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Confused about nutrients in Mel's Mix

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Confused about nutrients in Mel's Mix

Post  Universe Man on 5/6/2010, 9:41 pm

So the new SFG method says we don't need fertilizer, right? Because the compost has all the nutrients we need, right? But the composts that I see all have NPK values of, say, 1-1-1 or even 0.5-0.5-0.5. And as far as I know, the vermiculite and the coconut coir (which I'm using instead of peat moss) are devoid of nutrients. So what am I missing? Is my SFG soil nearly devoid of N, P, and K, and if so, why do the plants still grow?

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Re: Confused about nutrients in Mel's Mix

Post  Chopper on 5/6/2010, 9:49 pm

Good question and one I am interested in also. It was very hard for me not to add blood and bone meal or steer manure at least. I will be interested to see what people say.

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Re: Confused about nutrients in Mel's Mix

Post  martha on 5/6/2010, 9:54 pm

this is why Mel says to use homegrown compost, or 5 different varieties. I want to write more, and not sound pedantic, but my brain is
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Re: Confused about nutrients in Mel's Mix

Post  WardinWake on 5/7/2010, 8:30 am

@Universe Man wrote:So the new SFG method says we don't need fertilizer, right? Because the compost has all the nutrients we need, right? But the composts that I see all have NPK values of, say, 1-1-1 or even 0.5-0.5-0.5. And as far as I know, the vermiculite and the coconut coir (which I'm using instead of peat moss) are devoid of nutrients. So what am I missing? Is my SFG soil nearly devoid of N, P, and K, and if so, why do the plants still grow?

Howdy Mr. Universe:

Welcome to the SFG forum and family. Thank you for asking the question. Your question led me into researching plant nutrition in a couple of books that I have on hand including, "The Complete Vegetable and Herb Gardener", "All New Square Foot Gardening" and a book on compost. Gleaning from the info in the books we get the following.

Synthetic and organic fertilizer bags, by law, have N-P-K (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) listed. Plant nutrition is more complex then N-P-K. Plants need ample amounts of sulfur, magnesium and calcium as well as minor amounts of boron, chloride, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, zinc and others. The N-P-K listed on containers are the chemicals that are immediately available to plants. Compost and other organic fertilizers release their nutrients slowly over time rather than all at once. This allows the plant to absorb the nutrients that it needs, when it needs it. The blended compost that Mel recommends in the All New book has all the nutrients that our vegetables, herbs, and flowers need. Unless our blended compost is lacking in one or more nutrients there is no need to add any other organic fertilizer. If your plants are thriving you will not need to buy blood or bone meal or any of the "fancy" organics that are sold.

Again welcome and keep asking questions. Each of us learn from each question asked.

God Bless, Ward.

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Re: Confused about nutrients in Mel's Mix

Post  herbarium on 5/7/2010, 3:13 pm

New nutrients for humans are still be discovered so how likely is it that we know everything about plant nutrition? If I use a variety of composts not only are my plants getting what we do know plants need but also some of the things we don't know yet. Some nutrients are only available to plants if the soil microorganisms are there to make it available. With compost I have the nutrients to feed plants and to feed microorganisms plus the microorganisms. For the healthiest plants you need to feed the soil which is what compost does.

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Re: Confused about nutrients in Mel's Mix

Post  Jiro on 5/8/2010, 4:26 pm

I wouldn't get too hung up on NPK. It is okay and actually quite easy to grow vegetables in nothing but (fully composted) compost. If I'm not mistaken, compost-only is a preferred approach as taught by several projects and missions in the third world. There are plenty of nutrients in good compost.

Think about it: after a few years, the mixture in your square foot garden is technically all compost: what's in the box is continuously breaking down and the gardener adds nothing but compost and more compost after each harvest.
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