Square Foot Gardening Forum
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Alternatives to Mel's mix?

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Alternatives to Mel's mix?

Post  holdmusic on 5/8/2010, 1:25 pm

I live in southwest Missouri. Our best crop is pure clay and rocks. I really want to build a raised bed sfg and make my own compost to use in it. But both peat moss and verculimite look really expensive, and I'm trying to use a frugal, get-free-stuff-from-the-dumpster type method.

Several years ago, when I was still a kid (I'm eighteen now), I was part of a garden club. Our method was to fill a raised bed with layer of sand and then pure organic compost, and plant in that. There was no soil. As I remember, it was a successful method.

Should I try this myself? Or should I do another alternative? Suggestions please?

holdmusic

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Location : Taney County MO

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Re: Alternatives to Mel's mix?

Post  new2this on 5/8/2010, 1:59 pm

Hi there and welcome to the forum.

Sounds like you probably have more gardening experience than I do and you're half my age!! So go with what you know and have fun.......

But that said, I know vermiculite can be spendy- I found some at a nursery for $22, but ended up purchasing mine at a home-improvement type store (found in the insulation aisle) for $10.95/3 cuft bag!! If you can...do some checking. I'm completely new to this whole SFG method, but I am sure that the research Mel has done is spot on. Maybe you can not afford all of the compost suggested, but perhaps you could splurge on the vermiculite instead. That is what will help retain water and it doesn't disintegrate and will always be in your soil.......so think of it as a one time expense. The compost can be added as you go. Maybe a little "good stuff" now and some in the fall or next year.
I don't think there is a right way to do it, as many here have different recipies for their soil, and there are many successes.
I guess I didn't really answer your question, but do what you can and remember that you can always amend your soil later on.
Good luck.

new2this

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Age : 43
Location : southeast MN, zone 4a

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Re: Alternatives to Mel's mix?

Post  Retired Member 1 on 5/8/2010, 3:12 pm

I'm doing a combination of beds, some with Mel's mix and some "lasagna garden" fashion. Mel also suggests using all compost (from 5 different sources if not homemade). I see no reason why sand in the bottom and compost on top wouldn't work, but if you can afford it go with all compost. Some also are using perlite as a substitute for vermiculite, but I don't know of anyone who has used it for over a year who could tell how well it did.

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Sand under the Mel's Mix

Post  Bec on 5/8/2010, 7:49 pm

Belfrybat,
Actually, Mel does say that if you want your garden deeper than 6 inches you can put sand in first and then the 6 inches of Mel's Mix.

I'd like to know if anyone's had success for more than 1 year with the perlite, too. I'm going out tomorrow (hopefully) to get some vermiculite but I need so much I was thinking about doing a couple of boxes with vermiculite and a couple with perlite. I'm expanding the garden a lot this year and really don't want to spend the kind of money that would take.

Bec

Bec

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Join date : 2010-03-23
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