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Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

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Mel's Mix

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Kelejan
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Post  Pink Pandora 4/20/2013, 6:44 pm

I went to 5 places today, came up with cow manure & mushroom compost.
Can you use cotton burr compost & a product called Humore made from a blend with alfalfa compost?

Those worm castings are sky high, $14 for a really small bag that would only amount to about a 2 gallon bucket......Geez Louise!
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Post  plantoid 4/20/2013, 6:47 pm

Cor PP that colour is hard on the old eyeballs can't you do black ? Wink

I have not used worm casts in making my MM , my observations about its use by the site members are :-

I don't think any one has so much money that they do a full 1/5 of worm casts.
Most likely its not needed in such volumes either as it is such a rich source of nutrients so I suggest you sprinkle it in as you make the MM.

Hopefuly someone who uses worm casts will come along & tell you how and what they did
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Post  jazzycat 4/20/2013, 10:27 pm

I used the large 30 lb bags of Wiggle Worm worm castings in my mix as one of my compost ingredients. I think I ended up using 3 bags or so, or was it 4... ? :scratch: They were $20 bag for a 30lb bag though. Not bad. If I'd had to pay $15 for one of the small bags, I definitely would not have used so much of it.

I have to acknowledge, I am new at this. I am by no means one of the experienced members here, so take what I say with a grain of salt. I don't have the experience other people here have, nor would I pretend to. Just relaying what I did. So far, my mix is working beautifully.
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Mel's Mix Empty I feel your pain...

Post  kat51415 4/21/2013, 9:47 am

So we used Black Kow, cotton burr, mushroom, chicken, and a forest humus that I can't remember the name of. I added some worm castings to each batch but DID NOT try to make it one of the 5 composts due to the crazy cost of it. It was more like a supplement. Our first year boxes turned out quite well. If I were going to do it over again, I'd try to better balance the amount of straight peat used against how much peat or filler was in the cotton burr, mushroom and humus. Now I have a source for home grown compost that is awesome. As many stockyards and feeder lots as there are near OKC, I should think you could find it for free. We're quite proud of our camel poo compost!
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Post  TejasTerry 4/21/2013, 10:23 am

@kat51415 wrote:So we used Black Kow, cotton burr, mushroom, chicken, and a forest humus that I can't remember the name of. I added some worm castings to each batch but DID NOT try to make it one of the 5 composts due to the crazy cost of it. It was more like a supplement. Our first year boxes turned out quite well. If I were going to do it over again, I'd try to better balance the amount of straight peat used against how much peat or filler was in the cotton burr, mushroom and humus. Now I have a source for home grown compost that is awesome. As many stockyards and feeder lots as there are near OKC, I should think you could find it for free. We're quite proud of our camel poo compost!

I used a lot less peat this time around too, taking into account the peat etc., in the store bought composts like mushroom and cotton burr.

I had to use fertilizer last year, as my plants weren't getting enough nutrition. This year I added some boxes and used about 20% peat instead of the 1/3 . I am only adjusting this because of having to buy most of my composts.

I also "supplemented" my composts with worm castings, but as everyone said, they are pretty expensive, so couldn't afford to use that as one of my 5. Can't wait till next year when hopefully my home compost pile will supply enough that I won't have to buy anything. Also going to try to start my own worms....I gave that a try last year, bought a worm inn, and then promptly killed 2 pounds of worms by over-feeding them (so I'm told)... Sad

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Mel's Mix Empty Thanks for the info

Post  Pink Pandora 4/21/2013, 2:47 pm

It is helpful. I used some free (manure) last year & had a box of weeds in my beds, so instead of using my free available sources.......I'd rather pay for my compost material & have a garden growing instead. Cool
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Post  Kelejan 4/21/2013, 5:15 pm

Jazzycat, you mentioned paying $20 for 30 pound of worm castings.

I would not think they were pure worm castings, but a mixture of castings and compost. Does anyone agree with me?
When I harvested 7 pounds of castings last December I would never have accepted the equivalent of $4.67 for them.
$20 multiplied by 7 divided by 30.
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Post  jazzycat 4/21/2013, 5:35 pm

It says "earthworm castings" on the label and there is no other ingredient listed. This is what I used.

http://sunlightsupply.com/p-12653-wiggle-worm-earth-worm-castings.aspx

http://www.extremepumpkinstore.com/ecom-prodshow/Casting.html

The description in the second link says "pure earthworm castings" in it.
And it doesn't look like any compost I've seen. It's black, and there are no pieces of anything in it. I'm pretty sure it's pure castings.
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Post  southern gardener 4/22/2013, 12:01 am

@jazzycat wrote:It says "earthworm castings" on the label and there is no other ingredient listed. This is what I used.

http://sunlightsupply.com/p-12653-wiggle-worm-earth-worm-castings.aspx

http://www.extremepumpkinstore.com/ecom-prodshow/Casting.html

The description in the second link says "pure earthworm castings" in it.
And it doesn't look like any compost I've seen. It's black, and there are no pieces of anything in it. I'm pretty sure it's pure castings.

sounds like "pure" to me...the side of the bag says "pure earthworm castings" That's a heck of a deal. Way to go!!
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Post  llama momma 4/22/2013, 7:28 am

@Kelejan wrote:Jazzycat, you mentioned paying $20 for 30 pound of worm castings.

I would not think they were pure worm castings, but a mixture of castings and compost. Does anyone agree with me?
When I harvested 7 pounds of castings last December I would never have accepted the equivalent of $4.67 for them.
$20 multiplied by 7 divided by 30.

Would a product specify castings mixed with compost? I honestly don't know.
I was remembering how long storage times decrease the potency of worm castings. To me a "good price" might translate into an aged product the seller wants to move off the shelves and the grower gets weak results with so-so plant growth.
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Post  jazzycat 4/22/2013, 8:17 am

This is a product that was mentioned by John Kohler, the "growing your greens" guy. In one video he also told people where they can have it mailed to them if they couldn't find it in their area. It was, I believe (trying to remember), $30 for 2 15 lb bags? So $10 more than I paid for the same amount. But I believe that also included shipping. He highly recommended the product, and he called it "earthworm castings," and he's pretty specific when he talks about products. He uses compost, he talks about compost, so if this had compost in it, I'm sure he would've mentioned it.

I imagine these people are creating castings on a grand scale. When you create something yourself it's going to have a different value than something that is mass produced. I make jewelry. I can't sell my jewelry at the same price you could buy it in a store, because they mass produce jewelry from places like China. Of course mine is one of a kind, and there will never be anyone else with the exact same necklace, so it's a little different. But same principle.
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Post  sfg4uKim 4/22/2013, 8:27 am

Veteran Compost in Aberdeen, Maryland sells 100% vermicompost for $14 a 20 lb. bag . . . for local pickup.

They ship it at the following site obviously at a higher price ($15 for a smaller 15 lb. bag & $15 for shipping): VERMICOMPOST

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Post  llama momma 4/22/2013, 8:32 am

@jazzycat wrote:This is a product that was mentioned by John Kohler, the "growing your greens" guy. In one video he also told people where they can have it mailed to them if they couldn't find it in their area. It was, I believe (trying to remember), $30 for 2 15 lb bags? So $10 more than I paid for the same amount. But I believe that also included shipping. He highly recommended the product, and he called it "earthworm castings," and he's pretty specific when he talks about products. He uses compost, he talks about compost, so if this had compost in it, I'm sure he would've mentioned it.

I imagine these people are creating castings on a grand scale. When you create something yourself it's going to have a different value than something that is mass produced. I make jewelry. I can't sell my jewelry at the same price you could buy it in a store, because they mass produce jewelry from places like China. Of course mine is one of a kind, and there will never be anyone else with the exact same necklace, so it's a little different. But same principle.
I agree with you 100% that it can be competatively priced, providing the product is quite fresh but produced on a grand scale. I've heard that the sooner you use castings the better, and most likely best used within 6 months of being produced. If anyone has more info on this I'd enjoy learning from you.
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Post  jazzycat 4/22/2013, 9:25 am

It's possible there is date on the package. I didn't look, but I've heard that compost has dates on it so you know when it was produced and/or when it *might* expire. Next time I go to the hydroponics store I'll ask the owner. I know I've seen dates on some of the bottled stuff there.
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Post  ArkansasSFGardener 5/4/2013, 10:48 am

I bought one 40# bag to add to my MM for my 3 4x4 boxes.. It cost $47!!!! I almost laughed and walked out lol!!!! But I knew I needed them...
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Post  plantoid 5/4/2013, 3:46 pm

@Kelejan wrote:Jazzycat, you mentioned paying $20 for 30 pound of worm castings.

I would not think they were pure worm castings, but a mixture of castings and compost. Does anyone agree with me?
When I harvested 7 pounds of castings last December I would never have accepted the equivalent of $4.67 for them.
$20 multiplied by 7 divided by 30.

If you grow your worms on shredded paper the castings will indeed be pure worm castings , my mate used to grow them on shredded paper a, used an old cement mixed to make the paper pulp and had an insert screen to put in the mixer to separate the worms out once the box was 1/3 full of casts
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