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Hi from zone 10B--southern orange county, ca Toplef10Hi from zone 10B--southern orange county, ca 1zd3ho10

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Hi from zone 10B--southern orange county, ca I22gcj10Hi from zone 10B--southern orange county, ca 14dhcg10

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Hi from zone 10B--southern orange county, ca Toplef10Hi from zone 10B--southern orange county, ca 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.

Hi from zone 10B--southern orange county, ca I22gcj10Hi from zone 10B--southern orange county, ca 14dhcg10

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Hi from zone 10B--southern orange county, ca

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Hi from zone 10B--southern orange county, ca Empty Hi from zone 10B--southern orange county, ca

Post  dmal 4/4/2024, 11:37 pm

Hi, I am new to the forum and this is my first post. Does anyone have any suggestions concerning where to buy the components of Mels Mix beyond the traditional Amazon or Home Depot that may be a better value in this area

Thanks

Dave
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Hi from zone 10B--southern orange county, ca Empty Re: Hi from zone 10B--southern orange county, ca

Post  Scorpio Rising 4/5/2024, 4:37 pm

Hi dmal, welcome to the forum from Ohio!  I do have to order my vermiculite, but can usually find the other components to make my MM.  I get a lot of my stuff from TSC or our local nursery.  Read the ingredients on your bags, they will say what is in there and generally a %.
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Hi from zone 10B--southern orange county, ca Empty Re: Hi from zone 10B--southern orange county, ca

Post  sanderson 4/7/2024, 5:54 pm

Hi Dave,  Welcome to the Forum from Fresno, CA.

Sourcing coarse or super coarse vermiculite is now done online.  Usual sources are Farm Tek, A M Leonard, Uline, Greenhouse Megastore.  Compare prices with shipping.  I looked at Amazon and see that Farm Tek is selling through Amazon Prime at $57 delivered.  That's a good price. 
Amazon.com : FarmTek Horticultural Coarse Vermiculite - 4 Cubic Feet : Patio, Lawn & Garden

Compressed peat moss is compressed peat moss.  You can buy it at big box stores and nurseries.  It needs to be fluffed up before measuring.  Make Mel's mix in smaller batches, making sure the Mel's Mix or peat moss is thoroughly wet.  It's okay to put wet MM in the beds as it drains well.  You can plant the next day.

Composts in CA is the main problem.  Here's a link to the thread that discusses different composts.   Recommended store bought compost - Photos of composts - Page 3 (forumotion.com)  In CA, there is outstand Malibu Bu's Blend.  ~$22 no screening required.  There is also E B Stone Organic Compost and their worm castings.  I rate it an A- only because Bu's is so awesome A+.  Minimal amount of unscreened wood in E B Stone that I don't bother screening.  Both of these companies have a store locator on their website.  For Bu's, think recreational plant supplies.  Wink  G&B Purely Compost is decent, although I do screen it.  I garden bare handed and don't like splinters.  Dr. Earths compost has a lot of fibrous wood or bark.  Once screened out, it's good.  Just take into account the price per volume after it's screened.

About compost, it should say Compost, not raised bed mix, potting mix, soil amendment, etc.  Learn to read the back of the bags.  You want pure composts, no fillers or additives such as coir, topsoil, sand, wood fines, biochar, fertilizer, etc.  You may find more sources of composts in your area that are locally made that I am not aware of.  Just learn to read the bags.  

Last but not least, mulch.  I love ready-to-use E-Z Straw with Tack from Tractor Supply.

If you have any questions, please ask (before buying is preferred  Razz ).  PS:  Try to limit manure-based composts to 205 of the total compost volume.  Try to limit pure worm castings to 5-10% of the total composts.  No, it's not real compost, sort of an honorary compost.

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Post  Scorpio Rising 4/7/2024, 8:12 pm

Honorary compost, lol!
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Hi from zone 10B--southern orange county, ca Empty Hi from zone 10B--southern orange county, ca

Post  dmal 4/11/2024, 11:29 pm

thank you all for your responses, it will help alot.

Sanderson--Did you mean to limit manure to only 20% of the total compost. I purchased a bag of chicken manure, a bag of steer manure, and got compost from a local land fill for free (it looks well broken down, no wood, no plastic scraps-very fine in texture). My plan was to use 1/3 or each. I only have one small bed to plant 4 x 2 x 6"--8 cells or 4 cubic feet.

Based on your recommendation, that would be 66% manures, which would be way too high? Sounds like I need to reevaluate my plan for compost. What are your thoughts about the landfill compost also? Based on the book, I was trying to mix my compost and not just use one source such as Blu's.

David
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Post  sanderson 4/13/2024, 4:05 pm

I'm sorry it took so long to get back to you.  You are correct that one of each means 66% manure based compost.  All manures count as one.  However, they are not created equal.  Poultry manures tend to have more phosphate than cow and horse.  Phosphate can build up in the soil as it moves very slowly through the soil (if at all).

When you say a bag of steer manure, is it steer manure or composted manure?  The word compost is important as it means the microbes have broken the manure down into plant usable material.  I remember the days when lawns were spread with bully boy or steer manure.  Razz  

Landfill compost (municipal green waste usually) is hit and miss on quality.  Members do use it.  You can ask for a cupful to test for persistent herbicides. Plant some peas (or is it beans?) and see how they do.  They are sensitive to herbicides and will fail quickly.  I personally would not use municipal biosolids/humanure for vegetable growing.  Human waste has medicines and sewer treatment plants receive detergents and other chemicals in addition to food scrapes and human waste.

Bu's Blend is expensive (~$22/bag) so you definitely want to dilute the cost. I'm in a compost desert in the Fresno area.  I buy Bu's when I visit the kiddos outside of Sacramento.  I buy E B Stone Organic Compost 30 minutes up in Prather in the foothills.  Dr. Earth needs screening so that increases the cost per usable bag.

Bottom line, use whatever compost you find (and can afford) for the first year.  For the next 2 years use non-manure compost so the phosphate doesn't increase.  Eventually you will identify what composts you can find and their costs.  It's just the rush to get started that can make us grab whatever.  I did the same thing when I started SFG in March 2013.  I used Kellogg's Soil Amendment instead of composts.  Duh, everything quit growing after 4 weeks.  Lesson learned.

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Post  dmal 4/14/2024, 12:34 pm

Miss Sanderson, 

Thank you for your thorough reply. One last question on compost

I purchased EB Stone Organic composted chicken manure. And the other bag look like straight cow and steer manure. Would you suggest returning these two and going with Blu's mix as the full 1/3 compost? I am not going to use the municipal compost as you suggest.

I know the book says a blended compost is best but because Blu's is so good will that suffice as the only compost and still provide all the benefits I need or would you consider adding another compost to blend the Blu's down more.

Thank you

David
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Post  sanderson 4/18/2024, 12:25 am

Dave, I answered in our PM messages.

For others that may read this, yes return the steer manure since it isn't compost. Keep the E B Stone composted chicken manure but look for a non-manure compost (like E B Stone Organic Compost) so the manure can be kept at 20% of the total composts.

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