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Need some advice on the compost part of Mel's Mix

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llama momma
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Need some advice on the compost part of Mel's Mix  Empty Need some advice on the compost part of Mel's Mix

Post  John91C 4/24/2012, 3:52 pm

I've got the Peat Moss & Vermiculite and now I'm hoping I've found the right mixture for MM.

I'm doing 4x8 raised beds (11 inches in height) and I'm going to fill them near the top (more than the recommended 6 inches, which Mel says isn't a bad thing just a more expensive thing).

Anyways...to fill all those bed I'll need 32 cu ft of Vermiculite, 32 cu ft of Peat Moss, and 32 cu ft of Compost (5 different sources).

Here's the compost I've bought...would love everyone's opinion on if this is a good mix or not. (I will be making these in small batches)

Gardner & Bloome Soil-Building Compost (3 Cu Ft. Bags):
Ingredients: forest humus, chicken manure, worm castings, bat guano, gypsum, kelp meal, oyster shells, dolomite limes, and Mycorrhizae

Also I'm adding 1 cu ft of Fish Compost and 1.25 cu ft of our local compost (Cedar Grove Compost) which has: yard trimmings, wood, and food scraps.

I'll be mixing the compost in small batches of 3 cu ft of Soil-Building, 1 cu ft of Fish Compost, and 1.25 cu ft of Cedar Grove making a total of 5.25 cu ft of mixed compost (I know it will be heavy on the Soil-Building Compost).

Here's the way I'm mixing: 5 gallon bucket sizes of each item then mix them on a tarp. Granted it will take me all day but it's easier to control the measurements if I do it this way.

Here's my question: Is the compost acceptable...does it meet the requirements for 4-5 different sources of organic matter?

Thanks for any insight and help! Now I just need a non-rainy/non-windy day which might not happen until Late May here in the Seattle area! Razz
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Post  WolfHeart 4/24/2012, 4:12 pm

Hi Jon, and glad you\'re here to the forums!

It seems like you have read the ANSFG book because of your concern for the 5 types of compost.

One thing that you might want to check is the amount you are preparing it seems like a lot to fill your box. I checked the Mix Calculator and it says you only need ~10 cubic ft. of each ingredient.

As for your compost be careful of the town compost as it may contain chemicals from treated yards. if you include that compost i would say that you have 3 types of compost. I can't even tell you how important it is to try an find the 5 sources of compost. I skimped last year and suffered for it, this year i drove my wife crazy driving all over town looking for compost. Now when ever i see some I just pick up a bag or two and throw it in the trunk.

Hope this helps.

Cheers,
John
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Post  plantoid 4/24/2012, 5:20 pm

hello Jon ,

Welcome to the site,

I echo everything said and add local authority composted stuff may also contain zillions of seeds from weeds and flowers , especially the pernicious perenial weeds , for it takes a good set up to fully heat the compost and kill them off.
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Post  Nonna.PapaVino 4/24/2012, 5:52 pm

Jon, where did you find the Gardner and Bloome soilbuilding compost? It sounds like a great combination of ingredients.
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Post  John91C 4/24/2012, 5:56 pm

Nonna.PapaVino wrote:Jon, where did you find the Gardner and Bloome soilbuilding compost? It sounds like a great combination of ingredients.

I got the 3 cu ft bags from a local nursery for $10.99/bag.
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Post  WolfHeart 4/24/2012, 5:58 pm

Nice price!

I went searching for it and it doesn't seem like anyone near me sells it....I wouldn't mind getting some for my bagged compost collection i have going Very Happy
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Post  John91C 4/24/2012, 6:00 pm

Wolfheart,

Even if the Soil-Building compost has 3 different organic matters (bat guano, chicken manure, worm castings) and I add fish compost wouldn't that make 4 different sources of organic matter? Is it 5 different composting companies or 5 different sources of organic matter (manure, worm castings, fish compost, etc). I was under the "assumption" it just had to be 5 different organic sources...not 5 different composting companies. Guess this is where I'm confused...since the soil-building compost has a huge number of sources with at least 3 different organic sources.
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Post  camprn 4/24/2012, 6:23 pm

Hi John, does that compost blend with all that fabulous stuff in it have a label with percentages of the varying ingredients? In reality it could have 80% forest humus and just 20 % (or less) of all the fabulous stuff.
I would encourage you to keep looking for more, preferably local, sources of compost. Are there any horse or dairy farms nearby?

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Post  Cincinnati 4/25/2012, 7:56 am

The Gardner & Bloome Soil-Building Compost seems to have 3 sources of compost, but I would contact the company and ask what percentage of each it contains. My guess is you will not have even close to 33% bat guano or 33% worm castings.
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Post  donnainzone5 4/25/2012, 11:09 am

I tried the Gardner & Bloome Soil Building Compost several years ago (one bag) and thought it contained too much uncomposted wood material. I didn't notice any improvement in my harvest that year.

This year, I snagged a bag of Supreme Harvest by the same manufacturer. I've used a bit of it, but it has a slight ammonia-like smell, meaning that it's probably not fully composted.

I wish someone would manufacture and distribute a five-way, natural compost with no peat!
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Post  Nonna.PapaVino 4/25/2012, 11:12 am

Who manufactures the Gardener & Bloome and Supreme Harvest composts? Perhaps they need some feedback from thos of us who would like to use their stuff.
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Post  SwampCatNana 4/25/2012, 1:53 pm

So I take it that you have to have 5 DIFFERENT sources in equal amounts??????
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Post  llama momma 4/25/2012, 2:54 pm

Yes, that is the ideal scenario. And if you find more, use it. The concept is to have various sources of nutrition because sfgardening is a very intensive type of gardening. Your plants are set much closer together and in a shallow mix. Yet the roots are satisfied and don't need to go all over the place to seek nutrition, that is, when you load it up with strong sources of nutritious composted material. Isn't that amazing? Yet some gardeners goof up and short change their gardens...
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Post  John91C 4/25/2012, 3:04 pm

SwampCatNana wrote:So I take it that you have to have 5 DIFFERENT sources in equal amounts??????

Thanks for everyone's responses! I'm guessing it has to be 5 different sources and it doesn't matter if one source has 3 organic matters mixed in.

So here's my plan: Soil-Building Compost (Chicken Manure, Bat Guano, Worm Castings, and other materials) + Fish Compost + local compost called Cedar Grove Compost, + 2 other composts which one will be mushroom compost (from what I hear it's stinky)

My last compost: Should I add more earthworm castings or chicken manure...even though the Soil-Building Compost has them in there it sounds like it's not a good amount...

Earthworm Castings I can get at $8.99/1 cu ft bag

Mushroom Compost I can get at $5.99/1 cu ft bag

Chicken Manure (fully composted) I can get at $5.99/1 cu ft bag

I'm honestly thinking about just adding both Earthworm and Mushroom Compost...since I really can't have too much compost right?
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Post  John91C 4/25/2012, 3:13 pm

Actually I may just scrap the Soil Building Compost since I can find 5 individual composts...this is getting expensive!

So my plan now:

Fish Compost
Mushroom Compost
Earthworm Castings
Local Compost (Cedar Grove Compost)
Chicken Manure

If I can find a different compost for the Cedar Grove one I will use it but it's starting to get hard to find different composts

If I mix each bag (they are all 1.0 cu ft) and when it's all mixed use 5 gallon buckets to equally mix in the compost, vermiculite, and peat moss then it should work...

It doesn't matter if I have more compost because I can use it to lay around the blueberry bushes we have, cherry trees, and potato boxes.

Does this sound right?
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Post  landarch 4/25/2012, 3:21 pm

keep an eye on your nutrient levels of your first year's mels mix...I would use a bit more compost in the mix that 1/3 to make sure your nutrient levels are not deficient. I've been reading on this forum that it may take a year or so for first year Mels Mix to season (nutrient levels, earthworms, soil organisms, etc.).

I just applied fish emulsion, extra compost, and compost tea with mycorhizae to my squares after seeing stunted, yellow-leafed plants in my spring garden.
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Post  1airdoc 4/25/2012, 3:31 pm

Ideally, the compost component of MM should be a blend of 5 equal parts from various sources. Homegrown compost may count for more, if it is made of a mixture of materials. Be aware that your "Cedar Grove Compost" is likely to be composed primarily of bark and wood products with our without some peat moss, if it is like products with similar names available where I live. If so, avoid using that, because the components are not fully composted and will only bind the nitrogen in your other composts, making it unavailable for your plants. If the purchased compost contains peat, realize that the peat will throw off your totals.

Check the ingredients of your mushroom compost - sometimes it is rich in various ingredients and sometimes it is composed primarily of a few ingredients, such as cow manure. If the latter is true, consider that when you are looking at your overall blend.

Worm castings are great. Definitely use them, and if you need to use one component for more than 1/5 of the total compost, then make it worm castings. The worm castings are very nutrient-rich.
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Post  landarch 4/25/2012, 3:39 pm

I think that was the problem with one of my purchased composts...the cotton bur compost I used had alot of un-composted material that looked like brown plant material, not composted soil.
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Post  Cincinnati 4/25/2012, 4:32 pm

John91C wrote:...this is getting expensive!

Exactly!!!! Which is why you should build a compost pile or build a composter or buy a composter.

John91C wrote:...It doesn't matter if I have more compost ...

Does this sound right?

Don't speak hearesy here! There's no such thing as too much money, too much vacation, or too much compost!!!
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Post  John91C 4/25/2012, 5:31 pm

Starting to figure all this out...

Another question: When we add a trowel of compost when we plant seedlings ,is this compost the 5 mix compost or can we add just 1 compost like earthworm castings?

Also I went to our local hydroponics store they sell earthworm castings at 1/2 cu ft for $7.99. When he opened up the bad it smelled earthy and when I put my hand in there it was loose and had a few red worms...is this pretty normal to have live earthworms in earthworm castings? I could be asking a "stupid" question but I'm still new to all this SFG Very Happy
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Post  RoOsTeR 4/25/2012, 6:13 pm

You got the bonus bag!

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Post  Cincinnati 4/25/2012, 9:07 pm

The worms will be good for the sqft garden
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Post  FamilyGardening 4/25/2012, 10:37 pm

thats great the worm castings had live worms in it!!!....that means there will be live worm eggs in there too and that is awesome!!!!

most worm castings that are sold are sterile......the castings from what i read still work great in the garden, but if you can get live eggs in your castings to add more worms to your garden from what i have heard from other gardeners is better!

we use the organic Gardner & Bloome Soil-Building Compost too....but...we use it as a top layer mulch and it so far is working really well!.....it does have a lot of wood chips/peat moss in it...but i also can see the worm castings in it....using it as a mulch seems better to use it for then using it as one of the five compost .......we figure that its working great to keep the soil moist and as we water it will add nutrients to the soil.....

hugs

rose.....
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