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How does one improve their Mel's Mix?

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Re: How does one improve their Mel's Mix?

Post  walshevak on 5/20/2013, 9:10 pm

All compost is not created equally.

+1 My mix is at least 50% manures because that is what I can find.

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Re: How does one improve their Mel's Mix?

Post  herblover on 5/21/2013, 8:38 am

I regularly add an organic fertilizer to my boxes because of this very issue.

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Re: How does one improve their Mel's Mix?

Post  plantoid on 5/21/2013, 11:29 am

The phased production of an MM bed could be a way forward .

Perhaps ...... For a lot of people living inside big cities where basic materials are hard to source in the first few months of wanting to start up with ANSFG .

Encourage people to use tomato grow bags and use blood ,fish and bone meal as an ammendment after six weeks and or a liquid store brought tomato feed . To keep it going for the whole season then say ..... meanwhile start your own composts and staert sourcing vermiculite .

The BFBM is reasonably easy to get hold of and you don't need much for a 4x4 bed 6 inches deep ..... about an ounce infact " 32 grm ) .

Then tell them that at the end of the first season when they should have a decent pile of well made compoost say now is the time to make the convertion to MM .

You already have a friable loose mix in your boxes now .

For every five bucket of your original growth medium we now add we add five buckets of vermiculite and five buckets of home made compost
Your home made composts should have as much variation in them as possible .


I think it could eliminate much of the confusion we so often see and hear of .

And then move to a list of compostable materials and hint at maximum percentages desired .
Perhaps give several short lists of common types of things we might use for our heaps showing volumes by the 3 gallon bucket rather than percentages .



As an aside ....
I woke up this morning thinking about high volumes of composted animal dungs and associated beddings in our home made composts .
There may well be a nitrate conflict with this that could lead to heart problems or ischemic heart disease ( hardening of your arteries ) . I don't know for sure if this is true perhaps someone with access to the chemical data could step forward with a reaasoned answer of offer several links relative to manures and nitrates.

I know that here in the UK the dung heaps made because of cleaning out stables & cow sheds etc cetc are not allowed to be ( something like ) ... less than 20 mtrs from a water course ,stream or river due to " agricultural run off ".

Farmers and stables etc etc. are also not allowed heaps of over a certain sizes because of larger quantities of liquids leeching down into the soils and consequently the aquifiers or out through rock layer into the streams or springs .

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Re: How does one improve their Mel's Mix?

Post  boffer on 5/21/2013, 11:58 am

Plantoid, I imagine your ideas would work well. But you forgot to KISS it! Shocked

Remember that one objective of SFG is to take the method around the world where amendments and additives aren't always available.

The gist of everything I've been saying is that increasing the use of multiple manures above 20% has a lot of advantages to consider. Prior to the mid-twentieth century, multiple manures were the backbone of home garden fertilizing.

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Re: How does one improve their MM?

Post  GloriaG on 5/21/2013, 12:29 pm

Boffer, This is one of the most interesting posts I've seen on this forum. Thank you for starting it.

Because I don't have enough "home made" compost, I have to rely heavily on store purchased bagged composts to make up new beds. My experience with this is, that a new bed doesn't produce as well as an existing bed growing the same produce.

My thoughts on this are:

1. Fertility in bagged compost varies, even when purchased from the same manufacturer.
2. Bagged compost doesn't contain the trace minerals, beneficial nematodes, and Mycorrhizae that make gardens thrive - because of the blend and time spent sitting in plastic bags prior to purchase.
3. For those SFG'rs who must purchase most of their initial compost bagged, it's very difficult to find a blend that really "works" from the beginning. We've seen this over and over in the posts on this forum.

Many people (especially urban dwellers) don't have access to natural sources of manure or other finished compost like farms, breeders, etc. so must rely on bagged compost.

My own feeling is that, we need to have a simple solution for those SFG'rs to "boost" or improve their MM initially, so they get realistic yields from the beginning.

FWIW - I have found that adding a good organic fertilizer, plus Azomite and mycchorize when starting a new box improves my yield significantly. After which, I can usually maintain the fertility by simply adding the scoop of my own compost as I re-plant.

Also, I'm not sure a "one size fits all" solution is completely possible, since we don't all have equal access to MM components. In rural areas manure is more readily available, while in urban areas not so much. Therefore, a different solution may be appropriate.



Last edited by GloriaG on 5/21/2013, 12:46 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Additional thought!)

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Re: How does one improve their Mel's Mix?

Post  Pepper on 5/21/2013, 4:31 pm

After my last flop with the non MM called "natures mix" I have found rabbit poo has really made my non MM beds come alive. It has similarly helped the MM beds as well. I did have to travel about 100 miles each way to get the amount I; and several friends; needed it was well worth the trip. This years harvest(s) have already shown a vast improvement over last years crop(s). Next month I will be harvesting rutabagas. I had 9 last year and 9 this. I will do a side by side pic when they come in. My this years garden is in effect a side by side comparison with rabbit poo the major difference in my soil. I did screen out all the big pine bark pieces but the rabbit poo is the only additive I used.

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Re: How does one improve their Mel's Mix?

Post  FamilyGardening on 5/21/2013, 4:47 pm

I have thought there should be a second formula for using only store bought bag compost when first starting your MM

Most Bag compost I have tried already has peat moss and/or other woody type products in it and I believe by adding more peat moss using the 1/3-1/3-1/3 formula throws off the MM the first year.

Our Second year and beyond the peat moss breaks down so we tend to see these boxes improving over time.

Happy gardening
Rose

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Re: How does one improve their Mel's Mix?

Post  southern gardener on 5/22/2013, 12:46 am

@boffer wrote:
@RoOsTeR wrote:...Looking at your success boffer, I would say your "growing medium" is good too. Guess my question would be, does MM need improving? Or are we looking for "feel good" items?

I think my mix is good also, and I'm not looking to change it. But it doesn't meet the criteria of the MM recipe. So I'm looking for how to properly submit my mix recipe (which uses 40-50% manures) for consideration. I posted soil lab test results a couple years ago, and my C:N is in the 35:1 range. But, technically, it's not MM. Permitting deviations is a slippery slope.

My mix has been a wonderful control (one less thing to consider) as I experiment with different ways to beat the weather in the PNW. Maybe in a year or two I'll be ready to experiment with my mix, but not now.

As to the 'feel good' items, I would like to see a thread addressing the subject. As you suggest by your description 'feel good' (and I agree with that), gardeners approach them from an emotional perspective rather than a logical one. I don't have issues with that; it's their garden after all. But I think their experiments would be more productive with a better understanding upfront about what it is they want to do. There are so many techniques in the row gardening world that SFGers want to try in their SFG boxes, that are totally redundant because MM already addresses them.

After using the Pre Bagged Mel's Mix, and it not working, we made our own mix with our own compost. It is working much better! So, that's good. The plants are up, and were dark green and very healthy, but some are starting to yellow a little bit, so we are having to add nitrogen to some of the plants. We are getting veggies tho!! cheers I am interested in Boffer's idea that maybe more than 20% of manure might be necessary? Our compost had some manure, but not a lot. I am seeing other people post that they too are needing to add nitrogen. We have a planter out front that has 100% pig :pig: manure :pig: about 1 foot deep under about a foot of a good garden soil mix. That bed far out produces any garden I've ever seen. The plants are massive and healthy. TONS of tomatoes, the onions are huge, garlic also. The only problem we are having is the onions are not making "bulbs"..so far. So...is more manure a good idea as Boffer is suggesting? Interesting for sure!!

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Re: How does one improve their Mel's Mix?

Post  gwennifer on 5/23/2013, 5:54 pm

I think boffer, that since your compost is homemade compost, your MM can safely be considered true MM. I mean, it's the conversation between Donna and Mel that got you thinking about all this, right? That was Mel cautioning that if you went out and purchased five different bags of manure, that would only count as one of your five types of compost. But in the book he wants you to make your own compost to go forward with.

I mean, my impression on reading the book (and his comment to Donna about five manures only counting as one), is that he's trying to create a safety net for those of us who want to get started by buying our composts rather than making it. He knows store-bought is not as good as homemade, (and members on here mention again and again that their homemade compost gets them better results than their initial gardens made with store bought compost), so if you're going to go the store-bought route he's stressing the importance of buying a variety of types from different places to help us hedge our bets in a sense.

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Re: How does one improve their Mel's Mix?

Post  plantoid on 5/23/2013, 6:02 pm

+2 Gweniffer that's my way of thinking as well . However mel does caution against using too much manure in your home made compost .
Too much of one type such as steer dung from cattle sheds or out the daries milking parlours without beddings will be fairly high in acid .

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Re: How does one improve their Mel's Mix?

Post  jamesindetroit on 5/24/2013, 10:50 pm

This will be my third year with SFG beds. Each year, I have added a few additional beds, with all new mixes from startup. All have varied from one degree to another as to content, and I also test for N-P-K levels periodically.

One thing has been for certain. The plants grow like gangbusters, but when it comes to setting fruits, they usually disappoint. At least, as far as size, and quality. I get excellent root systems, solid supports, and decent moisture retention, but the roots just become so voluminous in the 6" of soil, they consume most of the beds.

I have in my beds this year, combined all my 6" boxes, and double the heights to 12". I am probably now at about 8" - 10" in most boxes, but also adding much larger amounts of compost to each bed.

My mixtures will be approximately 50% compost, and 50% Peat/Verm in the older beds. This years new beds are going to be experimental with the blended compost MM ratios, along with an increased amount of compost for depth and moisture retention.

While I am still teaching new gardeners the fundamentals, I would say that ongoing discussion concerning the longevity and amendment of older soils/beds is necessary. Especially if you are moving from hobby gardening, small scale to production/storage type gardening (like I do.)

Just a few thoughts...

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Re: How does one improve their Mel's Mix?

Post  southern gardener on 5/24/2013, 11:06 pm

@jamesindetroit wrote:This will be my third year with SFG beds. Each year, I have added a few additional beds, with all new mixes from startup. All have varied from one degree to another as to content, and I also test for N-P-K levels periodically.

One thing has been for certain. The plants grow like gangbusters, but when it comes to setting fruits, they usually disappoint. At least, as far as size, and quality. I get excellent root systems, solid supports, and decent moisture retention, but the roots just become so voluminous in the 6" of soil, they consume most of the beds.

I have in my beds this year, combined all my 6" boxes, and double the heights to 12". I am probably now at about 8" - 10" in most boxes, but also adding much larger amounts of compost to each bed.

My mixtures will be approximately 50% compost, and 50% Peat/Verm in the older beds. This years new beds are going to be experimental with the blended compost MM ratios, along with an increased amount of compost for depth and moisture retention.

While I am still teaching new gardeners the fundamentals, I would say that ongoing discussion concerning the longevity and amendment of older soils/beds is necessary. Especially if you are moving from hobby gardening, small scale to production/storage type gardening (like I do.)

Just a few thoughts...

Please keep us updated on your test gardens! I am really interested in how the different beds do. We also want volume in our gardens, not just big pretty plants. I am finding the plants come up nicely, but yellow up fairly quickly. Maybe my MM is lacking in nitrogen, which we are working on...but the soil is brand new and shouldn't be "out of gas" so quickly...Some of the things are doing VERY well tho, so we're happy about that, just always looking to make it even better!

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Re: How does one improve their Mel's Mix?

Post  jamesindetroit on 5/25/2013, 12:02 am



Please keep us updated on your test gardens! I am really interested in how the different beds do. We also want volume in our gardens, not just big pretty plants. I am finding the plants come up nicely, but yellow up fairly quickly. Maybe my MM is lacking in nitrogen, which we are working on...but the soil is brand new and shouldn't be "out of gas" so quickly...Some of the things are doing VERY well tho, so we're happy about that, just always looking to make it even better!

Well, I had yellowing and stunted growth...too much nitrogen? There was lots of chicken poo in the mix so nitrogen was definitely not an issue. Don't know...One batch of tomatoes didn't even produce. I'm curious if the proximity of some sunflowers were to blame though...

We shall see...

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Re: How does one improve their Mel's Mix?

Post  camprn on 5/25/2013, 7:15 am

Have you sent a sample of the growing mix for testing?

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