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MM experiments for 2014?

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MM experiments for 2014?

Post  boffer on 11/24/2013, 11:31 am

While mulling over what new gardening objectives I could work towards in 2014, I decided this would be the year to experiment with amendments to MM beyond compost.  The use of amendments is a new world to me.  MM isn't perfect, but it doesn't have glaring deficiencies either, so I'm not sure  where to begin.  (I'm talking homemade compost, not retail compost.)

Does anyone have any MM experiments planned?  What are you trying to learn or accomplish?

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Re: MM experiments for 2014?

Post  gwennifer on 11/24/2013, 1:35 pm

IF I were more organized (notice my big "if"?), I'd love to experiment with saturation levels and how quickly nutrients are washed out and/or used up, even from simply being stored.  Problem is I'd have to have a trustworthy test of the nutrient levels in the first place for the control and the different groups I'd experiment on.  Nitrogen is the nutrient I'm having the most difficult time hanging onto in my mix, and also the most notoriously difficult to measure accurately, from what I'm reading.

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Re: MM experiments for 2014?

Post  plantoid on 11/24/2013, 5:32 pm

After reading on a UK site today about people in days gone by sowing parsnips in November in the UK I'm going to sow a 9 sq. ft. MM extra deep filled bed with them @ two seeds per sq. foot  and see if the slower germination of the parsnips is any better then me sowing  and harvesting them in the same year.

 The November sowing is supposed to give MUCH BIGGER  parsnips inn the next year , EEEEk !  
Look in the gallery at my long parsnips harvested this time last year.

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Re: MM experiments for 2014?

Post  CapeCoddess on 11/24/2013, 6:11 pm

@plantoid wrote:After reading on a UK site today about people in days gone by sowing parsnips in November in the UK I'm going to sow a 9 sq. ft. MM extra deep filled bed with them @ two seeds per sq. foot  and see if the slower germination of the parsnips is any better then me sowing  and harvesting them in the same year.

 The November sowing is supposed to give MUCH BIGGER  parsnips inn the next year , EEEEk !  
Look in the gallery at my long parsnips harvested this time last year.
David, are you going to then cover the bed with leaves or such? Also, would you please post the link to you big parsnip?

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Re: MM experiments for 2014?

Post  plantoid on 11/24/2013, 6:30 pm

One long parsnip .. this is not the biggest,  far from it .
The biggest was a good six inches across and almost four feet long ..it pulled out the extra deep MM filled bed like a cork out of a well used whisky bottle  .....a gentle one handed pull
Very Happy  I've got that wacko look as I've just had some morphine medication  for a long term pain problem ......... I'm well spaced out .Laughing 



No,  I'll not be covering  them as the guy who was talking about it was taking about his grandparents era and as far as I know no one ever covered any direct  sown  seed.
 I might sprinkle a few slug pellets around the area though just in case some are still about after three applications of Nemaslug nematode control earlier this year ..

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Re: MM experiments for 2014?

Post  Nonna.PapaVino on 11/24/2013, 7:30 pm

Boffer, I'm sure you are acquainted with Steve Solomon's ideas of soil amendments (he's the founder of Territorial Seeds and now lives and gardens in Tasmania).  This article by Mr. Solomon in Mother Earth News set me on a quest for the best way to add organic amendments to my Mel's Mixes after a summer/fall of vegetable growing: http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/a-better-way-to-fertilize-your-garden.aspx#axzz2lc2Pz1Gv
We're still working on the perfect mix for this hilltop above St. Helens (the town), Oregon. 
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Re: MM experiments for 2014?

Post  southern gardener on 11/24/2013, 8:59 pm

We are experimenting with covering all our SFG beds with woodchips/leaves. In essence, the Back to Eden Gardening method. So far, it's working really well. It's supposed to get better as you go, so a little too early to tell for sure. We buried our beds in August and it's made a HUGE improvement. We moved some of the beds, so had to mix the chips and MM, so I'm expecting those beds to backslide a little.
Our "pig manure" bed out front continues to be our BEST bed, hands down.

Good topic Boffer! Thanks!!

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Re: MM experiments for 2014?

Post  Marc Iverson on 11/25/2013, 1:16 am

I'm just curious about coarse vermiculite. I couldn't find any this year, but may mail-order some next year. I'd like to see how it does compared to the medium vermiculite I used this year. It will all be extremely subjective.

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Re: MM experiments for 2014?

Post  boffer on 11/26/2013, 2:32 am

@Nonna.PapaVino wrote:Boffer, I'm sure you are acquainted with Steve Solomon's ideas of soil amendments (he's the founder of Territorial Seeds...
I read his book just a couple months ago for the first time.  I enjoyed his stories about being a seed man prior to starting TSC, and learning about the differences in seed quality and viability.

But his experiences growing in native dirt don't correlate at all with my experience growing in MM.  I'm sure his organic fertilizer recipe is effective for use in dirt.  It's similar to other recipes I've seen, with adjustments for PNW soil.  But I'm at a loss as how to adapt it for use in my MM.

Marc, some forum members, who have used both medium and course vermiculite, have said that they didn't see much difference between the two.  In my comparison, I think there is a very distinct difference that is not subjective at all.  I look forward to hearing your opinion.  If you go with mail order, be aware that there are a couple of different rating methods to grade vermiculite size.  I ordered coarse from Uline, and received a bag that said coarse, but it was the size that Therm-O-Rock grades as medium.  Thermo-O-Rock, out of AZ, is the brand that I usually buy off the shelf locally.

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Re: MM experiments for 2014?

Post  donnainzone5 on 11/26/2013, 10:44 am

The coarse vermiculite I've received from U-Line seems to be extra-coarse!

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Re: MM experiments for 2014?

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 11/26/2013, 12:05 pm

My biggest issue with my SFG beds is that my watering system tends to flood my table tops out in order to water my other gardens effectively. Because we're over 100 degrees most of the summer, watering twice a day is a necessity.

I may need to put them on their own circuit but I'm out of room on my timer system :-( Have to think things through over the winter.

I'm trying to compensate by watering with compost tea once a week and I saw improvement, but the constant flooding is washing out nutrients too rapidly. Any suggestions?

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Re: MM experiments for 2014?

Post  plantoid on 11/26/2013, 6:21 pm

@audrey.jeanne.roberts wrote:My biggest issue with my SFG beds is that my watering system tends to flood my table tops out in order to water my other gardens effectively.  Because we're over 100 degrees most of the summer, watering twice a day is a necessity.  

I may need to put them on their own circuit but I'm out of room on my timer system :-(  Have to think things through over the winter.  

I'm trying to compensate by watering with compost tea once a week and I saw improvement, but the constant flooding is washing out nutrients too rapidly.   Any suggestions?
I sorted out my problem of having too much water to certain beds by having mini spray heads with a turncock in each mini spray head thus allowing me to  turn down the water to the heads in question whilst everything else around the gardens were going like fire sprinklers.
 It took about four adjustments to get things right  and has the added benefit that if I want to stop watering a bed to let  the bed dry off a bit for things to go ripe a bit quicker I can .

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Re: MM experiments for 2014?

Post  boffer on 11/26/2013, 6:32 pm

donnainzone10 wrote:The coarse vermiculite I've received from U-Line seems to be extra-coarse!
LOL! thinking 

After looking at my own pictures from a couple years ago, I wonder if I ordered grade 2  from Uline, thinking it would be the same as #2 from TOR.
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t6491-vermiculite-pictures

PVPind, who I consider to be our member expert on vermiculite, tries to explain the grading system here:
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t6129p30-cost-of-vermiculite

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Re: MM experiments for 2014?

Post  sanderson on 11/27/2013, 3:16 am

Audrey,  would an inline ball or shut off valve help reduce the flow?

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Re: MM experiments for 2014?

Post  jimmy cee on 11/27/2013, 6:23 pm

This past year I picked up 6 bags of course, 3 bags of fine.
Using the fine for all potting and hanging baskets, along with a dedicated section of one bed, I find no difference in the quality of plants I grew..
I know !!!!!  maybe I have a green thumb......LOL....

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