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Heavens to Betsy!!! Why didn't you warn me??

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Heavens to Betsy!!! Why didn't you warn me??

Post  milaneyjane on 5/6/2010, 11:29 pm

I have been mixing and mixing and mixing and buying and buying and buying and buying some more to fill my beds. I can hardly move. I can NOT believe how much it takes to fill them with Mel's mix. I have seven 4 ftx8 ft x8 inch beds.

Just one single layer 4x8 bed and one double layer 4x8 bed, I think that I went through four (GIANT 4 cubic foot) bags of vermiculite, 3 large things of sphagum moss, and 20 of the forty pound bags of compost. That was probably 15 full "batches" of mix in the wheelbarrow and a full day of mixing. I still have 4 beds to go!!!!!! I started mixing full wheelbarrows mixing with my hands, and then switched to the tarp for double batches. I think it took the same amount of time either way. I am measuring out the mix by icecream buckets full. Each "batch" is 21 buckets of ingredients.

I am putting my raised beds on my huge row garden, so when I started seeing how much it was taking, in the extra tall bed, I shoveled in about a 5 inch layer of garden dirt on the bottom and then the Mel's mix. I hope I don't get weeds now. I figure I will do the same for the other bed that is going to be taller as well since the garden dirt is free on the bottom.

On the bright side, I got a 25 pound bucket of dried worm castings for $24~~~ locally made

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Re: Heavens to Betsy!!! Why didn't you warn me??

Post  chocolatepop on 5/7/2010, 12:06 am

Are you planning on feeding your city

It does take a LOT, and the buying is so painful, but the rewards great.

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Re: Heavens to Betsy!!! Why didn't you warn me??

Post  milaneyjane on 5/7/2010, 12:11 am

LOL!!! Not a city---just a big hungry family and a 10 year old son that LOVES to plant all sorts of crazy plants---just to see what they are like. My future botonist and business man. We have a deal that as long as he helps with the gardening, he can set up a stand to sell any left over produce. Half the time the kids eat the plants empty before I can even pick them (especially the peas and cherry tomatoes).

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Re: Heavens to Betsy!!! Why didn't you warn me??

Post  chocolatepop on 5/7/2010, 12:38 am

@milaneyjane wrote:LOL!!! Not a city---just a big hungry family and a 10 year old son that LOVES to plant all sorts of crazy plants---just to see what they are like. My future botonist and business man. We have a deal that as long as he helps with the gardening, he can set up a stand to sell any left over produce. Half the time the kids eat the plants empty before I can even pick them (especially the peas and cherry tomatoes).

Where are you located? I'll be coming for a visit near harvest time

I totally wanna see your schematic, I'm having trouble with the few boxes I have!!

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Re: Heavens to Betsy!!! Why didn't you warn me??

Post  Ha-v-v on 5/7/2010, 7:09 am

The exercise !! I have muscles in my shoulder blades I didnt know I had. Mixing the soil on the tarp is like having your own weight set! No gym needed ! But I do see where once the work is done like that you have so much extra time, I stand there.. ok now what else can I do. lololololol And I want more boxes !!! I love it all !

Happy Gardening
Ha-v-v

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Re: Heavens to Betsy!!! Why didn't you warn me??

Post  Retired Member 1 on 5/7/2010, 7:46 am

I think Mel did warn us in the book (sometimes referred to around here as my gardening bible). Perhaps not for the aching muscles for the eventuala harvest. But like you I went overboard. I switched to "lasagna method" SFG for the last three as I couldn't afford Mel's mix but had a huge amount of leaves, manure, grass clippings, etc.

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Pictures

Post  milaneyjane on 5/7/2010, 6:01 pm

My Garden

This is the space that I am working with, LOL! I have tons of space to fit the beds and then some. I am putting the beds to the right of the arbor that we added last summer after some of the pics were taken last spring(when looking at it from the house). It will be about 1/3 of that garden---the other 2/3 will be corn. The garden in back with police tape is going to stay row garden for all my vine crops. I am not going to use the garden area to the left of the arbor anymore---I think we will put the kids pool there and my sons pond he wants to build. I will posts pics when I am done with the boxes (hopefully this weekend if the rain stops)

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Re: Heavens to Betsy!!! Why didn't you warn me??

Post  Blackrose on 5/7/2010, 6:18 pm

What a lovely "garden"! I put garden in quotes because it looks more like you have a small farm there. What an amazing amount of space you have. I am jealous!


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Re: Heavens to Betsy!!! Why didn't you warn me??

Post  aspiegardner on 5/7/2010, 7:00 pm

I cheated last year LOL. I had 4 boxes to do and I divided all ingredients into 4 and than dumped it one ingredient at a time right into the box and mixed it up. So much easier to have it right in the box.

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Re: Heavens to Betsy!!! Why didn't you warn me??

Post  middlemamma on 5/8/2010, 12:16 am

I only got one and a half boxes filled tonight. Smile 2 1/2 more to go, plus the (6) 1x1 boxes. Its been so windy here in my neck of the woods I cant do the tarp method. So I used my new compsot tumbler hubby bought me and when I am done mixing soil I will start composting. LOL I am using a milk jug with the top cut off and doing equal scoops like the OP talked about. It's taking forever, but I am counting on it being worth it. Smile

I do have one question though. The peat moss that I am using is a "compressed" 3.8 cu ft bag. So it's expanding as I dig into it. And I am so confused....is it 3.8 cu ft AFTER it expands or before? Because I am doing 1 milk jug of vermiculite, 1 of peat and 1 of the mixed compost. But I am ending up with way more peat moss. Like the compost and the vermiculite worked out pretty close jug for jug, but the peat is lasting way longer?

Jennie

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Re: Heavens to Betsy!!! Why didn't you warn me??

Post  Retired Member 1 on 5/8/2010, 8:34 am

Compressed peat moss just about doubles when fluffed out. So a 3.8 cf bale will end up around 7 to 8 cf. Measure it after it expands. Just curious why you are using a milk jug? I used a 5 gal bucket and the process went pretty quickly. I layered one bucket with the different composts, one of vermiculite and one of peat. Dumped it all onto the tarp and mixed.

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Re: Heavens to Betsy!!! Why didn't you warn me??

Post  Blackrose on 5/8/2010, 8:57 am

That is an excellent idea to mix in the compost tumbler! I had to make sure I misted my mix regularly as I mixed it to stop it from blowing away.

Almost makes me want to buy a compost tumbler just for mixing Mel's Mix. I'm sure I'll be mixing a lot of it over the years as my new hobby becomes more of an obsession.


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Measuring peat moss

Post  ander217 on 5/8/2010, 9:13 am

Belfry Bat said, <Compressed peat moss just about doubles when fluffed out. So a 3.8 cf bale will end up around 7 to 8 cf. Measure it after it expands.>

OMG! We're supposed to open it, fluff it, and then measure it??? I assumed it meant it was actually 3.8 cf, but it was just compressed tightly. We dumped the whole thing onto the tarp and stirred everything together.

So that means our mix is actually way heavy on peat. That might explain why it crusts over so badly on top.

So what do I do now? Side dress with some extra compost?

(And even with using all the extra peat, it still didn't fill our boxes as it should have.)

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Don't worry yourself sick about weeds...

Post  quiltbea on 5/9/2010, 8:14 pm

When working with raised beds, its so easy to spot the new weed and pull it before it gets any size. Its also a simple thing to run a sharp-bladed weeder over the top half inch of soil to disturb any new weeds just below the surface.
Before you know it your crops are getting their size and shading out any new weeds so they can't grow.

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Re: Heavens to Betsy!!! Why didn't you warn me??

Post  timwardell on 5/9/2010, 9:16 pm

Ander217 said:
So that means our mix is actually way heavy on peat. That might explain why it crusts over so badly on top.
So what do I do now? Side dress with some extra compost?


That's probably the easiest and best solution. No sense re-mixing everything. Just add more compost. Very Happy

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Garden Dirt Filler

Post  Anianna on 6/8/2010, 2:20 pm

I used general yard dirt as filler in my double, but I put landscape fabric over it before shoveling in my Mel's mix. If you don't have dirt laying around, you can always use cheapo play sand.

I also use my compost tumbler to mix and it works great. You can layer the ingredients as you add them, too. One bucket of compost, one bucket of vermiculite, one bucket of peat moss. Repeat until the tumbler is about 3/4 full and then spin it. You could use one of those big food-grade plastic barrels, too, and just shove it around the yard until everything is mixed. The kids would have a blast with that.

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Re: Heavens to Betsy!!! Why didn't you warn me??

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