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Did I hear correctly? Mel's (pre)Mix - not so much?

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Did I hear correctly? Mel's (pre)Mix - not so much?

Post  TinySpock on 4/2/2015, 8:05 pm

I was perusing the posts and I read some disparaging comments about bagged Mel's Mix.  I was so thrilled to find that I didn't have to mix the soil myself, that Mel had pre-mixed bags available for sale.  Should I be amending his mix?  What's the problem? 

The one thing I do notice about his mix is that there seems to be very little vermiculite in it.  Now, I'm a big fan of vermiculite.  It has crossed my mind that I would like to buy a big bag of vermiculite to augment my TT's filled with Mel's Mix. 

Another thing, my composting efforts have failed big-time, so much that I've given up.  What kind of compost is the best to buy?  Brands?  Any help would be appreciated!

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Mels premix

Post  kauairosina on 4/2/2015, 9:07 pm

I'm not sure where you read about the negatives of Mel's premix.  We ordered some from Amazon when we first started and it worked just fine.  It came to my post office box in huge cardboard boxes, falling apart, but. as I recall we were very happy to have it.

You might check around and see if a local nursery makes compost.  We have ordered large amounts from our local nursery but this in the range of truckloads for a new large garden so I don't know about smaller amounts.

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Re: Did I hear correctly? Mel's (pre)Mix - not so much?

Post  sanderson on 4/2/2015, 11:23 pm

Nature's Way SFG Mix by Growell, at Home Depot, should be good. It is endorsed by Mel. Gardening supplies are transported and delivered in large lots on pallets. The journey may be hot or cold, long or short, maybe some good microbes die by the time you get it. Give the mix a good soaking in it's new home and the good microbes should start to "revive."

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Re: Did I hear correctly? Mel's (pre)Mix - not so much?

Post  camprn on 4/3/2015, 5:33 am

One would be better off making their own. There is currently no standard or guiding rules regarding growing mix ingredients or amounts of specific ingredients to be used. If you make your own, you will know what is in it. If you need more of 'something' for your mix, I recommend adding more compost. Adding more vermiculite will not increase the mix fertility.

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Re: Did I hear correctly? Mel's (pre)Mix - not so much?

Post  sanderson on 4/3/2015, 12:53 pm

@camprn wrote:One would be better off making their own. There is currently no standard or guiding rules regarding growing mix ingredients or amounts of specific ingredients to be used. If you make your own, you will know what is in it. If you need more of 'something' for your mix, I recommend adding more compost. Adding more vermiculite will not increase the mix fertility.
+1

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Re: Did I hear correctly? Mel's (pre)Mix - not so much?

Post  TinySpock on 4/3/2015, 1:42 pm

The additional vermiculite was for water-holding, not for fertility.  I will try to find the forum post that I read about MM. 

thanks

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Re: Did I hear correctly? Mel's (pre)Mix - not so much?

Post  sanderson on 4/3/2015, 2:01 pm

Don't forget. Because you are in AZ, you need to leave free space at the top for mulch. You are in AZ sunny and will need it! Mulch will be what saves the precious water from surface evaporation. My recommendation is to not add more vermiculite but to focus on the surface.

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Re: Did I hear correctly? Mel's (pre)Mix - not so much?

Post  TinySpock on 4/3/2015, 8:30 pm

Very good advice, S - mulch would let the exiting vermiculite do it's job.  I'm going to Home Depot tomorrow, what kind would you suggest?

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Re: Did I hear correctly? Mel's (pre)Mix - not so much?

Post  sanderson on 4/3/2015, 9:19 pm

For 2 years I used virgin pine/fir chips from a Stone and rock store called playground mulch. This year I am using a bale of bedding straw from an Ag feed store that I cut into 4-6" pieces.

The problem about "mulch" from HD is that it is either redwood (no-no) chips or bark, or dyed hardwood.

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Re: Did I hear correctly? Mel's (pre)Mix - not so much?

Post  TinySpock on 4/3/2015, 9:24 pm

@sanderson wrote:For 2 years I used virgin pine/fir chips from a Stone and rock store called playground mulch.  This year I am using a bale of bedding straw from an Ag feed store that I cut into 4-6" pieces.

The problem about "mulch" from HD is that it is either redwood (no-no) chips or bark, or dyed hardwood.

Oh, another good-to-know thing!  Thanks.  Just FMI, why no-no on redwood chips?

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Re: Did I hear correctly? Mel's (pre)Mix - not so much?

Post  camprn on 4/3/2015, 9:39 pm

I really like shredded bark mulch for in beds. It's easy to move because it kind of so es up in mats.

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Re: Did I hear correctly? Mel's (pre)Mix - not so much?

Post  sanderson on 4/3/2015, 10:08 pm

Camp, What kind of bark do you have back East? We have redwood which is painful if you get even the tiniest splinter. Plus it is acidic.

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Re: Did I hear correctly? Mel's (pre)Mix - not so much?

Post  camprn on 4/3/2015, 10:37 pm

@sanderson wrote:Camp,  What kind of bark do you have back East?  We have redwood which is painful if you get even the tiniest splinter.  Plus it is acidic.
Usually pine bark. One thing I like about the bark is it doesnt tie up the precious nitrogen in the top portion of the Mel's mix which helps with the shallow rooted veggies.

Tiny Spock, did you get your original questions answered? Do you have any others about Mel's mix?

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Re: Did I hear correctly? Mel's (pre)Mix - not so much?

Post  Turan on 4/3/2015, 11:41 pm

Tinyspock, your pictures of your garden after 8 weeks is a fine case of MM of any source (home made or bagged) doing well.   Now to keep it going as the temperature increases.  I gather mulch, shade and good watering is key.  There are threads by others in your region that I am sure you have been studying. 
Best of growing luck

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Re: Did I hear correctly? Mel's (pre)Mix - not so much?

Post  sfg4uKim on 4/4/2015, 8:23 am

While home made MM is of course the best, the #1 thing that stops many people from using the SFG method is . . . making Mel's Mix. Even if they attempt to make it themselves but just can't find FIVE different bagged composts, they make it incorrectly using just two bags (probably filled with peat) and get discouraging results. Then they badmouth the SQUARE FOOT GARDENING method.

The next biggest failure of the SFG method is incorrect initial set up - putting in 2" of MM, TONS of water, 2" of MM, TONS of water, 2" of MM, TONS of water. If not done correctly and they get discouraging results . . . they badmouth the SQUARE FOOT GARDENING method.

I believe that the Nature's Way/Gro-Well mix will be a good product to use since the creator of the method, MEL BARTHOLOMEW, endorses it. Let's trust that he and the Foundation will keep Gro-Well in line by frequent quality control checks.

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Re: Did I hear correctly? Mel's (pre)Mix - not so much?

Post  Turan on 4/4/2015, 12:01 pm

I suspect that Mel and the SFG Foundation were way too trusting at first.  Kim, do you know what kind of over sight/testing they now have in place to ensure a good product?

Tinyspock,   I seem to recall hearing good things here about Black Kow and Black Hen and Chickity doo-doo and Quoddy Lobster Compost.  I am sure people who use them will speak up.

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Re: Did I hear correctly? Mel's (pre)Mix - not so much?

Post  AtlantaMarie on 4/4/2015, 1:19 pm

We use cypress mulch (also available at HD) because it lasts a long time. 

But I will also say this:  This year I am putting down a thick layer of newspaper between the MM & mulch to make easier mulch pickup at the end of the season.

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Re: Did I hear correctly? Mel's (pre)Mix - not so much?

Post  sanderson on 4/4/2015, 1:50 pm

Marie, some one recommended a very thin layer of composted manure before laying down "brown" mulch, so the mulch doesn't rob the MM of nitrogen. Last summer I tried a thin layer of composted bagged manure, then some tulle, then topped with wood chips. I think it really worked well but putting the tulle in a box was difficult. Shocked Easy for potted plants, because I used a circle of tulle with a slit to the center so I could wrap it around the single pepper plant. Just a thought.

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Re: Did I hear correctly? Mel's (pre)Mix - not so much?

Post  Elizabeth on 4/4/2015, 2:07 pm

On the subject of mulch - PINE STRAW!!

A THICK layer - 12".  Pat it down. Excellent for water retention and the best weed blocking mulch available.  It decomposes slowly so you do not need as much to replenish.  It is easy to remove.  Contrary to popular belief it DOES NOT adversely affect your pH.   

Please do not use Cypress mulch.  Cypress is a southern treasure.  There are no more first growth Cypress trees.  It is difficult to find second growth trees. 

I love my swamps and marshes.  Old Cypress trees take my breathe away.  G knows of some places in the swamps that we can get to by boat - very difficultly and carefully - where there are stunning second growth Cypress groves.  They are so beautiful that it is  almost a religious experience to slowly move through the groves.

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Re: Did I hear correctly? Mel's (pre)Mix - not so much?

Post  plantoid on 4/4/2015, 3:39 pm

@TinySpock wrote:The additional vermiculite was for water-holding, not for fertility.  I will try to find the forum post that I read about MM. 

thanks
The vermiculite is only for the initial charge of Mel's mix  & first the  topping up of the bed as it will settle down in the first few days /weeks .
After that it's best using your own home made compost. Using MM formula gives you time to get you own composting method up running and producing the final goods.

You  will be  gently replacing the consumed bed growth medium a trowel at a time in each newly harvested square , as it breaks down & is used up by the plants .

The fiberous nature of the well made home made compost  is an even better material for soaking up water , retaining air and holding nutrients as this form of compost carries on decaying & presenting the vital plant nutrients  tom the plants .

The continuous adding of well made new home made compost in each newly harvested square keeps the gardening cycle going in tip top condition.

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Re: Did I hear correctly? Mel's (pre)Mix - not so much?

Post  sanderson on 4/4/2015, 3:48 pm

We are off topic here, and I am one of the guilty ones. Embarassed Back to pre-made Mel's Mix.

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Re: Did I hear correctly? Mel's (pre)Mix - not so much?

Post  Turan on 4/4/2015, 3:58 pm

@TinySpock wrote:I was perusing the posts and I read some disparaging comments about bagged Mel's Mix.  I was so thrilled to find that I didn't have to mix the soil myself, that Mel had pre-mixed bags available for sale.  Should I be amending his mix?  What's the problem? 

The one thing I do notice about his mix is that there seems to be very little vermiculite in it.  Now, I'm a big fan of vermiculite.  It has crossed my mind that I would like to buy a big bag of vermiculite to augment my TT's filled with Mel's Mix. 

Another thing, my composting efforts have failed big-time, so much that I've given up.  What kind of compost is the best to buy?  Brands?  Any help would be appreciated!
Here is the OP, more topics than just about commercial MM.

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Re: Did I hear correctly? Mel's (pre)Mix - not so much?

Post  AtlantaMarie on 4/4/2015, 5:04 pm

Yeah, yeah...  Me too!!!  Guilty...  Embarassed

As usual...!

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Re: Did I hear correctly? Mel's (pre)Mix - not so much?

Post  walshevak on 4/6/2015, 1:44 pm

I don't remember where the posts about the original pre-made MM are, but I do remember that folks were having growth problems with their plants.  If I remember right, fertilizer (even Miracle-Gro) and/or top dressing was recommended until the squares needed replanting. It worked.   Then homemade and/or a blend of commercial composts were added and the problems went away.  The newer mix may not have the problems of the original mix, but just to be safe, I'd have some blend on hand for top dressing.

Since we have to add new compost every year, I just got into the habit of buying some good composts including worm castings from my worm bin and keeping an 18 gal tote full out by the beds (in my case under the TTs).  Then I could get a couple of buckets from the compost pile and some from the bin when replanting.  

Kay

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TT?

Post  kauairosina on 4/6/2015, 2:29 pm

Nan from Kailua asked me what TT stood for and I couldn't tell her.  Told her to tell me next time she saw it and Walshevak used the term today.  I thought maybe table tops but don't know.  Please let us know.  Many thanks.

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Re: Did I hear correctly? Mel's (pre)Mix - not so much?

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