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Help, another mixing mistake!

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Help, another mixing mistake!

Post  Chireaux on 3/21/2013, 11:58 pm

Hello everyone, glad I found this website, lots of helpful info. This is my first year to do a sfg. I read the book, thought I had every thing in order but made a BIG mistake in my mixing.

I made 4 boxes measuring 2 ft by 8ft. My materials were roughly 16 cubic ft of compost, 3.8 peat moss, and 8 cubic feet of vermiculite. After filling the boxes, I was left with about 6 inches of materal. Sounds about right but my boxes are 8 inches high and I thought I would have been able to fill them and have some left over. Well, I didnt think much of it at the time and went ahead and planted all of my vegetables a few days ago. Then it just hit me tonight that I was 8 cubic feet short of vermiculite and 4 cubic feet short of peat moss after recalculating. Funny thing is, I skimmed over the book before mixing all of my materials and Mel said to "recheck your measurements one more time", and I was like, "no, I got this."
How dumb of me!
So where do I go from here? I am afraid to disturb the plants but at the same time, I would like to have the proper mixture.

Any response would be greatly appreciated, thank you Brad

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Re: Help, another mixing mistake!

Post  llama momma on 3/22/2013, 12:02 am

Shocked Don't feel bad we've all made our share of mistakes. The material will settle in time and you can add it back with more compost later on. Starting out with more compost won't harm your plants long term. Had you mixed in too much peat, the mix would have been thrown off.


Last edited by llama momma on 3/22/2013, 12:13 am; edited 3 times in total

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Re: Help, another mixing mistake!

Post  cheyannarach on 3/22/2013, 12:02 am

Well the good thing is you're not short on compost! If it were me I would call it good for now and fix it once the beds are empty!

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Re: Help, another mixing mistake!

Post  cheyannarach on 3/22/2013, 12:05 am

glad you\'re here to the forum by the way!!

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Re: Help, another mixing mistake!

Post  Chireaux on 3/22/2013, 12:06 am

yes, llama,......that just confirmed my mistake. It looks like I need 8 more ft of vermiculite and 4 more of peat moss.

Do you all think I should leave it be, or take it all out and start over?

thanks Cheyanne

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Re: Help, another mixing mistake!

Post  llama momma on 3/22/2013, 12:14 am

I edited my answer above.

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Re: Help, another mixing mistake!

Post  brainchasm on 3/22/2013, 12:16 am

@Chireaux wrote:yes, llama,......that just confirmed my mistake. It looks like I need 8 more ft of vermiculite and 4 more of peat moss.

Do you all think I should leave it be, or take it all out and start over?

thanks Cheyanne
If it were me, I think I would let it go for this season. You've already got seeds/plants in the ground, and you at least have the nutrition for them.

For this season, just be very careful about watering, since you won't necessarily have the drainage and retention capabilities of proper Mel's Mix.

Once you harvest, pull up everything that's done, compost it, and amend the beds with the vermiculite, peat moss, and a bit more compost (since your plants will have devoured at least some of it).

But again, that's just what I would do, if it were my situation.

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Re: Help, another mixing mistake!

Post  llama momma on 3/22/2013, 12:31 am

I agree I'd let it go this season. When the square foot gardening foundation teaches the method in third world countries, they don't have access to peat or vermiculite and grow things successfully in compost. Assuming your compost is wonderful then it should be fine. Peat and vermiculite as you probably know puts the mix at a very high level of perfection in regards to drainage and water retention.

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Re: Help, another mixing mistake!

Post  Chireaux on 3/22/2013, 10:42 am

Thanks for the replies, i an located in southern. Louisiana where the heat can be relentless. I am worried about the watering aspect of it. Can you explain briefly how the peat and vermiculite work?
Also, if I decided to go ahead and add the ingredients back, would this put the plants at risk? Thanks.

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Re: Help, another mixing mistake!

Post  plantoid on 3/22/2013, 11:10 am

By absorbtion and capillary action .... well you did ask for a short answer Laughing Wink

Expanding it a bit ...
The products absorb excess moisture from the mix and hold it till the hair roots on the plant ask for it or till the growth medium evaporates it off leaving concentrated nutrients held in the growth medium .
It will as just said contain all manner of nutrients and micro nutrients , as the hair roots in contact with the particles take their drinks they also take in the dissolved nutrients in the moisture .

That's why consistant levels of moisture are essential for the plants to take a drink and take in the nutrient liquified feed . Upset the moisture level and the plants will go into shock and not produce the optimum crops .

As your mix will be reasonable for it's just made without the inert peat and inert vermiculite it should give you reasonable grops .. root crops might be forked rooted here and there .
See if you can work out what you should have had and take away what you actually used then make a mix up of the difference and mix it in each square pro rata when the square beomes vacant .
Like has been said already .." don't for get the additional trowel of well made compost to eqch square when you do it" .


Last edited by plantoid on 3/22/2013, 11:35 am; edited 3 times in total

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Re: Help, another mixing mistake!

Post  H_TX_2 on 3/22/2013, 11:15 am

If you planted transplants then you might be able to pull them up, add the other lacking ingredients and then place them back into their spot. If It were me I would let them be for this season. The main ingredient in Mel's Mix is the compost and you have that so I would feel confident they will grow just fine. My first year I couldn't find vermiculite so I didn't have any in my mix and I still had beautiful plants. I added the vermiculite the following year.

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Re: Help, another mixing mistake!

Post  llama momma on 3/22/2013, 11:15 am

As it explains in the book the peat and vermiculite basically acts like a sponge, absorbing water till its saturated then any extra drains out the bottom, from page 90 in the All New Square Foot Gardening, 2006 edition. It also helps keep things loose (or friable) which helps with keeping oxygen in there and makes it nice and easy for roots to grow.

Somewhere in the book it also mentions that if plants were to blow over you can simply right them up again into Mel's Mix because its very soft. In your case if you move those plants out of the current heavy compost mix I don't know how the plants will respond. Sorry. Sometimes you feel like a pioneer because of our individual garden circumstances. Let us know how things work out since we all learn so much from each other.

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