can actually order vermiculite online at uline.com
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Post  chocolatepop on 4/13/2010, 1:28 pm

Push comes to shove, I bet you can get away with a potting seed mix (look at the ingredients) and adding your compost to that. It will be similar.
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Post  Patty from Yorktown on 4/13/2010, 2:47 pm

I use compost from our local dump. It works great, very few of my beds have vermiculite in them and none of the beds have peat. I figured if Mel teaches folks in developing nations to use compost I would give it a try. Works great.

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Post  timwardell on 4/13/2010, 4:04 pm

Don't forget that composted manures (horse, cow, chicken, etc.) count as compost. ... I agree that taking the extra time and money will pay off in the long run.
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Post  camprn on 4/13/2010, 6:45 pm

@chocolatepop wrote:Push comes to shove, I bet you can get away with a potting seed mix (look at the ingredients) and adding your compost to that. It will be similar.
This is what I had to resort to. I used Jiffy seed starting growers mix as it is approx. 50% Sphagnum peat and 50% small vermiculite, added 3 types of compost to round it out. It's the best I could do this year. I will amend the mix next year or use homemade compost as a top dressing for the mix as the season progresses. I have confidence that this will work for me, though I may not have the highest yields this year, it's a respectable start. Very Happy
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Post  Retired Member 1 on 4/13/2010, 6:58 pm

I've used Mel's "old" book for years with mixed success depending on the soil condition, and just this year found out about the new method. In three of my beds I used a compost/ soil mix for thebottom 3-4" and Mel's mix for the top 3-4". Only time will tell how this works out. One bed is all Mel's mix and the others are done lasagna method with Mel's mix as a light top layer to germinate the seeds. I just couldn't afford straight Mel's mix for all the beds.

One option, might be to use a mixture of the composts you can get plus the Miracle Grow soil. Around here, cow manure costs about $2.50 for a 40# bag which is 1 cf.--I think that works out less than the Miracle grow and would give you a better balance of nutrients.

In the end, it's up to you, and no one on this forum is going to criticise you for doing things differently. Actually, the only criteria for a SFG is the grid. All the other things are optional, although Mel's mix is highly recommended.

Please do keep us posted on how your garden grows.
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Post  martha on 4/13/2010, 8:17 pm

I agree with what Belfrybat said. We are not here to criticize, we are here to help each other learn and grow. And grow things! Noob question - please don't be too harsh Icon_wink

If you want to PM me about where in MA you are located, I might be able to help you with locating vermiculite. Also, re: expense - how many boxes are you wishing to have this season?
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Noob question - please don't be too harsh Empty Thanks for the advise

Post  doityourselfer on 4/14/2010, 12:45 pm

Thank you all for your advise. I will try and respond to the questions and comments.

"Have you tried to find vermiculite at a Feed store? That's where I
found mine."
I have asked but not visited. No luck.

"You can actually order vermiculite online at uline.com"
I had seen that website but shipping was prohibitive.

"One option, might be to use a mixture of the composts you can get plus
the Miracle Grow soil. Around here, cow manure costs about $2.50 for a
40# bag which is 1 cf.--I think that works out less than the Miracle
grow and would give you a better balance of nutrients. "
This is what I think I am going to do. I have found cow manure for the above price. Chicken was just a little more.

"In the end, it's up to you, and no one on this forum is going to
criticise you for doing things differently. Actually, the only criteria
for a SFG is the grid. All the other things are optional, although
Mel's mix is highly recommended. "

Thanks for the encouragement. I was a little worried about asking about using chemical based "soil" as it seemed that many people on this forum are into organic gardening. I will definitely have the grid, It would be difficult to layout and plant without.

"Please do keep us posted on how your garden grows."
Will Do!

"If you want to PM me about where in MA you are located, I might be able
to help you with locating vermiculite. Also, re: expense - how many
boxes are you wishing to have this season?"
I will PM you. I am in Western Mass. I have located fine/medium grades locally. The only coarse I could find is at Worms Way outside Worcester. I plan on 5 boxes this year (for three adults) More next year if everything works out good.
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