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Mels Mix shopping list. Help? Toplef10Mels Mix shopping list. Help? 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.

Mels Mix shopping list. Help? I22gcj10Mels Mix shopping list. Help? 14dhcg10

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Mels Mix shopping list. Help?

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Post  mikki777 3/9/2016, 11:23 am

As a first timer for SFG, I've been visiting local nurseries and Home Depot and Lowes to track down various items. 
 
Before buying everything, I wanted to ask if anyone has a particular objection to a brand on my list. (Like for ex. I've seen people say to avoid Miracle Gro and I also saw a ton of bad reviews about fungus gnats in their products... especially the all purpose soils we don't use anyway.) They have an MG’s Natures Care Compost, but that also doesn’t sound like a good idea.
 
What I think I’ll get is:
 
Sunshine Peat Moss
 
Vigoro - Medium Grade vermiculite (They don't have coarse but at least this isn't fine grade. Has anyone used that?) They only have coarse grade of Perlite which am I correct using Med. Vermiculite would be better than coarse Perlite?)
 
For Compost:
I’ll probably have 1 of the 5 servings from home made compost from a family member who is building my 4 by 4 holder.
 
Then my other 4 would be:
Kow Manure
Organic Valley Mushroom compost
Noble Worm Organics Worm Casings (not sold in local store though, any alternatives?)
 
I’m still missing a 5th one. I did see chicken version but it smells horrible.  
Brand: Black Hen.  Is that brand okay if I decide to cave in on smell?

Or any alternative suggestions?
   
We have a local PIKE nursery.  Are their brands okay? And is E.B. Stone? They sell theirs too but in small quantities.

And this may be a dumb question... but can you use cow and steer for 2 different types?
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Post  sanderson 3/9/2016, 3:48 pm

I'm not in your area so I hope someone more local can help you better than I can.

I checked NW GA Craig's List for worm castings, red wigglers and compost (horse).

Home Depot has:
Earthgrow steer manure
SFG potting soil Mix at $8.97 for 1.5 cu. ft. bages. Has Mel's photo on the bags!! Ready to use!!
Ecoscraps Compost 1 cu ft for $4.77 (it's veggie based Very Happy )


Lowes has:
Fafard peat moss, $11.97 for 3 compacted cu. ft. It will fluff to almost 6 cu. ft.
Black hen 20 lb bag for $7.98
Black Velvet 40 bag of of Mushroom compost for $4.24.

The larger the bag of vermiculite, usually the cheaper per cu, ft. Medium is okay.

1. Cow and steer would count as 1 part.
2. I like Ecoscraps Compost because it is veggie based.
3. Mushroom compost.
4. Your family's compost
5. Worm castings (part of a 5th) plus something above or different.

Even if you go with the ready-to-use Mel's Mix/SFG mix, you will need to have blend compost for amending the squares as you harvest/replant or the whole beds as the mix shrink.

What ever you buy, except for the SFG mix, read the labels carefully for added peat moss, coco, perlite or vermiculite. You don't want to pay for these in bagged "soil mixes".





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Post  sanderson 3/9/2016, 4:00 pm

http://homegardenstogo.blogspot.com/2016/03/how-to-make-your-own-professional.html

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Post  mikki777 3/9/2016, 6:30 pm

I was excited to hear he had his own mix, but they don't sell it local at Home Depot, only online, and I didn't want to pay $60 in shipping alone. So I piece-mealed it with items today from Pikes and Home Depot. Hopefully it'll go well. I got some local compost for 1/5th of it. 

Excited to begin this journey and was glad to hear of this board.
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Post  Scorpio Rising 3/9/2016, 6:33 pm

Do the best you can, mikki, and make tweaks along the way! You have a great start!
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Post  yolos 3/9/2016, 9:52 pm

Pike's has course vermiculite in my area.  It is quite pricey though.  I found the best price for vermiculite at a local Feed and Seed store.  They also had cotton compost and black kow cow manure.  Pike's has a forest based compost (pretty woody material though so I don't use it any more) and Worm Castings.  I make my own compost but it is entirely plant based.  So every spring I go shopping for whatever compost I can find to mix with my own compost.  This year so far I found Black Kow cow manure, Black Kow mushroom compost, and Evergreen Compost and manure.  these were all found at lowe's.  

I used to buy the best compost ever.  EB Stone chicken compost.  That stuff was the best ever.  But, Pike pulled it out of their stores and no longer carry it.  They now have some kind of granular chicken compost which I have never bought.  It probably is good as a fertilizer but I am looking for texture as well as nutrients.  The EB Stone now at Pike's is in small boxes which make it very pricey.  I have hovered in the EB Stone aisle quite often but have managed to control my impulse to buy some bat guano.
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Post  jimmy cee 3/9/2016, 10:33 pm

Do you have a recycle center ?  Do they  offer compost in the spring ?  This may be best with a few additives for the 1/3 in Mel's Mix.
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Post  mikki777 3/10/2016, 9:19 am

Thanks you guys for all the suggestions. I agree... a lot of PIKES stuff is way to small quantity!  I enjoyed strolling around there yesterday for a long time. 

Since I can't really make MM until my container arrives (b/c there would be no where to put all that mixed soil), is there a problem with me using regular potting soil to get my seedlings going early? When I transplant them, will that make it more likely I'd get weeds since it's not the formula? 

My herb garden is already going strong in pots but I can always keep that going as is without moving them and plant new seeds in the container, but for salad veggies I'd like to get those started.
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Post  yolos 3/10/2016, 9:39 am

mikki777 wrote:Since I can't really make MM until my container arrives (b/c there would be no where to put all that mixed soil), is there a problem with me using regular potting soil to get my seedlings going early? When I transplant them, will that make it more likely I'd get weeds since it's not the formula? 

A lot of folks here use MM to start seeds.  I do not.  I use a combination of Potting Mix and Seed Starter growing medium.  Home Depot/Lowes both carry Jiffy Seed Starting mix.  That is mostly peat.  So I mix that with regular Potting Mix and sometimes a little perilite.  Beware, the Potting Mix usually has some chunky pieces of bark/wood.  So I just finger vacumn the top inch to remove any big pieces that may hinder the seeds from reaching the top of the soil.  

PS - I don't know how experienced you are but I just wanted to let you know that there is a difference between Potting Mix and Potting Soil.  I believe (but I am not sure) that Potting Mix is what you want.

There is no difference in the likely hood of getting weeds using either MM or Potting Mix.  Potting Mix should be sterile (I think) and you will not be introducing any weed seeds into your final MM bed.
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Post  Zmoore 3/10/2016, 10:14 am

I don't think it matters or at least I hope not :0  I don't start my own seeds (yet), well, I mean I plant some stuff directly in the beds from seed, but I do buy tomato and pepper plants from nursery each year and they don't use MM.  I haven't noticed any problem with planting them straight from the container with whatever they are using and putting it my MM.
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Post  mikki777 3/10/2016, 10:35 am

I am very inexperienced. First time ever gardening. You are correct... it's Potting Mix. I bought Espoma Organic Seed Starter Premium Potting Mix to start my herb garden and that's gone quite well... except rosemary I had to plant again b/c it didn't sprout. It's growing but very slowly. But the other 5 herbs are doing well and I've already been using basil and dill in dishes. 

Looking fwd to starting the 4 by 4 in April. I plan to make that PVC cover he suggests and maybe get both a plastic cover for protection when needed and a bug screen / cheese cloth cover.  We do get a lot of wind where I live.
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Post  CapeCoddess 3/10/2016, 12:16 pm

mikki, did you read the book yet?  Mel makes a few suggestions for starting seeds.  One of them is using straight vermiculite.  I haven't tried that one.  I use old MM from the garden to start mine.  I wouldn't hesitate to use my compost straight in a pinch since it does so well when seeding flower pots.  

Start your seeds in what ever you can find.  Seeds are pretty forgiving when sprouting. If they don't work out you can always buy a few plants later on, and add that mix to the 'do not use' list.  Razz

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Post  mikki777 3/10/2016, 4:12 pm

Yeah, I had seen that suggestion but I didn't want to open my huge bag yet so it wouldn't spill all over the garage (esp since he warns it can be very dusty. I'd rather open it when it's going in the container). So I just used my starters today indoors. I did finish reading his book this morning. Great stuff. I'm sure I'll have to read it all again.
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Post  mikki777 3/10/2016, 5:26 pm

Is humas a good option (by Earthgo) ? I seem to remember Mel mentioning no more humas needed like the 'normal' gardening> But can it be 1 of our 5?
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Post  sanderson 3/10/2016, 5:36 pm

Humus is great for dirt. Wink  Not for MM.  If you can only come up with 4 really good composts for now, call it good and keep looking for a 5th for the future.

PS: I use large binder clips to close large bags. Fold over a couple of good folds and use a couple+ clips.

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Post  mikki777 3/10/2016, 5:38 pm

Thanks for the quick answer. Too bad because I saw a big bag for under $2 at Walmart. That could have been a nice balance on these costs. Smile Glad I asked first.
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Post  Zmoore 3/10/2016, 6:04 pm

mikki777 wrote:Is humas a good option (by Earthgo) ? I seem to remember Mel mentioning no more humas needed like the 'normal' gardening> But can it be 1 of our 5?

IMO yes. Smile
Mels Mix shopping list. Help? Humus-10

I scored the same stuff last December on sale.
Humus is the organic component of soil formed by decomposition of organic matter.  Compost is basically the same thing, you add compost to soil to amend the soil by adding more decomposed organic compost.  The two terms are practically interchangeable, BUT Humus often refers to the natural process of the decomposition of leaves and other organic matter from/on the "natural forest floor" and the idea is rather than rob our natural sources of "humus" we make our own compost with other organic materials and leave nature alone.
In the case of Earthgrow it's Organic humus: derived from peat, compost, forest products, manure, and/or other organic materials.  The manure part is supposed to be 10-20%.  Unfortunately they don't give you a break down of exactly what is in the compost and how much peat, etc..

So, long story short, as "1 of 5", sounds great IMO.  I have another post titled "Installed Mix in two beds", I have a picture where I used the Earthgrow stuff as component of compost.  In my case I used it as 50% of total compost.  The other 50% in my case is "home brew" and if that's not blended enough for the plants then I give up.  I have leaves, horse manure, coffee, sawdust, bananas, orange peels, I lose track of all the different stuff I throw in the pile.  So, as 20%, go for it.  IMO Smile
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Post  Scorpio Rising 3/10/2016, 8:28 pm

I second Zmoore, don't sweat the small stuff. Like I said earlier, do the best you can with what you have. For some in other parts of the world, vermiculite is impossible to get. It will be OK!
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Post  jimmy cee 3/10/2016, 11:12 pm

Seeds may be started in vermiculite, they will grow up to the true leaves, then carefully repotted into growing medium.
Seeds have self fertilizer starts built in, that is what gets them going. When transplanting those tiny fragile things one my handle by leaves only, if stem is used that can cause harm to them..I tried it, however never thought much about it after..A fine vermiculite is a good starter.
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Post  YorkR88 3/12/2016, 11:22 am

sanderson wrote:Humus is great for dirt. Wink  Not for MM.  If you can only come up with 4 really good composts for now, call it good and keep looking for a 5th for the future.

PS:  I use large binder clips to close large bags.  Fold over a couple of good folds and use a couple+ clips.

I used humus and peat for planting my blueberry trees with Oak Leaves for mulch. Seem to be holding moisture awesomely!
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Post  Scorpio Rising 3/12/2016, 5:35 pm

Yes, humus is technically soil. It would be terrific for blueberries.
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Post  YorkR88 3/19/2016, 3:38 pm

Here is what I got today for my MM. 

Going to mix this afternoon and fill my bed.

Vermiculite - Coarse and Medium grade (only had one bag course in stock)
Peat Moss - Sphagnum
Compost Blend - 1) Organic Compost Bark Fines (2) Cattle Manure (3) Chicken Manure (4) Cotton compost (5) Friendly Frog mix of Bat Guano and Worm Casting. 

I am thinking of starting my own worm tube in the garden after seeing a post a few days ago.
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Post  sanderson 3/19/2016, 3:50 pm

Mels Mix shopping list. Help? 3170584802 Don't forget to fluff the peat moss before measuring.

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Post  YorkR88 3/19/2016, 3:54 pm

sanderson wrote:Mels Mix shopping list. Help? 3170584802  Don't forget to fluff the peat moss before measuring.

Thanks! Will do. I'm probably going to measure everything in 5gal buckets to keep volume measurements consistant
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Post  sanderson 3/19/2016, 4:09 pm

Oh, also mix the 5 composts together and then measure the blend.

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