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Compost to Re-activate old Mels Mix

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Post  ralitaco 4/15/2015, 12:46 am

Like a lot of others, I am struggling to find 5 different composts commercially.
Here is what I have found available near me so far, several varieties of Mushroom and some manure. 
Please let me know which would be the best to use



1. NuLeaf is a sustainable organic compost made from leaves.
 Compost to Re-activate old Mels Mix Nuleaf10

2. Mushroom Compost 
Compost to Re-activate old Mels Mix Mushro10

3. Organic Compost...Manure and Compost
   (not quite the bag I have, but this is what came up with the sku)
Compost to Re-activate old Mels Mix Compos10

4. Black Kow
Compost to Re-activate old Mels Mix Compos11
5. Black Hen
Compost to Re-activate old Mels Mix Compos12

6. Moo Nure
Compost to Re-activate old Mels Mix Compos13

7. Premium Mushroom Compost
Compost to Re-activate old Mels Mix Compos14

8. Mushroom Compost
Compost to Re-activate old Mels Mix Compos15
9. Miracle Gro Compost
Compost to Re-activate old Mels Mix Compos16
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Post  Rahab222 4/15/2015, 1:03 am

Any five of those should work.  I don't care for the mushroom compost because it causes little mushrooms to grow in my boxes.  I used Hen Manure Compost, Black Kow, a Vegan Compost, Leaf Mold and Hummus mixed with manure.  My plants really seem to like the manure due to the nitrogen it adds.  Houston has been having a lot of rain this spring.  Between that and the manure, my garden has shot up like something out of Jack and the Bean Stalk.
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Post  sanderson 4/15/2015, 1:43 am

Ralitaco,  I would vote for one cow, one chicken, mushroom compost, Nuleaf and one other.  Have you read the reviews?  Did you already check for veggie Ecoscraps at Home Depot?  

Today I sifted and fine sifted bagged chicken manure made with wood shavings as the browns.  How do I know that?  Because, there was a LOT of wood shavings that were not composted.  Last thing I want to add is wood.  I have also screened cow manure and chicken manure and found rocks, plastic, glass, bottle caps.  I recommend making a 1/4" hardware cloth / metal mesh sifting box. It comes in handy, even for screening out precious Mel's Mix from root clumps.

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Post  slimbolen99 4/15/2015, 5:40 am

The Black Kow manure I got at Home Depot was surprisingly woody; they must compost it with lots of branches and such. Wasn't very impressed.
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Post  yolos 4/15/2015, 6:25 am

slimbolen99 wrote:The Black Kow manure I got at Home Depot was surprisingly woody; they must compost it with lots of branches and such. Wasn't very impressed.

That's strange, my Black Kow manure is very fine and no wood chunks at all.  I love it.  I usually get it from Home Depot.
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Post  jimmy cee 4/15/2015, 7:52 am

For anyone who is into S.F.G. using Mel's Mix I would suggest getting into composting your own over all.
It's such an important factor in this method that I believe it's overlooked to much.
And it isn't easy to say the least. It takes time searching, gathering, collecting all of this material, then comes the actual work of working the pile/piles.
The rewards received are worth it 1000 fold.
I read some where the material purchased is most a by product of others, this in itself led me to do my own.
As age creeps up on me I realize there are many not able to do this chore and must do the best they can.
However those who are able to, I strongly suggest you getting into the compost mode..
This is all my personal opinion and I approve it ... cheers ...
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Post  llama momma 4/15/2015, 8:48 am

You said it very well,  Jimmy.  

There is a balance between how many nice organic beds you want and how much quality compost can you make to sustain it. 
My humble opinion is I'd rather see someone skip an entire growing season and get their supremely made homemade compost in full production first.  Then enjoy an optimum growing season first time out.  It's unfortunate to rely on questionable bagged products and really not know what you're getting. Figuring out later on what went wrong and how to fix it would be such a hassle to me.
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Post  yolos 4/15/2015, 9:44 am

I make my own compost.  At least three bins a year.  But my ingredients are all vegetative.  Therefore, when I make my Mels Mix or add compost to the old MM, I add a little manure of some sort.  Usually, Black Cow, Worm Castings, and/or whatever is handy.
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Post  ralitaco 4/15/2015, 10:14 am

Thanks everyone for your replies.

I know I should make my own compoost but never had and hadn't made any plans to do so in the near future. However, I do understand that it would be the best compost I could get. Maybe after I get this first bed planted and make my other beds, I will look into doing the compost pile or bin.

As far as wood in the compost...that explains a lot. When I was HAND mixing the MM in my TT, I found lots of wood, roots, some rocks, etc. I will definately take the advice of screening the stuff I just bought. 

I found one more in my area:
Aged Bark Compost
Compost to Re-activate old Mels Mix Compos17

So trying to figure out my 5 different types of compost.

Any brand of the Cow manure would count as 1 of the 5.
Same with the Mushroom, even though it's not the best. 

What about Turkey vs Hen? Would they be essentially the same or would they count as 2 of my 5?

Same question for the Leaves and Bark? 
Than what about Miracle Gro's - made from ????? 

What about Compost Tea? There is an organic/hydroponic garden supply store that sells compost tea mixes AND they used to have some made in the store and you could get a gallon for free each visit.


Last edited by ralitaco on 4/15/2015, 10:16 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : spelling)
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Post  sanderson 4/15/2015, 1:28 pm

Ralitaco,  Just my 3 ¢. Finding 5 different sources of compost is often difficult the first year.  I totally understand wanting to get going.  The closer you follow Mel's directions, the closer your Mix will succeed in producing a good garden.  That said, you can choose what ever you want for the 5th compost ingredient, as long as you understand you may need to supplement as the plants get bigger.

I already gave my vote of items you listed above: 1.  cow, 2.  poultry, 3.  mushroom, 4.  leaf, and one other.  Negative on the bark.  The 5th one other should not contain peat moss, at least in any quantity.  It's hard to find a touted compost without peat moss.  I think the Blue Striped bag of Kellogg's doesn't have peat moss, but it does have wood fines that will take maybe a year to finish breaking down.

Save the compost tea for fertilizing later in the season IF it seems to be needed.

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Post  Windmere 4/15/2015, 2:10 pm

yolos wrote:
slimbolen99 wrote:The Black Kow manure I got at Home Depot was surprisingly woody; they must compost it with lots of branches and such. Wasn't very impressed.

That's strange, my Black Kow manure is very fine and no wood chunks at all.  I love it.  I usually get it from Home Depot.
Ditto for me.  The Black Kow from all available outlets in my area (Home Depot, Lowes and a Feed and Seed store) was excellent in consistency.  It's on my "must have" list.  Slimbolen99, perhaps what you got was just a glitch in your area.  Depending on where you got it, you might be able to bring a partially full bag or even an empty bag to exchange or get a refund.
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Post  sanderson 4/15/2015, 2:27 pm

Slimbolen, I've gotten to the point of screening all cow and poultry manure for wood pieces and all the other interesting things I have found in the bags. Shocked I just do it automatically, now.

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Post  ralitaco 4/15/2015, 6:04 pm

sanderson wrote:Ralitaco,  Just my 3 ¢. Finding 5 different sources of compost is often difficult the first year.  I totally understand wanting to get going.  The closer you follow Mel's directions, the closer your Mix will succeed in producing a good garden.  That said, you can choose what ever you want for the 5th compost ingredient, as long as you understand you may need to supplement as the plants get bigger.
Good advice. I will most likely start composting this summer, if I decide to keep gardening...which I plan to do but like you said, I want to get going.

sanderson wrote:I already gave my vote of items you listed above: 1.  cow, 2.  poultry, 3.  mushroom, 4.  leaf, and one other.  Negative on the bark.  The 5th one other should not contain peat moss, at least in any quantity.  It's hard to find a touted compost without peat moss.  I think the Blue Striped bag of Kellogg's doesn't have peat moss, but it does have wood fines that will take maybe a year to finish breaking down.
I definately already counted your previous vote  Smile and I really appreciate your input...you are the expert
I just was confused whether or not the turkey and hen compost could be counted as 2, but it sounds like both are considered "poultry"

Thanks for the heads up on the peat moss...the stuff at walmart has it in there (I looked at it and took a picture)
Compost to Re-activate old Mels Mix Compos18

sanderson wrote:Save the compost tea for fertilizing later in the season IF it seems to be needed.
Ok, sounds good, thank you.

So far here is my plan: 1. Kow, 2. Mushroom, 3. Hen, 4. Leaf 5. TBD
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Post  walshevak 4/15/2015, 6:11 pm

ralitaco wrote:

What about Compost Tea? There is an organic/hydroponic garden supply store that sells compost tea mixes AND they used to have some made in the store and you could get a gallon for free each visit.
Progressive Gardens in Wilminton stopped giving away the compost tea, but now sell it.  I've used it and it is good stuff.  I also make my own using my worm castings.   Worm castings can count as part of your compost.  

Farmer's Supply on Oleander not far from Independence Mall has Dr. Campbell's Pig manure soil amendment.  I used it as one of my 5.

My first year mix was black kow, black hen, dr. campbells, mushroom and forest fines composts.  I had a great growth.  Now I mix up the same plus a seafood blend  as my base blend and add it to my homemade compost which is heavy in leaves and kitchen scraps.  Plus I now have a worm bin for some castings and worm tea.

If you do start a compost pile, check with the local seafood market about crab and shrimp shells and add to the pile.  Takes a long time to break down but they add a lot of minerals to the mix.  Which reminds me, I need to check my source. Razz   

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Post  ralitaco 4/15/2015, 7:10 pm

Just found out from Miracle Gro - Chat Session, that their Nature's Care - Really Good Compost contains: compost, peat, forest products, pine bark, and sphagnum peat.
So looks like this is a bust too.
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Post  Mikesgardn 4/15/2015, 7:16 pm

Ralitaco,
You wouldn't be the first person who had a hard time getting 5 sources of quality compost, so don't be discouraged.   I admit to using miracle-gro when I first started my square foot garden because all I had was one source of compost.  Later, I made my own compost from leaves and kitchen scraps.
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Post  ralitaco 4/15/2015, 7:30 pm

walshevak wrote:Progressive Gardens in Wilminton stopped giving away the compost tea, but now sell it.  I've used it and it is good stuff.
That's too bad because Free is good. Do you know do they sell it already mixed because their powder or whatever was very expensive?

walshevak wrote:I also make my own using my worm castings.   Worm castings can count as part of your compost.
Hmmmm...YOU make worm castings AND you are moving near me...Hmmm.
"Ummm, Hey neighbor, can I borrow a cup of worm castings" 
Not something I ever thought I'd say. Very Happy

walshevak wrote:Farmer's Supply on Oleander not far from Independence Mall has Dr. Campbell's Pig manure soil amendment.  I used it as one of my 5.
I know just where they are. As a matter of fact, that is where I got my peat moss and vermiculite when I started this SFG adventure. 
I was wondering why there was no Pig manure in the area when there are so many hog farms near by. Good to know...I think I found #5.

walshevak wrote:My first year mix was black kow, black hen, dr. campbells, mushroom and forest fines composts.  I had a great growth.  Now I mix up the same plus a seafood blend  as my base blend and add it to my homemade compost which is heavy in leaves and kitchen scraps.  Plus I now have a worm bin for some castings and worm tea.
If you do start a compost pile, check with the local seafood market about crab and shrimp shells and add to the pile.  Takes a long time to break down but they add a lot of minerals to the mix.
Good info. there are lots of those up here, I will have to keep that in mind. 

Kay you sure know your crap
 rofl darn funny  
Ok, I couldn't help myself...all men are just 12 year old boys in big bodies.

Seriously,
Thank you to everyone who has chimed in. I feel like I am much better off now.
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Post  ralitaco 4/15/2015, 7:42 pm

Thanks, Mike. I think I will be good now.


  1. Cow
  2. Mushroom
  3. Hen
  4. Leave
  5. Pig


Hopefully that will be a winning combination.

Here is a picture of the Compost and Cow Manure I bought from Lowe's last night.
It was not the Black Kow brand that everyone mentions and the bag says Compost and Cow Manure not just Cow manure compost.
Compost to Re-activate old Mels Mix Compos19
Here's a link to their site. I am guessing it's the "Organic Compost"

If any of you experts think I should not use it, let me know. I haven't opened it yet and I have no problem returning it and getting the Black Kow. I picked this one because it was less expensive and a smaller bag - I didn't think I needed a 50# bag.


Last edited by ralitaco on 4/15/2015, 7:46 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : add link)
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Post  nosmok 4/15/2015, 9:05 pm

I composted with 2 barrels of kitchen scraps, farmers market refuse and grass clippings as well as worm casting and worm tea, but still needed a yard of mixed leaf and cotton hull compost to raise the level of my beds back to where they belong.  Used an drill auger to work it together.  Hope this combo works well.  So far my plants look happy and waiting to see if my seeds sprout.
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Post  jimmy cee 4/15/2015, 9:27 pm

On a second note, just remembering my first season with SFG..not having any compost at all, I picked up about 25 five gallon buckets at our local recycle center. Asking the MGR what was it made from, he told me lawn clippings and brush.
This stuff looked really nice, I took it home screened every bit of it and added the following.
old mushroom manure, chikitty doo doo, biochar, some bagged cow manure that I had left over.
About 1 quart of these items with recycles compost to make up 1 five gallon bucket..
I made up the mix and that first season I had wonderful results. Recycles compost with a few additives could be a good item for some.
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Post  sanderson 4/15/2015, 9:46 pm

NO! Not an expert. Mel, for coming up with the recipe for Mel's Mix, and the collective smarts and experiences from the Forum.

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Post  ralitaco 4/15/2015, 10:06 pm

nosmok wrote:...a yard of mixed leaf and cotton hull compost to raise the level of my beds back to where they belong.
Where do you get these crazy composts...all I've heard of was kitchen scraps, grass and leaves and manure. Wow.
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Post  ralitaco 4/15/2015, 10:08 pm

jimmy cee wrote:...I picked up about 25 five gallon buckets at our local recycle center. Asking the MGR what was it made from, he told me  lawn clippings and brush.

I don't know of a local recyle center here that does composting, but I am going to inquire. Thanks for the tip
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Post  ralitaco 4/15/2015, 10:11 pm

sanderson wrote:NO!  Not an expert.  Mel, for coming up with the recipe for Mel's Mix, and the collective smarts and experiences from the Forum.  
praise Sounds like you're and EXPERT to me!!!!  praise
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Post  ralitaco 4/17/2015, 9:28 pm

Compost Update...

Here are some pictures of the NuLeaf compost.
It was very wet and heavy, but was a very dark color.
Compost to Re-activate old Mels Mix 2015-020 Compost to Re-activate old Mels Mix 2015-021

I screened it using 1/2" hardware cloth and only had a few sticks.
Compost to Re-activate old Mels Mix 2015-031

So what do you think, is this Leaf / yard waste compost ok to use as 1 of my 5?

PS - I found this very funny for LEAF compost
Compost to Re-activate old Mels Mix 2015-024


Last edited by ralitaco on 4/17/2015, 9:49 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : rotate picture)
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