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Soil mix

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Soil mix

Post  sadears on 3/11/2012, 12:11 pm

When I built my beds several years ago, I did two things wrong. I didn't use Mel's mix and I forgot to put a weed barrier down BOTH TIMES! Uggh! I had a great crop that first year, but hit and miss since. I spoke to several people over the years who said their crops weren't great those years either, though I don't know if they used SFG or not. I also have been getting bunches of weeds.

Last year I put bags of garden soil down, slit them, and planted that way in an attempt to avoid weeds. It worked but now I am going to dump said bags into the beds.

Several questions...

- Should I put anything else in there besides a trowel full of compost in each square?

- As for weeds, I heard about corn gluten pre-emergent to prevent weeds. I just have to either plant inside and transplant or put the preemergent down after my seeds emerge.

What do you think about all that?

Any suggestions would be helpful.

Stephanie
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Re: Soil mix

Post  camprn on 3/11/2012, 12:22 pm

sadears wrote:When I built my beds several years ago, I did two things wrong. I didn't use Mel's mix and I forgot to put a weed barrier down BOTH TIMES! Uggh! I had a great crop that first year, but hit and miss since. I spoke to several people over the years who said their crops weren't great those years either, though I don't know if they used SFG or not. I also have been getting bunches of weeds.

Last year I put bags of garden soil down, slit them, and planted that way in an attempt to avoid weeds. It worked but now I am going to dump said bags into the beds.

Several questions...

- Should I put anything else in there besides a trowel full of compost in each square?

- As for weeds, I heard about corn gluten pre-emergent to prevent weeds. I just have to either plant inside and transplant or put the preemergent down after my seeds emerge.

What do you think about all that?

Any suggestions would be helpful.

Stephanie
If it were my garden and I wanted to reduce the headaches and weeds to a minimum, I would start over, dig out the beds, line it with the weed barrier or a heavy layer of cardboard and put in fresh Mel's Mix as described in the All New Square Foot Gardening book (2006). This way I would not have to faff about with pre-emergent this or that, unknown weed seeds in the mix or other unknown variables.

All the 'soil' that is taken out of the beds I would consider turning into a flower cutting garden.

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OH JOY!

Post  sadears on 3/11/2012, 1:16 pm

bounce I am not surprised by your response. I was hoping you'd give me suggestions for amending. So since I know that's the right thing to do, that is what I will do. Thanks...

Stephanie
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Re: Soil mix

Post  quiltbea on 3/11/2012, 2:38 pm

If you won't or can't do a soil test first to see what is specifically needed by your soil, then with a general garden bed, I'd get some Organic 5-10-5 fertilizer and add according to the package. It'll give you the Nitrogen, Phospherus and Potassium that is generally needed. You'll at least be replacing most of the things that have been used up by the earlier crops so it should improve your next season.

In the meantime, each time you plant a new square or transplant, add a large trowelful of good aged compost to the square. Good compost can never hurt. If you are transplanting a brassica, I'd add a handful of limestone to the hole since it will help prevent clubroot.

When I started, my beds weren't MM either. I had started mine before I knew about such a thing so had to learn to amend my soil. Good luck.
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Just did the math

Post  sadears on 3/11/2012, 3:50 pm

As I guessed, replacing all the soil is not an option (read not in the budget), so I think I will go with the latest suggestion.

If it doesn't work, I will try replacing it next season.

Thanks all

Stephanie
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Re: Soil mix

Post  camprn on 3/11/2012, 4:50 pm

Sounds like a plan! From past experience amendments with compost or composted manure, peat, blood and bone meal, a bit of lime or wood ash mixed well with a fork then less compact plantings to allow for cultivation early and then mulch for water retention and weed suppression should get you some good results. Very Happy

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There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

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mulch

Post  sadears on 3/11/2012, 6:18 pm

Do you have a suggestion for mulch? I tried wood chips last year. Was not impressed. Found a place that sells straw. Do you think that's a good idea?

Steph
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Re: Soil mix

Post  camprn on 3/11/2012, 6:33 pm

Straw, if you can get it (not hay), shredded bark or chopped dried leaves work pretty well too. You could top dress the garden with a thick layer of homemade compost for similar effect and at the end of the year just turn it under.
Wood chips will draw nitrogen from the very top layer of soil when they break down; wood chips are good for paths not for garden proper.

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There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

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Re: Soil mix

Post  walshevak on 3/11/2012, 6:41 pm

Newpapers make a good cheap mulch. I used to put them between the "rows" and around the individual tomato, pepper, cuke, and squash plants and then put dirt clods on top to hold them down. Then in the fall I could just dig it under. In a SFG I would probably shred the papers first to make it easier to get between our close planting.

Kay

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All of it?

Post  sadears on 3/12/2012, 10:25 am

camprn wrote:Sounds like a plan! From past experience amendments with compost or composted manure, peat, blood and bone meal, a bit of lime or wood ash mixed well with a fork then less compact plantings to allow for cultivation early and then mulch for water retention and weed suppression should get you some good results. Very Happy

I have mushroom compost. So add peat, blood meal, bone meal, and lime or wood ash? How much for a 4x4?

I bought a soil test kit. I guess that would answer that question?

A nursery told me about corn gluten pre-emergent for weeds. Any thoughts? Someone else told me about 5-10-5 fertilizer, but I can't seem to find it.
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Re: Soil mix

Post  camprn on 3/12/2012, 7:54 pm

sadears wrote:
camprn wrote:Sounds like a plan! From past experience amendments with compost or composted manure, peat, blood and bone meal, a bit of lime or wood ash mixed well with a fork then less compact plantings to allow for cultivation early and then mulch for water retention and weed suppression should get you some good results. Very Happy

I have mushroom compost. So add peat, blood meal, bone meal, and lime or wood ash? How much for a 4x4?

I bought a soil test kit. I guess that would answer that question?

A nursery told me about corn gluten pre-emergent for weeds. Any thoughts? Someone else told me about 5-10-5 fertilizer, but I can't seem to find it.
Mushroom compost is ok. Don't add too much peat, it has no nutritive value but increases the tilth of the soil. If you have any dairy or horse or goat farms nearby, see if they have any composted manure for sale. For a 4x4 a bag or 3.
blood meal, a cup or two sprinkled lightly. Bonemeal, sprinkle it to cover the soil, not too much. Even less the wood (not charcoal grill) ashes. mix it all together with a garden fork. If you have pH issues at the end of the growing season, add crushed limestone. You can probably find videos on youtube that will show you how to do all this.
The premergent corn gluten treatment... what exaclty is that for and why would you want to use it? I would guess that at this time, unless you turned under a bunch of weeds you won't need it. The time release fertilizer is not something I would recommend just now. It sounds like you want to build the health of your growing soil, (which yields healthy juice veggies) so adding different types of compost will take you in that direction.

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Preemergent corn gluten

Post  sadears on 3/12/2012, 8:56 pm

Thanks for the info.

The corn gluten is for weeds of course Razz The area I put the 4x4s had weed barrier under the gravel. Last couple seasons I developed weeds really bad. Guess the stuff doesn't last forever. I mentioned I didn't put addition weed barrier down when I built the boxes. Spoke to a nursery person who suggested I use it to prevent weeds. One day there's nothing...next they're everywhere. Just trying to get ahead of it.
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pH

Post  sadears on 3/14/2012, 12:17 pm

So I tested my soil. Don't know how accurate it is. but, it showed both beds pH of 8. Nitrogen medium, phosphorus high, and potassium high.
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Re: Soil mix

Post  camprn on 3/14/2012, 1:12 pm

oh boy, correction is in order. It is good to know where to start. Very Happy For a better analysis you may want to send a sample to a lab. There are a few labs listed in this thread.

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There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

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