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Post  torpedos on 2/23/2014, 12:17 am

Hi, 
  I have horse and Turkey manure, castings,mushroom compost, and veggie compost. The issue is that I don't have enough vermiculite/ peat. Is a 50/25/25%   ok. 
 I will have to use cior instead of peat in one bed. I just want to make sure that is not too much compost. 
  Vermiculite is just too much $$$, how would you do it?
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Post  sanderson on 2/23/2014, 3:05 am

Wow, how would I do it?

I would spring for the $$ for 33% vermiculite. It's a one time cost and really makes the soil nice. I would blend the coir and peat moss if there wasn't any more peat moss available for 50 miles. Coir is acceptable but it's not as nice as peat moss. I wouldn't make one bed with coir only. (Unless you have already finished filling the others.)

But all said and done, the quality of blended composts is the most important part of Mel's Mix. A 33 -33 - 33% mix is optimum. Everything else is less than optimum. But, it doesn't mean it won't work.

Others may offer their suggestions tomorrow.
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Post  walshevak on 2/23/2014, 5:16 am

Ok, the book says that in foreign countries where vermiculite is not available, 100% blended compost is acceptable.  Compost is what feeds the plants.  The vermiculite and peat/coir are to make the mix easy to work with and more water retentive and have no nutritive value at all.  So the answer is a 50%compost, 25% coir/peat, 25% vermiculite is better than none at all.  But be aware you may not get optimal results.

 I'm in PI right now and have containers of 1/3 vermiculite and 2/3 compost.  The purchased compost is lousy and even with fish emulsion liquid I am getting almost nothing to grow.  Seeds sprout but never get a stem strong enough to hold up.  I shipped some dishes before I left the States and cushioned them with vermiculite and  bought the only bag of vermiculite on the entire island.  The latest containers are of all compost.  It is terrible.  It feels funny. Grainy and doesn't hold water well.  I planted some seed today.  We shall see if anything grows.  


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Post  torpedos on 2/23/2014, 8:50 am

i think mixing the peat/coir is what i will do. the nursery here has the vermiculite at over 35.00 for 4cf. but i did see the same size of perlite for 23.00. i might buy that and mix with vermiculite. i will for sure have one bed 1/3 everything. but the other might not be perfect. i can experiment in one bed and compare results. does anyone ever mix fertilizer into the soil when they start the mix. is that more harm than good?  thanks for helping out
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Post  rabbithutch on 2/23/2014, 9:21 pm

You should be able to get 4 cu. ft. bales of sphagnum peat moss at Lowes in San Antonio.  It sells for about $11-12 a bale.  As for vermiculite there are several places listed in the Austin area that sell it.  Look in the database in the Vermiculite board for sources.  I didn't check San Antonio because I'm closer to Austin.  There is a place in Burnet, TX, that the database says will order it for you for less than $30 a bag (I have no experience with them - just reporting what I found here.
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Post  Marc Iverson on 2/23/2014, 10:54 pm

@torpedos wrote:i think mixing the peat/coir is what i will do. the nursery here has the vermiculite at over 35.00 for 4cf. but i did see the same size of perlite for 23.00. i might buy that and mix with vermiculite. i will for sure have one bed 1/3 everything. but the other might not be perfect. i can experiment in one bed and compare results. does anyone ever mix fertilizer into the soil when they start the mix. is that more harm than good?  thanks for helping out

If your compost is decent, you won't need extra fertilizer right away. We were told in our master gardener's class that a too-rich soil mix is weathered better by more mature crops than by seedlings and really young plants. That kind of soil can produce too much growth too fast, which may look great but can lead to a weaker, too-tender plant.
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Post  camprn on 2/23/2014, 11:16 pm

Perlite is a perfectly acceptable alternative to vermiculite. If you have to go heavy on compost or sphagnum, I would go heavier on the compost. A topdressing of compost half way through the growing season will help your plants.

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