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Replacing Soil? Toplef10Replacing Soil? 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.

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Replacing Soil?

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Post  dpmaki 4/18/2011, 2:00 pm


Last season we started with our first SFG. Some things were successful, some were not. Overall we weren't very happy with our results. When we started our garden we had certified organic soil brought in from a local garden supply company. I'm wondering if this year I'd be better suited to remove some of the soil from last year and try making my own "Mel's Mix". Any suggestions on this? The garden gets full sun - we took good care of it and just didn't have much luck. I want to stay away from fertilizers.
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Post  dizzygardener 4/18/2011, 2:05 pm

Yes, make your own Mel's Mix and put that in your beds.

Your kind of situation is exactly why Mel says that the Mel's Mix is the backbone of his system. MM is a soiless mix that is jam-packed with nutrients, holds water well, and drains well. You need that super high nutrient content in order for all your plants to get what they need. Remember, you are forcing them into a tight space.
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Post  dpmaki 4/18/2011, 2:23 pm

So - should I remove everything or just some? It's an 8'x4' bed and is 12" deep so I think it's a bout a yard and 1/2 or so. Seems like a lot of soil to throw away.
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Post  dizzygardener 4/18/2011, 2:28 pm

I don't see why you couldn't leave some of it in, 5 inches or so, and fill the rest with Mel's Mix. Just don't mix the two. You could put weed cloth over the soil if you want. As for the rest, can you find another use for it? It isn't going to do you much good for SFG. It just doesn't have enough nutrients, water retention, or drainage.
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Post  BackyardBirdGardner 4/18/2011, 4:03 pm

@dpmaki wrote:So - should I remove everything or just some? It's an 8'x4' bed and is 12" deep so I think it's a bout a yard and 1/2 or so. Seems like a lot of soil to throw away.

I would start a compost pile with what I didn't keep in the SFG. I would then add peat moss, vermiculite and several more sources of compost proportionately. Once mixed in, you've reset your garden by the book. You'll likely see some results this season.

But, you're right. It's a shame to waste all that soil.......provided it's not complete trash. The best use I can think of is composting it for volume. Or, perhaps, topdressing other flower beds and bushes you have around the house.
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Post  AZDYJ2K 4/18/2011, 4:05 pm

@dizzygardener wrote:I don't see why you couldn't leave some of it in, 5 inches or so, and fill the rest with Mel's Mix. Just don't mix the two. You could put weed cloth over the soil if you want. As for the rest, can you find another use for it? It isn't going to do you much good for SFG. It just doesn't have enough nutrients, water retention, or drainage.

That's a good idea to leave 5". I have about a 15" deep tree ring that I'm converting and added about 6" of organic soil as the base, then covered with weed cloth and put my MM on top of that.

For the remainder, you might want to consider making another box just for corn. See this thread where Boffer mentions he uses 5 way compost. You could probably use it for a corn garden and mix in a bunch of 5 way compost with it.
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