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Square Foot Gardening Forum
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Help! Very sad about M.M. Toplef10Help! Very sad about M.M. 1zd3ho10

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.

Help! Very sad about M.M. I22gcj10Help! Very sad about M.M. 14dhcg10

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Help! Very sad about M.M.

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plantoid
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Post  April 5/17/2013, 8:25 am

Need some advice. Sad We rebuilt our boxes this spring & put boards on the bottom with about 5 3/4 in. holes in each square. The boxes sit a couple inches off the ground. We added all new M.M. to the boxes as I was afraid that weeds were in the mix from last year. Last years mix grew some great veggies but nothing will sprout in the new mix. We did everything the same except the chickity doo doo. Also I used 1 baq of savanah gold mushroom compost that seemed a little more damp than last year. That's it. Those 3 things are the only difference. Any advice would be very much appreciated as I feel my growing season is slipping away. Here is an exact run down of what we used for 3 4x4 ft. boxes:

2 2.2 cu ft sphagnum peat
2 4 cu ft vermiculite
3 1 cu ft dairy doo
2 .5 cu ft forest humus
1 30 lb worm casting
1 25 lb mushroom compost
3 25 lb chickity doo doo
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Post  camprn 5/17/2013, 9:08 am

I'm not sure of the question. Are you having any trouble with your plants? A few weeds are to be expected in successive years and nothing to fret too much about. On the list it looks to me like there are 4 composts. I consider the humus a conditioner that can retain and release nutrients, but not a source of them. If it was my garden I would try to hunt up at least two more sources of compost.

Did you fluff the peat and measure everything in a bucket, not relying on the numbers on the package>?

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Post  plantoid 5/17/2013, 9:25 am

A simple quick idea strikes me .. It is usually the product you have used , they change daily with what ever recyclable material is avaiable at the time of making unles speciffically guaranteed to be of a set formula .
The forest humus is maybe not fully composted enough and is robbing the bed of nitrogen thus starving the plants of it . Some times they add liquid fertilizer to it to make it grow things for a few weeks .. it's often called a soil amendment or enhancer .
Forest humus and other wood products can take several years to compost down to a state where instead of consuming nitrogen it starts to usefully produce it .

The mushroom compost should not have exceed 1/5 of your complement of five different material bases / types of compost as it usually contains a fair percentage of lime to activate the manures in it .

Your base material for some of the mentioned commercially composted stuff ( other than mushroom compost ) could well have treated grass cuttings /plant material that contained a hormonal /systemic weed control on it ... that would knock your beds on the head right from the word go & for the future as well as some of these weed killers /growth suppressants take years to decay out of the soil.

The bagged commercial dairy and chicken compost could well have a very high proportion of wood based products in them so the above bit about uncomposted wood also applies here .

On a 4x4 foot bed , perhaps take a remedial action of carefully sprinkling on two dessert spoons of dried " Blood ,fish & bone meal " ( BFBM ) between the plants .
Don't get any on/in the joints of leaf branches of the plants as it will rot them when it gets watered PDQ .
Then gently work the BFBM ) inthe top 1/2 inch of so and gently water it in .
This will provide a big boost of N P&K for about eight weeks

If you have other beds free of crops & seeds made for the same mix pretrreat the bed before sowing/ planting and water it in .
Do wash your hands etc after handling even if you do wear rubber gloves etc as BFBM is a bacterially live rotting substance once it gets slightly damp , don't breath it in either for the same reasons .
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Post  landarch 5/17/2013, 10:18 am

I wouldn't have used new mix as many purchased composts are of low quality. I would use the old stuff and reseed as soon as you can and set your new stuff aside until you have home-made compost ready to add.

My first year's Mels Mix with purchased compost was not very good...plants germinated but were stunted and yellow until I added organic fertilizers (buffaloam compost tea, fish emulsion, chickity doo doo) and everything perked up and produced rather well.
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Post  camprn 5/17/2013, 11:19 am

In the end, it seems that if you are worried and your plants are showing signs of poor nutrient uptake, you can add compost by top dressing. If you have not yet planted the bed adding more compost , to err on the side of caution, is good insurance for the rest of the growing season.

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Post  April 5/17/2013, 12:07 pm

Ok, I've have some more info. I had a Ferry-Morse soil test kit on hand and it showed:

very high nitrogen
very low phosphorous
low potash
neutral ph

I have a feeling there is way too much chickity doo doo in there. It comes in a pellet form & expands when it gets wet, possibly throwing off my ratio. What say you?

If this is true can I just take out some of the mix & add more peat & vermiculite? There is nothing in the boxes right now.

Thanks for all the help! It's so nice to know you can get answers when you need them!!!
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Post  landarch 5/17/2013, 12:53 pm

From my understanding, Chickity Doo Doo is an organic fertilizer and not a type of finished compost so I question why people use it in their Mels Mix formula. I used it as a top dressing on my fist year's Mels Mix as my purchased bagged compost was of poor quality.

I also add some hardwood ash in squares of beets and carrots.
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Post  April 5/17/2013, 4:23 pm

So should I just pitch all of the mix & try again next year after we have our own compost? Our budget is about up on the gardening for this year. Or can I add something to help it?
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Post  landarch 5/17/2013, 5:23 pm

don't picth, try to save per Plantoid's or Camp's direction.
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Post  drixnot 5/18/2013, 12:47 am

Why not combine last year's MM with this years? Last year is weaker (was used) and this year is too powerful.... together they might be just about right.
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Post  Turan 5/18/2013, 12:59 am

Plant peas to see if you have herbicide contamination. Bioassay Test for Auxinic Herbicide Residues in Compost:


Last edited by Turan on 5/18/2013, 1:08 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : I need to read better. sorry.)

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Post  April 5/19/2013, 6:26 pm

Well, I spent most of Saturday taking the "bad Mix" out of the boxes & filling them with the original mix that had the weeds in it. I picked out all the weed roots (or whatever they were) that I could. Added some compost & replanted everything. Thanks again everyone for the help. I feel much better! Very Happy
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Post  Marie14513 5/20/2013, 12:13 am

I used lobster, mushroom, leaf, humus, cow, worm, mixed. Measured out this combo with equal parts of med vermiculite, and fluffed peat. Took me for ever. That is a lot of rather to try and move by your lonesome. Looked like a lot of vermiculite. Forgot to put in the coffee grounds I have. Help! Very sad about M.M. 3170584802 Here is to hoping I did not waste of my time and money! And my back! I still have to make the trellis and a cage to keep out bugs and animals
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