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Post  Chookcooker on 10/23/2018, 9:59 pm

Hi all, about to begin the build of my first SFG, in sometimes-sunny Melbourne.

A few questions t o those in the know:

1: Anyone in  Melbourne know of a reasonably priced way to get Peat moss? All i can find is small bags that will cost a fortune, or ship some big bales from Queensland.... that will cost a fortune:

2: Failing that, are any Bunning's brands of Coconut Coir Peat decent?

3: Is there a slight difference to what we would call "compost" as opposed to that in the USA?  It seems to me that the 5 types of compost referred to in the SFG is largely just Composted Manure.. Am I correct?

If so, I'm looking at a  mix of Cow, Sheep, and Chicken manure from an Australian company called Grow Better,  then some Mushroom compost and then whatever else I can find.. 
does that sound decent? I'm a but worried about burning...


Also, that company make an interesting looking compost from the Melbourne Zoo called Zoo Gro, made up from animal bedding, manures, food scraps, etc...  but I'm a bit concerned about pharmaceuticals used to treat the Zoo animals ending up in the product.

Any other bagged products I can look at to get up and running?

Many thanks!
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Post  yolos on 10/23/2018, 11:21 pm

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Post  sanderson on 10/24/2018, 6:35 pm

Chook,  Welcome to the Forum from California, US.  glad you\'re here

2.  You can use washed coir in place of peat moss. Very Happy

3.  No.  Compost can be made of several different sources, all manures being considered just one source.  Other sources: leaves, produce culls, bedding straw, healthy plant trimmings, mowed grass, cotton burrs, grape pressings from wineries  bottoms up  , spent grains from beer making  Howdy From Melbourne 3170584802 , crab, shrimp and lobster shells, etc.

Compost is not raw material but rather, as explained in the embedded video on Zoo Gro, material that has been partially broken down through microbial activity.  The Zoo Gro material has been naturally heated by the microbes to high temperature of 75*C or 167*F so it should be safe to use in a veggie bed. Very Happy

Four parts of Zoo Gro and one part of mushroom compost would be 4 -5 sources, easily.

Keep us updated!

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Post  Chookcooker on 10/25/2018, 7:16 am

Many thanks!!
I’m making a 2x8 garden. It’s going to be on a paved area, so I’m going to building a bottom and raise it a touch as well. 
For aesthetic purposes it’s going to be 16 inches deep, but I may just use a good quality bulk compost for the bottom 6 inches to save money, then 9 inches of Mels mix followed by an inch for mulch.
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Post  sanderson on 10/25/2018, 4:46 pm

No need to add 9" of Mel's Mix, only 6" is needed, especially if you are going to fill the bottom with compost.  Leave 2" for mulch to reduce soil evaporation.

There are different ways to SFG on paved areas.  You can set the frame down and line the bottom, coming up the sides, with commercial weed fabric.  The tannin from the organic matter will stain the pavers but I have found that the stains can eventually be washed away if the box is relocated.  Here is a photo of one of my elevated beds on legs. Total height is 2' with the bed 7" deep. Howdy From Melbourne Table_31

There are 88 matches if you put "table top" into the Search box. This is just one way: https://squarefoot.forumotion.com/t22272-sanderson-s-table-top-beds?highlight=table+tops

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Post  Chookcooker on 10/25/2018, 6:24 pm

Wow, that looks great!

Is the box made from natural, untreated pine??
 How long do you find they last?

The area is actually a brick patio which are quite weathered and dirty, I don’t think the staining is too much of a concern
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Post  sanderson on 10/26/2018, 2:42 am

Cheap pine or fir studs used in construction.  The bottoms are 3/4" exterior plywood without made formaldehyde.  The first elevated beds were made in 2014 and are still doing great, except for one treated leg that rotted through the core. I periodically look under the beds with a large hand mirror and the bottoms are still intact. Howdy From Melbourne Termit10
Howdy From Melbourne Termit11

This photo is of the bottom row of plain pine from a March 2013 bed that was set on the dirt and lined with weed fabric.  Cleaning the bed in September 2014 revealed that roots from nearby roses, trees and shrubs had come up through the fabric to get at the nutritious Mel's Mix.  Two other folks also had to attach bottoms and elevate the beds to get them off the ground and away from roots.  Elevation can be as simple as setting the boxes on flat treated 2"x4" or fancy works of engineering.  Look at the termite damage!  Howdy From Melbourne Termit12

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Post  AtlantaMarie on 10/26/2018, 8:56 am

Hi Chookcooker. Little late, but welcome from Atlanta, GA (SE USA).
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Post  Chookcooker on 10/26/2018, 11:45 pm

Thanks!  
Just had a read through the Vermiculite database and it seems a supplier, garden city plastics, is not far from me, and they sell Peat Moss in bulk!  

They seem to have a few different gradings  from fine to coarse. 

Any ideas on what grade I should look at?

Also, they have plain peat moss which is quite a a low Ph around 4 and they have one that has been adjusted bringing th Ph up to about. 5.8 I think. 
Should I prefer the adjusted one? 

If someone could take a look at their website and suggest one it would be very helpful! 
( I can’t link external links yet but it’s Calle Garden City Plastics in Dandenong Victoria.
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Post  Scorpio Rising on 10/26/2018, 11:59 pm

Welcome, Chookcooker!  Can’t wait to hear of your adventures!

Vermiculite:  The coarser the better.  It just is fluffier and holds onto stuff better, and holds up over time.  

Peat:  No mention of needing to buffer it anywhere in Mel’s books, and I didn’t.  Everything went very well.  

Anybody else on the peat pH issue?

Glad you found us, looking forward to your stories!
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Post  sanderson on 10/27/2018, 4:39 am

I looked up Garden City Plastics.

1.  Vermiculite, the coarser the better.  Grade 3?  Grade 4 if they can get it.  Sometimes one can find coarse vermiculite in the building supplies.

2.  Peat moss - their Fine looks very fine.  I would go with the unbufflered Medium.

Once the 1/3 fluffed peat moss (compressed bales will almost double in size) is mixed with the 1/3 coarse vermiculite and 1/3 Zoo Gro, the pH magically adjusts to + / - neutral.  Just how it goes. Very Happy

If you try to discuss any of this with the employees at GCP, they will either think you are nuts Rolling Eyes  or they won't understand Shocked  or they will try to sell you something else.


Last edited by sanderson on 10/27/2018, 3:31 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post  sanderson on 10/27/2018, 4:41 am


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Post  Chookcooker on 10/27/2018, 5:33 am

Great! 

Will do with the database as soon as I  know more details.
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Post  Scorpio Rising on 10/27/2018, 9:54 am

@sanderson wrote:
If you try to discuss any of this with the employees at GCP, they will either think you are nuts Rolling Eyes  or they won't understand Shocked  or they will try to sell you something else.  
rofl
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Post  Chookcooker on 11/1/2018, 5:20 am

So I’ve picked up the materials and begun building my bed, hoping to be don’t with the build tomorrow! 
Busy weekend will mean I can’t get to the Mel’s mix until Sunday. 

Annoyingly, after the 60minute round trip to garden city plastics, and confirming 3 times that the peat bales are 225L compressed , not expanded, when I had them next to the 100L vermiculite they looked nowhere near 225L. 

A quick measure with a tape and they’re 120L compressed so probably 225L expanded??

Very annoying.
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Post  sanderson on 11/3/2018, 2:11 am

I hope all the confusing volume labeling will work out just fine for you. Very Happy

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