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Square Foot Gardening Forum
[table bgcolor=#000000 height=275][tr][td]
Kiwi's Mel's Mix Toplef10Kiwi's Mel's Mix 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.

Kiwi's Mel's Mix I22gcj10Kiwi's Mel's Mix 14dhcg10

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Kiwi's Mel's Mix

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Kiwi's Mel's Mix Empty Re: Kiwi's Mel's Mix

Post  KiwiSFGnewbie Sun Sep 25, 2022 6:30 pm

Hi all, looking at putting together my first SFG this coming southern summer season.  My question is, all the composts that I can see at my local hardware store say that you must mix them in with soil.  So I'm afraid of putting them with the peat and vermiculite just like that, in case they burn my plants.  I don't think the brands mentioned in this forum's sticky (which is fabulous, huge thanks to OhioGardener!) exist in this country, so I'm having to make it up as I go along.
Would be grateful for any advice here! Smile
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Post  donnainzone5 Sun Sep 25, 2022 6:37 pm

Look for composts that don't already contain peat moss.  Only one of your 3-5 composts should be manure-based.  Read the labels on the bag, and contact the manufacturer if you still have questions.  

If the first or second ingredients listed on the bag are composted forest products, wood chips, etc., try to find another type.  Uncomposted wood products in your compost will steal nitrogen from your plants.  Many bagged composts must be sifted prior to use, which will reduce the bags' volume.  

Meanwhile, if possible, start your own compost pile.  

One good (and free) resource is leaf mold, although it takes a while to mature.  It counts as one of your composts.
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Post  donnainzone5 Sun Sep 25, 2022 6:40 pm

I forgot to mention that there's quite a difference between soil amendments and actual compost.
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Post  OhioGardener Sun Sep 25, 2022 6:54 pm

KiwiSFGnewbie wrote: My question is, all the composts that I can see at my local hardware store say that you must mix them in with soil.  So I'm afraid of putting them with the peat and vermiculite just like that, in case they burn my plants.

Normally that statement refers to using compost to enrich soil. It is not because the compost can burn the plants.  Mel's Mix is a soilless mix which relies on the nutrients in compost to feed the plants. The inert properties of the vermiculite and peat is keep the soil friable and retain moisture. Microbes will break down the compost to provide plant available nutrients, which will never be enough to burn any plants. The only problem, as mentioned earlier, is that if too much manure is used the mix will have too much nitrogen which will cause excessive plant growth with reduced fruit production.

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Post  KiwiSFGnewbie Sun Sep 25, 2022 8:01 pm

Wow, that was fast!  I wasn't expecting anything to come in during your night-time!  Thanks so much for such clear explanations, I like to understand the reasons behind things so I can make good choices.

Have noted down all the advice and will see what I can find.  I like the idea to contact the manufacturer, often the details on the bags are pretty skimpy.  One thing I have seen is mixes containing gypsum, I see this is going to act as another aerater so I'm guessing I need to lower my peat & vermiculite if I use that one???

Definitely am going to start a compost pile.  And I have a pile behind the carport where I've been chucking (fairly small quantities of) leaves for years, no idea what state the bottom of that is in but it might be useful Laughing  I'm starting out very small so don't need large quantities of MM (which in itself seems to be a challenge; peat here only seems to come in huge bales).
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Post  KiwiSFGnewbie Sun Sep 25, 2022 8:10 pm

donnainzone5 wrote:I forgot to mention that there's quite a difference between soil amendments and actual compost.

So, if something says "A compost for use in all soil types, for use in new gardens and to enhance soil condition in existing home gardens" and "adds nutrient-rich organic matter to replenish your soil with nutrients used during the growing season. The combination of organic matter, blood and bone and gypsum will: help break up heavy or clay soil; improve drainage in compacted soil; and increase water holding capacity in sandy soil." is that likely a soil amendment or a compost?  Sorry if this is hard to answer but I really am feeling lost here!!  It claims to be a compost but I'm wondering if that word maybe is thrown around a bit too liberally....
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Post  OhioGardener Sun Sep 25, 2022 8:29 pm

KiwiSFGnewbie wrote: The combination of organic matter, blood and bone and gypsum will: help break up heavy or clay soil; improve drainage in compacted soil; and increase water holding capacity in sandy soil." is that likely a soil amendment or a compost? 

That is a soil amendment, designed to break up clay soil - the primary purpose for Gypsum (calcium sulfate dihydrate).  You don't need/want those high levels of calcium and sulfur in your garden. In addition to the gypsum they list bone meal which is also a calcium source.

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Post  donnainzone5 Sun Sep 25, 2022 8:47 pm

Look at the listed ingredients.  That one does sound like a soil amendment to me.  Your leaf mold should be ready by now; I just turned some old leaf material over, and it was beautifully ready to add.
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Post  KiwiSFGnewbie Sun Sep 25, 2022 10:06 pm

OhioGardener wrote:
KiwiSFGnewbie wrote: The combination of organic matter, blood and bone and gypsum will: help break up heavy or clay soil; improve drainage in compacted soil; and increase water holding capacity in sandy soil." is that likely a soil amendment or a compost? 

That is a soil amendment, designed to break up clay soil - the primary purpose for Gypsum (calcium sulfate dihydrate).  You don't need/want those high levels of calcium and sulfur in your garden. In addition to the gypsum they list bone meal which is also a calcium source.
Oh, darn.  Thanks for mentioning it!
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Post  KiwiSFGnewbie Sun Sep 25, 2022 10:16 pm

donnainzone5 wrote:Look at the listed ingredients.  That one does sound like a soil amendment to me.  Your leaf mold should be ready by now; I just turned some old leaf material over, and it was beautifully ready to add.
Yes, will be interesting to see what it's like on the bottom!
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Post  sanderson Tue Sep 27, 2022 2:48 pm

Hi Kiwi,  Welcome to the Forum. glad you\'re here

I'm late to your party.  Your casual pile of leaves could have some black gold at the bottom. bounce   That would be a great start.  I worked via email with another new SFG gardener in New Zealand 2 years ago.  Together we managed to find one compost, worm castings, peat moss and vermiculite.  The links are below.  I sent her an email to see how she is doing after 2 years and maybe she will have some new contacts.

The compost with gypsum that you described sounds like Tui organic compost.  The one from Chaos Springs sounds better.  Do be prepared to sift out any wood pieces as they do use wood as a brown.  A wood frame with 1/4" hardware cloth works well.

https://www.chaossprings.co.nz/organic-compost#organic-compost

For worm castings:  https://shop.mynoke.co.nz/

https://www.mitre10.co.nz/shop/yates-hauraki-gold-peat-100-litre/p/139105

The link has the word "medium" in it but when I opened it, it shows coarse vermiculite!!
 https://www.easygrow.co.nz/hydroponic-mediums/236-vermiculite-100l-.html

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Post  KiwiSFGnewbie Tue Sep 27, 2022 5:03 pm

Wow, sanderson, thank you and the other Kiwi member so much for this!!!  Yes the one I mentioned was the Tui Organic.  I'm going to Mitre10 today for strawberries and will check out the peat while I'm there.  I think I saw the other day, Auckland City Council has a composting service so that should be another source of stuff.  Haven't built my compost bin yet (I have the kit) so I'm guessing it'll be a year probably before it has useful quantities (with just two of us in the house, we don't produce a lot of kitchen scraps) although on my morning walk I did see some FlexiBins outside people's houses waiting for companies to come and pick up, full of garden waste Very Happy
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Post  sanderson Tue Sep 27, 2022 10:05 pm

Remember that compressed peat moss will expand 50-80% when fluffed. When mixing the Mel's Mix, making sure the peat moss is really, really wet.



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Post  KiwiSFGnewbie Wed Sep 28, 2022 1:06 am

sanderson wrote:Hi Kiwi,  Welcome to the Forum. glad you\'re here

I'm late to your party.  Your casual pile of leaves could have some black gold at the bottom. bounce 

I finally went out there today and YES! it does! hyper   Lovely crumbly very dark brown soil stuff.  I don't think the layer is very deep, and in a quick dig I managed to find some of our horrible yellow clay in there, but the area would be nearly 1m square (a little over 9 sq feet) and there are a couple of other smaller pockets.  So, it's something extra for the mix.

How lovely to find that my annoying carport-clearing job over the years has been making such a wonderful resource!!

Thanks also for the reminder about the peat moss.  I thought it doubled in size, was thinking perhaps I could get away with just a 50 litre bag for my first 4x4.  Does it keep well? (thinking of using the rest of it next summer)
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Post  sanderson Wed Sep 28, 2022 4:04 am

Peat moss keeps well if protected from rain. I had a bag that had gotten wet and then dried at the nursery and it was impossible to fluff. Store off the ground and cover. Or, store in a covered garbage can.

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Post  KiwiSFGnewbie Wed Sep 28, 2022 6:27 pm

Oh cool, I have a large garage Smile
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