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Compost to Re-activate old Mels Mix

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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 - Page 2 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 - Page 2 2015-020 Compost to Re-activate old Mels Mix - Page 2 2015-021

I screened it using 1/2" hardware cloth and only had a few sticks.
Compost to Re-activate old Mels Mix - Page 2 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 - Page 2 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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Post  ralitaco 4/17/2015, 9:48 pm

The rest of the bagged compost:

Obviously I took Sandersons advice and screened all my bagged compost. Here are my results

The Black Hen fertilizer all went through the 1/2" screen just about without any help from me. It was very dry also.

The Mushroom Compost was damp and it screened fine. there was just a hand full of sticks, etc.
Compost to Re-activate old Mels Mix - Page 2 2015-030

The Cow Manure and Compost by Timberline was damp and packed into the bag. After screening it I had about a quart of twigs, bark, etc. that didn't go through the screen. And there was a bunch that made it through the screen too.
Compost to Re-activate old Mels Mix - Page 2 2015-026 Compost to Re-activate old Mels Mix - Page 2 2015-027 Compost to Re-activate old Mels Mix - Page 2 2015-028

Next time I think I'll try the black kow brand or Moo nure
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Post  sanderson 4/18/2015, 1:26 am

Ralitaco,  My 2 ¢.  Nuleaf looks good.  If you really want to be shocked at what is in the bags, use a 1/4" mesh.  I still get fine wood chips.

Have you found a 5th compost? If not, maybe 4 can get you going. 1 cow, 1 poultry, 1 1/2 mushroom, and 1 1/2 Nuleaf. You may or may not have to top dress but at least you can get going. Oh, a handful of kelp meal and a handful or or more of worm casting per batch.

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Post  ralitaco 4/18/2015, 8:16 am

sanderson wrote:Ralitaco,  My 2¢.  Nuleaf looks good.
Great. Your 2¢ is worth a $1,000,000 to me. I am glad to hear that because it's only 86¢ per 8 quart bag.
I will finish sifting it and mix it up

sanderson wrote:If you really want to be shocked at what is in the bags, use a 1/4" mesh.  I still get fine wood chips.
I think I will get some for the future but I had the 1/2" already from where I was sifting a burn pile.

sanderson wrote:Have you found a 5th compost?

Yes - I think so...Walshevak said a farmer supply store nearby had Dr. Campbell's Pig manure soil amendment. I am heading there later.

sanderson wrote:Oh, a handful of kelp meal and a handful or or more of worm casting per batch.
What the heck is kelp meal and where does one get worm casting? are these available commercially?
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Post  sanderson 4/18/2015, 7:16 pm

kelp4less.com is one source. I have bought kelp meal from them twice. Now I have some seaweed compost going so I won't need to buy. I also bought some crab flakes and used 1/2 teaspoon per square. This site has all kinds of things to sell, so when visiting this site, remember that you are using soil-less ANSFG with 5 composts. You don't need A-Z azomite, bud hardener, amino acids, glacial rock dust, limestone, liquid gold, etc. What a Face And some of things like blood meal can be bought locally at a nursery.

craig's list for local worm castings or eBay. I looked on Craig's List for compost in East NC and found several manure sources, one was 2-year old horse manure.

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Post  ralitaco 4/18/2015, 11:39 pm

sanderson wrote:kelp4less.com is one source. I have bought kelp meal from them twice. Now I have some seaweed compost going so I won't need to buy.
I will have to remember to go to the beach and get some seaweed when I start my compost pile.

sanderson wrote:craig's list for local worm castings or eBay. I looked on Craig's List for compost in East NC and found several manure sources, one was 2-year old horse manure.
I looked on CL and saw the same things, but all those places are over 2 hours away. I even saw an ad there for 6 year composted horse manure for $5 for a 50# bag.

I also found Worm Castings at Farmer Supply in Wilmington in 2 different size bags.
Compost to Re-activate old Mels Mix - Page 2 2015-042

They also had some "Soil Conditioner" with unknown ingredients. Has anyone ever heard of it or used it? I found their website but didn't list anything.
Compost to Re-activate old Mels Mix - Page 2 2015-043

I also found another compost at Pender Pines, but forgot to take a picture of the front of the bag. But here is their ingredient list. I thought it was different because of the hulls or shells but it does have peat moss. Any thoughts on using it?
Compost to Re-activate old Mels Mix - Page 2 2015-045

I know I already have my 5 different composts, but just wanted to keep my options open. Thanks y'all
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Post  sanderson 4/18/2015, 11:46 pm

Nature's Choice - Their motto is "bark with the best." Not a compost.

Stay away from "top soil, soil conditioner, soil amendments" and the like. They are for dirt.

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Post  ralitaco 4/18/2015, 11:58 pm

sanderson wrote:Nature's Choice - Their motto is "bark with the best."  Not a compost.

Stay away from "top soil, soil conditioner, soil amendments" and the like.  They are for dirt.
Great. Thank you.
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Post  emsmama 5/28/2015, 3:07 am

Thank you for all the comments on the 5 different composts. This is my second year of SFG & I have been wondering how to keep the MM ingredients potent. What I haven't seen in the advice is how much of each of these 5 composts does one need to add to MM...
Equal amounts? Enough to raise the soil level to optimum? Are any of these harsh enough to cause burning of the roots? I am assuming at the beginning of the season. Are there other times that would provide optimal benefit?? How many times during the season does it need to be replenished? Is there a formula somewhere to follow?
Sorry to be so full of questions, just want to do it "right" Thanks in advance for any advice you can all provide me. thanks thinking geek
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Post  Razed Bed 5/28/2015, 9:45 am

Don't take this as the gospel on Mel's Mix, but here is how we do it.

Whenever we harvest a crop from a square, we immediately add back two cups of compost to that square along with a half-cup of Azomite (which is not technically SFG, but it boosts the mineral content and flavor of your crops).

We are at a point where we have more than enough compost and do not have to purchase any.  If you still need to purchase compost, then my advice is to use equal amounts of at least 5 different blends.

You live in Eau Claire, and I can attest first-hand that you can save big money at your excellent Menard's there on the west side off Hwy 12, even if I am biased, since one of my grand nephews is a manager there.  My wife's family are all from Dunn County in a tiny city north of Menomonie and south of Turtle Lake.  My brother-in-law gets a lot of garden ingredients at Mill's Fleet Farm in Menomonie, what he calls the Man Mall.

Living in perfect soil country, you might also consider giving the original SFG method a try.  My brother-in-law's soil is as black as night and full of nutrients.  I still use the original SFG methods in a 60 x 2 run, and it saves me big money; I don't have to pay for a gym membership, because I get all the workout I need.
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Post  camprn 5/28/2015, 11:30 am

The only ingredient that needs to be potent is the compost.

MEl's Mix is a starting point only and your mix will never be the same as it was the day you mixed it.

Adding QUALITY composts to the mix is required to feed the new plants.

Add as much compost as the bed will receive without overflowing.
The advice of a simple trowel full of compost per square is just not enough to feed any plant for a significant amount of time.

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Post  emsmama 5/28/2015, 11:51 am

Thanks for your input. More questions???

I thought I started with the "Original SFG" last year using just the bags with the same ingredients MM, except substituting perlite for vermiculite, purchased from Chippewa Valley Growers on Hwy 12 between Eau Claire & Fall Creek. Most of my things flourished.

Now this year my research has everybody talking about adding 5 different kinds of compost to MM. Why?? I am afraid to add anything that might ruin my original investment of 20+ bags. In thinking about the "different" sources for compost, is cow manure from Georgia not different from cow manure from lets say Maine? Also the proportions of compost vary widely (ie 12#s per 100 sq feet vs 5-8 # per sq foot from 2 different sources of cow manure!) How do these equate when trying to use equal amounts??

I am likely over-analyzing everything...need some guidance as to what is "must do" & what "would be nice", and what to avoid for sure.

Is there any chance of burning the roots of my plants no matter how much compost I add...what is a happy medium?

Signed...confused in Eau Claire! Rolling Eyes
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Post  emsmama 5/28/2015, 11:55 am

Thanks! Now its beginning to make sense!
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Post  sanderson 5/28/2015, 3:08 pm

Add 5-way blended compost as needed to restore the original height. This could be 2 trowels in a square where 60 day radishes were grown to a shovel full in a square where long growing season plants were grown. You'll get the hang. When pulling spent plants, try to shake out all the MM from the roots back into the square. That helps keep the original vermiculite/perlite and peat moss in the beds. As Camprn said, "MEl's Mix is a starting point only and your mix will never be the same as it was the day you mixed it." It gets better!

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Post  Turan 5/28/2015, 9:14 pm

emsmama wrote:

Is there any chance of burning the roots of my plants no matter how much compost I add...what is a happy medium?

"Finished" compost won't burn your crop roots. YOu can plant direct in it and many plants will thrive. Ever had pumpkins erupt out of the compost pile? Think that a third compost is the original formula for MM, you will not be adding anything like that much when revitalizing a square or bed. That said,,, it is never a bad idea to thoroughly mix it into the mix already in the bed so it is not concentrated.

Yup, you are over analyzing. There is large amounts of leeway in all this, not like adding baking powder to a cake.

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Post  ralitaco 5/29/2015, 7:50 am

Turan wrote:Yup, you are over analyzing.  There is large amounts of leeway in all this, not like adding baking powder to a cake.
That is a great analogy. Some things need to be exact to get the desired results but other things are variable. While you need to be fairly precise with the baking powder, you don't need to be with the icing.

I too tend to over-think, over-analyze this also because I am a "follow the rules" kind of guy and I have a hard time remembering that there is NO "one size fits all" answer for SFG or anything else for that matter.

I am trying to grasp the concept that gardening is supposed to be an enjoyable hobby not a strict, regimented chore. To that end, when I transferred the 5 year old MM from my ground beds to my table top beds, it was woefully low. I used all of the compost I had mixed from my store bought bags (I haven't started composting at home yet either) and still was about 2 inches below the top of the box. As I was sifting the MM, I didn't see too much vermiculite because I used medium originally so I added about 1/2 cubic foot of coars vermiculite (it's what I had left from the batch of MM I made my mom) in each box...still too low. I also didn't see much peat moss (not that I would really know what it was supposed to look like 5 years later) So I got some more peat moss and added that, about 1.5 cubic feet per box. That brought the level up to the top of the box.
Time will tell if I can grow anything to maturity in those boxes. I have no idea what all that peat did to the pH or if I even have a 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 blend any more. But I did get some things planted and I am enjoying watching them grow. I have some sugar peas that just popped out yesterday, so I am hopeful that all will be well.

From what I can glean from this forum is that a minimum of 5 sources of composted matter will provide you with enough nutrients to produce many good veggies. The commercially available sources are tough to find 5 different, but I think cow manure compost, hen manure and mushroom compost are available most every where. (In your example of using cow manure from 2 different areas of the country would only count as 1 of the 5 though)
Most folks on this forum make their own compost and depending on what they add to the pile, they get their 5+ sources. (I am not sure how they count the variety of kitchen scraps...if it is just one or if it is more than that)

ralitaco
ralitaco

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Join date : 2010-04-04
Location : Hampstead, NC

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