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i haven't fertilized, using fresh MM Toplef10i haven't fertilized, using fresh MM 1zd3ho10

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i haven't fertilized, using fresh MM

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Marc Iverson
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Post  Scorpio Rising 6/24/2015, 10:12 pm

This is my debut garden with fresh MM in my boxes.  I haven't fertilized and plants are doing great.  Do I have to fertilize?  SFG 2nd Ed. says just put a scoop of good compost in after each planting, right?  Or is that from the first one?

Going like gamgbusters out there though.  If I could figure out the picture thing I would!
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Post  Marc Iverson 6/25/2015, 12:08 am

If your MM isn't coming up short and your plants are doing fine, don't assume you have to fertilize during the growing season. Or ever use anything besides some compost after each season at all. Good MM is already rich in nutrients, and a good balanced compost to refresh your MM after the season is like heaven to plants.

Some seed companies and other advisors suggest fertilizing at certain intervals, but they do it without knowing what your soil is like. Usually, soil/growing mediums aren't as good as MM is, nor as water-rententive and well-textured. Other people may need to fertilize more than you, and that may be what the average person with average soil needs.

That's not to say MM will never disappoint; the variation in MM that people create is huge. But until something is broke, you might not want to fix it -- because you don't even know what baseline you're working from yet.

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Post  sanderson 6/25/2015, 4:18 am

Marc Iverson wrote:If your MM isn't coming up short and your plants are doing fine, don't assume you have to fertilize during the growing season.  Or ever use anything besides some compost after each season at all.  Good MM is already rich in nutrients, and a good balanced compost to refresh your MM after the season is like heaven to plants.  

Some seed companies and other advisors suggest fertilizing at certain intervals, but they do it without knowing what your soil is like.  Usually, soil/growing mediums aren't as good as MM is, nor as water-rententive and well-textured.  Other people may need to fertilize more than you, and that may be what the average person with average soil needs.

That's not to say MM will never disappoint; the variation in MM that people create is huge.  But until something is broke, you might not want to fix it -- because you don't even know what baseline you're working from yet.

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Post  Scorpio Rising 6/25/2015, 7:34 am

Right, marc, I don't know my baseline.  I have never grown in MM before, and the plants look great.  My peppers have set some fruit, and cherry tomatoes.  Potatoes are HUGE, Brandywine tomatoes have tons of blooms, beans a mile high, have harvested radishes, spinach and some cut and come again swiss chard.  So I think I am gonna let it ride and see how this goes.

I need to get some good sources for my compost, however because I didn't pay as much attention to that in the start up.  My containers are going to need topped off because they are bottom filled with leaces that are hopefully (and seem to be by the looks of things) breaking down.
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Post  Marc Iverson 6/25/2015, 2:14 pm

Sounds like you're having very nice results.

Around here many if not most of my neighbors don't go to stores for compost, but get it from the County composting programs by the pick-up truck full. It varies from miserable to outstanding depending which compost you select and how much you're willing to pay. I hope you find some good sources, and keep your eye out for sources besides stores.

We even have people selling llama and worm and rabbit poop at our local farmers market.
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Post  Razed Bed 6/25/2015, 2:32 pm

Think of Mel's Mix as a healthy alternative to the crappy potting mixes that come with 4-months of slow-release fertilizer.

Your compost is your fertilizer, and it is 1/3 of your mix. 

As long as you remember to add more compost with each new planting, you should be in great shape.

I do not add store-bought fertilizer, but I do apply compost tea every 2 weeks by foliar spraying and then watering.  The foliar spray acts as a great natural insecticide if your compost tea has a high chitinase content which you can get with high quality worm castings.

I also add Azomite to our mix, about 1 cup per square before planting or re-planting.  It adds every mineral to the soil, which you won't visually see any difference from Mel's Mix without the Azomite.  However, the minerals add nutrition and taste to the vegetables and fruit.

I have also added Sea-90 into my compost pile in the past.

In my compost tea, I add succanat, nutritional yeast flakes, Bragg's liquid aminos, alfalfla meal, and humus from our woods to feed the bacteria and fungi that charges the tea.

The number one thing though is to make sure this stays a stress-relieving hobby and not a stressful second job.  The moment I start losing sleep or get the shakes from my garden behaving badly, I am headed back to the golf course.  Of course, I left the golf course and started gardening for the same reason.
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Post  boffer 6/25/2015, 3:24 pm

My experience concurs with your assessment of good MM.  

But I have a question about the use of Azomite:

Razed Bed wrote:...the minerals add nutrition and taste to the vegetables and fruit...

How were you able to determine this?

I experimented with Azomite, and didn't get a difference in taste.  But I don't have a clue how to go about determining the nutritional values of our crops.

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Post  Scorpio Rising 6/25/2015, 6:16 pm

I know me, and this will have to be easy-button style gardening!  I have never heard of Azomite.  I am very rural here, so I think I just need to reach out to some friends and see about various pooh....lol

Horse, cow, chicken for sure....maybe bunny pooh too!
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Post  boffer 6/25/2015, 6:22 pm

SR, once you find 5 or more sources of compost (the cheaper the better), all that's left is playing in the compost pile!  I've stayed fairly true to the MM recipe, and haven't used any amendments other than for an occasional experiment.
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Post  Razed Bed 6/25/2015, 10:14 pm

boffer wrote:My experience concurs with your assessment of good MM.  

But I have a question about the use of Azomite:

Razed Bed wrote:...the minerals add nutrition and taste to the vegetables and fruit...

How were you able to determine this?

I experimented with Azomite, and didn't get a difference in taste.  But I don't have a clue how to go about determining the nutritional values of our crops.


Boffer, I highly recommend purchasing an inexpensive optical refractometer, as this will allow you to see the results yourself and not rely on others, like me, stating something matter of factly.

I too was skeptical about rock dust when I first saw John Kohler talk about it about 4 years ago.

I bought a refractometer through Amazon and began testing our vegetables.  I will warn you though; if you are a science and numbers geek like me, you will be testing everything you can test.

Because tomatoes are the number one garden veggie, and we have grown several varieties for other family members, I chose this for my "grand test" of Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Farmer's Market, Friend, and my organic tomatoes.  I chose Bradley Tomatoes, since our local farmers grow these.  Personally, I preferred Brandywine when I ate them, but it would not have been fair to test Brandywine against store bought Bradley's.

The results were very interesting.  First, I will preface this by saying I do not know how the organic tomatoes from Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, or the Farmer's Market (Green Door Gourmet) were grown.  My friend grew his organic Bradley tomatoes in amended soil but with no rock dust.  I grew my tomatoes in the original amended soil method prescribed by Mel in his original book, but I added both Azomite and compost that had been supplemented with Sea-90.

The refractometer BRIX readings were taken on all four tomato originations.  The Whole Foods tomato finished dead last at 6; the Trader Joe's tomato and my friend finished virtually tied between 9-10; my tomato rated a tad over 14.

Additionally, the fuzzy area on mine was much thicker, meaning my tomato was more nutrient dense.

I did have a soil sample taken and examined by an Ag school a few years ago and discovered my rock dust-amended real soil that contains my original SFG squares are far more nutrient dense than soil taken from other parts of the yard.

I also discovered that my yard has too much cadmium and not much selenium, so it would be a very poor choice to grow edibles.

This summer's testing showed:
Jericho Romaine Lettuce--11
Oak Leaf Lettuce--just under 10
Kale--a shade over 16
Pickling Cucumbers--13
Zucchini--Almost 16 for small sized

You can find the TM301 like mine for sale for less than $75.
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Post  boffer 6/26/2015, 1:15 am

Razed Bed wrote:Boffer, I highly recommend purchasing an inexpensive optical refractometer, as this will allow you to see the results yourself and not rely on others, like me, stating something matter of factly.
Thank you; that's always good advice.  We do have a refractometer that my wife uses for other purposes, but I haven't used it on veggies for reasons I'll mention below.

Razed Bed wrote:I will warn you though; if you are a science and numbers geek like me, you will be testing everything you can test.
In another lifetime, I was a metrologist specializing in electronic precision measuring equipment.  One of the reasons I like SFG is that 'closies' is plenty good enough!  Very Happy

Razed Bed wrote:Jericho Romaine Lettuce--11
Oak Leaf Lettuce--just under 10
Kale--a shade over 16
Pickling Cucumbers--13
Zucchini--Almost 16 for small sized
I find these numbers interesting because they're in the same range as your tomatoes.   When I experimented with Azomite, the test only involved cool crops: leafy and flower type plants, but not root.  I did a double blind study with 6  friends as tasters; they couldn't tell the difference between the amended and control plants.  I was going to ask you if there was a more pronounced difference in fruit plants like tomatoes, but apparently you saw a difference in your leafy crops as well.

I haven't tried out our refractometer on veggies yet because...well...mostly because I think I've out-grown most of my geekiness!  Wink  And, because  the following quote is representative of the information I've found from independent, scientific sources.

This is a partial summary from a Fact Sheet published by The OSU extension in 2012.  I emphasized the last line:

...sugar content is only one factor that contributes to the overall quality of a crop.  Brix can be an accurate, repeatable, and easily obtained measure of soluble solids in crops.  However, the relationship of Brix to human taste perception is more direct in some crops than in others.  Sugars, many other compounds, and eater preferences determine how sweet a sample may taste and its appeal.  Therefore, crops with the highest Brix reading will not necessarily taste sweetest or best.  Also, Brix values are not a direct measure of the nutritional value of a crop as dieticians, nutritionists, and other professionals assess it.  Complex analytical procedures are required to measure the nutritive value of food, which is based on many components.  (USDA).  Brix levels can correlate with some accepted components of nutritive value.  However, there is currently no solid scientific evidence that  Brix values alone can be used to describe food's nutritional value....

Lastly, it wasn't until I built a summer greenhouse 3 years ago, that I was able to get a decent  harvest of red, vine-ripened tomatoes.  I'm so darn tickled to be able to eat a Brandywine like an apple everyday for weeks on end, that everything else is just a distraction!  

Happy gardening  i haven't fertilized, using fresh MM 3170584802
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Post  sanderson 6/26/2015, 2:02 am

Interesting reading, you two.  Thank you. The greatest thing about Mel's mix is that it works if the instructions are followed.  The second greatest thing is that one doesn't need to understand what you two are talking about!!  Laughing

I toss in a little kelp or crab meal to get back those trace minerals that have washed out to the oceans.  I mean like twice I have done that. Very Happy

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Post  camprn 6/26/2015, 12:57 pm

If the plants are looking like they are starving  for gawd's sake feed them. They only need water for a snack.


Did you make your own MM or did you buy pre-packaged stuff?

+1 on the sugar content of veggies.

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Post  Razed Bed 6/26/2015, 3:20 pm

I have not done a blind taste test, mostly because we eat all the greens for ourselves and give away the high oxalate vegetables and nightshades to our family, so it would be stealing from our family.

However, my sister-in-law's mom, dad, brothers, and cousins were in town last weekend for a family gathering, and they served my Brandywine tomatoes as part of Saturday's lunch.

My sister-in-law's father and mother are from Delaware and grow beautiful Brandywine tomatoes where they live near Brandywine Park.  When they tasted my tomatoes last week, they were floored by how sweet and flavorful they tasted.

It makes since that if you add nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to your garden, your plants will have more N, P and K in them.  So, there should be no difference when you add in all the minerals on Earth in the natural state.

I stated that our yard is high in cadmium and low in selenium, and vegetables grown in this would not be healthy.  In fact, this type of soil could produce co-carcinogenic crops due to the nutritive mess.

Mel's Mix is not one set growing medium.  Your 33.3% components and mine could be far apart in nutritive content.  It reasons that grass clippings from my yard make a different compost than those in your yard.  My kitchen scraps, leaves, weeds, and other compost ingredients are definitely unique, as are yours, since we do not shop in the same groceries or eat out of the same garden.

I already know my yard grass grows in crappy soil.  Thus my clippings cannot be that great either.  At least, it has never experienced toxic sprays.  I have tried some different things to help make our compost better if possible.  I was once a nutritional product rep and had many nutritional powders, so I dumped the out of date greens powders, vitamins, and mineral supplements. 

Later, I discovered that others were using rock dust and sea minerals.  It seemed like a no-brainer that since I supplemented my own diet with trace minerals, it would be cheaper in the long run to supplement my garden with it.

I came to another conclusion as well.  We used an R.O. filter in our garden hose, and while it rids the water of chlorine and chloramine, it also removes the good guys.  In times of drought, like basically every summer here, there is no rainwater to fill the barrels.  City water that has been RO filtered provides nothing beneficial to the garden.  We add trace minerals to our drinking water, so it was obvious that the garden needed mineral supplementation as well.  It is our insurance policy.

I am not saying that I am a botanical expert, My college degrees are a BS in broadcast journalism, a MS in human and organizational development, and a ND in naturopathic medicine.  The only thing that remotely brought botanical learning into this experience was herbal remedies.

I am open to reading more about your concerns with rock dust and sea minerals.  The entire forum community can only learn more by having you contribute more.  This is why this forum is an A+ venue, because you don't have the rabble coming here to say things about your mother when you say something they do not agree with.
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Post  sanderson 6/27/2015, 1:32 am

Razed Bed wrote:This is why this forum is an A+ venue, because you don't have the rabble coming here to say things about your mother when you say something they do not agree with.
I like to think we are good folks. Very Happy

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Post  Scorpio Rising 6/27/2015, 3:59 pm

sanderson wrote:
Razed Bed wrote:This is why this forum is an A+ venue, because you don't have the rabble coming here to say things about your mother when you say something they do not agree with.
I like to think we are good folks.  Very Happy
Nothing healthier than a good, above-board discussion, challenges with no posing, just good old fashioned learning and open minds!  And of course, our own anecdotal experience to confound the science!
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Post  Marc Iverson 6/27/2015, 7:20 pm

Science is the antidote to anecdote.
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