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How much compost should I add

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How much compost should I add

Post  jimmy cee on 5/13/2013, 10:39 pm

I've finished 1 bed of SFG, doing some experimenting planting trying to prepare for warm weather plants.
After some success and pulling out a previous square, the book recommends adding an amount of fresh compost.
What amount of compost needs to be added ? pint, quart, gallon, I have no need to skimp on the compost, and I am assuming more is going to be better than less..
3 weeks later

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Re: How much compost should I add

Post  camprn on 5/13/2013, 10:42 pm

Mel recommends a trowel full. I usually add more... with good results.

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Re: How much compost should I add

Post  ETNRedClay on 5/14/2013, 3:19 pm

I've been thinking of this a lot as I build beds from scratch this Spring. I'm starting out with 1/3 peat, 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 Five-compost blend. I expect settling and as I pull plants each year I'll get more settling. I'll be adding compost every time I replant a square. And probably at the end of Fall/beginning of spring as well. Which will change the percentages over time.

So eventually I'll end up with a LOT of compost and very little vermiculite and peat, won't I?

Does anyone add more Mel's Mix or just keep on adding compost?

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Re: How much compost should I add

Post  boffer on 5/14/2013, 3:30 pm

I keep on adding compost until the texture of the MM begins to noticeably change, and the compost heavy mix seems to hold too much water. Then I remove the top half, and replace it with new MM. The mix that I remove I use for other planting purposes.

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Re: How much compost should I add

Post  ETNRedClay on 5/14/2013, 4:49 pm

@boffer wrote:I keep on adding compost until the texture of the MM begins to noticeably change, and the compost heavy mix seems to hold too much water.

Not sure what holding too much water looks like. Even my pure clay plantings don't hold TOO MUCH water. I'm already watering my pure Mel's Mix every other day and the temps haven't hit 85 on a regular basis. The vermiculite gives the mix the texture of sandy loam -- lovely to work with, feels great, and plants absolutely love it so far... but water does NOT stick around in the Mel's Mix the way it does compost...

I see SO MANY complaints about having to water every day or twice a day on the boards. Wouldn't more compost and less V. make sense in those situations at least?


Last edited by camprn on 5/14/2013, 5:13 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : fixed quote box)

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Re: How much compost should I add

Post  camprn on 5/14/2013, 5:15 pm

@ETNRedClay wrote:

So eventually I'll end up with a LOT of compost and very little vermiculite and peat, won't I?
Yes and that is the plan and they way it is meant to be.
@ETNRedClay wrote:
Does anyone add more Mel's Mix or just keep on adding compost?
No need to add more MM, just the compost.

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Re: How much compost should I add

Post  boffer on 5/14/2013, 5:40 pm

@ETNRedClay wrote:...The vermiculite gives the mix the texture of sandy loam -- lovely to work with, feels great, and plants absolutely love it so far...
It is a wonderful texture, but it changes as the compost percentage increases.

Try taking a small pot, filling it with your 5 way compost, and then water it thoroughly. The texture will be different, and seem to be a little soggy, in my experience.

One advantage of proper MM is that with good drainage, one can't over-water. I feel that I have to be a lot more conscientious about not over-watering with straight 5 way compost.

You may be on to something with your idea that the extra compost will hold water longer. Are you mulching? That will help retain water as well.

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Re: How much compost should I add

Post  ETNRedClay on 5/14/2013, 5:51 pm

Lots of mulch. I think it's one of those things that should be HAMMERED into the head of every gardener. Mulch is as important as soil here in the steaming South. Fewer or no weeds -- means less or no competition for plants. Cools the surface roots. Retains moisture means less watering. And IMPROVES soil over time.

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Re: How much compost should I add

Post  camprn on 5/14/2013, 5:57 pm

@ETNRedClay wrote:Lots of mulch. I think it's one of those things that should be HAMMERED into the head of every gardener. Mulch is as important as soil here in the steaming South. Fewer or no weeds -- means less or no competition for plants. Cools the surface roots. Retains moisture means less watering. And IMPROVES soil over time.
+1

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Re: How much compost should I add

Post  yolos on 5/14/2013, 9:54 pm

@ETNRedClay wrote:Lots of mulch. I think it's one of those things that should be HAMMERED into the head of every gardener. Mulch is as important as soil here in the steaming South. Fewer or no weeds -- means less or no competition for plants. Cools the surface roots. Retains moisture means less watering. And IMPROVES soil over time.

What do you use for mulch. Last year I tried wheat straw and had wheat growing over the winter in every bed where I used the wheat straw as mulch.

I also tried shredded leaves. The leaves seemed to absorb all the water and was hard to get the water down to the MM. But they worked good in keeping the soil moist once the water did get down to the soil.

I also tried shredded bark. That seemed to work the best. No weeds and water was able to get down to the soil easily.

What mulch have you found the best in our hot dry south.

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Re: How much compost should I add

Post  jimmy cee on 5/14/2013, 9:59 pm

Shredded newspaper has worked well for me in past years, worked so good I am going to continue to use it.

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Re: How much compost should I add

Post  ETNRedClay on 5/14/2013, 10:38 pm

Mulching is something I've done for a couple of decades. I've used several things. Liking them all.

1) Pine bark fines, sold as clay breaker or soil conditioner. It makes a lovely gritty soil in a year. If I can't find that, I use:
2) Pine bark mulch -- not nuggets -- and it does the same thing as fines, only with a few bigger chunks. Chunks are good, they give soil structure. Structure is why we love vermiculite. But you need more fines than the nuggets offer, which has the consistency of gravel.
3) Shredded hardwood mulch, lovely to work with, rots down into crumbly black gold.
4) Cypress mulch is pretty and functional.
5) Wood chips -- from grinders or chippers services with 3" chippers means they get small branches and twigs -- make great mulch and will add to the soil as time goes on.

Any of the above make great mulches and add wonderful structure to the soil as time goes on, crumbly black and earthy smelling. i'm sure there are other good options, but wood mulch is the only thing I've used, because I'm surrounded by woods so I see what happens 10 years down the road, and digidown a little and see what 100 years, and forever... fallen forest litter (ie wood's mulch) becomes dirt given time. Fine pieces of mulch become dirt quicker than chuky pieces. But it all adds to the quality of dirt over time....

AND retains water too.

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Re: How much compost should I add

Post  ETNRedClay on 5/14/2013, 10:44 pm

Anyone else have trouble with the composing window when your post gets too long -- the window gets jittery and jumps up and down and you can't see what you're typing at the bottom...

Apparently I deleted a whole section of my post on LEAVES as mulch cuz of course forrest litter is MOSTLY leaves... but I use leaves here in my compost bins, so don't mulch with them... usually...

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Re: How much compost should I add

Post  quiltbea on 5/14/2013, 10:54 pm

ETN....I've had that problem (jittery and can't see bottoms) for weeks now. It doesn't happen if the post is short, but when it has any length, its a pain. I just add anything VERY carefully because the bottom disappears and I can't read what I wrote til I preview.

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Re: How much compost should I add

Post  yolos on 5/15/2013, 1:08 am

ETN - thanks for your list of mulches. I also used finely shredded bark last year and am trying to get some again this year.

Yes, I also am having a big problem with the screen jumping around when I am posting. I thought it was just me but it is really aggravating. The screen starts jumping around and you cannot see what you are typing unless you hit preview.

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Re: How much compost should I add

Post  plantoid on 5/15/2013, 6:57 am

@ETNRedClay wrote:Anyone else have trouble with the composing window when your post gets too long -- the window gets jittery and jumps up and down and you can't see what you're typing at the bottom...

Apparently I deleted a whole section of my post on LEAVES as mulch cuz of course forrest litter is MOSTLY leaves... but I use leaves here in my compost bins, so don't mulch with them... usually...

Do your long posts in word etc. then copy and paste into the forum thread
or
Post in the thread upto about 15 lines as you type perss send , then go and use edit and finish off typing .
It seems to be all about time the composing window is open .

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Re: How much compost should I add

Post  ETNRedClay on 5/15/2013, 9:56 am

Thanks!

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Re: How much compost should I add

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