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Low PH in new Mel's Mix 4-H club new SFG boxes

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Low PH in new Mel's Mix 4-H club new SFG boxes

Post  Lrose3271 on 4/24/2013, 10:48 am

Hello Fellow SF Gardeners,

I have recently formed a new 4-H Garden Club. We built 12 boxes and made our Mels Mix 1/3 course vermiculite, 1/3 peat, and a 1/3 mixture of a leaf compost and a manure compost (composed of horse, chicken alpaca and goat manures). The composts were gifts to our club from two local farmers. I had the mix ph tested and it came back as a 5.4 ph. The garden center recommended adding lime to raise the ph level. I am wondering if we need to add more compost to solve this issue. Im thinking maybe the peat wasnt fluffed up enough and we have more peat than we should. I have been hunting for worm castings and mushroom compost to add to our mix. I located one bag of mushroom compost! Certainly not enough for 12 boxes Sad

Any suggestions would be helpful. I havent ever had this issue with my own two SFG boxes.

We have seedlings all ready to plant when the soil is ready.

Thanks for helping us out
Lisa and the South Shore Seedlings.


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Re: Low PH in new Mel's Mix 4-H club new SFG boxes

Post  camprn on 4/24/2013, 11:00 am

Did you have the mix tested as a soil less mix or a soil? Did you just take a sample from one spot, or multiple spots as the lab recommends? Just curious, who did the testing? What is the pH of the water you will be using in the garden?

Lime will help but it can take months to do it's work. A LITTLE SPRINKLE of wood ash will have a more immediate effect, but best to go very slow and light with wood ash.

UMASS Amherst has one of the best Ag testing labs in the country.


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Re: Low PH in new Mel's Mix 4-H club new SFG boxes

Post  donnainzone5 on 4/24/2013, 11:15 am

You have only two composts: leaf and manure. Only 1/5 of your compost should be manure-based. And, as you mentioned, you may have too much peat moss if you didn't "fluff" it first.

Since you live in Massachusetts, you should be able to find lobster compost or Quoddy Blend. Also, are there cranberry bogs nearby? If so, some of these farms may have compost to sell or give away. Just make sure that no harmful chemicals were used to grow the cranberries.

Keep looking for that mushroom compost, and check specialty nurseries. For example, I found mint compost and composted bark fines with cow manure at two different nurseries here in Oregon. You probably also can find "planting mixes" that contain several different ingredients. You'll want to avoid any that already contain peat moss.

In the meantime, please keep in mind that most plants will grow in a pH of between 6.0 and 7.0. Others here have suggested ways to make your mix more alkaline.

Best of luck!


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Post  Lrose3271 on 4/24/2013, 12:24 pm

donnainzone10 and Camprn

Oh! I forgot that we did use lobster compost. Being as we live on the coast of Massachusetts that is one of the easier composts to find at the stores.
As for the cranberry growers. I know for a fact most if not all use all kinds of chemicals on their bogs. In Massachusetts we have many ponds that are experiences algae blooms due to the bogs that use their waters Sad I wouldnt use cranberry compost.

I am going to add the mushroom compost and continue to look for more. I knew we only had 3 composts types, but for some reason I have hard time finding other types in my area.

We have started a compost bin with leaves, seaweed and home greens and hope to get that decomposing.

I think I will add a bit more compost with the worm castings, the mushroom compost and add some ash.

As for Umass Amherst. Today I picked up the information and a pamphlet to send our soil mixture out to them.

Camprn I gave them 2 soil samples from 2 different boxes. Ones I knew had been mixed in different batches. One came in at 5.1 and the other at 5.4. I just asked them to test the soil for the ph. If that answers your question. It was our local garden nursery. They are well known and the family has been in the business for over 65 years.

Thank you both for your input and guidance.


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Re: Low PH in new Mel's Mix 4-H club new SFG boxes

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