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Help a newbie

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Help a newbie

Post  mike01 on 5/27/2012, 9:26 pm

Hi all,

I'm here for some help! Smile

I started my first garden a couple of weeks ago and made the mistake of listening to the woman at the home center. I bought Miracle-Gro Garden Soil, which she told me was premixed and should be used straight. So I planted some small tomato and cucumber plants in it. Then, as I went to get more and filled my second raised bed (8x4, just like the first), I actually read the bag and learned that it is meant to be mixed 50/50 with regular soil.

The stuff I planted two weeks ago seems to be growing fine, a tiny bit slower than the plants I couldn't fit and had to leave in the pots they came in, but now I'm worried. Did I mess up? Should I pull the plants, mix in normal soil and put them back? What about bed number 2? Should I remove half the MG Garden Soil and mix with regular top soil before planting anything there?

Thanks in advance for your help.

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Re: Help a newbie

Post  Goosegirl on 5/28/2012, 7:21 am

Likely the biggest concern with not mixing it with soil would be fertilizer burn from it not being diluted. Another concern would be later on, getting lots of leaves but no fruit because of too high a nitrogen content. If you have to buy the stuff to fill your bed, I would suggest getting the components of Mels Mix instead, unless they are just not available in your location. Have you read the All New Square Foot Gardening book yet? If not, get a copy - buy or borrow from the library - it will make your gardening life SOOOO much easier! Mel's Mix is so much easier to deal with than amending soil!

GG

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Re: Help a newbie

Post  mike01 on 5/28/2012, 10:04 am

Thanks. There's no Mels Mix anywhere here.

So I guess I'll buy topsoil, remove half the garden soil from the unplanted bed and mix it in. The question is, what do I do with the planted bed? Should I remove the plants and do the same, then put them back?

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Re: Help a newbie

Post  walshevak on 5/28/2012, 12:16 pm

Check out this thread.

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t12517p15-is-miracle-gro-garden-soil-ok-to-use#124020

If you absolutely cannot get the components for Mels Mix, the try adding vermiculite or perlite and additional manure composts to the garden soil. It already has peat and some compost in it.



Kay

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Re: Help a newbie

Post  mike01 on 5/28/2012, 12:32 pm

What about just regular inert soil? I thought the issue here was too much fertilizer, not too little.

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Re: Help a newbie

Post  walshevak on 5/28/2012, 1:11 pm

I don't agree with the too much fertilizer after reading the components of the package. Plus, composted manures are slow release. I think adding vermiculite or perlite now to fluff up the mix, offset the peat and dilute the quick release fertilizers plus a "good" compost will make a mix more like Mels Mix. Just my opinion, and with that and a dollar you can get a Mcdonald's cup of coffee. But then I don't think packaged topsoil is worth wasting my money on unless I have a hole or low spot to fill.

As to pulling up the existing bed. If they are doing ok, leave them alone and keep a close watch this summer. Next year, do the proper MM. By then you might have located sources to do it Mel's way.

Kay

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Re: Help a newbie

Post  mike01 on 5/28/2012, 1:14 pm

Very complicated, this gardening stuff. Smile

So let me see if I understand correctly. After reading the contents of Miracle Grow Garden Soil, you think that it is not too much fertilizer but just a lesser quality soil? Or does it still have too much of something that needs to be offset as you seemed to have suggested?

Is the issue with using it alone that things will not grow as well as with a better soil mix like Mel's or that they will grow poorly or die because of the too much something?

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Re: Help a newbie

Post  walshevak on 5/28/2012, 1:45 pm

Personally, I think they will not grow as well because MM is a better quality mix. And at the end of the season, they will be all out of nutrients - maybe mid season. Does the package recommend adding Miracle Gro liquid mid season. But then MM is also low on nutrients after a growing season, that's why we have to replenish it with more 5 blend or homemade compost before replanting.

I'm not even convinced the garden soil has too much fertilizer per say, but it does need to be fluffed up with vermiculite or perlite. I have 4 different manures in my mix, and no fertilizer burn. It is the quick release chemical fertilizers in the Miracle Gro we are all concerned with. So if anybody out there has another way of looking at this, please help Mike out.

I still say add some vermiculite or perlite, another compost and mix well. You might even get another small bed's worth of mix. Watch the first bed for signs of needing additional nutrients during the summer and use a good compost to top dress or use compost or worm castings tea if necessary. Fall or next year you can correct the soil and go from there using the current mix for flower beds. But there is no reason to not have a garden this year because of this set back. I think you can make this work is spite of everything.
Kay

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Re: Help a newbie

Post  Goosegirl on 5/28/2012, 1:49 pm

@mike01 wrote:Thanks. There's no Mels Mix anywhere here.

So I guess I'll buy topsoil, remove half the garden soil from the unplanted bed and mix it in. The question is, what do I do with the planted bed? Should I remove the plants and do the same, then put them back?

Most areas don't have suppliers with the pre-mixed Mel's Mix. If you have access to composts, the formula is 1/3 peat, 1/3 vermiculite, and 1/3 blend of 5 different types of compost. Most of us make our own with bought or scavenged composts and start our own compost pile so we can replenish the mix after each harvest.

If you have to stick with the soils, I would suggest filling your new box with the correct dilution, then move your plants to that box. Then you can fix that box and then plant it again.

But just like MM, you will need to replenish the nutrients after harvest, so the best way to do that is to start your own compost pile now so you have good quality compost with lots of nutrients to add to your soil. No matter what kind of soil you end up using, good compost can only make it better!

GG

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Re: Help a newbie

Post  mike01 on 5/28/2012, 3:26 pm

Thanks all. I was all set to pull the plants until I saw a little green tomato on one of my tomato plants. I bought them two weeks ago and they were about 10-12" tall. In those two weeks they grew to about 18" tall, sprouted yellow flowers and now one has a tiny green tomato. I also bought cucumber plants and the original little round leafs turned white and yellow and kinda withered but they grew large healthy looking pointy leaves, this is the same thing that happened to the ones I left outside in the little pots they came in (I planned on moving them to the new bed).

So is it still worth it to pull the plants from the old bed? They seem to be doing well.

Also, for bed number 2 (and maybe 1 also), what ratio of compost and vermiculite should I add to the Garden Soil?

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Re: Help a newbie

Post  Goosegirl on 5/28/2012, 4:05 pm

@mike01 wrote:Thanks all. I was all set to pull the plants until I saw a little green tomato on one of my tomato plants. I bought them two weeks ago and they were about 10-12" tall. In those two weeks they grew to about 18" tall, sprouted yellow flowers and now one has a tiny green tomato. I also bought cucumber plants and the original little round leafs turned white and yellow and kinda withered but they grew large healthy looking pointy leaves, this is the same thing that happened to the ones I left outside in the little pots they came in (I planned on moving them to the new bed).

So is it still worth it to pull the plants from the old bed? They seem to be doing well.
If they are doing well, might as well leave them! If they look healthy and you even have some fruit starting you don't have to worry about fertilizer burn, and sounds like not too much nitrogen that it is stopping fruiting.

@mike01 wrote:Also, for bed number 2 (and maybe 1 also), what ratio of compost and vermiculite should I add to the Garden Soil?

Compost is where you are going to get your nutrients, so when in doubt, go heavy on compost. Vermiculite will loosen the soil and add water retention. Peat makes everything fluffy and loose. But neither peat nor vermiculite add nutrients. If you can't add peat and are just putting in vermiculite and compost with the soil, GO HEAVY ON COMPOST!!!

GG

PS - as stated earlier, the ideal MM, a soilless mix, is 1/3 (fluffed) peat, 1/3 vermiculite, and 1/3 compost. Mel recommends that if you can't get all the components in your part of the world, use straight compost. If you are trying to amend soil, remember that seeds want to live - if you give them even close to what they want, they will reward you! If your ratio is not exact, the seeds and sprouts will still try hard. Obviously they are liking something in your soil!

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Re: Help a newbie

Post  walshevak on 5/28/2012, 6:41 pm

+1 heavy on compost. Not knowing the ratios of peat to compost in the Miracle Gro soil, but thinking it might be heavy on peat, I would do 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 Miracle Gro, and 1/3 compost. Try at least a 2 or 3 compost blend. That will make you heavy on compost but more likely to have a good blend.

And congrats on the baby tomatos.

Kay

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