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Need clarification on advice from a Master Gardener

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Post  landarch on 8/13/2012, 10:40 am

I think you do need to try to introduce soil organism's into your Mels Mix...my plants were stunted and yellow until I added additional compost, compost tea with mycorhizae, and about a dozen native earthworms per square, and watered with fish emulsion. I think it takes a year or so for Mels Mix to "season" in, especially if the inital compost was purchased and not home-made.
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Post  RoOsTeR on 8/13/2012, 11:08 am

Very nice snibb. And well said.

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Post  snibb on 8/13/2012, 11:19 am

I can tell you that I've never used anything other than Mel's mix for any of my gardens and I've never had to add any soil organisms. Why would you need to? I've never had to add earthworms or fish emulsion. If you've had yellowing and stunting, it's not due to the soil-correctly done. If you've used something like Miracle-Gro topsoil or things like that as your compost, that's not what's meant by true compost. Too many people have had too much success for too long to say otherwise. A good blended compost of at least 5 different things is what I've always used and I think there are a lot of others on this site that can attest to their legitimate success using this soil. Please don't take this to be snippy-it's not meant to be-but your back offering advice that gets home gardeners into the mess that SFG was supposed to eliminate. Gardening should be easy, fun, and simple. This is back to complicating things. Like Mel says-he's made the perfect growing soil where everything grows. Please don't take offense. I just want new SFGers to have the same success that I and others have had.

The whole thing on introducing earthworms is a good example of older single row gardening practices. Earthworms do two basic things for your garden. One: aeration. Two: they leave worm-castings. Because this soil is already loose and friable from the start, you don't have the need that a single row gardener has to rely on for the benefits of earthworms. This is the reason why there are successful square foot gardeners around the world who have great gardens that are elevated on tabletops, saw horses, etc. where earthworms can't even get to. The right compost combinations will give you all the needed nutrients and trace elements to make up for castings. After all, your SFG is now 33% compost-a lot more than any single row garden. I'm not saying that earthworms are of no benefit, I'm just saying that it's not a needed ingredient for a successful SFG. If you have them, and you probably will, that's great. Simple, simple, and simple.
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Post  ArmyWife on 8/13/2012, 12:02 pm

A huge thank you to all of you for weighing in on this! I have a great deal of respect for Master Gardeners. Now I understand the limits they have with respects to dispensing advice on SFG.

I'll just stick to this forum for my SFG questions from here on out!

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Post  Unmutual on 8/13/2012, 12:26 pm

On the subject of testing your soil drainage: "A simple test to evaluate soil drainage is to dig a hole 12 inches deep and fill it with water. If the water fails to drain in 30 minutes, the soil has a drainage problem. If the hole fails to drain in 24 hours, waterlogged soils may affect plant growth."

Quoted from: http://www.cmg.colostate.edu/gardennotes/219.html

But even then, you can use slow percolation of water to your advantage.
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Post  snibb on 8/13/2012, 12:53 pm

Yes-and even better-just fill your boxes with Mel's mix and you'll have perfect drainage immediately. You wont even need to go out, dig a hole and fill it with water to test for drainage. You don't need to do all this extra work to have a successful square foot garden. Just stick to the basics and you'll be great. The only hard work of the SFG is trying to keep up with the yield that it can produce. Simple, simple, and simple.
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Post  snibb on 8/13/2012, 1:02 pm

Sort of like this: I'm having a hard time keeping up on the harvest of pole beans this summer. I've heard people on this very forum say that you wont get enough pole beans in just 4 squares. Really?
[img]Need clarification on advice from a Master Gardener - Page 2 Polebeans[/img]
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Post  landarch on 8/13/2012, 1:29 pm

I only had access to purchased bagged compost to start my SFG and it was of poor quality. I think many beginners are in that situation. Those who have high quality blended compost per the book don't have to do anything. In lieu of a soil test, those who don't have access to high quality compost often don't know until after the fact (poor plant performance). I was not willing to sacrifice an entire gardening season while waiting for my home-made compost to be ready.

Simple, easy, and fun are relative terms. I work hard enough at my job that spending time in the garden is not a burden. It's a blessing. In fact, I enjoy time spent catching earthworms with my 2-year old daughter and putting them in the SFG. It's not always about the garden (wink).

.
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Post  southern gardener on 8/13/2012, 4:01 pm

@landarch wrote:I only had access to purchased bagged compost to start my SFG and it was of poor quality. I think many beginners are in that situation. Those who have high quality blended compost per the book don't have to do anything. In lieu of a soil test, those who don't have access to high quality compost often don't know until after the fact (poor plant performance). I was not willing to sacrifice an entire gardening season while waiting for my home-made compost to be ready.

Simple, easy, and fun are relative terms. I work hard enough at my job that spending time in the garden is not a burden. It's a blessing. In fact, I enjoy time spent catching earthworms with my 2-year old daughter and putting them in the SFG. It's not always about the garden (wink).



.
Amen to that one!! cheers cheers
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Post  snibb on 8/13/2012, 5:32 pm

Landarch-I think you're right. I agree...
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Post  thebarley7 on 8/23/2012, 10:42 pm

I'm new at this but I can tell you that living in south Florida Less than 2 miles from the coast I deal a lot with sand! Some of my boxes have black fabric, some have newspaper down, all have MM, not aged, just made this month. We have had a LOT of rain, and no drainage problems. Then we had NO rain, and hand watered, the MM stayed moist and didn't all drain through. So the book is right, I believe the soil type underneath is irrelevant. That's my experience with it anyway.

Suppose to get a hurricane in 5 days though. I hope those little seedlings can hang on!

Happy gardening. donna
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