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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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Mel's Mix and Potting Soil

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Mel's Mix and Potting Soil Empty Mel's Mix and Potting Soil

Post  MSJ 6/16/2011, 2:17 pm

I know the recipe for Mel's mix is 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 peat moss and 1/3 blended composts. Does anyone know the proportions and ingredients in potting soil? I'm wondering how close it is to Mel's Mix.
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Post  sfg4uKim 6/16/2011, 2:59 pm

That's very difficult to answer because potting soils vary greatly from company to company. You would need to contact each soil manufacturer to not only find a list of ingredients, but ALSO the proportion of each ingredients.

Now, one thing they'll probably tell you is that it contains "compost". You would need to ask what is in their compost and again ask for the proportions of each compost ingredient. USUALLY what they call "compost" contains a LOT of peat moss.

Perlite is usually finer than "coarse" vermiculite and tends to float to the top.

Also, if you've ever used potting soil for houseplants, you know that after awhile it leaves a white "ring" around the pot and quickly can lose fertility . . . so you will need to keep adding fertilizer (and get more white rings in your pots).

What chemicals does the potting soil contain for fertilizer? Another question you'll have the ask the manufacturer.

So how much TIME are you willing to spend to make sure what you are getting is the very best for your plants? Remember, Mel has already done the research for us (decades of it).

Remember, you are free to use whatever "soil" you wish, LOL as I've said before we're NOT garden Nazis here. Not all, but MOST of the failures we see here are due to people not following the Mel's Mix instructions correctly.

Up in the Google Search (upper left of the forum) type in "strong backbone" and you will see a great post about the whys & wherefores of Mel's Mix.

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I have seen women looking at jewelry ads with a misty eye and one hand resting on the heart, and I only know what they're feeling because that's how I read the seed catalogs in January - Barbara Kingsolver - Animal, Vegetable, Miracle


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Post  shannon1 6/17/2011, 3:14 am

All I can say is I grew some pots in Mel's Mix and some in straight compost and some others in potting soil I had left over. The MM pots out preformed the others by a wide margin. I am a firm believer that when mixed right there is no subsitute for MM.
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Post  sfg4uKim 6/17/2011, 7:37 am

I need my eyes checked. I thought you said you grew some POT in Mel's Mix. Shocked

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Post  camprn 6/17/2011, 8:26 am

MSJ wrote:I know the recipe for Mel's mix is 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 peat moss and 1/3 blended composts. Does anyone know the proportions and ingredients in potting soil? I'm wondering how close it is to Mel's Mix.
When I was on the hunt for vermiculite and I could not find it in my town, I resorted to seed starting mix like BM8 or Jiffy. The product listed the ingredients in the the bag in percentages, right there on the bag. I stay away from any product that says soil or loam.
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Post  sfg4uKim 6/17/2011, 8:43 am

MSJ:

You have the good fortune to be about 1 hour from the SFG Foundation where Mel's Mix is abundantly available. LOL I'm so jealous.

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Post  MSJ 6/17/2011, 1:45 pm

I have three 4x4 boxes filled with Mel's Mix I was able to purchase locally. I have run out of money and time so I set two 4x8 boxes on top of the ground and planted watermelon, cantaloupe, gourds and little pumpkins in the original dirt. I may live to regret it but I took a chance and bought some potting soil to fill up my last 4x4 box.

At Costco they featured products from a local company called Clean Earth Soils. They pick up leftover fruits, vegetables, coffee grounds from Costco stores, grocery stores and restaurants and they make mulch and potting soil. The mulch is made of 25 different fruits and vegetables and forest product.

I used the potting soil for my flower pots and the mulch for my potatoes and to amend the soil in the two big dirt boxes. I sent an e-mail and learned that their potting soil is 50% mulch, 35% shredded cocoanut husk and 15% perlite. Maybe next spring I can add peat moss and vermiculite to my potting soil box and come close to Mel's Mix. I am planting yellow zucchini and spaghetti squash in this box. Both squashes grew for me in plain old dirt before I started my square foot garden. We'll see what happens. I just need to get things in the ground!
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Post  sfg4uKim 6/17/2011, 2:30 pm

Cool. Please let us know how it goes!

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Post  BackyardBirdGardner 6/17/2011, 4:50 pm

Don't add peat to your potting soil. Potting mixes already have a lot of peat in them from what little I know of them.

I would add blended composts....or perhaps make my own for next year? You can't go wrong with a rich compost. Vermiculite...Pearlite....they are fairly similar in what they do. As mentioned before, though, Pearlite tends to float to the top after time. That would mean you need to do some mixing that vermiculite users wouldn't "have" to do.....therefore increasing the maintanence your garden requires over what the book recommends ever so slightly.

My two cents anyway.....and that and another 92c will get you a cup of coffee at a QuikieMart.
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Post  retired member 2 6/17/2011, 9:48 pm

I am using MM's in my pots too. Also using it as seed starter!
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Post  shannon1 6/18/2011, 3:44 am

ksroman wrote:I need my eyes checked. I thought you said you grew some POT in Mel's Mix. Shocked
If I was still in AK where it was legal I might try it. Mel's Mix and Potting Soil 889526I keep having to correct people. I have a potted garden not a pot garden.
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Post  TN_GARDENER 6/18/2011, 6:39 am

I think they each have their own recipe.

The Schultz company, founded in 1947, first marketed liquid food to promote healthy plant growth. In the mid-1990s, it entered the potting soil market. Schultz now offers several potting soil products, each with a specific purpose. Many of the ingredients in these products -- sphagnum peat moss, perlite, watering crystals and plant food -- are also sold individually.

Read more: Schultz Potting Soil Ingredients | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/list_7488580_schultz-potting-soil-ingredients.html#ixzz1Pcfvf5Sf


The most common ingredients used in potting soil are peat moss, composted bark and/or other plant materials, sand, and perlite (for drainage). Some potting soil mixtures contain particles of vermicompost, while other contain vermiculite for water retention. Most commercially available brands of potting soil have their pH fine-tuned with ground limestone, and some contain small amounts of fertilizer and slow-release nutrients.[2] Despite its name, little or no soil is used in potting soil because it is considered too heavy for growing houseplants.[3]
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Post  Hyzleyes 6/18/2011, 11:42 pm

shannon1 wrote:
ksroman wrote:I need my eyes checked. I thought you said you grew some POT in Mel's Mix. Shocked
If I was still in AK where it was legal I might try it. Mel's Mix and Potting Soil 889526I keep having to correct people. I have a potted garden not a pot garden.

Ahahahahaha! Mel's Mix and Potting Soil 641297
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Post  shannon1 6/19/2011, 1:08 am

I should just say container garden from now on. My TT is a big container is it not?
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