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Mixing up your Mel's Mix

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Re: Mixing up your Mel's Mix

Post  Triciasgarden on 2/4/2013, 6:42 pm

I tried the tarp and didn't do very well with it. After that I used my wheelbarrow and a rounded shovel. I added the ingredients and with the shovel I would scoop up a pile and turn it over and over, mixing everything together. I tipped the wheelbarrow over and dumped the mix into the beds. It was a bit tricky because the tire on the wheelbarrow kept going flat. I made the mistake of watering after each bed was full. I am not sure for me which would be easier, wetting the mix while it is in the wheelbarrow or each load once it is in the bed.

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Re: Mixing up your Mel's Mix

Post  dixie on 2/4/2013, 7:31 pm

I have a Mantis tiller and it made quick work of the job.

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Re: Mixing up your Mel's Mix

Post  donnainzone5 on 2/4/2013, 7:44 pm

How much does the Mantis cost? Are the blades sharp?

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Re: Mixing up your Mel's Mix

Post  camprn on 2/4/2013, 8:00 pm

I saved my pennies and bought a Mantis mini tiller last year and I love it. I did use it to mix in place my Mel's mix for the raspberry bed but otherwise when blending and adding new Mel's mix to beds, I usually use a garden fork in the wheel barrow. I would be lost without my garden fork.

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Re: Mixing up your Mel's Mix

Post  dixie on 2/4/2013, 8:21 pm

I ordered mine direct from the company but you might find one at a hardware store locally. I notice that now they are listed on the web at $339, but you might find one locally at a better price. It has a lot more tines than a regular tiller, they turn extremely fast & the tines are very sharp. It does not have the curved tines that just hit on the top of the ground like most tillers. The first pic is the Mantis, the other is a traditional tined tiller. You won't be sorry for the expenditure. It's what we dug the trench for our beds with & the only tiller I own. I don't know the exact weight of it, but I'm 64 and it's no problem at all for me to lift & handle it.


Mantis Tiller


Traditional tiller


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Re: Mixing up your Mel's Mix

Post  donnainzone5 on 2/4/2013, 8:29 pm

These look like they might really chew up a wheelbarrow!

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Re: Mixing up your Mel's Mix

Post  dixie on 2/4/2013, 8:34 pm

A plastic tote will get eaten up eventually, and you will chip off some paint off a good wheelbarrow, but it doesn't damage the metal itself. It's actually easier on my back to mix in the plastic tote.

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Re: Mixing up your Mel's Mix

Post  bnoles on 2/4/2013, 9:59 pm

I bet that Mantis could do wonders in a compost pile too!

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Re: Mixing up your Mel's Mix

Post  plantoid on 2/5/2013, 9:34 am

I have an electric Manti with a tines set and a wheeled lawn spring rake set up as well . The tines were good for breaking into the compost heaps which were left on the concrete when I slid the black plastic compost bins off them .

With my long handled garden fork I spread out the compost heaps to a depth of about four inches deep on a concrete slab concrete and ran the wheeled grass rake over it on high speed .. I got covered in .... T Laughing
When I'd stopped laughing , affraid spitting it out & cleaned my glasses I remade the heap and did it again at mid speed & remade the rectangle .It worked better on mid speed . Laughing
I then put the vermiculite on to the same depth after remaking the rectangle of compost back to 4 inches deep and added four inches of composted coir . It didnt take long to get it well mixed and then as it was dry ( ish )it easily shovelled into my car trailer for bulk storage till I was able to decant it into my double wheeled barrow for taking round the gardens

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Re: Mixing up your Mel's Mix

Post  Triciasgarden on 2/9/2013, 10:13 pm

Oh Plantoid, that sure gave me a good laugh as I visualized you being covered! Thank you!

Ok I have to let you know my memory comes and goes (usually goes) and then something triggers it and bits come back. I have a Mantis and I did use it in the beds themselves to mix things up and also in the Spring to loosten up the MM. It sure bounces off the wood frame when you hit it, but you release the trigger and it is fine. This is my second Mantis and it was used, with a new motor put in it.

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Re: Mixing up your Mel's Mix

Post  Pepper on 2/10/2013, 9:49 pm

I am finally putting in another bed of MM. I still use the 'bucket of each ingredient in the wheel barrow; mix then dump' method. Takes a longer time but the blend is closer to the same. The ingredients blue barrel is compost mix,peat moss is prefluffed.
mix it up then dump

after a few loads rake out the keep repeating

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Re: Mixing up your Mel's Mix

Post  Dadoo on 2/11/2013, 12:39 am

When I am working with Special Needs or handicapped gardeners interested in mixing up the Mel's Mix, we will use 5 gallon pails with covers as the mixing vessels.

The goal is to have fun and learn so we generally don't set any production records when working in the garden.


When we mix the 5 compost varieties, I/ we use a 2 liter soda bottle with the top cut off for a measuring container. 1 of each compost is scooped into the 5 gallon pail. We close the lid and put the pail on its side and roll it to the mixing area.

If we're mixing Mel's Mix, we scoop 2 bottles each of Vermiculite, peat and blended compost into the 5 gallon pail, put the lid on and roll the pail to the planting bed. We pour the bucket into the bed and return to the mixing area. We will use 3-4 pails when mixing so as one rolls to the growing bed, another pail is being filled and so on. One of participants sprays the bed after a few inches of mix are evenly spread.

Regarding the abilities of the participants, the job is simplified to allow everyone to participate.
The 5 gallon method takes longer to prepare the mix but we don't have the issues with back strain and we limit the tools we need on site. We also are able to control wind blown particulate to some degree.

A plastic mixing trough and hoe can speed up mixing if these resources are available but we aim for minimal expense and exertion as goals.


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Re: Mixing up your Mel's Mix

Post  camprn on 2/11/2013, 7:18 am

Dadoo, what a great way to get it done! Good job! What a Face

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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: Mixing up your Mel's Mix

Post  arla on 2/17/2013, 8:22 pm

While mixing for my smaller "trial" tabletop I found a fairly good way for SMALLER loads

I put all the ingredients in an old 2 cu ft compost bag, I use a large gallon scoop that I have, once I've decided I've got enough in the bag (and have put in the right percentages of each thing) I just hold the top of the bag and shake vigorously, that pretty much seems to do the trick, and get it good and mixed, but was a lot easier on my back.

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Re: Mixing up your Mel's Mix

Post  quiltbea on 2/18/2013, 12:26 pm

Its ingenious the different ways we all mix our MM. Depending on circumstances, there are lots of choices. Good to know.

You could also shovel or scoop the measured contents into one of those large plastic trash barrels with the locking lids. Fill it about 2/3 full and then lay it on its side and roll it around the yard. Then roll it to your bed and tip it in.

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Mixing Mel's Mix

Post  donnainzone5 on 4/14/2013, 11:44 am

I'm frantically getting ready for Carrot Week.... by mixing up some more Mel's Mix. Soaking the seeds will be the easy part!

Finally, I figured out a fairly easy method, but my existing bag of peat moss isn't easy to stomp or "fluff." Stomping merely breaks it into slightly smaller chunks. In fact, I'm even tempted to park my car in the driveway, set up a tarp in the garage, dump peat moss on it, and run the car back and forth until the stuff is fluffed! That would save a LOT of time.

My current method is to stomp the pieces, then sit on the tarp with a mask and goggles on, and break the remaining clods up by rubbing them between both palms. (By the way, this is great exercise for the pectorals and upper arms.)

Using 5-gallon pails and a three-cubic-foot garden cart (well, it actually holds about 2.5 cubic feet), I can mix the peat and vermiculite easily enough. The composts get mixed about a cubic foot at a time on another tarp, then everything gets dumped and mixed in the traditional manner.

Fortunately, I can handle the tarp method with no more than three cubic feet of mix at a time.

Any suggestions are welcome.





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Use a tumbler?

Post  jgiedra on 5/1/2013, 9:45 pm

I have been mixing a lot of potting mix for seedlings and bare root plants, and was trying to think of an easier way, and a light just went off...I have a compost tumbler that is not being used at the moment. What about measuring out your ingredients into the tumbler then giving it a few spins? Easy to dump out into buckets or a wheelbarrow, should save a lot if shoveling...
Has anyone tried this?

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Re: Mixing up your Mel's Mix

Post  camprn on 5/1/2013, 10:10 pm

@jgiedra wrote:I have been mixing a lot of potting mix for seedlings and bare root plants, and was trying to think of an easier way, and a light just went off...I have a compost tumbler that is not being used at the moment. What about measuring out your ingredients into the tumbler then giving it a few spins? Easy to dump out into buckets or a wheelbarrow, should save a lot if shoveling...
Has anyone tried this?
A fabulous idea. We had a member here who used an old cement mixer to do the job.

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Outlander is outstanding!


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Re: Mixing up your Mel's Mix

Post  Gunny on 5/2/2013, 1:42 pm

The five gallon bucket idea worked fine, but I found that using a two gallon was a whole bunch easier and didn't overflow my little wheelbarrow. The loads were easier mixing and didn't weigh as much when wheeled over to the beds. This worked for me and may be helpful to others with back issues, etc.

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Re: Mixing up your Mel's Mix

Post  Lindacol on 5/2/2013, 4:13 pm

I know this is not the recommended way to do it but I mix mine right in the beds. A have the components right by the bed. Then add one bucket of vermiculite, one of peat and one of compost. Then mix well and lightly water and repeat til the bed is filled. If i have separate composts (not my mixed homemade) then I just rotate adding each compost. For the beds on the ground I use a shovel and rake to mix. For the tabletops I use hand tools such as my trowel and my hands. It is the simplest way for me to do it.

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Re: Mixing up your Mel's Mix

Post  Triciasgarden on 5/2/2013, 11:35 pm

These are all such great ideas!

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Re: Mixing up your Mel's Mix

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