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Does this Worm Compost count as two of the 5 Mel's Mix Compost sources? Toplef10Does this Worm Compost count as two of the 5 Mel's Mix Compost sources? 1zd3ho10

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Does this Worm Compost count as two of the 5 Mel's Mix Compost sources? Toplef10Does this Worm Compost count as two of the 5 Mel's Mix Compost sources? 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.

Does this Worm Compost count as two of the 5 Mel's Mix Compost sources? I22gcj10Does this Worm Compost count as two of the 5 Mel's Mix Compost sources? 14dhcg10

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Does this Worm Compost count as two of the 5 Mel's Mix Compost sources?

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Does this Worm Compost count as two of the 5 Mel's Mix Compost sources? Empty Does this Worm Compost count as two of the 5 Mel's Mix Compost sources?

Post  BrianDorry55 6/24/2013, 1:02 pm

Hello everyone,

I found a source very close to where I live that seems like a great source for my compost needs.

The website is bestbuyworms dot com, I cannot post a direct link because I am new.

This is BestBuyWorms in Masaryktown, FL. They sell a "composted worm manure". They also run a rabbit farm. I called and asked what the base manure of their product is and they said that their worm compost comes from directly under their rabbit cages.

Correct me if I'm wrong but this should suffice as two sources for Mel's Mix right? Hopefully this comes out at around 50% worm castings and 50% rabbit manure. 

Is this a good source or would I be better off going with 100% rabbit manure and 100% worm castings from separate sources?

Does anyone see any issues with this source? I am a newbie so obviously I am frantically trying to settle on good sources for my mix...any help is appreciated!

Brian
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Post  camprn 6/24/2013, 1:41 pm

The worm casts compost is one type. The bunny poo could be counted as another.

Welcome to the SFG Forum.

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Post  donnainzone5 6/24/2013, 1:48 pm

Brian,

It's important to note that no one compost source should comprise more than 20% of the total, and that manure-based compost, likewise, should be no more than 20%.

Worm castings should be used in lesser amounts, from what I understand.

Keep looking for at least another three composts, and you'll want to start your own composting operation as soon as possible.

You might consider organic planting mixes, rose planting mixes, etc. Mushroom compost can also be used, and is generally readily available. I found mint and llama compost locally here in Central Oregon.

Do try to avoid any mix that contains peat moss, since that would throw off your ratio of ingredients.

I also welcome you to the Forum and wish you a successful SFG! We're all here to help.
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Post  BrianDorry55 6/24/2013, 2:05 pm

So manure in general shouldn't make up more than 20% of the compost? 

https://squarefoot.forumotion.com/t7452-mel-s-mix-how-strong-is-your-backbone

^ This seems to suggest that you could use cow, horse, rabbit, chicken, and organic matter all in the same mix...Am I missing something?

I don't like the idea of using animal manure at all, but in order to meet Mel's Mix requirements it seems like you don't really have a choice. It's becoming such a daunting task for me to find a good organic mix...I could find 25 local sources of animal manures on Craigslist right now but in all likelihood, those animals were exposed to something that I don't want in my compost whether it be dewormers, hormones, steroids or whatever else...I understand the concept of using 5 different sources for maximum nutrition, but if it isn't possible to find 5 sources that I can trust are organic, then it kind of defeats the purpose of home gardening for me...

Thank you for the warm welcomes and the help by the way!

- Brian
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Post  donnainzone5 6/24/2013, 3:14 pm

Brian,

You may wish to refer to the posts regarding composts under the header "Mel's Soap Box." I inquired about this subject, and Mel's replies can be found there.
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Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts 6/24/2013, 3:20 pm

As hard as it is to find everything and get them in the right proportions, I highly encourage you to take the time and do it right the first time. If you read every post in this forum that has complaints and problems ... you'll find a significant percentage of them that did the same thing I did and didn't get the mix right.

I'm in my second year of SFG gardening and I did my MM before I really understood the parameters. I used twice the amount of peat moss as required because I didn't know that it should be measured once opened and fluffed. I also thought I was using 5 compost types because there were a lot of good things listed in the ingredients. In reality I probably had 2-3 sources at best.

Needless to say, my mix is deficient and I am amending while trying to grow crops. MUCH easier to make it right and plant when it's ready than rush things. I have been making my own compost now for almost a year and am finding my yields are increasing and my susceptibility to bugs and disease are decreasing as the mix grows healthier.

Welcome and good luck!
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Post  camprn 6/24/2013, 3:34 pm

This really doesn't need to be complicated.
Animal manure is often composted with other things like straw or shavings and each animal will make manure of varying quality. Generally manure composts are more beneficial to the mix than mushroom or cotton boll compost. Do not include humus as a compost, because it is not and offers no real nutrition to your mix...
http://faq.gardenweb.com/faq/lists/organic/2002121127011493.html


+1, as stated above, take your time, do some homework, resist impulse buys, do use at least 5 different types of compost and you will have success with your garden.


Also, topsoil is not compost.


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Post  BrianDorry55 6/24/2013, 4:05 pm

I'm really trying to do my homework so I can get it all planned out...I'm a stickler for the details and if I'm going to mix up over a cubic yard of Mel's Mix for my first garden in a few months, I certainly don't want to replace it next year...and I also don't want to realize that I made a mix full of nasty chemicals and herbicides that I'm trying to avoid. 

I'm just having trouble understanding how I can make a mix of 5 different compost sources...but only one of them can be manure? What else is there other than organic matter? Does it have to be 5 different forms of blended composts or just containing 5 different ingredients...as soon as I thought I was starting to get the concept down I am back to being completely confused.

Thank you all for any help...without it I would probably spend a lot of money and not get my money's worth and end up very disappointed.
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Post  Windmere 6/24/2013, 4:18 pm

camprn wrote:This really doesn't need to be complicated.
Animal manure is often composted with other things like straw or shavings and each animal will make manure of varying quality. Generally manure composts are more beneficial to the mix than mushroom or cotton boll compost. Do not include humus as a compost, because it is not and offers no real nutrition to your mix...
http://faq.gardenweb.com/faq/lists/organic/2002121127011493.html


+1, as stated above, take your time, do some homework, resist impulse buys, do use at least 5 different types of compost and you will have success with your garden.


Also, topsoil is not compost.

Hi Camprn,

Your link to "What is the real difference between Compost and Humus" made for a very interesting read.  I like the way the information what presented.

I had to groan (but also laugh) at the following quote:

"Colloquially, if you add mature compost, or even immature compost, to soil, the resulting mix is humus. The same can be said of adding lemon juice to crushed sesame seeds, but that is a different story."

Thanks for that post!

Wind
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Post  plantoid 6/24/2013, 5:43 pm

BrianDorry55 wrote:Hello everyone,

I found a source very close to where I live that seems like a great source for my compost needs.

The website is bestbuyworms dot com, I cannot post a direct link because I am new.

This is BestBuyWorms in Masaryktown, FL. They sell a "composted worm manure". They also run a rabbit farm. I called and asked what the base manure of their product is and they said that their worm compost comes from directly under their rabbit cages.

Correct me if I'm wrong but this should suffice as two sources for Mel's Mix right? Hopefully this comes out at around 50% worm castings and 50% rabbit manure. 

Is this a good source or would I be better off going with 100% rabbit manure and 100% worm castings from separate sources?

Does anyone see any issues with this source? I am a newbie so obviously I am frantically trying to settle on good sources for my mix...any help is appreciated!

Brian

I too consider that once composted or composting manure has been passed through muck worms you'll have an entirely different product so yes count them as two.
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Post  camprn 6/24/2013, 5:52 pm

BrianDorry55 wrote:

I'm just having trouble understanding how I can make a mix of 5 different compost sources...but only one of them can be manure? What else is there other than organic matter? Does it have to be 5 different forms of blended composts or just containing 5 different ingredients...as soon as I thought I was starting to get the concept down I am back to being completely confused.

Thank you all for any help...without it I would probably spend a lot of money and not get my money's worth and end up very disappointed.

So my advice is to forget about the manure argument, unless you have a ton of different sources of compost. Just make sure the compost you find comes from different animals. This is what I put in my garden:
Dairy parlor compost,
lobster compost,
homemade compost,
horse stable compost
llama stable compost
chicken house compost

and it works great because that is what I could find.

The best thing you can do is make homemade compost from what ever you can collect, including manure. Free is best, cheap is good. I will pay top dollar for that lobster compost.

You will only add more compost over the years. If you make your own that's the best and cheapest. And to your own compost pile you can add things like coffee grounds, lawn trimmings, manure, dried leaf litter in the autumn, etc... well I hope you get the idea. There is a ton of info on this site.
Happy reading.

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Post  RoOsTeR 6/24/2013, 6:47 pm

+1

Some have tried to make this way to complicated which is exactly opposite of what Mel wants or intended.

Mel Barthalomew wrote:Those are all good questions, and they prove the point that the best compost is your own compost cause you know what went into it. We could give you many complicated answers, but the simplest solution is that you want to get as many sources as possible, and I understand you don't want to overlap or get too much of one source, but without knowing the percentage of each item, it will be impossible to know. They aren’t going to tell you and you know by the price if they have loaded it up with wood products, the cheapest thing except dirt. So here's what I would do:

I would buy all five of those composts ( I like your other idea of a plain all chicken manure as one) and mix equal volume and try a planting trial, quickly, with some lettuce and radish seeds. Within two weeks, you'll know if they're doing well, having good color, growing vigorously, and then you can expand your garden.

If you just can't wait and you want to do everything now, I would still buy all five, mix them equally with peat moss/coir, and vermiculite to make you Mel’s Mix, and just hope for the best. Most people can't find more than one or two blended composts. You've apparently come up with many and even read the contents, so you know what's in them. Either that or you have done some wishful thinking of what might be in some of them.

I'm sure you could guess that the expensive ingredients are not going to be large in volume. For example, when they say "Contains Worm Castings" or "Bat Guano" it's going to be in there, but probably not much of it. I could tell from your letter that you are concerned about too much of one thing, and that would be wood products. The best thing you could add to all of those "blended composts" would be to add some of yours or neighbors (I don't mean a midnight reqresition) just a borrow till you get your compost pile humming.) homemade compost and since you probably wouldn't be putting in wood chips or any bark products in your own pile, you are going to have a better, richer growing soil than anyone on the block.

All that being said, I would highly recommend you start small, make up a batch( it could be just the 5 composts for a seed sprouting test or go ahead and do the Mel’s mix but just a small batch for one box or 2), see how your plants do. In addition to the seeds sprouting and growing, you might also try some small transplants. Either from the store or ones you have, and see how well they adjust to the new mixture.

If everything grows like crazy, let me know and we'll bag it as Mel's Compost. We'll make you rich overnight. Thanks for your questions and do let me know which direction you go in and what your results are. Everyone is waiting with baited breath.

One last idea. Unless the store makes their own mix which they will push, most places have a feel for which is best and which have had complaints. And it’s easier to take back for a refund if they recommended it. Don’t tell them I told you that. Good Luck.

Mel


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Post  BrianDorry55 6/25/2013, 8:22 am

Thanks guys...

Is there anybody who has 5 composts with only one coming from a manure source? I'm just having trouble understanding what my options are...and I don't know what I can get my hands on if I don't know what I should be looking for...It's not the end of the world if I have to spend a few extra dollars or take a drive to get it right...but if I don't know what I should look for then I'll have to settle for the things I've already mentioned.

I do plan on starting my own compost soon...but that won't really be of use to me until I amend my beds next year...and the stuff I start with will have an influence on my gardens for a very long time.

Thanks,

- Brian
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Post  yolos 6/25/2013, 8:53 am

BrianDorry55 wrote:Is there anybody who has 5 composts with only one coming from a manure source?
 
For the initial beds I used:
 
Composted cow manure
Worm castings
Chicken manure compost (with bedding)
Mushroom compost
Forest products compost
 
I now have my own compost.  It is just vegetative waste (leaves, grass, kitchen scraps) so I use it with the above composts but no longer use the forest products compost.
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Post  camprn 6/25/2013, 9:07 am

Check Craigslist in the farm and garden section. search for compost and manure, sometimes the search feature will throw out a few more listings that way. Also post on Freecycle.

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Post  BrianDorry55 6/25/2013, 10:26 am

yolos wrote:
BrianDorry55 wrote:Is there anybody who has 5 composts with only one coming from a manure source?
 
For the initial beds I used:
 
Composted cow manure
Worm castings
Chicken manure compost (with bedding)
Mushroom compost
Forest products compost
 
I now have my own compost.  It is just vegetative waste (leaves, grass, kitchen scraps) so I use it with the above composts but no longer use the forest products compost.

I have heard that mushroom compost is just animal manure that has been used for farming mushrooms...is this correct? If so then wouldnt 3 of your 5 composts be comprised of animal manure?
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Post  Windmere 6/25/2013, 10:32 am

yolos wrote:
BrianDorry55 wrote:Is there anybody who has 5 composts with only one coming from a manure source?
 
For the initial beds I used:
 
Composted cow manure
Worm castings
Chicken manure compost (with bedding)
Mushroom compost
Forest products compost
 
I now have my own compost.  It is just vegetative waste (leaves, grass, kitchen scraps) so I use it with the above composts but no longer use the forest products compost.
Hi Brian,

I just wanted to add my 2 cents:  I am using the exact same compost formula as yolos and my vegetables are doing extremely well (so far).  I am in the process of making my own compost. 

One note of caution:  We regard to the mushroom compost... I purchased 2 cu ft of mushroom compost and later found that it contained quite of bit of peat moss.  This would have thrown off my Mel's Mix ratios.  I found a merchant who had pure mushroom compost and I bought that and took back the one with peat moss.

I hope that helps a bit~

Wind
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Post  boffer 6/25/2013, 10:33 am

Mushroom facilities have their own 'recipes'.  This is where I get my mushroom compost.
Mushroom Compost is a by-product from Ostrom’s Mushroom Farm in Lacey, Washington. It consists of 60% wheatstraw, 25% poultry litter, 10% gypsum, and 5% dried urea, which are combined and composted.
It probably has a few 'secret' ingredients as well.  I consider it a 'brown'.
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Post  BrianDorry55 6/25/2013, 11:33 am

Ok thanks for the clarification guys...seems like one of those things that you just have to do a little digging on...

When I called my closest local nursery like a month ago to ask if they had any organic composts they said yes they have mushroom compost...I called back yesterday to ask them what the compost consisted of and the guys said "It's 100% mushroom"...I guess I would be better off finding out what source its from.
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Post  boffer 6/25/2013, 11:40 am

For six years I thought I was making MM correctly with great results.  So I was surprised when I first read the link that Donna posted.  My  big compost pile is at least 5 cubic yards, and I use or give away most of it every year. There's no way I can easily get the the volume I want without multiple manure composts.  

Horse, cow, and chicken manure make up half.  Grass, leaves, and mushroom compost make up the other half.  I compost veggie scraps and plants, but they don't make near the volume I need for the big pile, so they get added in as a 7th ingredient for the compost that I re-plentish each square with.  It's not by the book, but it works for me.
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Post  donnainzone5 6/25/2013, 1:34 pm

Some supermarkets, as well as Whole Foods, now operate compost operations, and you may be able to find composted fruit and vegetable scraps, sometimes blended with garden prunings or other non-manure sources.

You might also try local hydroponics stores, which sometimes carry a compost you could use. I recently stumbled upon one of those here in Central Oregon.
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Post  BrianDorry55 6/25/2013, 2:03 pm

donnainzone10 wrote:Some supermarkets, as well as Whole Foods, now operate compost operations, and you may be able to find composted fruit and vegetable scraps, sometimes blended with garden prunings or other non-manure sources.  

You might also try local hydroponics stores, which sometimes carry a compost you could use.  I recently stumbled upon one of those here in Central Oregon.  

I have a few Whole Foods in Tampa that I shop at from time to time...who would I got about asking for something like that? They have a floral department and a produce department but no garden center. I will check around for some hydroponics stores in my area.
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Post  RoOsTeR 6/25/2013, 2:09 pm

BrianDorry55 wrote:
donnainzone10 wrote:Some supermarkets, as well as Whole Foods, now operate compost operations, and you may be able to find composted fruit and vegetable scraps, sometimes blended with garden prunings or other non-manure sources.  

You might also try local hydroponics stores, which sometimes carry a compost you could use.  I recently stumbled upon one of those here in Central Oregon.  

I have a few Whole Foods in Tampa that I shop at from time to time...who would I got about asking for something like that? They have a floral department and a produce department but no garden center. I will check around for some hydroponics stores in my area.

What's that old phone book jingle? "Let your fingers do the walking". Whole Foods has excellent compost. Some stores only sell it at certain times of the year, so call ahead and ask.

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Post  BrianDorry55 6/25/2013, 2:38 pm

I just contacted both Tampa stores, both of which informed me that they don't carry it. Then I called the Sarasota store, the lady at customer service happily informed me that they carry it year round. I asked her which department and she said the produce department and transferred me to them...a guy answered who barely spoke English and had no idea what I was talking about and told me that they don't carry it there. Blah.
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Post  donnainzone5 6/25/2013, 2:41 pm

I suggest that you call again, and make it clear that you want the store's bagged compost. And ask to be connected to someone who speaks English.

If you're still told that they don't carry it, try contacting your local supermarkets. Some Safeway/Vons/Pavillions markets do carry similar compost.
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