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First time SFG, compacted Mel's Mix after rain Toplef10First time SFG, compacted Mel's Mix after rain 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.

First time SFG, compacted Mel's Mix after rain I22gcj10First time SFG, compacted Mel's Mix after rain 14dhcg10

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First time SFG, compacted Mel's Mix after rain

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First time SFG, compacted Mel's Mix after rain Empty First time SFG, compacted Mel's Mix after rain

Post  jardinierjf 4/8/2022, 9:33 am

Hi, 

It is my first time trying SFG with Mel's mix, I made my mix by following the 1/3 rule for all 3 ingredients. 
When I filled my SFG the soil was perfectly flush with the edge of my SFG. But after 2 days of heavy rain, I saw that the MM compacted from around 1 inch from the edge. 
Since I haven't sown anything yet ( I'm in Zone 5 ) should I add more Mel's Mix on top? add more compost? or better leave it like that and the plants will be fine with 5 inches of soil instead of 6 ?

Thanks.
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Post  OhioGardener 4/8/2022, 10:25 am

Did you thoroughly moisten each layer of MM as you added it to the beds?  If you didn't, as the rain moistened it, it also packed it down.

I would add more MM, and ensure the entire bed is moistened.

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Post  Soose 4/8/2022, 10:31 am

OhioGardener wrote:Did you thoroughly moisten each layer of MM as you added it to the beds?  If you didn't, as the rain moistened it, it also packed it down.

I would add more MM, and ensure the entire bed is moistened.
OhioGardener, please, does anyone add a wetting agent to the first watering as Mel's Mix is created/added to a new garden? 

I saw someone use Ecos brand dish soap, tiny bits, to wet down his seed-starting mix, heavy on peat moss.  I also thought I'd keep some wetting agent on hand for any future applications of sprays like neem oil.  So I asked my son to pick some up. He brought home the laundry version of Ecos brand soap instead.  I am wondering if I can use this.

I also saw a comment (by Sanderson?) last week or so, that Mel's Mix can be hard to rewet if you ever let it dry out.  So are wetting agents a good idea?
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Post  OhioGardener 4/8/2022, 11:28 am

Soose wrote:OhioGardener, please, does anyone add a wetting agent to the first watering as Mel's Mix is created/added to a new garden? 
.
.
.
I also saw a comment (by Sanderson?) last week or so, that Mel's Mix can be hard to rewet if you ever let it dry out.  So are wetting agents a good idea?

I would not use a wetting agent, as I don't believe it would make any difference. The only ingredient in MM that is hard to moisten is the peat - the compost and vermiculite will rapidly soak up all the water they can get.  Peat, on the other hand, is hydrophobic and will repel water until it is forced to be immersed in it - a wetting agent won't change that. But once peat is moistened, it is not hydrophobic again until it dries out.


The comment by Sanderson about the difficulty in re-wetting MM is because of the hydrophobic nature of peat, and the reason that it is very important to keep MM moist and not allow it to completely dry out.


We use Ecos Laundry Detergent for the laundry, but I would not use it in the garden. The only wetting agent soap I use in the garden, such a mixing with Neem oil, is Castile soap.

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Post  Frost? 4/8/2022, 1:58 pm

Thanks for the tip on Castile soap OhioGardener; wouldn't have come to my mind otherwise.
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Post  sanderson 4/8/2022, 5:21 pm

jardinierjf wrote:Hi, It is my first time trying SFG with Mel's mix, I made my mix by following the 1/3 rule for all 3 ingredients. 
When I filled my SFG the soil was perfectly flush with the edge of my SFG. But after 2 days of heavy rain, I saw that the MM compacted from around 1 inch from the edge. 
Since I haven't sown anything yet ( I'm in Zone 5 ) should I add more Mel's Mix on top? add more compost? or better leave it like that and the plants will be fine with 5 inches of soil instead of 6 ?

Thanks.
Wait a couple of days after the heavy rain to see if it fluffs back up a bit. The excess water will drain out and leave behind some important tiny pockets of oxygen. Then add more moist MM for a full 6" of MM, watering well when done.

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