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SFG in the 916? First Time MM "Build"... Toplef10SFG in the 916? First Time MM "Build"... 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.

SFG in the 916? First Time MM "Build"... I22gcj10SFG in the 916? First Time MM "Build"... 14dhcg10

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SFG in the 916? First Time MM "Build"...

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Post  Irrig8The916 3/30/2023, 11:03 am

Hello to Everyone and a very special Hello Hello to Sanderson, our sponsor.

First things first... I ADMIT I HAVE NEVER ATTEMPTED TO SFG! I have read so much on the topic that I could teach a class on it but always been "too busy" or spread "too thin" to really get after it. Times have changed and I'm determined to make 2023 THE YEAR I get some hands on experience.

I'm an irrigator, mostly residential sprinkler, drip, timer services, and have been a hobby gardener for about ten years. I've been in more backyards than I could ever count and have seen vegetable gardens that were spectacular as well some that were spectacular "fails" Evil or Very Mad .

The BIG THING I see all the time is a "need for instruction" on how to set gardens up for success. As I get older (almost 60) I'm looking ahead to what I hope will be a sustainable "golden years" business doing water management and edible garden design & installation. I'm enrolled in the SFG CI course and hope to be done before the end of April so I can officially promote a Sacramento SFG chapter.

We're kind of fortunate to have a local supplier (Redi-Gro) that blends soils right here and distributes some retail brands as well. They were willing to blend Mel's Mix for me to specification but it was incredibly expensive with a 5 cubic yard minimum. Luckily they have smaller quantities of the individual ingredients so I'm going to blend a small batch on my patio...

Which particular peat moss bale should I be looking for? There are so many to choose from it seems. Is there any reason in anyone's opinion to go with coco coir instead of peat? Do the results clearly show peat as superior? On compost... they have four brands of compost in 1 cu ft bags so I'll be blending those four and adding a few cups of EWC's. We shall see how it goes Very Happy 

Now a final question about GRUBS... do you folks get them in your SFG beds with MM? I was fluffing my traditional soil raised beds this year and noticed a few, which caused be to turn all the soil to find more, which I did. In fact I pulled about 30 grubs from a 30" x 60" bed... so I turned "all my beds" and would up with a small bucket full of grubs Shocked. Who else has this problem and how do you manage it?
Irrig8The916
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Join date : 2023-01-17
Location : Sacramento, CA (9b)

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Post  donnainzone5 4/1/2023, 12:34 pm

I purchase peat moss bales according to the weight I can lift--which currently is a 2.2-cubic-foot bale, which is actually a struggle.  I'm sure you could handle larger bales.

And yes, peat moss has different characteristics and qualities than coir (which isn't as environmentally friendly as its reputation suggests).  Please see  Is Coir an Eco-friendly Substitute for Peat Moss? - Garden Myths

Also, if you haven't yet done so, please visit www.squarefootgardening.org frequently.  It's a much more detailed, reliable source of SFG-related information.

What are the four composts you mention?  Do they contain peat moss?  If so, that extra peat moss will upset the ratios in Mel's Mix.  Also, insufficiently composted materials, including wood pieces, will steal nitrogen from your plants as those pieces decompose.  Please remember that only 20% of the compost component of Mel's Mix should be manure-based.

Did you enroll in and/or complete the CI course yet?
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Post  sanderson 4/1/2023, 5:37 pm

Irrig8The916 wrote:Hello to Everyone and a very special Hello Hello to Sanderson, our sponsor.

First things first... I ADMIT I HAVE NEVER ATTEMPTED TO SFG! I have read so much on the topic that I could teach a class on it but always been "too busy" or spread "too thin" to really get after it. Times have changed and I'm determined to make 2023 THE YEAR I get some hands on experience.
I'm enrolled in the SFG CI course and hope to be done before the end of April so I can officially promote a Sacramento SFG chapter.
We don't have chapters per se.    

We're kind of fortunate to have a local supplier (Redi-Gro) that blends soils right here and distributes some retail brands as well. They were willing to blend Mel's Mix for me to specification but it was incredibly expensive with a 5 cubic yard minimum. Luckily they have smaller quantities of the individual ingredients so I'm going to blend a small batch on my patio...
AT this time, I don't know of any supplier who makes Mel's Mix to the recipe.  I looked at Ready Gro website.  They have Malibu Bu's Blend.  My son picked up two bags for me at a "grow" shop in Grass Valley and I fell in love. I love you  I love you  No screening required.  I live in Fresno and there is only one compost I can get that barely meets SFG criteria.  G&B Purely Compost.  I do screen it.   Yes, it is common now days to screen composts for wood pieces, bottle caps, rocks, etc.  Make a frame with 1/2" hardware cloth.  
Unfortunately, our blended together compost 1/3 should only be 20% manure-based compost to prevent phosphate build-up in the MM.  My son also picked up Roots worm castings but those should be limited to 5-10% of the volume due to phosphate build up.  Dr Earths compost and I was mortified.  I wrote a comment on their website!  With all that un-composted/identifiable material it should be labeled soil amendment.  We DON'T use soil amendments.  After screening out the wood and what looked like peat moss or shredded bark, only 3/4 of the volume was usable.  

Photo of crap I screened out of Dr. Earths.
SFG in the 916? First Time MM "Build"... Compos77

Photo of Malibue Bu's Blend  I love you  on the left with Dr. Earths on the right.
SFG in the 916? First Time MM "Build"... Compos78


Another CI, between Rocklin and Auburn, found Cedar Grove at HD. He did NOT like it and won't be using it.

Which particular peat moss bale should I be looking for? There are so many to choose from it seems. Is there any reason in anyone's opinion to go with coco coir instead of peat? Do the results clearly show peat as superior?
Yes, fluffed peat moss is superior.  Peat moss works with composts to produce a near neutral pH.  Bonna Becker posted a link about coir.  Not so environmental and people friendly as it's touted.  What ever compressed bales you find at HD, Lowes, etc.  I bought Premier last year and it fluffed up to 150% of the label's volume.  Ex:  a 2.2 cu ft compressed bale fluffs to 3.3 cu ft.

On compost... they have four brands of compost in 1 cu ft bags so I'll be blending those four and adding a few cups of EWC's. We shall see how it goes Very Happy 
What is EWC?  We only use real composts, fluffed peat moss, and coarse or super coarse vermiculite. What bagged compost are you thinking of?  I can give you a critic of them.  Photos help also.

Now a final question about GRUBS... do you folks get them in your SFG beds with MM? I was fluffing my traditional soil raised beds this year and noticed a few, which caused be to turn all the soil to find more, which I did. In fact I pulled about 30 grubs from a 30" x 60" bed... so I turned "all my beds" and would up with a small bucket full of grubs Shocked. Who else has this problem and how do you manage it?
I think a lot of us have beetle grubs.  A few are tolerable.  Every time more compost is mixed in to amend the Mel's Mix, just remove them.  If they get to a level where they are damaging the plants, you may have to treat with milky spore.  Timing of application is important. https://caldwell.ces.ncsu.edu/2018/07/white-grub-control/

Vermiculite:  You will have to order Coarse or Super Coarse online.  I doubt any supplier or store carries that size.  Farm Tek C/SC, Uline (Grade 3 or 4) with 2 bag minimum order, GreenHouse MegaStore C/SC, AM Leonard sometimes has free shipping  Brands are Uline, PVP Ind, Palmetto

I have to sign off for now. I hope this Central Valley info helps.

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Post  sanderson 4/1/2023, 5:39 pm

The CI out of Rocklin, uses Green Acres for supplies.

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Post  OhioGardener 4/1/2023, 6:45 pm

Irrig8The916 wrote:Now a final question about GRUBS... do you folks get them in your SFG beds with MM? I was fluffing my traditional soil raised beds this year and noticed a few, which caused be to turn all the soil to find more, which I did. In fact I pulled about 30 grubs from a 30" x 60" bed... so I turned "all my beds" and would up with a small bucket full of grubs Shocked. Who else has this problem and how do you manage it?

Grubs periodically show up because June Bugs, Japanese Beetles, etc., tend to lay their eggs in the easy-to-bore soil.  GrubGone is an excellent organic control for all grubs (Milky Spore is good, but controls on Japanese Beetles).  GrubGone is Bacillus thuringiensis galleriae (Btg)


The primary disadvantage to GrubGone is that the order minimum size is 10#, and it only takes 1 cup of it per 200 sq ft of garden space. But, it has a shelf life of 3 years, so the unused portion can be stored for future use, or use on the lawn.


https://greenearthagandturf.com/products/grubgone

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