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mel's mix in texas heat? Toplef10mel's mix in texas heat? 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.

mel's mix in texas heat? I22gcj10mel's mix in texas heat? 14dhcg10

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mel's mix in texas heat?

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Jay Bird
timwardell
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Post  sbarrett00 6/1/2010, 11:52 am

Hey folk - my wife and I are pretty new to SFG but are having a good time learning.

Last weekend we built 2 4x4 raised beds with some 2"x6" boards and we decided to finally get the soil this weekend. We went to North Haven Gardens and were told that they disagree with Mel's mix in our climate. My wife indicated that they actually sell the SFG book with a disclaimer.

The person who helped us specifically mentioned that the peat moss dries into a brick that is nearly impossible to rehydrate. They instead recommended:

6 bags Soil Mender topsoil
2 bags Humax garden
5 bags VE compost
3 bags cow manure

We went ahead and purchased their recommendation and we'll keep everyone updated on how things go. I wasn't sure if anyone else has had a similar experience in their neck of the woods...

-Shannon
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Post  semiuseless 6/1/2010, 1:04 pm

I live in DFW, Texas. I had some similar concerns about peat drying out.

My ground is mostly clay...but the flower beds needed to be "leveled" by the builder - and they used very sandy fill dirt. My front planting beds were almost exclusively sand. I added a 50/50 blend of peat and compost to the sand that was there and tilled it through. If the peat dries, it is difficult to re-hydrate. To keep the beds watered, I find a thick layer of mulch (2-3" deep), and "soaker hose" style watering works best.

A friend built his garden a few years before me, and recommended a 50% compost, 25% peat moss, 25% vermiculite blend (all by volume). I went with that blend, and it seems to be working well.

I water every morning. The soil is dry in the first 1 - 1.5" and retains moisture below that. I water in two passes. The first pass hydrates the top layer. It takes me about 20 minutes to water the garden, trees, potted plants, etc. On the second watering pass of the garden the soil visibly absorbs the water much better.

In total, I add about 1/2" of water to the garden each morning. That keeps the soil moist to a depth of 6 to 8 inches (I have 8" deep boxes).
semiuseless
semiuseless

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Location : DFW, TX (AHS Heat Zone 9)

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Post  timwardell 6/1/2010, 5:48 pm

I'm a DFW SFG'er (Frisco)... I made my Mel's Mix by the book (1/3 each of compost, peat moss, and vermiculite). I mulch my beds with a 1-2 inch layer of pine needles and have no problems with the peat drying out (granted it hasn't hit 100 degrees yet).
IMHO the vermiculite holds water and thus helps keep the peat moss from drying out. That said the folks at North Haven gardens do have a good reputation when it comes to Dallas gardening.
timwardell
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Post  Jay Bird 6/7/2010, 9:45 pm

we went by the book except the compost was all chicken litter with a later amendment ( top dressed) of pure rabbit doooo! We now are watering every 3 days and I havent noticed any serious issues.

It is hard to predict the texas heat!
Jay Bird
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Post  RoonieRoo 6/7/2010, 9:58 pm

I live near Austin and we bought the mix that Natural Gardener is doing based on experimenting with Mel's mix. It is Mel's mix but it uses coir instead of peat. So far, when I have a stretch of over 95 or higher I need to water every three days. The top inch will be dry but below that it is maintaining the moisture pretty well.
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Post  MsDida 6/15/2010, 4:34 pm

Austin is close enough to apply to me. What is that Natural Gardener mix you mentioned?
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Post  RoonieRoo 6/15/2010, 5:01 pm

John Dromgoole's nursery Natural Gardener has premixed bags of Square Foot Gardening mix. When I priced out the square foot mix versus getting all the components, I came out pretty close to the same price and it was worth a couple of cents more to not have to do the mixing myself.

It's worth a visit too since they have their square foot garden at the nursery.
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Post  MsDida 6/15/2010, 6:14 pm

Thanks for the info. Time to tempt my mom into an Austin trip, shouldn't be too hard though, especially once I send her a link to the place we're going! You rock!!!

It'll be good to be able to see their SFG, since I have absolutely zero experience in any area garden related. Thought I'd spend the summer researching and gathering my materials. Hopefully by next season I'll have planting calendar plan. I saw a really detailed one posted by a guy but he is in Zone 5 which is probably significantly different. If anyone sees one for our area, shoot me a link!

Thanks again!!!
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Post  SirTravers 6/15/2010, 7:08 pm

sbarrett00 wrote:Hey folk - my wife and I are pretty new to SFG but are having a good time learning. We went to North Haven Gardens and were told that they disagree with Mel's mix in our climate. The person who helped us specifically mentioned that the peat moss dries into a brick that is nearly impossible to rehydrate.
-Shannon

I'm about 9 hours west of you and just inside New Mexico. I'm really surprised that they don't recommend Mel's Mix there. I know y'all get more rain than me and I don't seem to have a problem with any bad drying of the mix. I have a habit of checking my mix every morning before work and I do like Boffer does. If the sky is clear I water. If it's cloudy, a rare occasion here, I don't. So far it's working out pretty well.
I am interested in how much that mix you have costs just for comparison's sake. Smile
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Post  davidclubb 11/5/2010, 1:12 am

Hello Sir Travers:
My name is David Clubb. I'm working on my teacher certification with SFG. My wife and I live near Winnie, which is next to Beaumont. Just mentioning Beaumont tells you that we have southeast Texas clay to fight, so we definitely welcome Mel's Mix. I am a third generation rice farmer, and know that is impossible to raise anything in clay, except for rice. So, I am wondering if there should be a formula for determining the ideal soil mix in my SFG. Please let me know. We are known for having droughts that cover calendar quarters, and the same year having rain every day for two months. So, it is difficult to determine the ideal mix that will perform well.
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