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My interesting Saturday morning with an Ag Scientist

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My interesting Saturday morning with an Ag Scientist

Post  Hardcoir on 3/10/2013, 9:39 pm

After realizing that our finished compost was going to fall quite a bit short of what we hoped, we had to go purchase additional compost yesterday. We went to the Williamson County Co-op in Franklin, TN, to buy six different composts.

Upon, arrival, there was a 4 foot by 4 foot wooden raised bed with 16 grids laid out--sound familiar?

Curiously nearby, there was peat moss and a couple of different composts on display.

While looking through our compost options, we finally decided on horse manure, cow manure, hen manure, humus, worm castings, and mushroom compost to add to the 40 or so gallons of homemade compost that is ready to use.

Another customer struck up a conversation with me about Square Foot Gardening and Mel's Mix. He was quite interesting. He acknowledged how wonderful this new method is for the general public, many of whom no longer have time to garden the old fashioned way.

After informing me that he has a master's degree in Ag Science, he offered his expert advice on the subject. He believes that Mel's Mix is an excellent starting point, but he also believes that it should be improved with other ingredients.

He told me that mircronutrients and mycorrhizae should be added to the mix, and he believed that periodic watering with liquid seaweed would make the medium supercharged. He went so far as to predict that the harvest from such a mix would beat anything.

I told him that I use Azomite and a combination of Bio-Tone Starter Plus and Flower Tone to boost the compost because I am always a bit leery that our homemade compost may be lacking. He said that if about every 10-14 days, I water with liquid seaweed added, that I should enjoy my most productive season ever.

So, today, I bought a couple bottles of liquid seaweed at a garden center, since the co-op does not carry it.

I just thought I would get this information out there if anybody else wants to experiment--maybe try Mel's Mix in 50% and Mel's Mix plus in the other 50%. I will be using the Mel's Mix plus in all our containers, self-watering containers, and raised beds, and I will be adding the micronutrients, mycorrhizae, and liquid seaweed to the old squares from the first book.

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Re: My interesting Saturday morning with an Ag Scientist

Post  quiltbea on 3/10/2013, 10:24 pm

That's a good way to find out what works best for you. I agree to try something else just to find out. Experimenting to get the best garden produce is a good thing.

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Re: My interesting Saturday morning with an Ag Scientist

Post  plantoid on 3/11/2013, 6:01 am

Save your money ....MM works , you improve it over time with your home made compost .

If you re read Mel's Book ( shown below ) you'll seee that his start up mix is only the basic starting point for the soil less growth medium.
He recommends composting anything that grows to make your own super compost .
If you can get fresh seaweed so much the better .

You'll grow your own fungi and infuse your own micro nutrients in it. The more varied the contents of your compost the better it will be so long as you stick to the ratios suggested .

I say as a consequence .....if you make lots of your own balanced composts and have enough to start new beds there will be no need to locate the five compost components you originally needed to make the first batch of MM because your own home made compost will be far superior to it .

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Re: My interesting Saturday morning with an Ag Scientist

Post  RoOsTeR on 3/16/2013, 1:13 pm

@Hardcoir wrote:After realizing that our finished compost was going to fall quite a bit short of what we hoped, we had to go purchase additional compost yesterday. We went to the Williamson County Co-op in Franklin, TN, to buy six different composts.

Upon, arrival, there was a 4 foot by 4 foot wooden raised bed with 16 grids laid out--sound familiar?

Curiously nearby, there was peat moss and a couple of different composts on display.

While looking through our compost options, we finally decided on horse manure, cow manure, hen manure, humus, worm castings, and mushroom compost to add to the 40 or so gallons of homemade compost that is ready to use.

Another customer struck up a conversation with me about Square Foot Gardening and Mel's Mix. He was quite interesting. He acknowledged how wonderful this new method is for the general public, many of whom no longer have time to garden the old fashioned way.

After informing me that he has a master's degree in Ag Science, he offered his expert advice on the subject. He believes that Mel's Mix is an excellent starting point, but he also believes that it should be improved with other ingredients.

He told me that mircronutrients and mycorrhizae should be added to the mix, and he believed that periodic watering with liquid seaweed would make the medium supercharged. He went so far as to predict that the harvest from such a mix would beat anything.

I told him that I use Azomite and a combination of Bio-Tone Starter Plus and Flower Tone to boost the compost because I am always a bit leery that our homemade compost may be lacking. He said that if about every 10-14 days, I water with liquid seaweed added, that I should enjoy my most productive season ever.

So, today, I bought a couple bottles of liquid seaweed at a garden center, since the co-op does not carry it.

I just thought I would get this information out there if anybody else wants to experiment--maybe try Mel's Mix in 50% and Mel's Mix plus in the other 50%. I will be using the Mel's Mix plus in all our containers, self-watering containers, and raised beds, and I will be adding the micronutrients, mycorrhizae, and liquid seaweed to the old squares from the first book.


Mel Wrote


Those are all great ideas and testing will certainly help us decide if those other added ingredients are worthwhile and actually necessary. If so, the idea of a regular Mel's Mix to start with, with a super charged one, or special additives, for those that want advanced soil technology, they would possibly make an excellent product.

Are they needed for the average gardener? No. But they would be advantageous for the advanced "gotta get the most out of what I have" type of gardener. We will have our soil company do some experiments and if any of you trying some of these advanced additives would share with us your results, we might be able to come up with an even better addition to the SFG method.


Last edited by RoOsTeR on 3/16/2013, 4:39 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: My interesting Saturday morning with an Ag Scientist

Post  Tris on 3/16/2013, 4:35 pm

Thank you for sharing!

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Re: My interesting Saturday morning with an Ag Scientist

Post  LikeToGarden on 3/16/2013, 7:54 pm

NOTE:
Mycorrhizae will be killed back and have to reform a community if you have chlorine or chlorate in your water that waters your plants.
Several ways around this
*rainwater capture

*use a rain barrel like system to put the chlorine water so the chlorine gases out (about 30 min) then use

*chlorate hard to break down some say use about a tablespoon of blacks trap molasses to 5 gal of water and let sit for an hour.

Also Blueberries use a special type of mycorrihzae - Ericoid mycorrhizas. So if you have them growing in there own sfg bed no need to use the reg mycorrhizas. reg mycorrhizas will not hurt the blueberry plant they just ignore each other.



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Re: My interesting Saturday morning with an Ag Scientist

Post  LikeToGarden on 3/17/2013, 1:13 am

Mycorrhizae also does not like the oils from the Bay Leaf Laurel Tree. As I think most will notice that they are slow growers. To help with this remove the leafs that have fallen to the ground and do not compost them or use them for compost - you would be adding the leaf oils back into the plants soil when you add the compost to it, thereby, stunning the growth of the Mycorrhizae colonies in you garden bed.

For those that don't know - fish fertilizer, seaweed fertilizer or blends of the two should done by the cold press method (not the hot press method)

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Re: My interesting Saturday morning with an Ag Scientist

Post  brainchasm on 3/17/2013, 1:49 am

If Mel's Mix gets tweaked in any way, I predict the addition of Azomite will be the winner. It's easy enough to get (sorta...there's only one location in all of Las Vegas that has it, and talk about tucked away!), and easy enough to measure, etc.

To that end, I've already added Azomite to two of my three beds during the making of my Mel's Mix. I felt...justified...since I had to use all off-the-shelf composts for this first year.

I just wish I had enough detritus and scraps to really get a good compost pile going, but a bachelor in the desert is a meager source of waste indeed!

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Re: My interesting Saturday morning with an Ag Scientist

Post  LikeToGarden on 3/18/2013, 7:54 am

RoOsTeR
I think a good test for Mel's soil company would be :
Azomite added to the mix - what does do to the weight of the product
or using a liquid like Sea-Crop > less weight but how to get it into the mix - the soil company might would so some test to see if the vermiculite absorbs it and at what solution (I think the Sea-Crop company could help with that). Then if it does absorbs the Sea-Crop- let dry (see if it works) if it works the vermiculite is charged with Sea-Crop add a hand full ( cup) to the mix of the vermiculite and remove a cup of the uncharged (before adding the charged vermiculite bringing the vermiculite to 1/3 portion to be in the bag of mix.

As far as seaweed I don't see how it can be added to the mix in the bag. Now having said that Mel's soil company could approach one of the companies like Neptune Harvest or Saltwater Farms. And see if they could make little 1oz sample type bottles that could be tape (strong tape) to the top of the bag or have a decal on the bag of mix that says pick it up at the counter where you bought the mix and the sales person gives it out with each sale of the mix.

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Addendum

Post  Hardcoir on 3/18/2013, 2:00 pm

To answer the post about watering, we do have rain barrels, but we have too many plants to water to get by just on what falls.

We bought a garden hose water filter from Boogie Brew. It removes chlorine and other harsh chemicals, but in a few weeks, we will have a reverse osmosis whole house filter so we can also get rid of fluoride.

Prior to the Boogie Brew filter, I used a Berkey water filter to filter our water, but it was very time-consuming.

I am hoping the switch to all the self-watering containers helps control our water usage. It is working so far. Our romaine lettuce has been watered just one time, about 17 days ago, and still the container is close to full. With all the rain we have been blessed with (Lord, if you are reading, could you bless us just a little less), the SWCs are actually staying filled and running out the overflow holes. We had another .66 inch this morning.

As for the Mel's Mix plus, I have not yet watered with the liquid seaweed, because there has been no need to water with continual flooding rains. The lettuce and parsley have been in the ground or containers for 8 days, and they "took off" after being transplanted. The greens have been awesome! If it wasn't so yucky outside with a touch of winter returning, I might even go pick a few leaves from some of the plants and throw them in a salad. Alas, tonight will be something more warming.

The only disappointment so far has been indoors, where some of our plants did not sprout. I think I did not allow enough time for the fungal growth to remove the coating on some of my seeds. Oh well, I still have more plants than I have room for, as I always start plants for others.

And remember this, I did preface my original post with the statement that I do not trust that my homemade compost is good enough as a stand-alone compost. Even though we had to add the different blends of compost to what we had, I know that the micronutrients lead to stronger plants, roots that are better able to absorb nutrients and water, and better tasting crops.


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Re: My interesting Saturday morning with an Ag Scientist

Post  RoOsTeR on 3/18/2013, 2:23 pm

@LikeToGarden wrote:RoOsTeR
I think a good test for Mel's soil company would be :
Azomite added to the mix - what does do to the weight of the product
or using a liquid like Sea-Crop > less weight but how to get it into the mix - the soil company might would so some test to see if the vermiculite absorbs it and at what solution (I think the Sea-Crop company could help with that). Then if it does absorbs the Sea-Crop- let dry (see if it works) if it works the vermiculite is charged with Sea-Crop add a hand full ( cup) to the mix of the vermiculite and remove a cup of the uncharged (before adding the charged vermiculite bringing the vermiculite to 1/3 portion to be in the bag of mix.

As far as seaweed I don't see how it can be added to the mix in the bag. Now having said that Mel's soil company could approach one of the companies like Neptune Harvest or Saltwater Farms. And see if they could make little 1oz sample type bottles that could be tape (strong tape) to the top of the bag or have a decal on the bag of mix that says pick it up at the counter where you bought the mix and the sales person gives it out with each sale of the mix.

I thought this was an interesting topic and forwarded it to Mel to get his .02 and simply posted his reply. If you have any experience in this, I suggest contacting the foundation. Mel is still pretty specific and insistent on keeping things as simple as possible for the beginners sake.

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Re: My interesting Saturday morning with an Ag Scientist

Post  LikeToGarden on 3/18/2013, 2:43 pm

RoOsTeR
Misunderstood the post with Mel's reply. I thought you wanted to get input posted here. As far as trying to change something not for me fine with the way he outlines SFG.

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Re: My interesting Saturday morning with an Ag Scientist

Post  RoOsTeR on 3/18/2013, 2:46 pm

I think any input should go directly to the foundation. NOT the forum.

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Re: My interesting Saturday morning with an Ag Scientist

Post  Triciasgarden on 3/18/2013, 10:47 pm

Off topic but I am envious of Mel sitting with the ocean behind him!

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Re: My interesting Saturday morning with an Ag Scientist

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