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Mixing Mel's Mix

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Mixing Mel's Mix

Post  PhillyFarm on 5/31/2015, 10:50 am

I have just recently made my maiden voyage into square foot gardening.  I planned two beds, each two 4x4 connected beds.  I didn't have time or space to mix the compost, vermiculite and peat moss for at the same time, so I did them at different times.  On the first, I followed the instructions in the book, first mixing different types of compost on a tarp, then adding in the vermiculite and peat moss.  I didn't have another person to help with the tarp, so I mostly mixed with a shovel and a rake.  It proved to be a long, exhausting process to mix and fill two 4x4 beds.  The next time I put the components into the beds, putting the lighter vermiculite and peat moss in first and mixing them, then adding the heavier composts in last with the thought the lighter materials would naturally rise while the heavier compost sank.  It worked out just that way and it took about a quarter of the time, and much less energy to fill the bed with well mixed soil!
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Re: Mixing Mel's Mix

Post  Razed Bed on 5/31/2015, 11:04 am

My wife filled a new square this year by taking a shovel full of coconut coir, a shovel full of vermiculite, and a shovel full of compost and then repeating this over and over again until the bed was filled.

She brought the mountain to Mohammed by creating the square rather close to the compost.  She then placed the coconut coir bags and vermiculite bag between the compost pile and new square. 

I did not know she was being so resourceful, and when I arrived home that afternoon, I saw a perfectly constructed square with a mix that looked better than any I made, which is par for the course, since the only thing I ever did perfectly was in choosing a soul mate.

BTW, she took a pile of leftover brick we had to build up this new pile, driving metal rods into the bricks to keep them in place.  The only issue is that this poor square has taken a hit from the weeds that blew seeds into it.

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Re: Mixing Mel's Mix

Post  yolos on 5/31/2015, 1:58 pm

I take a 5 gallon bucket of peat, a 5 gallon bucket of Vermiculite, a 5 gallon bucket of compost, dump them in a deep wheel barrow, mix up with a child's size hoe, and then dump the wheel barrow in the bed.
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Re: Mixing Mel's Mix

Post  CapeCoddess on 5/31/2015, 2:42 pm

I love mixing Mel's Mix on a tarp. It gets harder every year but it's great exercise! I use a wheelbarrow full each of vermiculite, peat and compost. Wet it down, roll it, wet it down, roll it, spray it, roll it, and on and on. It comes out so pretty and perfectly distributed. The hard part for me is getting it into the box without using a shovel. I try to roll it in with the tarp but every year a bit more ends up falling on the grass. Rolling Eyes

CC
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Using a tumbler

Post  naughtymoose on 12/15/2015, 6:20 pm

I've managed to buy a compost tumbler for £15 on ebay. I picked it up on Sunday.

My intention is to use it as a sort of 'cement-mixer' to mix up the constituent parts of the mix.

I'll tape over the holes (don't want to lose any MM!) and then be able to thoroughly mix the stuff up in small manageable quantities.

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Re: Mixing Mel's Mix

Post  Scorpio Rising on 12/15/2015, 8:33 pm

@CapeCoddess wrote:I love mixing Mel's Mix on a tarp. It gets harder every year but it's great exercise! I use a wheelbarrow full each of vermiculite, peat and compost. Wet it down, roll it, wet it down, roll it, spray it, roll it, and on and on. It comes out so pretty and perfectly distributed. The hard part for me is getting it into the box without using a shovel. I try to roll it in with the tarp but every year a bit more ends up falling on the grass. Rolling Eyes

CC

I am a tarp roller too, but did need ibuprofen and a chiropractic adjustment afterwards! Truth!
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Re: Mixing Mel's Mix

Post  AtlantaMarie on 12/16/2015, 7:05 am

We're wheelbarrow folks...  But I like the tumbler idea, NaughtyMoose.  Let me know how it works.
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Re: Mixing Mel's Mix

Post  Scorpio Rising on 12/16/2015, 7:58 am

I like the tumbler idea too, keep us posted!
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Re: Mixing Mel's Mix

Post  jimmy cee on 12/16/2015, 8:54 pm

I tried it all, my favorite method of mixing Mel's Mix is shown here.
And this was for a 4 x 4 bed.

empty 12 x 16 tarp

one 5 gallon bucket of SCREENED peat moss

one 5 gallon bucket of super course vermiculite

dump vermiculite on peat moss



rake in with back of rake....





screened compost



screening done





5 gallons of compost to mix with peat moss and vermiculite




After mixing all 3 components, added to beds, and then went back to do more.
I did not add water to this before adding to bed, It was easier for me to water after loading into bed.





bed completed

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Re: Mixing Mel's Mix

Post  Scorpio Rising on 12/16/2015, 10:01 pm

Raking in the vermiculite would have saved some of my vermiculite, mine was flying everywhere! Good tutorial, Jimmy!
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Re: Mixing Mel's Mix

Post  sanderson on 12/17/2015, 2:01 am

With my back, I find standing at a picnic table, mixing in a cement tube, to be the easiest.  This photo is from March 2013, when I first began SFG, and was using perlite and Kelloggs Embarassed .  When mixed and wet, I would slide the tub over to the 33-gal wheeled garbage can, repeat process.

Moose, Don't overfill the unit or it will be hard to get ingredients mixed. I'm thinking about 1/3 full. Let us know how it works for you. Ditto for if you use the unit for composting.

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Re: Mixing Mel's Mix

Post  jimmy cee on 12/17/2015, 8:14 am

@Scorpio Rising wrote:Raking in the vermiculite would have saved some of my vermiculite, mine was flying everywhere!  Good tutorial, Jimmy!

It's really best not to do the mix during windy conditions, breezy is ok, however wet it and that will help a lot.

Sanderson, your method's much better than a tumbler..
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Re: Mixing Mel's Mix

Post  yolos on 12/17/2015, 9:43 am

I use the wheel barrow method.  5 gallon bucket of peat moss, 5 gallon bucket of vermiculite, mix with hoe.  1 gallon bucket of 5 kinds of compost, mix with hoe.  Roll wheel barrow to bed and dump in.  If putting in table top then shovel it in.  Water after each wheel barrow load.  Then repeat as necessary.
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Re: Mixing Mel's Mix

Post  CapeCoddess on 12/17/2015, 10:23 am

Love the photos. They made my heart pound. I love you Laughing
How many 5 gal buckets of each does it take to fill a 4x4x6" bed?

CC
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Re: Mixing Mel's Mix

Post  Zmoore on 12/17/2015, 12:03 pm

@CapeCoddess wrote:How many 5 gal buckets of each does it take to fill a 4x4x6" bed?  

Ooo!  Ooo!
More fun with math!
4'x4'x6"= 8 c.f.
One 5 gal. bucket= .67 c.f.
so one 4x4x6" bed takes 12- 5 gallon buckets
For Mels Mix and equal parts of 3 components
4(four) 5-gal. buckets of each component.

So, if Jimmy has a 12'x6' blue tarp, What are the odds that Zeke's and Scorpio's camo tarps are much cooler?
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Re: Mixing Mel's Mix

Post  sanderson on 12/17/2015, 1:05 pm

lol!

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Re: Mixing Mel's Mix

Post  Scorpio Rising on 12/17/2015, 6:22 pm

[quote="jimmy cee"]
@Scorpio Rising wrote:Raking in the vermiculite would have saved some of my vermiculite, mine was flying everywhere!  Good tutorial, Jimmy!

It's really best not to do the mix during windy conditions, breezy is ok, however wet it and that will help a lot.

Live and learn, right?! Wink
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Re: Mixing Mel's Mix

Post  jimmy cee on 12/17/2015, 9:48 pm

@CapeCoddess wrote:Love the photos.  They made my heart pound.   I love you  Laughing
How many 5 gal buckets of each does it take to fill a 4x4x6" bed?  

CC

I did 4 sets of mix, 3 buckets a set, X 4 == 12 five gallon bucket to fill mine..
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Re: Mixing Mel's Mix

Post  plantoid on 12/18/2015, 9:41 am

As my beds are the 36 high brick built one  the top foot or more is genuine full on MM  ( save for my onion bed long story ) 
 I simply sprinkled two inches of chopped coir across each square fbed then added the vermiculite to the same depth then add two inches of compost . When finished doing this I then used a kiddies sand spade blade set on an old sea fishing rod butt to turn them in together. area
After three complete turnings it was done so I then added the next set of layers and again turned them in as before . For me the beauty of this and the tiny sand spade is that It didn't wreck me physically even though I was suffering intensely from what I now know was a severe case of spinal compression due to bone growths in two of  my vertebrae that kept  pressing in on my spinal cord in my upper lumbar spine art L2/L3  .

 It seemed far easier  because of the back problem to be doing it directly on my beds than ever rolling it around on a tarp & having to lift it up off the tarp  into a bed .
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Re: Mixing Mel's Mix

Post  jimmy cee on 12/18/2015, 10:30 am

Best way to mix anything is to do it comfortably...  good ideas  Plantoid
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