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Mel's mix good for some plants but not all?

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Mel's mix good for some plants but not all?

Post  cwb124 on 7/17/2018, 9:19 am

Hey folks, 

Second season with an experimental SFG with Mel's mix. Loving the simplicity of it so far, although I wanted to see if folks had experienced things I had, such as some plants thriving in mel's mix and some not.  I have an 8' x 2' bed that I transplanted 8 tomato plants.  They are all thriving.  It's mid July and many of the plants are already over my head and I'm 6'5"!  Tons of fruit, just doing great.  I transplanted some peppers on the other hand and they are stunted.  Around 12" high with one pepper that looks very deformed.  I started these seeds and put some in a garden that is mostly soil/mushroom compost and they are 30" and blowing up with peppers.  Any idea why the peppers aren't doing well?  Anyone else experience this?  Any other plants that you just can't get to work in mel's mix?
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Re: Mel's mix good for some plants but not all?

Post  sanderson on 7/17/2018, 5:31 pm

CWB,  I'm going to take this opportunity to talk about SFG and Mel's Mix. Mel's Mix, per the formula set out in the book, is an excellent general growing medium for 97% of veggies.  The other 3%, like blue berries, do better in a tweaked mix. Mel never claimed that one could grow champion-sized pumpkins, or world's largest tomato. He claimed that you could grow a wonderful, healthy vegetable garden in it. Sort of like a universal Mix. Mel wanted everyone to be able to grow a few healthy vegetables no matter where they lived, or what the native soil was like.

I don't know why your SFG peppers aren't doing as well as the amended dirt peppers.  Since you only have to use 6" of MM, it's important to keep it well watered if you don't have sufficient rain (like me, with Zero rain for 8 months).  Keep topping with blended composts to keep the height up.

Congrats are on order for your SFG tomatoes.  What ever you are doing in that bed, you're doing something right! Maybe there is something different in the pepper bed, a different or inferior compost???  Don't give up on growing peppers in their SFG bed.  I always have good luck with peppers in their well composted 2'x8' Table Top bed. Let us know if you discover something different about the pepper bed Mix.

PS: Many hard-core SFG gardeners often have a few veggies they grow in amended dirt. Maybe it's corn for one person, determinate tomatoes for another, asparagus for a third person and peppers for you. There's nothing wrong with doing both methods, pure SFG and row gardening.

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Re: Mel's mix good for some plants but not all?

Post  cwb124 on 7/17/2018, 10:01 pm

Thanks for the reply!  The tomatoes and peppers are in the same 8x2 SFG.  That's the puzzling part.  I dare not make adjustments to the soil as my tomatoes are very happy!  I plan to consolidate my gardens this fall for next year.  I have a 10' x 10' horseshoe shaped garden that was originally filled with half soil and half mushroom compost that I've topped off every year with blended compost from Lowes/HD.  Down in SE Pennsylvania we are lucky to have tons of mushroom compost around.  As far as I'm concerned, that soil is excellent.  It grows anything and everything I throw at it.  So I will definitely be bringing that good soil with me into the consolidated garden, and everything else will be SFG, ideally with some tabletop gardens for the shorter veggie plants.  Being 6'5", I wasn't meant to be too close to the ground for too long, so I'm bringing the veggies up to me.  I'll search for your posts.  Much appreciated!

CB
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Re: Mel's mix good for some plants but not all?

Post  Turan on 7/18/2018, 12:26 am

For what it is worth, I also have peppers not doing as well as the tomatoes are in a bed.  That bed is a modified mix- soil, compost, peat, perlite.  

I looked at a site about recommended soil pH for various vegies. http://www.thegardenhelper.com/soilPH.htm

Mushroom compost is listed as 7.0- 8.0
Peppers as 6.0-8.0
Tomatoes as 5.5- 7.0

That suggests to me that mushroom compost should be ideal for growing peppers but borderline too alkaline for tomatoes.  It also suggests to me that my peppers might be resenting that peat I mixed into the soil, while the tomatoes are pleased.

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Re: Mel's mix good for some plants but not all?

Post  sanderson on 7/18/2018, 3:18 pm

This reply is addressed to Newbies who are still trying to figure out SFG and Mel's Mix.

Once made and mellowed, Mel's Mix made using Mel's formula is near neutral pH. That would mean that most plants find it acceptable, maybe not ideal for everything, but acceptable.

Mel's Mix is the elevator or doctor's office music of the music world. It works for most people (unless you're stuck in the elevator).

It allows for annual rotation of crops from bed to bed without having to treat every bed differently. Just add more quality compost.

If one was in mono-culture, growing one cash crop, then pH would be very critical for optimum production.

I think that tomatoes are such demanding plants that they do better without serious competition for water, root space and nutrients. A few small herbs or flowers, nothing too competitive. Peppers seem to do better snuggling with other peppers.

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Re: Mel's mix good for some plants but not all?

Post  No_Such_Reality on 7/18/2018, 4:09 pm

All good points Sanderson.  I like to think of my Mel's Mix bed as my basic staple. It may seem counter intuitive, not flashy but like pasta in the pantry and herbs in the cupboard, can put a family pleasing dinner on the table.  There is the other thread here about what we'd (those of us here awhile) do differently.  Most of them correspond to main points in ANSFG.

Adding soil, bio char, hay bales, potato towers are all expansion things that primarily are tried beyond our core beds to utilize are marginal spots or compensate for difficult to find or make materials.

youtube is full of interesting gardening hacks, unfortunately they seem to have about a ten percent reproducibility in lay hands.  MM in a 4x4 bed would seem to be 95% or higher.

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Re: Mel's mix good for some plants but not all?

Post  sanderson on 7/18/2018, 4:31 pm

@No_Such_Reality wrote:All good points Sanderson.  I like to think of my Mel's Mix bed as my basic staple. . . .youtube is full of interesting gardening hacks, unfortunately they seem to have about a ten percent reproducibility in lay hands.  MM in a 4x4 bed would seem to be 95% or higher.
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