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Some Serious Issues With Finding Soil Mix Ingredients

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Some Serious Issues With Finding Soil Mix Ingredients

Post  Hasselback on 4/10/2012, 7:36 pm

Hello all.

First, let me explain that I live on the island of Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands. We have a great deal of trouble finding certain products here, as we do not enjoy a steady stream of commerce either to, or from, our island. That means that if something isn't readily available, there is little or no chance of getting it ordered. I usually resort to shopping on the internet, but the United States Postal Service wants a little bit too much to ship large bags of soil mix ingredients.

So, let's just assume that I have no (and I mean NO) access to vermiculite. Peat is also prohibitively expensive. Our native soil isn't terribly fertile from what I understand either, and I'd like to make up my own anyway to avoid some of the pretty intense flora we have from invading my garden. Basically, I can get my hands on bagged topsoil (sometimes), various potting mixes, MAYBE some pearlite from time to time and bagged compost (until my own gets up and running).

Now I've called around to try and find coconut coir, and have met with abject failure. Now I know you're all thinking "if the place is covered with coconut palms" ... it is ... "why doesn't anyone produce coir for a living. Getting into the whys and wherefores of the general lack of an entrepreneurial spirit here would take too long. Suffice to say, we don't make any, and it seems no one imports any. I can get my hands on more coconut shells than you can shake a stick at, but I frankly don't have the time (or the inclination) to shred them myself. Too labor intensive.

So...given all that. Can I get some suggestions on a soil mix? I plan on having good compost here in a bit, but it will take a while to get up and running, so assume I'm starting from zero for now, but will have a good supply of it in the future.

HELP!!!

George.
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Re: Some Serious Issues With Finding Soil Mix Ingredients

Post  camprn on 4/10/2012, 7:39 pm

Hi George, Welcome to the Forum!! Go with the perlite and compost! Have you had a chance to read the All New Square Foot Gardening book (2006) yet?

For sure go to the Forum Homepage and put the curser over to the left where its says 'Hover', there are some valuable, informative links there.

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Re: Some Serious Issues With Finding Soil Mix Ingredients

Post  kbb964 on 4/10/2012, 8:48 pm

I see a market opening .........
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Re: Some Serious Issues With Finding Soil Mix Ingredients

Post  walshevak on 4/10/2012, 11:22 pm

carbonized rice hulls, bat or sea bird guano and powdered quartz are used to amend the local soil in PI. I don't recommend using local soil, but the rest of the stuff could add to all the potting mixes (which may be heavy with Peat) you are able to get. My friends use fish emulsion to boost growing power.

Chopped banana stalks are used in making compost along with any other green stuf you can find and chop up. See if a local fisherman has fish guts. Maybe a chicken farmer an a pig farmer can scare up some manure. and be on the lookout for water buffalo droppings.

Vermiculite is actually very light. In order to get some to my friends, I use it to pack around and fill the care packages I send them. I've been able to get about 3 cu ft to them. Can family in the States send you a few care packages.Very Happy

Is there a local college that has an agriculture program. My friends were able to purchase compost from Philippine State U.

Kay

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Good News And Bad News

Post  Hasselback on 4/11/2012, 1:21 am

Well, I found vermiculite in the corner of a hardware store. They didn't even know they had it.

The problem is, that it's about ten bucks per 8 qt bag. They're the little bags sold for flower pots. This could get expensive.

G.
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Re: Some Serious Issues With Finding Soil Mix Ingredients

Post  sfg4uKim on 4/11/2012, 6:44 am

Hi and welcome to the Forum!

In the book Mel talks about using 100% compost in places w/o access to peat & vermiculite. Would you be able to start small (maybe only one or two boxes) and grow in straight compost this year while you possibly gather the other ingredients?

I agree that perlite might be the way you need to go if it's more accessible and less costly. There's nothing hugely "wrong" with it but Mel prefers vermiculite.

While you're talking to your local fisherman about fish guts, how about some sea weed?

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SUCCESS!!!

Post  Hasselback on 4/11/2012, 7:10 am

I found out that the Home Depot in Guam sells it for about 1/3 of what I'd have to pay here. I have a couple of friends going to/from Guam in the next few weeks. They're going to grab a couple bags each and put them in checked luggage. It should work, and give me enough vermiculite to get me started!

G.
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Re: Some Serious Issues With Finding Soil Mix Ingredients

Post  sfg4uKim on 4/11/2012, 8:11 am

Hasselback wrote:I found out that the Home Depot in Guam sells it for about 1/3 of what I'd have to pay here. I have a couple of friends going to/from Guam in the next few weeks. They're going to grab a couple bags each and put them in checked luggage. It should work, and give me enough vermiculite to get me started!

G.

FABULOUS! I offered to tape 2 bags together, make a handle out of duct tape & put it as my check-in bag when I went to visit my brother. Very Happy

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Re: Some Serious Issues With Finding Soil Mix Ingredients

Post  Hasselback on 4/11/2012, 9:21 am

Did TSA give you any grief?

G.
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Re: Some Serious Issues With Finding Soil Mix Ingredients

Post  sfg4uKim on 4/11/2012, 11:34 am

I offered, but by the time I was heading there he'd found a local source. Very Happy

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Re: Some Serious Issues With Finding Soil Mix Ingredients

Post  ScottInGuam on 4/13/2012, 6:00 pm

I live in Guam as well, and could not find any compost. I bought the closest thing I could and things seem to be going fine. I started my own compost pile and will be refreshing my SFG with it in the next couple weeks.
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