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SFG without Mel's Mix?

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SFG without Mel's Mix?

Post  ChristyMC on 5/8/2012, 3:11 pm

So I have run into a dilemma... We have assembled three garden beds and got them all ready to put the soil in but I only had enough mel's mix, that I had made up much earlier, to fill one box. But I wasn't worried because our local Lowe's carried the premade mix. So we went and bought all our plants but then didn't have time to get them planted yet. So I am about to go out and start planting, went to get more soil from Lowe's and they looked at me like I had grown a third arm or something when I asked where the square foot gardening soil went. I can't even find it online anymore. I have a big bag of vermiculite to make up more mix, but we are leaving for a two week vacation on Friday and I don't have time or ability to mix up the mix myself before we leave (I have a 14 month old baby and I'm 9 weeks pregnant so I can't mix it myself) So now I have all these veggies that need to get in the ground and no soil in all of my beds Sad So I guess what I want to know is: has anybody ever planted their garden without the mel's mix... like maybe just put in some "garden soil" that they sell at Lowe's or something? If I can't find something to put in those beds then I'm going to have to return all my plants and have no garden this year Sad

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Re: SFG without Mel's Mix?

Post  H_TX_2 on 5/8/2012, 3:31 pm

How were you planning on watering these while you are gone for 2 weeks? If someone is watering for you then you can leave the plants in the pots they came in and just water them until you get back.

If you have to put them into "garden soil" I would do that in a container and then when you get back replant the plants in MM in your squares. I wouldn't put the soil into the boxes. Another solution might be to use bags of compost to temporarily plant your plants until you get back home. Black Kow has a how to on using a back of their cow manure compost to plant tomatoes.
http://blackkow.com/_pdfs/bk_tomato.pdf

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Re: SFG without Mel's Mix?

Post  littlesapphire on 5/8/2012, 3:37 pm

Ha, that compost bag planting is very cool! We don't have Black Kow in our area so I've never seen that. Thanks for the link, H_TX_2.

ChristyMC, I think H_TX_2 gave you some great ideas all around. Temporarily potting your plants is a MUCH better idea than putting garden soil into your SFGs. The reason SFG works so well, after all, is because we use Mel's Mix to feed our plants.

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Re: SFG without Mel's Mix?

Post  plantoid on 5/8/2012, 4:10 pm

Think it through ... the one shot patio grow bags from garden centres etc for salad stuff and tomatoes or sometimes even carrots could be your salvation . Lay one on top of the other and use a carving knife to slice out a rectangle through the two sides of the top bag and the upper side of the lowest bag .. giving you a two tier bag of double depth .

If your partner feels like it stand a trio or more of bags on their ends , shake the contents down so that the bags become deep plant pots .. snip off the tops and roll the sides down to a inch above the contents and plant them up as needed .



Plant up and set up your watering needs , when the contents are " spent " after about six weeks or so and the nutrients used , use the contents as the fibre content of the MM .

What I have managed to do several times is transplant fair sized crops out of stood on end grow bags into the gardens made of mother earth well manured garden soil.

So long as it was well watered , the transplanted crops were soaked in their bags for several hours to give them the best chance of survival and to loosen the roots then they got "Puddled in " when planted in the garden ..

I did have to stake the brassicas to stop "wind rock " .. It did not work for raddish nor long root crops like parsnips or carrots .

I have also easily managed to transplant crops from one MM bed into another again plent of water to both beds but not too much so as to wash out any nutrients and puddle the transplant in at its new home.

I've transplanted brassicas , lettuce , onions , garlic and a few experimental carrots from MM to MM using this method.

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Of course

Post  CharlesB on 5/8/2012, 4:19 pm

@ChristyMC wrote:So I guess what I want to know is: has anybody ever planted their garden without the mel's mix... like maybe just put in some "garden soil" that they sell at Lowe's or something?

Yes, people do that.

However being that you planned on planting and going on vacation for two weeks I don't think anyone is going to be able to help you out in this regard.

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Re: SFG without Mel's Mix?

Post  quiltbea on 5/8/2012, 4:36 pm

I started by beds before reading Mel's 2nd book, so knew nothing of Mel's Mix. I started mine with garden loam, peat, composted manure, and some amendments. It worked out just fine.



You can use the bagged soil for now. Then when you can get the rest of the mixes, your boxes can be filled with the top 6" being your Mel's Mix. Leave the other soil in the bottom. By then you'll probably want more beds anyway, so fill the bottoms with any leftover soil you have and top with Mel's Mix for 6".

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Re: SFG without Mel's Mix?

Post  camprn on 5/8/2012, 6:10 pm

My best advice it stay away from anything that says 'soil' on the bag. My go to short cut, if I absolutely have to make a short cut, (and I strongly advise against) is get a seed start mix like BM6 or BM8, it is a mix of the peat and perlite, vermiculite, compost and some minerals, is pretty close to what you need to be 'closies ' to MM, then add the 5 mixed composts and/or your homemade compost. There's no getting around the need to mix. You have to make the choice. Good luck.
Info about BM8 here ~~~> http://www.jrjohnson.com/home.php?cat=348

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Re: SFG without Mel's Mix?

Post  floyd1440 on 5/8/2012, 8:06 pm

I had the same problem last year as well. Read Mel's book decades ago and did not know he wrote a new one with Mel's mix, so I did the best I could.

Once I read the new book I decided to remove the origanal material and put in Mel's mix and what a HUGE differense!!!

Get through this season and decide what do do going forward, which is replacing your boxes with Mel's mix as Bea alluded to.

Have a great vacation!!!!!!!


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Re: SFG without Mel's Mix?

Post  sceleste54 on 5/8/2012, 8:16 pm

I have to confess, I have a bed filled with Miracle Grow Potting Mix.. NOT potting soil !! Its primarily peat, compost, and perlite.. I added in some vermiculite as I planted transplants to lighten it up.. So far my results have been the same in the Mel's Mix and the Potting Mix...Look for it at the big box stores..Smile

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Re: SFG without Mel's Mix?

Post  quiltbea on 5/8/2012, 9:05 pm

I have found that MOST seed starting mixes are just that, for starting seeds. They depend on lightness for germination but as for nutrients, they add only enough to get the plant started. I would not use it in my garden boxes, not even for my transplants. That's why companies make potting soil, which takes plants to the next level, with plenty of nutrients to help them get a good growth boost.

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Re: SFG without Mel's Mix?

Post  BetsyC on 5/8/2012, 11:28 pm

I also admit that we filled our garden boxes with a mix of composts, vermiculite and peat moss from Lowes- before I had even heard about Mel's Mix. Sometimes I get too excited and forge ahead when I shouldn't! Hopefully next year I can make some Mel's and replace some of it so it's amended somewhat. So far it is working, though!

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Re: SFG without Mel's Mix?

Post  givvmistamps on 5/9/2012, 9:11 am

Another option is going with the slower, disabled person's mixing method that I use. I take an old toy kitchen pot that my boys used to play "cooking" with, and a 5 gallon bucket...take one scoop of each type of compost, 5 scoops of vermiculite, 5 scoops of peat moss, mix...repeat until the bucket is still light enough to carry...dump that into my box...wet it down really well...repeat above. It's slow, but it gets the job done. My husband sets all the bags up on lawn chairs for me, and right now my vermiculite and peat moss are still tall enough for me to reach in without bending over very far. He'll put them on chairs when I get down too far. What a Face I've filled one 1'x4' and several pots this way so far.

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Re: SFG without Mel's Mix?

Post  littlesapphire on 5/9/2012, 9:15 am

Good idea, Michelle I actually did something similar for my garden because I was too impatient to wait for my hubby to get home and help. I mixed the MM very slowly and in really small batches, and took it out one small bucketful at a time. Slow and steady wins the race!

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another way

Post  mudhill on 5/9/2012, 10:17 am

i call my self a hole gardener, i mix my concoxtion in a wheel barrel and put it in my planting holes.
when i plant seeds i take my finger or hoe handle make a small trench and put my mix in it,lay the seeds and cover them up with my mix.
sooner or later your garden will be full of the mix.
a poor man has poor ways.
it works for me.

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Re: SFG without Mel's Mix?

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