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Mel's Mix. How strong is your backbone?

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Post  tegaan on 8/3/2011, 9:34 pm

Hi,



So what can I do to rescue my mix? I have now realized that my compost must have had too much filler (wood chips, etc). I used steer, sheep, mushroom, compost/worm castings and worm castings. (Not sure which one or ones were the problem). Plants are not growing well, few tomatoes, no peppers or carrots. And then I think I watered too much at the beginning.



What can I do now so I don't have to start all over...vermiculite is expensive!!



Help!! Kari
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Post  camprn on 8/3/2011, 9:37 pm

@tegaan wrote:Hi,



So what can I do to rescue my mix? I have now realized that my compost must have had too much filler (wood chips, etc). I used steer, sheep, mushroom, compost/worm castings and worm castings. (Not sure which one or ones were the problem). Plants are not growing well, few tomatoes, no peppers or carrots. And then I think I watered too much at the beginning.
What can I do now so I don't have to start all over...vermiculite is expensive!!
Help!! Kari
I would suggest home compost, if you have it. You do not need to remake your mix.
Have you tried your local sources of bulk compost from farmers, dairy, horse stables, chicken farms etc?


Last edited by camprn on 8/3/2011, 9:49 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post  tegaan on 8/3/2011, 9:45 pm

I am a renter and cannot have my own compost pile. As I am new I did not know to look at the compost first, I just bought bags. So can I just add more compost to the mix?



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Post  camprn on 8/3/2011, 9:47 pm

Yes I add compost to the top of the mix and not stir it in during the growing season. I strongly suggest finding a local source for compost and staying away from bags sold in box stores.

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Post  floyd1440 on 8/4/2011, 7:59 am

I am still looking for the course vermiculite locally but have not had any luck. Also check out the websites and they do carry it but the shipping is to high; $60 for what I need. The Agway I deal with it only has the medium grade and MAY have some next spring or summer so I cannot count on them. HD has some but it is also expensive as it only comes in small bags.

Anyone from the Norther W.Va. or western Pa. area who could help?
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Post  camprn on 8/4/2011, 8:20 am

@floyd1440 wrote:I am still looking for the course vermiculite locally but have not had any luck. Also check out the websites and they do carry it but the shipping is to high; $60 for what I need. The Agway I deal with it only has the medium grade and MAY have some next spring or summer so I cannot count on them. HD has some but it is also expensive as it only comes in small bags.

Anyone from the Norther W.Va. or western Pa. area who could help?
I searched my town high and low and finally found the course vermiculite at a local builder supply and hardware store. It was in the insulation department.

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Post  shannon1 on 8/5/2011, 2:40 am

@floyd1440 wrote:I am still looking for the course vermiculite locally but have not had any luck. Also check out the websites and they do carry it but the shipping is to high; $60 for what I need. The Agway I deal with it only has the medium grade and MAY have some next spring or summer so I cannot count on them. HD has some but it is also expensive as it only comes in small bags.

Anyone from the Norther W.Va. or western Pa. area who could help?
My local ace hardwear ordered it for me @ 25.00 for 4 cf, if I remember right
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Post  floyd1440 on 8/5/2011, 7:55 am

I will give ACE a try and other hardware stores.

Is course vermiculite used mainly for insulation? That may help me find a local supplier
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Post  westie42 on 8/5/2011, 9:21 am

Most insulation I have seen is lets say ungraded. There is no requirement for uniformity in insulation that is a specification for horticulture and hazardous material cleanup (government regulations) though. Insulation vermiculite will have random size particles in the bag and that will vary significantly form batch to batch of insulation. I have called several distributors to verify this. Horticultural (and HAZMAT) is also sterilized making it yet different from insulation. That can also be verified from the sungro.com web site. I prefer to call insulation grade sweepings. That does not necessarily make it bad for our purpose just a difference in choice and usually a small amount more costly. In my locality insulation is $13 for 3 cft while horticultural is $18 for 4 cft. bags. To muddy the waters even more they use the word horticulture in the company division name if they do make/sell vermiculite yet they maintain a strict product discription difference (obscure information) that makes it hard to accurately discuss the merits of the different product forms. Some of the incentive for higher costs is due to the Gov. regulations applied to the true hort/hazmat version of vermiculite which leads to the sterile and size graded aspects.
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Post  dhale999 on 9/21/2011, 3:09 pm

I found this at my nursery it looks promising.
Bumper Crop® Organic Soil Amendment - West Coast
A blend of composted fir bark and forest humus fortified with 15%
chicken manure, worm castings, bat guano and kelp meal. pH balanced with
dolomite and oyster shell lime. An all purpose pre-fertilized planting
and garden soil amendment. Excels as a nutrient rich top dressing and
mulch
Let me know what you think.
Thanks,
Duane Hale
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Post  james lujack on 12/27/2011, 1:26 am

I plan on purchasing all of MB's books.I have only the first.It is early AM and my eyes are crossing but was there a mention of rabbit composted manure?I have a source in Hardy AR. and since using roughly 10 gal of the stuff at 5.oo a 5 gal pail,I have a great number of night crawlers in my sfg's. This may be indicative of good soil?Every shovel (handspade) i turn over has worms and I am feeding them oak leaves cut up with a weedeater in a garbage can and coffee grounds. affraid sawing logs
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Post  camprn on 12/27/2011, 5:59 am

@james lujack wrote:I plan on purchasing all of MB's books.I have only the first.It is early AM and my eyes are crossing but was there a mention of rabbit composted manure?I have a source in Hardy AR. and since using roughly 10 gal of the stuff at 5.oo a 5 gal pail,I have a great number of night crawlers in my sfg's. This may be indicative of good soil?Every shovel (handspade) i turn over has worms and I am feeding them oak leaves cut up with a weedeater in a garbage can and coffee grounds. affraid Mel's Mix. How strong is your backbone? - Page 3 66559
Lucky, lucky you for having so many worms!!! If you have lots of worms there is plenty of organic matter in the bed. They LOVE coffee grounds! Mel's Mix. How strong is your backbone? - Page 3 692681

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Post  RoOsTeR on 12/27/2011, 9:31 am

James, first off I would like to welcome you to the boards! We love seeing new faces around here, especially when they are taking such an active interest.
Secondly, I would highly encourage you to pick up the newer version of the book:
Mel's Mix. How strong is your backbone? - Page 3 Ansfg_10

The original method is old and outdated and not really supported here on our forum. We use the all new method as it is so much easier. We kind of sum it up here:
https://squarefoot.forumotion.com/h29-experienced-intro

The new method will make your life much easier Very Happy

And again, welcome to the forum James!

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Post  bakermtb on 12/27/2011, 10:19 am

Thank You so much. I can't agree more about the soil. It makes or breaks the garden. I am a long time SF Gardener and Certified Teacher. I will pass this on to my students.
I learned a few things myself. Happy SFGardening.
Mike
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Post  floyd1440 on 12/27/2011, 6:24 pm

First james welcome to the forum; you will get a LOT of help here. I also had his original books years ago so I had to re-adjust after reading his new book. To date I built my first SFG but did not use Mel's mix last summer but have removed 8" and replaced it with the mix.

People who have used this mix swear by it so it must be good; having a small area getting/making compost is my struggle study
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Post  plantoid on 12/27/2011, 6:28 pm

@tegaan wrote:I am a renter and cannot have my own compost pile. As I am new I did not know to look at the compost first, I just bought bags. So can I just add more compost to the mix?



kari

Karie ,
Would you be allowed an extra unobtrusive lidded big garbage can preferably heavy duty plastic and be able to use that as a lidded composter with holes in it ?

You can take it with you when you move on as well .
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Post  Windsor.Parker on 1/2/2012, 8:45 pm

@dizzygardener wrote:How Strong is Your Backbone?

Here are some compost blends that are good for SFG:

• "Garden Manure": a mix of at least cow and hen manure, and possibly more

• "Organic Compost": shrimp and seaweed blended compost.

• "Penobscot Blend": salmon, mussels, and blueberries (with peat moss so adjust accordingly).

• "Quoddy Blend": crab, lobster, and aspen bark.

• "Chickity-Doo-Doo": granular chicken manure

• "Whitney Farms Planting Compost": aged and composted softwood bark and forest products, manure, dried poultry waste, feather meal. It should look like black dirt with no recognizable pieces of wood.

Does each ingredient in a bagged compost "blend" count as one of the 5 types needed?
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Post  camprn on 1/2/2012, 8:53 pm

@Windsor.Parker wrote:
@dizzygardener wrote:How Strong is Your Backbone?

Here are some compost blends that are good for SFG:

• "Garden Manure": a mix of at least cow and hen manure, and possibly more

• "Organic Compost": shrimp and seaweed blended compost.

• "Penobscot Blend": salmon, mussels, and blueberries (with peat moss so adjust accordingly).

• "Quoddy Blend": crab, lobster, and aspen bark.

• "Chickity-Doo-Doo": granular chicken manure

• "Whitney Farms Planting Compost": aged and composted softwood bark and forest products, manure, dried poultry waste, feather meal. It should look like black dirt with no recognizable pieces of wood.

Does each ingredient in a bagged compost "blend" count as one of the 5 types needed?

Most commercial composts are a blend of ingredients, but be wary, read the label, you may be getting a lot more peat moss than you would expect. Each bag of compost, as listed above is considered a different type.

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Post  Windsor.Parker on 1/2/2012, 10:20 pm

Mel's Mix. How strong is your backbone? - Page 3 61949Thanks Camprn,
Looks like my MM will be incomplete until I've added some of the worm castings we're harvesting. Meanwhile, would at least 6-7% castings suffice?
Mel's Mix. How strong is your backbone? - Page 3 27650
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Post  camprn on 1/2/2012, 10:23 pm

@Windsor.Parker wrote:Mel's Mix. How strong is your backbone? - Page 3 61949Thanks Camprn,
Looks like my MM will be incomplete until I've added some of the worm castings we're harvesting. Meanwhile, would at least 6-7% castings suffice?
Mel's Mix. How strong is your backbone? - Page 3 27650
What are the types of compost you have collected so far?

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Post  hkovach on 1/3/2012, 10:32 pm

Hey everyone, I am hoping someone can help me figure out roughly how many cubic feet are covered by the following: 40lb cow manure compost, 40lb chicken manure compost, 40lb mushroom compost & 6lb bag worm castings.

I have googled this to no avail! Even if you used different weight bags i dont mind doing calcs!
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Post  hkovach on 1/3/2012, 10:34 pm

Another question - worm castings are very costly in my area ($18 for 6 lb) so I dont want to buy a large amount. However, I have read how great they are for the garden & was thinking - since MM requires at least 5 types, could I use it as a 6th and blend it with another compost to equal the 1/5th needed?

Any & all feedback is appreciated! Thanks - hk
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Post  UnderTheBlackWalnut on 1/3/2012, 10:47 pm

Hi...many posters say that 40 lbs is equal to somewhere around .75 cu ft. But that's just a guide for purchase. When they go to mix it, many folks then use a 5 gallon bucket to mix equal parts of compost. A 5 gallon bucket should be about 1 cu ft.
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Post  Windsor.Parker on 1/4/2012, 3:00 am

@camprn wrote:
@Windsor.Parker wrote:Mel's Mix. How strong is your backbone? - Page 3 61949Thanks Camprn,
Looks like my MM will be incomplete until I've added some of the worm castings we're harvesting. Meanwhile, would at least 6-7% castings suffice?
Mel's Mix. How strong is your backbone? - Page 3 27650
What are the types of compost you have collected so far?

1. mushroom compost w/humus
2. cow manure compost
3. Natural Choice compost (Dr. Earth)
4. recycling center compost.

Peat isn't listed as an ingredient of any of the "bagged" ones (1. - 3.), and 4. is from a huge pile at my local recycling center.
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Post  camprn on 1/4/2012, 6:33 am

:cheers:Hooray! you have only one more to get!

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