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Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 10/24/2011, 11:18 pm

I understand the basics of Mel's Mix. It's 1/3 compost, 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 peat moss. In one of the other threads I read that you need at least 5 different kinds of compost. What if I use my own compost? Do I still need 4 others?
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Post  boffer on 10/24/2011, 11:22 pm

This is one of the reasons why everyone suggested getting the book, in other posts! Mel uses a whole chapter to explain the importance of composts.

Two important threads:

https://squarefoot.forumotion.com/t7452-mel-s-mix-how-strong-is-your-backbone

https://squarefoot.forumotion.com/t7023-mel-s-mix-pyramid
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Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 10/24/2011, 11:41 pm

I am planning on getting the book this week. I won't be able to get it until maybe Saturday. I'm hoping someone could give me a heads up on the 5 different composts.
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Post  Guest on 10/24/2011, 11:50 pm

Thanks Boffer. Your first link is very helpful. I hadn't seen that before; dizzygardener did a nice job.
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Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 10/24/2011, 11:50 pm

I read the "how strong is your backbone" thread and if I am reading that correctly, my compost pile(a mixture of yard waste and fruit/veggie scraps) would be considered one ingredient . All I would have to do is add 4 more ingredients? Those 4 ingredients could be horse manure, cow manure, chicken manure, and rabbit manure? If I am understanding that thread properly, those 5 ingredients I just mentioned would give me the compost portion of MM?
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Post  boffer on 10/25/2011, 12:04 am

Yes it would. And it would be a good combination. And being in PA, if you could add leaves, it would be even better!
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Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 10/25/2011, 12:14 am

Well then, I understand MM a little bit better. Thanks for the heads up Boffer. And yes, there are a ton of leaves all over here.....just not in my yard right now. The oak tree I have is a pin oak and it drops the majority of the leaves in the spring. It's not a total loss though....a friend of mine is giving me a couple of bags of leaves when he rakes them up(hopefully soon), and I could always go around the area and rake up piles of leaves that I see.
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Post  westie42 on 10/25/2011, 2:22 am

I have at least half a dozen different folks delivering mower mulched and bagged leaves to my place daily. Sometimes when I come home there are bags sitting there that I have no idea where they came from. The word spreads fast. To entice delivery I offer to return the empty bags for their reuse, sometimes I pick them up the first time. I suppose at least 100 bags have shown up so far and this is a small town. I have a delightful mixture of different kinds of leaves. I do ask for leaves from untreated lawns only because being mower bagged there is some grass in the mix. I also have from a garage sale a Craftsman Leaf Whacker to further chop the leaves. I am loving this leaf whacker after two passes thru it what remains is from dust to oat meal sized leaf residue. A bag of just dry leaves weighs next to nothing while later a bag of the processed stuff is hard to handle. It takes about 10 minutes to double chop a bag and I need to replace the whacker cord after about 8-10 bags, it’s just heavy duty nylon trimmer cord which takes 10 minutes to cut and install.
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Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 10/25/2011, 9:24 am

Mulched leaves are phenomenal for composting. They break down rather fast, and they attract worms/bugs like crazy.....another "source" of ingredients. Worm castings are one of the very best things to have in a garden, and if you can create an environment in which they thrive, next season's garden will thank you for it.

While the grass is still green and growing, don't be afraid to toss in some fresh clippings here and there, too. Kitchen scraps also do the trick.

I don't think I'm breaking any news here....just adding a bit of what I didn't see in this thread yet.
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Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 10/25/2011, 7:09 pm

When I started out my compost pile, I used alot of grass. That was before I read that it's not really good to use alot of grass. That's before I knew about the green/brown business. Now what I do is use the grass as a "top coat" whenever I add stuff to the pile or I turn it. The neighbors might have a hissy fit if they see a big pile of "junk" Grass sort of neatens it up somewhat.
A friend of mine is giving me a couple bags of leaves from his lawn and that's going right in the compost pile....after I chop it up with the lawn mower.
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Post  boffer on 10/25/2011, 7:19 pm

Food for thought: I can never remember what's green and what's brown, and there are lots of opinions out there as to what the ratios should be.

What works for me is the idea of poops and plants. 50-50. 40-60 one way or another. My grass is 15-20% of my compost.

You may be interested in this thread:
https://squarefoot.forumotion.com/t8673-mel-s-mix-lab-analysis-results
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Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 10/26/2011, 10:33 pm

Yeah, everywhere you read, ratios from green to brown really vary. Just add a little green to your brown and you should be fine. From everything I've read, the green kind of increases the chance of stink. I don't care if my compost stinks, so I pay little attention to the ratios. What I have is what I dump on the pile. I turn it frequently, and it.....eventually......breaks down.

I am not a speed composter, and I don't care what it looks or smells like. The plants like it all the same, imo.
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Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 10/26/2011, 11:05 pm

I don't pay attention to the ratios either.....I know my ratios are way off but the way I'm doing it seems to work. If I need to add some browns, I'll add some shredded newspaper. Tomorrow I'm picking up a couple bags of leaves from a friend of mine so that'll work out.
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Post  middlemamma on 10/27/2011, 5:00 am

I am a lazy composter. I figure in another year I might have something I can use. I keep throwing plant matter on the pile in one form or the other, I have never turned it...I keep meaning too but I never get here. Eventually, no matter how lazy I am it will become dirt... Smile

I don't pay attention to ratios either...if it can be composted it gets thrown on. I am in it for the long haul so I don't care...not a speed demon either.
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Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 10/27/2011, 8:05 am

I think in the spring I am going to have another bin so I can have two going at one time.

I use a compost thermometer and when the temp drops below 100 degrees, I give it a turn. I am not really faithful with that because having a free-form pile makes it hard to keep it together. That's why I'm building a wire bin. I have it all planned out in my head and I just hope I can make it a reality lol!
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Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 10/27/2011, 9:09 am

Haha...I don't even measure the temps, except with my hand. And it never gets warmer than lukewarm. But, again, I don't care. I know it takes longer and I'll have weeds, but oh well.

Jennie, turning it is easy.....it's a kids' chore if you want it to be. They smart off....they turn compost. Amazing how they "straighten up and fly right" after an episode of turning poo. Some people think that's mean. I think NOT doing stuff like that is "soft." And, I never mind the compliments from other parents saying, "Gee, your kids are always so polite. How do you do it? I wish mine were that way."

Hmmmm.
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Post  ksbmom on 10/27/2011, 12:10 pm

Hmmm, that's the same way I use the chicken coop - you don't do your assigned chores, you get to clean out the coop too! Now I can add "you can also turn the compost!" Thanks!Laughing
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Post  Cincinnati on 10/27/2011, 6:25 pm

@Too Tall Tomatoes wrote:I read the "how strong is your backbone" thread and if I am reading that correctly, my compost pile(a mixture of yard waste and fruit/veggie scraps) would be considered one ingredient ...

I don't understand that from the book. Yard Waste, fruit, vegetables are at least 3 sources of compost. My understanding is one source is not equally balanced in the nutrients it provides. But multiple sources gives a good nutrient/micro-nutrient balance.

My homemade compost is from grass clippings, various types of leaves, fruits and vegetables waste from the kitchen, and when I have it at the season's end, various plants from the garden (sunflower, cornstalks, bean plants). I had it tested and it indeed does contain high levels of NPK and all the micro-nutrients. SO if your "yard waste" is from multiple sources (pecan leaves, shrub leaves, grass clippings = 3 sources) as well as your fruit/veggie waste you should be fine. Have it tested if in doubt . If you have 10 sources, even better.

All bagged compost that I bought has been from single sources: pine bark, mushroom, rotted cow manure, etc. I have thrown a half bag of one of these composts into my composter mostly because the bagged compost I have purchased often looks like mulch instead of compost. Pine bark is often not fully decayed. But the point of my post is I believe each source (grass clippings, oak leaves, maple leaves, cornstalks are each a source) counts toward the five. So you have to look at your yard waste to see what it comprises and what types of fruit and vegetables are being added.

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Post  middlemamma on 10/27/2011, 8:16 pm

@BackyardBirdGardner wrote:Haha...I don't even measure the temps, except with my hand. And it never gets warmer than lukewarm. But, again, I don't care. I know it takes longer and I'll have weeds, but oh well.

Jennie, turning it is easy.....it's a kids' chore if you want it to be. They smart off....they turn compost. Amazing how they "straighten up and fly right" after an episode of turning poo. Some people think that's mean. I think NOT doing stuff like that is "soft." And, I never mind the compliments from other parents saying, "Gee, your kids are always so polite. How do you do it? I wish mine were that way."

Hmmmm.

I so need to be harder on my kids....I really suck at it. I can't even get them to pull weeds. Wanna come give me a seminar!?!?!?
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Post  UnderTheBlackWalnut on 10/28/2011, 10:40 am

Jennie - don't feel bad! I know that I was chief weeder and sweeper growing up (probably because I was the least athletic and the most patient of the kids). I STILL weed and sweep myself. BUT, I'm seriously thinking of sending my 19-year-old down to BBG for a while for some "straightening up and flying right" lessons... rofl

Hey BBG - I think Jennie and I may have hit on a new career option for you to investigate.... Smile
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Post  boffer on 10/28/2011, 11:26 am

Do it the old school way: drug your kids...

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Post  RoOsTeR on 10/29/2011, 11:36 am

@boffer wrote:Do it the old school way: drug your kids...

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Now that is a fantastic post! 100% approve rock on

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Post  Luci Dawson on 10/29/2011, 12:36 pm

Absolutely spot on, Boffer!
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Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 10/29/2011, 11:37 pm

When Mel says that you need a blend of 5 composts, I'm assuming equal portions of each. If I were to buy 5 different bagged composts it would be easy to blend....it's all "pre-measured" But since I have my own compost pile(soon to be binned!) how much of each of the different composts should I use? It'll take forever to measure out the compost pile.

Yes...I know I need to get the book but since I was snowed in today, I was unable to run out and get it. I'm just looking for a heads up on the compost blend.
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Post  UnderTheBlackWalnut on 10/29/2011, 11:45 pm

Many people just use a standard measuring bucket, like a five gallon pail. They fill it once with each of their composts (so if you have five, you will fill it with one bucket of each of the five and mix that up to get the blended compost). Then you will fill it five times with peat, and five times with vermiculite and mix that with your blended compost. Thus, you will have five buckets of compost (one of each of the five kinds), five buckets of peat and five buckets of vermiculite. Then, repeat the process all over again. Make sense? Smile
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