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Advice for compost blend

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Advice for compost blend

Post  EricS on 7/6/2013, 9:19 pm

Getting ready to fill my first SFG. I can buy GardenTime "Mels Mix" at my local Lowes but its $9 for 1.3 cu.ft. I'm thinking of making my own mix instead. I need a total of about 36 cu ft.

I found a local garden store that carries vermiculite and various composts, and I'll just get the peet moss there or home depot.

I looked at some blended composts I could find and nothing looks good to me. So after searching around I found some components that I think I'll mix into my own.

Would be great to get the community's feedback on this:

[Edit: I guess I can't post links because I'm new. I'll just list the websites below]

Cow+Horse manure
from prcompostco.com

Turkey manure (listed as "Diestel Structured Compost")
from lyngsogarden.com

Vermicompost
from urbanwormcomposting.org

Bat Guano, fish fertilizer and Azomite:
from lyngsogarden.com

If I come across any mushroom compost when I'm out picking things up I'll add that too.

For the bat guano, fish fertilizer and azomite- those come with recommendations per square foot. For filling a 16" deep bed, should I perhaps just triple those amounts?

Thanks for the advice,
Eric
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Re: Advice for compost blend

Post  camprn on 7/6/2013, 9:38 pm

Making your own is the way to go! Absolutely the best thing you can do is get at least 5, if not more, types of compost. Cutting corners here will result in unhealthy plants and poor yields.
Your list looks good so far. Also try Craigslist in the farm and garden section. You can also post that you are looking for compost on Freecycle. Good luck!

Welcome to the SFG Forum.

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There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

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Re: Advice for compost blend

Post  sanderson on 7/7/2013, 12:11 am

Just curious. Why do you have 16" beds when all you need for most veggies is 6"?
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Re: Advice for compost blend

Post  EricS on 7/7/2013, 12:24 am

@sanderson wrote:Just curious.  Why do you have 16" beds when all you need for most veggies is 6"?

Its a good question! My wife asked me to make her a raised bed garden so I went to home depot, but some lumber and built it. It does look nice in our back yard its the same height as a nearby flagstone planter.

Then I realized we had no dirt to put in it, went to home depot and was confused by all the choices. I figured it was time to consult google and figure out what to fill it with.

Well, needless to say I discovered there's something called square foot gardening. The concept looks great and works nicely with the 4x7 planter I just made. But yeah the first thing I realized is mine was almost 3x as high as what everybody was making.

Besides costing 3x as much to fill it up - are there any upsides or downsides to having it this big? My inclination right now is to keep it as is because it looks nice. But I could go out and hack it apart.

My SFG book is arriving on Tuesday, that may shed more light on the subject too, but would love to get others advice as well.

Thanks.
Eric
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Re: Advice for compost blend

Post  camprn on 7/7/2013, 12:46 am

Fill the bottom portion with compost if you can get it by the yard and the top 6" - 8" of Mel's Mix.

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Re: Advice for compost blend

Post  sanderson on 7/7/2013, 12:53 am

No, no.  Don't take it apart!  I believe you when you say it looks good.  Nice and tall.

What you CAN do, is add 6-8" of any cheap, but clean, fill, such as dirt or sand. [You could add organic matter instead, such as "compost" but it will slowly settle as it decomposes.] Lay weed screen on top of the cheap fill material, then put 6-7 inches of Mel's Mix (it settles a bit) still leaving enough room to add a couple inches of mulch for keeping the Mix cool during the summer.

Please attach photos!  We love photos!
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Re: Advice for compost blend

Post  sanderson on 7/7/2013, 1:05 am

PS: My beds are constructed with two layers of 2" x 4" screwed together. Total height is 7". I'm seriously considering a third layer because it looks so nice when they are taller. I placed weed screen on the native dirt, running it up the sides a bit. I still have over 33 gallons of mix and a new cage of compost to top off the beds.

PS ps: Photos!
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Re: Advice for compost blend

Post  EricS on 7/7/2013, 1:20 am

Thanks for the replies! Sounds like a plan- I'll definitely keep it 16" (actually 16.5). I built it with 3 layers of 5 5/8" x 3/4 redwood deck boards with some 2x4 verticals to keep it from bowing out.

I'll just need to find a source for dirt now to fill in the bottom. I guess that shouldn't be hard, the gardeners do it all the time. Probably craigslist.

I probably won't fill it until next weekend, but for sure I'll post pics!

Thanks again,

Cheers,
Eric
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Re: Advice for compost blend

Post  sanderson on 7/7/2013, 1:36 am

As Mel said, free is best.  You may score finding a filler.
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Re: Advice for compost blend

Post  southern gardener on 7/7/2013, 2:17 am

I would not recommend using sand as the filler on the bottom. Sand drains really fast and you might end up watering all the time to try and keep your soil moist on top. Good luck, and can't wait to see the pics. Sounds awesome!
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Re: Advice for compost blend

Post  sanderson on 7/7/2013, 2:50 am

Southern Gardner, Good point about sand.
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Re: Advice for compost blend

Post  EricS on 7/7/2013, 3:21 pm

@sanderson wrote:Southern Gardner,  Good point about sand.

 Interesting... I had asked the same question on Mel Bartholomew's site and got a response:

Me: Should I fill the lower part with something cheaper?
Mel: YES- SAND, DO NOT USE DIRT!

Thoughts?

Thanks for the thoughtful replies!
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Re: Advice for compost blend

Post  camprn on 7/7/2013, 3:27 pm

I would ask Mel why sand and not dirt, loam, compost to fill the bottom of a large box?

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There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

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Re: Advice for compost blend

Post  southern gardener on 7/7/2013, 5:44 pm

@EricS wrote:
@sanderson wrote:Southern Gardner,  Good point about sand.

 Interesting... I had asked the same question on Mel Bartholomew's site and got a response:

Me: Should I fill the lower part with something cheaper?
Mel: YES- SAND, DO NOT USE DIRT!

Thoughts?

Thanks for the thoughtful replies!

we did SFG years ago and used Mel's original recipe which called for sand. We had to water so much it was too much to do. Sometimes a couple of times a day. It just drained too fast. That being said, my garden did so much better than my current mix?? I still can't figure that one out lol. ANYWAY, the sand really drains fast. I would agree with Camprn about using compost or something else, but good luck in whatever you decide Smile
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Re: Advice for compost blend

Post  camprn on 7/7/2013, 5:51 pm

no dirt, no sand, neither is in the Mel's Mix recipe.

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There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

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Re: Advice for compost blend

Post  southern gardener on 7/7/2013, 6:11 pm

@camprn wrote:no dirt, no sand, neither is in the Mel's Mix recipe.

not sure if your post was pointed at me, but as I stated, I was talking about years ago using the OLD recipe, and it did call for sand, also for lime
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Re: Advice for compost blend

Post  camprn on 7/7/2013, 7:04 pm

@southern gardener wrote:
@camprn wrote:no dirt, no sand, neither is in the Mel's Mix recipe.

not sure if your post was pointed at me, but as I stated, I was talking about years ago using the OLD recipe, and it did call for sand, also for lime
Yes, I was making the distinction that Mel now recommends no dirt and no sand.

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There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t1306-other-gardening-books



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