Square Foot Gardening Forum
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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.

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Square Foot Gardening Forum
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I'm a Newbie Toplef10I'm a Newbie 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.

I'm a Newbie I22gcj10I'm a Newbie 14dhcg10

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Post  OSCICarol 4/3/2011, 12:38 pm

Hi, I'm OSCICarol,

I'm new to this post and this is my first one. Hope that I'm doing it right

last year I started my first SFG. I used cinder blocks on an uneven surface and everything was good. I used Mels mix and the vegtables grew but never matured. I planted late and we had a very cool summer.
Now I'm getting ready to plant for spring and went out to the sfg box and I have all these gold flecks in the dirt!!! Is this normal. They look like gold foil. Does anyone know what this is? It didn't look like that out of the bag last year.
Appreicate any help or ideas of what this is and is it ok to start planting. :?:
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Post  FarmerValerie 4/3/2011, 12:54 pm

I'm a Newbie 396615 to the forum!!! Sorry I cannot help with your questions, someone will sooner or later, but I did want to stop by and say I'm a Newbie 61949 !
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Post  camprn 4/3/2011, 12:57 pm

OSCICarol wrote:Hi, I'm OSCICarol,

I'm new to this post and this is my first one. Hope that I'm doing it right

last year I started my first SFG. I used cinder blocks on an uneven surface and everything was good. I used Mels mix and the vegtables grew but never matured. I planted late and we had a very cool summer.
Now I'm getting ready to plant for spring and went out to the sfg box and I have all these gold flecks in the dirt!!! Is this normal. They look like gold foil. Does anyone know what this is? It didn't look like that out of the bag last year.
Appreicate any help or ideas of what this is and is it ok to start planting. :?:
welcome to the forum. More than likely what you are seeing are small bits of the vermiculite that have percolated to the surface during the fallow winter months. It is normal.
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Post  OSCICarol 4/3/2011, 1:04 pm

Thank you for you reply. I'm so glad to hear that is normal. I knew this was the place to get answers. I want to get my box ready. Can I just add more of Mel's mix this year after I pull out some of the weeds that came up?
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Post  camprn 4/3/2011, 1:06 pm

OSCICarol wrote:Thank you for you reply. I'm so glad to hear that is normal. I knew this was the place to get answers. I want to get my box ready. Can I just add more of Mel's mix this year after I pull out some of the weeds that came up?

You can pull out what you have growing in there that you don't want and then add compost. There is no need to make more Mel's mix from scratch. If it was me I would add compost, mix it in with a garden fork or shovel; if there was still room left in the box I would add more compost so the mix surface is level with the top of the box. The reason being, there will be settling of the soil over the growing season.


Last edited by camprn on 4/3/2011, 1:09 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post  OSCICarol 4/3/2011, 1:09 pm

I don't have any compost. I only have Mel's mix in a bag that I bought from Lowe's last year. Is that ok?
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Post  camprn 4/3/2011, 1:10 pm

OSCICarol wrote:I don't have any compost. I only have Mel's mix in a bag that I bought from Lowe's last year. Is that ok?
I would suggest going back to the store or another local source and get some compost to add to the garden. This is what offers nutrients to your plants during the growing season. Also if you have a copy of Mel's new SFG book, there is good formation in there to review going into season two.
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Post  OSCICarol 4/3/2011, 1:14 pm

I do have Mel's book and will review it. Thank you for the suggestion.
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Post  BackyardBirdGardner 4/3/2011, 2:39 pm

To quickly add to what has been said...

Mel's Mix (MM) is made up of 1/3 compost, 1/3 peat moss, and 1/3 vermiculite. The compost is the only portion of that mix that decomposes over time and gets depleted. So, it's the only component that needs replenishing.

But, to replenish it properly, you need to add straight compost to your SFG. You no longer need to add peat moss or vermiculite any more. Those components will hold their proportion in your garden well after your great, great-grandchildren have gone. So, buying more of the pre-mixed MM becomes accidentally counterproductive....diluting the compost portion.

There are several ways to add compost to your SFG, though. One would be to buy several kinds of compost from a store (cow manure compost, mushroom compost, or veggie compost to name a few), mix those together either separately or directly in your garden. Mel recommends mixing 5 types of compost in case you accidentally pick up a "dud" type. Kind of the "don't put all your eggs in one basket" theory. Another way would be to start your own compost pile in your yard elsewhere.

Mel recommends adding compost after you pull your plants from a square. Put in a trowel full, mix it in, and replant immediately. You could also wait until the beginning or end of a season and add your composts then...mixing the entire bed. Don't sweat that part too much. You'll have a system hashed out soon enough. The point is: Have some compost on hand at all times. It will come in super handy.

I hope that helps you, too. And, I want to welcome you aboard. Any question is worth asking here and pictures are worth more than 1000 words. Hope to see more of you soon.
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Post  middlemamma 4/3/2011, 3:17 pm

You have some great answers here!

I'm a Newbie 396615 Glad to have you!
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Post  WolfHeart 4/3/2011, 3:26 pm

I'm a Newbie 396615 I too am still new to these boards. As you have seen already everyone here is super helpful and very encouraging.


OSCICarol wrote:... I only have Mel's mix in a bag that I bought from Lowe's last year. Is that ok?

So for myself, I didn't know you could buy MM in a premixed bag.... :?:

could anyone elaborate on this?

Thanks
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Post  Furbalsmom 4/3/2011, 6:21 pm

Wolfheart,

Some market areas are able to buy premixed Mel's Mix. Lowes is one of the retailers that carries it. Unfortunately, it is not available at my local (86 miles away) Lowes.

I would suggest you call your local Lowes and see if they carry premixed Mel's Mix. Maybe if you call they will even order it for you. It seems someone said they bought Mel's Mix from a different retailer too, but I don't remember who.

Maybe it would be a good idea to have a Mel's Mix Data Base, similar to our vermiculite Data Base. I will check with the powers that be and see if that is possible.
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Post  WolfHeart 4/3/2011, 6:41 pm

Thanks for the info Furbalsmom
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Post  OSCICarol 4/3/2011, 9:48 pm

Thank you Backyardbirdgardner, that was very good information and just what I needed to know. Only compost part needs replacing. Thanks again for the clarification. This is definitely a learning process. I haven't started my own compost pile yet. I'm waiting to see how the gardening part goes first then that will be the next step. Should I buy the several types of compost and mix together for the blend that I need?
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Post  BackyardBirdGardner 4/3/2011, 9:59 pm

OSCICarol wrote:Thank you Backyardbirdgardner, that was very good information and just what I needed to know. Only compost part needs replacing. Thanks again for the clarification. This is definitely a learning process. I haven't started my own compost pile yet. I'm waiting to see how the gardening part goes first then that will be the next step. Should I buy the several types of compost and mix together for the blend that I need?

I would. Mel recommends the 5 types of compost blended together to avoid putting all your nutrient eggs in one basket....kind of recommending balanced nutrition. But, also because some composts have proven to be duds. I think it's rare, but still....worth avoiding if possible. And, I think the "duds" have been stuff that isn't fully composted yet....check your bag, again if possible. I don't know that anyone would print it on there.

As for the learning process.....just hitch your wagon to the SFG Train. You'll be a cagey veteran in no time. Woo wooo!
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Post  dixie 4/3/2011, 10:40 pm

Welcome!!
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Post  OSCICarol 4/4/2011, 12:02 am

Thank you Everyone for the great welcome to SFG forum!!!
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