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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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Lavender Debs
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debo
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Post  debo 5/27/2011, 8:13 am

So with all this talk of bagged compost not being completely composted, I am wondering what to do. After searching all over and making lots of phone calls, I only came up with 4 composts- cow manure, worm castings, a horticultural compost I think was made of leaf, grass, and other yard wastes (it still had some short sticks in it, but otherwise looked OK), and mushroom compost which was quite lumpy.

After reading other posts, I am worried about the compost not having enough nutrients for my plants because I only have 4 and not all bagged compost is good compost.

Should I just add Chickity Doo Doo (I can get my hands on this but will have to drive a ways to get it)? I'm still confused about this since it is granular and not a "dirt." Or should I fertilize with fish emulsion? Or do both? Do I need to test my soil or just assume it's a little short on nutrients?

I really do not want to fail at this since I have already put a lot of money into this. I will be planting this weekend which is way later than I had wanted to, but with all the cold weather, rain, and difficulty finding compost this is the best I could do.
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Post  BackyardBirdGardner 5/27/2011, 8:55 am

Try to find the 5th however you can. But, realize we are only spreading things out to insure against a dud with the "5 types." It's hard to get 3 or 4 duds. Don't stress too much. But, keep looking for #5.
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Post  Lavender Debs 5/27/2011, 9:32 am

Get a soil test kit and test the mix you have. If you pay your county extension service to test your mix for you, they will send the results with a helpful sheet detailing what you can do to round out what you have. Can I just say that the mix that does best for me is the box that uses homegrown compost and nothing else (except for peat and vermiculite).

Bagged compost has become such a money maker that lots of companies are getting into the game (at least here in the West, I'm always shocked to read that it is difficult to find when even grocery stores carry it in the PNW) I keep reading that demand is so high that less care is taken to assure it is herbicide free. Herbicides are showing up in bagged compost that is made from yard waste because homeowners are still putting poison all over their lawn. A HUGE problem in the PNW because of run-off into our waters. (Lord, help me not get started down that post). The latest Mother Earth News (June/July 2011) has a piece on bagged compost problems. It confirms many of the rumors I have been hearing and includes ways to overcome the problem with time and additives (some are more theory than tried and true). My point being the sooner you can get your own pile going, the sooner you will know what your are feeding your box’s micro culture, and thus your plants.

Deborah....who just turned one of her piles yesterday
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Post  walshevak 5/27/2011, 9:58 am

I would treat the chickety doo doo as number 5 and go with it. Chicken manure is good stuff and I have it in my MM.


Kay

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Post  Barkie 5/27/2011, 12:20 pm

walshevak wrote:I would treat the chickety doo doo as number 5 and go with it. Chicken manure is good stuff and I have it in my MM.


Kay

Kay, as it is granular/pellets and not bulky how much would you/ or did you put in?
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Post  westie42 5/27/2011, 12:38 pm

The chicken fert I bought at a good ranch and garden store is indeed granular and had high NPK numbers so to be safe I used far less of it than an equal portion. In my two 12 foot boxes I mixed the first one per the book. In the second one I put in about 10% more compost and that box seems to be growing the best. Certainly you have KMart and WallMart in your neighborhood, ACE hardwares etc usually have some compost. Even in a small town area I have located several organic operations that use lots of compost. This area has quite a few Amish and Mennonites who can only use natural products so they are helpful resources. My last choice is the city lawn pickup compost and so far I have not been that desperate. Frankly never will get that desperate.
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Post  walshevak 5/27/2011, 3:33 pm

Barkie wrote:
walshevak wrote:I would treat the chickety doo doo as number 5 and go with it. Chicken manure is good stuff and I have it in my MM.


Kay

Kay, as it is granular/pellets and not bulky how much would you/ or did you put in?


I used Black Hen and it is indeed granular, but I still went with 1/5 of my mix. But I had one source that may have been iffy. I may have used too much, but all the green stuff in the the gardens is sure growing big. Carrots and basil seem to be growing well. I pulled two 6" Nantes carrots about as big around as a nickle from my bed yesterday. We shall see what happens now that the summer beans, tomatoes, cukes, and opo gourd are growing. The are all planted in beds that have used up some nutrients for the greens. The watermelon and cataloupe bed and the babysitting tomato/pepper/eggplant bed are undiluted mix. This is my first year, so I'm still learning what will and will not work, but so far, it has worked.

Kay


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Post  Reverend Curlee 5/27/2011, 7:13 pm

Hi Debo, I am new to this as well and am just getting ready to place and fill my beds. My local Wal Mart carries Cotton Burr Compost. You might want to check with Wal Marts in your area. Cotton Burr Compost is supposed to be really good. I'm going to use it as one of my 5. Good luck.

R.C.
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Post  debo 5/27/2011, 10:33 pm

Thank-you for all your responses. I believe I live in a part of the country that does not carry many different composts. For those of you who have said to keep looking or check out Walmart, trust me, I have exhausted all possible sources of obtaining compost including Walmart, Lowes, and Home Depot, as well as many garden centers and hardware stores. All the bags of compost I have found (not including the ones I bought) were cow manure or garden compost that contained peat as the first ingredient. Quite honestly, I was thrilled to find mushroom compost and worm castings. I had never heard of those or had seen them before starting out on this adventure.
So just an update, now that I know I can use chicken fertilizer, I went to the Farmer's Co-op just down the road and they had it. It was not Chickity Doo Doo, but just a different brand. So that's it. I think my very long and intensive search is over! I'm ready to finish filling my boxes and start planting!

Just a side note- I turned my compost pile today and saw steam! Yeah! Hopefully I will have my own compost soon!
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