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Use compost or play sand?? Toplef10Use compost or play sand?? 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.

Use compost or play sand?? I22gcj10Use compost or play sand?? 14dhcg10

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Use compost or play sand??

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Use compost or play sand?? Empty Use compost or play sand??

Post  cjrweb 5/17/2011, 6:10 pm

Hi,
I was calling around for my 5 compost ingredients and one local business who sells peat moss was very helpful and informative. He does not recommend using compost unless its my own. He talked about herbicides possibly in the commercial products. He suggested I start with 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 peat moss and 1/3 play sand and then begin my own composting and add that as I need. When I searched on the web, this herbicide thing does not sound good! I want a completely organic garden. If I chose only "organic" labeled compost would I be ok then? What do you all think? I feel stuck at this point in my planning.
Thanks for you help!
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Post  Tril 5/17/2011, 6:12 pm

Oh my... I'm brand new to SFG, so I know others will comment, but the compost isn't negotiable!! Sand has no nutrients in it. If you replace the compost with sand, where will your plants get the nutrients they need to grow???
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Post  cjrweb 5/17/2011, 6:17 pm

I wondered the same thing Tril. I wasn't sure if Peat Moss brings any nutrients.
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Post  camprn 5/17/2011, 6:18 pm

I would echo the no sand. Just go with compost. Are there any stables or dairies around where you live? Do you have a Farmers Market? Someone there may raise goats or llamas or something, or perhaps know where another source of compost may be. Peat or sphagnum is for soil conditioning and has virtually no nutrition for the plants. Keep on the compost hunt, you will prevail! Wink
Use compost or play sand?? 396615 to the SFG Forum!!!
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Post  cjrweb 5/17/2011, 6:31 pm

Thanks camprn for your reply. I don't think I'll have trouble finding compost. After on the phone I counted 4 different ones so far, but I want CLEAN compost. No risk of herbicides. Do you know what I should be looking for? "ORGANIC" or are there certain ones I should stay away from like the manures?

I also wondered if I should put 1/3 of our own soil instead of the compost or sand. We have pretty good soil up here in the north. It's farming country here.

Thanks!
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Post  camprn 5/17/2011, 6:38 pm

Organic is ideal, but beware, avoid products that have added peat moss, loam, top or garden soil. The idea is to have soilless Mel's Mix, which will not have weed seeds and is friable. Have you had a chance to read the All New Square Foot Gardening book? Mel lays his recipe out pretty clearly 1/3 peat (sphagnum) moss, 1/3 vermiculite (or perlite) and 1/3 compost from at least 5 sources. If you use the forum search feature, there are quite a few threads that deal with the issue and you will find some good info there. Keep the questions coming! Wink
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Post  cjrweb 5/17/2011, 8:26 pm

That sounds good camprn! If organic compost keeps me away from herbicides, that's what I'll shoot for then. That was my main concern right now. I do have his book, but he doesn't seem to go into great detail on how to buy compost (like sticking with only organic, as you suggest). And there is nothing in his book mentioning the concern with herbicides in compost that's been purchased. He also says nothing about staying away from the other ingredients you mentioned (top/garden soil, etc.), so thank you for those helpful details. Are there different types of peat moss? I hadn't seen the word "sphagnum" so I better check my peat moss product and make sure it's the right stuff. I do hope to start our own composting at home, so this issue won't last forever for me, but I just want to start out on the right foot!
Thanks so much!
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Post  cjrweb 5/17/2011, 8:34 pm

I just did some looking and this website talks about some "organic" manures may still have herbicides in them.
http://pested.blogspot.com/2009/05/how-herbicide-in-organic-compost-is.html

So, maybe I should stay away from any type of manure compost to be on the safe side.
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Post  camprn 5/17/2011, 8:43 pm

If you can find some small stable farm composts or composted dairy manure, more than likely you will not have an issue with herbicide. It is a rare event that the compost labeled, horse, steer, cow, mushroom etc will contain herbicide, whether it claims to be organic or not.
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Post  Patty from Yorktown 5/17/2011, 8:53 pm

I have gardened for a number of years and purchased compost from our local community dump. I am familiar with the herbicide articles that you are referring to. Can you identify any gardeners in your area that are having problems? Can you figure out a brand? Those are the pieces of information I would look for first. You have to put some nutrition in your mix or your plants will not grow. Vermiculite and peat moss are in the mix for water retention and to keep the mix fluffy (that's a technical term.) If you have time on your hands you can start by making your own compost. My garden is too large to do this and I am too lazy as well. An other approach might be to make a small batch and plant a test plant. If it thrives, then forge ahead. Hope this helps.

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Post  camprn 5/17/2011, 8:56 pm

@Patty from Yorktown wrote: to keep the mix fluffy (that's a technical term.)
Use compost or play sand?? 262465
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Post  cjrweb 5/17/2011, 10:20 pm

Thanks Patty,

No, there were not any local concerns of it happening here that I'm aware of. I first learned of this issue by a phone call with a local peat moss company who told me about herbicides in commerical compost in general. I'm sure he would have mentioned it if there had been locals having issues. I'm figuring this is a rare possiblity as not much is talked about on this website, so I guess I'll have to just take the plunge and hope for the best.
I do hope to contact our state extention office about this to see if I have anything to worry about and I may contact our local organic grocery store for possible compost sources.
Thanks for all the feedback!
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Post  Barkie 5/18/2011, 5:22 am

@camprn wrote:If you can find some small stable farm composts or composted dairy manure, more than likely you will not have an issue with herbicide. It is a rare event that the compost labeled, horse, steer, cow, mushroom etc will contain herbicide, whether it claims to be organic or not.

+1

If you go to a small stables or farm you can ask if they used herbicides on the grassland the manure is made from, and what they used if any, to help you decide if you want to take any of it.
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Post  cjrweb 5/18/2011, 9:10 am

Thanks Barkie,

I'll be sure to double check that!
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