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Help! Almost all seedlings have died using Mel's MIx Toplef10Help! Almost all seedlings have died using Mel's MIx 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! Almost all seedlings have died using Mel's MIx I22gcj10Help! Almost all seedlings have died using Mel's MIx 14dhcg10

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Help! Almost all seedlings have died using Mel's MIx

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Help! Almost all seedlings have died using Mel's MIx Empty Help! Almost all seedlings have died using Mel's MIx

Post  sgeades 5/4/2010, 1:00 am

Hi all,

I'm new to SFG and am so distressed how my seedlings are not doing well.
I purchased some Mel's MIx (with Mel's picture on the front) made by Grow well. I started my seeds in vermiculite and then transplanted them to mels mix which I had moistened and then watered from below. Any way the seedlings seemed to start off great but then start they yellow, leaves on my lettuce start curling under, and then turn brown and die. I noticed that the mix has a good amount of of solid things like twigs and other things that have not decomposed but are also not identifiable. Anyway...I thought maybe it was just my transplanting and maybe I snipped too much off the bottom of the roots (Mel says to snip off 1/3 if the roots are quite long). So I then decided to plant some seeds directly into the Mel's mix. They sprouted and seemed to be doing well but the same thing is happening as with the first batch. Some of the stems are leaning or drooping slightly as if the stem is going "mushy" or something. I did a search and thought I was watering too much, but the soil doesn't feel too wet when I put my finger down in the soil, and the top is even drying out and I'm seeing strange grayish areas that look almost like mildew but not quite. Also the level of soil on some of them has dropped down since I first put the soil in the 4 packs. Some of them by quite a bit. I hardened off some lettuce plants that were doing OK despite the curling the leaves. When I transplanted out onto some boxes on my railing (deck) they completely died within two days. The leaves went slimey and they flopped over and died.

Did I get some bad Mel's mix or is something I'm doing wrong???? I got the mix from my local store and they said it originally came from Arizona. I'm in Utah. I called the square foot gardening in Utah and they said this company that making their product is new and that it contains 12 different ingrediants in it. It's supposed to be good stuff. The picture that some one else posted of the bag of Mel's mix (available at some Lowe's) is not the same as I have. I'm not really familiar with Mels mix but when mine gets wet it seems to get real dense or heavy and mat together. Is this what it's supposed to do?

Is there anyone out there who has started their seeds using the same Mel's mix that I have??? Are your plants doing Ok?

Anybody have any advice for me? I'm actually really scared to plant any more in this Mel's mix (which is bummer since I paid $18.00 per bag and bought 4 bags.)

Thanks a million!
Shelly
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Post  plb 5/4/2010, 8:22 am

I'd be tempted to buy a very small bag of potting compost. Then sprout some seeds in vermiculite, and plant half in the Mel's Mix and half in the other potting compost. Treat the two batches the same way, and see if it makes a difference in the way the plants grow. If the ones in the potting compost do fine, you know there's something wrong with the mix you bought, and you should ask for a refund. If they both fail again, then it's something else - could you still be giving them too much/too little water? Not enough light? Could the environment be too cold, or too hot, for the plant you're trying to grow?
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Post  martha 5/4/2010, 11:59 am

Same as above - although I am not familiar with potting compost. I use Hoffman's Seed Starting mix - but I would definitely do a half and half sample.

I know vermiculite alone is a classic seed starting medium - I have no experience with it and it intimidates me because I worry about disturbing the roots at transplant time. but that is me being a coward, not a problem with vermiculite.

Keep trying, keep posting!
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Post  sgeades 5/10/2010, 5:49 pm

I did what someone suggested above I restarted some seeds using a different mix besides the store bought mel's mix and they have thicker stems and darker green colored leaves. I decided to return the store bought mel's mix and make my own. The look of the final product is very different. I think there is either not enough vermiculite in the new mel's mix by Grow well or they used the fine or medium grade and not the coarse.

I will repost this. I'd hate for someone to buy a bunch of starts at the nursery only to have all their plants not thrive.

Pass this info along! Maybe I just got a bad batch, who knows.

Shelly in Utah
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Post  Chopper 5/10/2010, 6:00 pm

Well, that is pretty disturbing. Are the Lowes bags made by the same manufacturer? I was planning on getting some in a few days as my vermiculite supply is so far away. Bummer. Would love for someone at SFGs HQ to pipe in and give us any updates or info they have.
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Post  Retired Member 1 5/10/2010, 6:30 pm

Call the Foundation and let them know or send Adam (Admin) a PM. To find the Foundation's phone #, click on the orange "SFG" in the bar above. There should be a contact number.
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Post  timwardell 5/10/2010, 10:30 pm

Most county extension offices will do soil testing if you send them a sample. I wonder what the lab results on your store bought Mel's Mix might reveal.
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Post  donnainzone5 5/11/2010, 10:40 am

I recently used a bag of Lowe's Mel's Mix to start some squash seeds, and they're thriving.

When I first threw in the trowel on amending my garden soil two or three years ago and began using homemade Mel's Mix, I didn't water it thoroughly before planting, and my results were similar to yours.
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Post  silverbug 5/11/2010, 3:14 pm

Strange!!! I didn't water before I planted, and I would NEVER dream of chopping off a third of a seedling's roots, but, that's me, and I clearly skimmed the book as I don't recall reading that. I hope your new mix works great!
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Post  mckr3441 5/11/2010, 3:30 pm

I just sent a note off to Alan at SFGF. He should know about this problem if he doesn't already. I'm pretty certain we'll hear from him give you some feedback.

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Post  SFGHQSTAFF 5/11/2010, 4:35 pm

Howdy Y'all,
Thanks for letting me know when things don't go well. We pride ourselves in taking care of you guys. A little history might help here... Last year, we started toying with the idea of putting a mix together (specifically due to the lack of vermiculite availability and finding 5 kinds of compost) so we hired a company (2 actually), and we told them how to make it and did a small localized test run. We found out pretty quickly that things were not working out well. One of the companies substituted some of what we asked for 'similar' ingredients (they thought) and plants did not grow well. Another problem we had was that some of the mushroom compost that one of the companies was using was substandard and not very well composted, so people's yards were growing mushrooms!

We stopped the sale of the mix until we could get all the issues worked out. We ended up not working with either of the companies (as they would not stand behind their products). After tireless searching, we found our current distributor. By the way, the reason the bags look different at depot stores and nurseries is that we have two different mixes, one for depot type stores with the basic mix and one for the nurseries, which requested a more premium mix. (we just added a few more ingredients, such as kelp meal)

Anyway, before we would sell this Mix to the general public, we wanted to test it (we were not going to have a repeat of last year!), so months before we started selling it, we did a lot of testing on the mix. We planted indoor gardens and made sure this would work. The owners of the manufacturing company actually planted gardens in their own homes to make sure it would work great. After making some small adjustments, we finally had a good mix, which is what we are selling right now.

Now, one of the biggest reasons we went with the company we are using is that we know that in processing the mix, it would be impossible to keep perfect control of everything (with hundreds of thousands of bags sold, companies have to get creative in getting supplies. When one supplier runs out of coarse vermiculite, the company has to find another, then another, etc, same with peat and the various composts. So the mix is correct, but the suppliers change frequently depending on who has how much available at the time (this is how most soil companies work), so we knew that even with quality control measures, it is still possible that every once in a while, one supplier will get through with a small amount of product that maybe has not be composted perfectly yet or does not have the full nutritional value that it needs (or like last year, had too much salt from a couple of the composts and the high salinity made it hard for plants to grow past a certain stage, which we then had to leech out with tons of water!)

So our manufacturer has a 'Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back' specifically requested by us so that if a batch did not come out perfect for whatever reason, you guys would be taken care of. With hundreds of thousands of bags sold and extensive testing, I can tell you that we have a good mix (I have it my own back yard and my plants are doing great!) However, we do know that every so often, we might get a small batch that has some issue, so we are prepared for it. If you guys have eliminated all other causes for why your plants might be having problems, and you conclude that it must be the soil, call our manufacturer at: 860-657-8736 and you will be taken care of.

I know it’s a long explanation, but I wanted you all to know how important you guys are to us and how much work we are doing to insure that this wonderful system works for every one of you! We do all we can to make sure you always get a good quality product from us. Sorry for being long winded, but I wanted you guys to have a small taste of what we do behind the scenes to take care of you all. Hope this helps! Alan
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Post  camprn 5/11/2010, 4:41 pm

Thanks for this Alan! Very Happy
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Post  southern gardener 8/24/2012, 2:48 am

Shelly: Did your plants ever do well? What ended up happening?
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Post  camprn 8/24/2012, 8:11 am

Sadly this thread is well over 2 years old and the original OP has not visited in the Forum for the last 4 months. We may never know.

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Post  southern gardener 8/24/2012, 11:54 am

oh shoot. I thought it was May of this year..... Sad
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Post  walshevak 8/24/2012, 8:51 pm

So did I, especially since we have had forum members have similiar problems this year.

Kay

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Post  bwaynef 8/25/2012, 7:27 am

camprn wrote:Sadly this thread is well over 2 years old and the original OP has not visited in the Forum for the last 4 months. We may never know.

Any chance the Year of the post could be added to the forum template so that we can see that ourselves (on first glance).
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Post  camprn 8/25/2012, 7:40 am

bwaynef wrote:
camprn wrote:Sadly this thread is well over 2 years old and the original OP has not visited in the Forum for the last 4 months. We may never know.

Any chance the Year of the post could be added to the forum template so that we can see that ourselves (on first glance).
All posts are dated. Very Happy

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Post  southern gardener 8/25/2012, 12:26 pm

camprn wrote:
bwaynef wrote:
camprn wrote:Sadly this thread is well over 2 years old and the original OP has not visited in the Forum for the last 4 months. We may never know.

Any chance the Year of the post could be added to the forum template so that we can see that ourselves (on first glance).
All posts are dated. Very Happy

sgeades on Mon 3 May - 22:00, they are dated, but don't give the year, or at least on my end they don't
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Post  yolos 8/25/2012, 12:35 pm

Mine gives the year.

by southern gardener on 8/24/2012, 11:54 am
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Post  southern gardener 8/25/2012, 12:51 pm

yolos wrote:Mine gives the year.

by southern gardener on 8/24/2012, 11:54 am

That's weird! I wonder why mine doesn't? Must be some "preference" thing? I'm not really computer savvy! lol Sounds like others don't either. hmmmmmmm

OK...I went to my profile, preferences and clicked on a date preference, now the entire date shows up! Never knew that! So for the people who are seeing the same way, you can change yours too Smile Have a great day!


Last edited by southern gardener on 8/25/2012, 12:54 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : i changed a preference, now it works)
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Post  RoOsTeR 8/25/2012, 1:14 pm

Most likely you don't have it set to display that way in your profile settings. Go to profile>preferences, then all the way to the bottom and adjust your date format to show the year...or not.

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