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Compost or Mel's Mix

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Compost or Mel's Mix

Post  toledobend on 7/22/2013, 6:30 am

When I pulled the plants out I put in a few scoops of compost per Mel's instruction, but the boxes I started last fall have settled from about 7" down to near 5". What would you do, fill it back up with Mel's Mix, or compost (home made, not store bought)?
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Re: Compost or Mel's Mix

Post  Goosegirl on 7/22/2013, 6:32 am

I would just load it up with compost, as that is what your plants are going to use as food. 

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Re: Compost or Mel's Mix

Post  llama momma on 7/22/2013, 6:38 am

I agree with Goosegirl. Home made compost is the best choice.  Mel teaches that the original Mel's mix you started with is good for about 10 years.
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Re: Compost or Mel's Mix

Post  yolos on 7/22/2013, 10:15 am

Nobody agrees with me, but after the first year I would fill it up with about 50% Mels Mix and 50% added compost.   Every year after that I would use compost only.  The reason I have this philosopy is because mels mix settles.  Therefore after the first year you are needing to refill the box because of settling of the original mels mix and also because you have used up some compost.  That is what I did after the first year.  
 
This year, I filled my new boxes and let them sit a while before planting.  Then, because the mix had settled, I added more mels mix to fill them back to where I wanted them.  Then I planted.  After harvest, I then used only compost to add back to the box.
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Re: Compost or Mel's Mix

Post  donnainzone5 on 7/22/2013, 10:50 am

Yolos,

For the last two beds I set up this year, I also allowed them to settle before planting. This is probably the best way to go, if one has the luxury of waiting a few days.

Last year's pioneer bed, in the spots that haven't yet been replanted, needs nearly 3" of compost to fill again!
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Re: Compost or Mel's Mix

Post  grownsunshine on 7/22/2013, 1:09 pm

Ahhh! I'm building another small box...something for me to think about. Will be finished today and will fill the box high with MM with the expectation it will drop a few inches. Thanks!

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Re: Compost or Mel's Mix

Post  camprn on 7/22/2013, 5:21 pm

Here's something to think about. Mel recommends adding only compost, says there's no reason to add more mix and the mix you start will will last for years. What feeds the plants is not the vermiculite or the sphagnum moss, it's the well rounded homemade compost he recommends that has worked for all the rest of us. Why go about fiddling with something that works? I too have beds that settle and I don't ever add more Mel's mix, just compost. Plus, who needs that added expense?



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Re: Compost or Mel's Mix

Post  donnainzone5 on 7/22/2013, 5:36 pm

Camp,

To clarify, I merely waited a few days to level my boxes with Mel's Mix.

Several years ago, I made the mistake of adding MM to established beds, rather than using straight compost.  I soon learned my lesson!

In other words, after initial set-up, the way to go is nothing but compost, preferably homemade.


Last edited by camprn on 7/22/2013, 5:54 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : corrected formatting.)
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Re: Compost or Mel's Mix

Post  camprn on 7/22/2013, 5:52 pm

Thanks for the clarification Donna and that makes sense. I was responding to the OP in regard to adding compost after harvesting or significant settling during the growing season.

I must say I have found my compost is not as rich this year. The reason, I surmise, is that I did not go to the dairy for milking parlor compost to add to my pile when I was building it.

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Re: Compost or Mel's Mix

Post  grownsunshine on 7/22/2013, 6:22 pm

camprn - you mentioned getting milking parlor compost. Do you go to the dairy and get fresh milking parlor manure and add it to your compost? How long do you let it sit before using it? Why milking parlor rather than just getting regular cow manure?

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Re: Compost or Mel's Mix

Post  camprn on 7/22/2013, 6:42 pm

@grownsunshine wrote:camprn - you mentioned getting milking parlor compost. Do you go to the dairy and get fresh milking parlor manure and add it to your compost? How long do you let it sit before using it? Why milking parlor rather than just getting regular cow manure?

All farm animals that are well cared for have bedding or something laid on the floor of the buildings they need to be in to collect the manure and urine, in this case it's when the cows are in the milking parlor, which is twice a day. The farm hands muck out the parlor and everything goes into a pile and the farm lets it actively compost there. I buy it at the farm instead of at the box store because I like to support my local farmer.

I do indeed add it to my compost pile in the autumn when I make my monster pile. Most of my composting is done during the early winter, then it sits and waits until spring. I turn it once or twice and it's ready to use.

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Re: Compost or Mel's Mix

Post  sanderson on 7/22/2013, 6:55 pm

Camp,  Your boxes are virtual jungles.  Shocked   If this is an off year on the compost [due to lack of the milking parlor compost], then I would hate to see how lush your garden is in a good year!  Holy Cow!
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Re: Compost or Mel's Mix

Post  camprn on 7/22/2013, 6:56 pm

LOL, no those photos are from last year. Everything in my garden this year was planted late due to a cold wet spring.

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Re: Compost or Mel's Mix

Post  grownsunshine on 7/22/2013, 6:59 pm

Thanks for the info! Since I don't live that far from dairies, I've got to find myself a source.

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Re: Compost or Mel's Mix

Post  toledobend on 7/22/2013, 11:27 pm

Thanks for all the responses. Compost it is.
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Re: Compost or Mel's Mix

Post  Hoggar on 7/23/2013, 1:21 pm

I've added more MM to my boxes but only after giving them a good Stirring Up I turn my boxes at the end of the season and again before planting in the spring, when I add compost. If my boxes are still a bit low I add some MM. My take away from Mel's instructions are that the soil is supposed to be loose and airy, for easy weeding, plant maintenance and growth.
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Re: Compost or Mel's Mix

Post  greatgranny on 7/23/2013, 6:13 pm

Yes, the MM settles but digging hands down to the bottom of each square and stirring it up is all that is needed.  Then add the compost and stir it in.  That's the part I love the most.  If this was a row garden we would all be out with spades and garden forks and half killing ourselves.  That was yesterday's story when I was a young thing.  Wink 

Now I'm old and can still have a garden and the fruits of my labor without breaking my back and having a stroke.
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