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Help... best way to make a small amount of Mix?

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Help... best way to make a small amount of Mix?

Post  Megan on Thu 13 May 2010 - 16:10

I need your advice, please!

I just covered my potato plants up for the first time this afternoon. I had set aside 3 big buckets of mix to backfill my 4 s.f. potato box, which at the time I thought would be more than enough. But now, after emptying the first and largest bucket, I don't think I'll have enough to finish backfilling!

I really don't want to buy another bag of vermiculite if I can possibly avoid it, and my composter is not ready to give me anything usable right now. Anyone have any ideas for something that might work? Would using pure (sterilized) cow manure be bad for the potatoes?
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Re: Help... best way to make a small amount of Mix?

Post  Blackrose on Thu 13 May 2010 - 16:12

I read in another post that someone (I think it was boffer) was going to cover their potatoes with straw. I'm sure it would work just as well.
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Re: Help... best way to make a small amount of Mix?

Post  Megan on Thu 13 May 2010 - 17:10

Sounds perfect, except I'm afraid straw won't fly in my front yard. *puts on compost-hunting hat* jocolor
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Re: Help... best way to make a small amount of Mix?

Post  milaneyjane on Thu 13 May 2010 - 19:02

I am in the same situation. I built the 3x3 potato tower that we will keep adding boards to each time the leaves get to four inches tall. I don't want to mix Mel$ mix for my potato towers all the way to the top. I used it just to do the initial planting but don't want to use it to fill the entire box since I am trying the towers. If you do the straw, you get larger potato but fewer. If the soil is too rich it all goes to the potato leaves and not tubers from what I gather online. But because I am probably just going to put the soil from the potato box back in my row garden, I think I will just use my garden dirt mixed with some inexpensive bagged compost. (Can't reuse it for potato again)
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Re: Help... best way to make a small amount of Mix?

Post  Megan on Thu 13 May 2010 - 19:33

Here's what I've got. My potatoes are right in my SFG, with a riser box I intended to rotate in future years. I didn't know that about the straw, thank you. There are only the two of us, though, so I am hoping four plants should be plenty?

Yesterday:


Today, after one bucket of fill:


I don't think two 5-gallon pails are going to fill that to the top. Silly me!
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Re: Help... best way to make a small amount of Mix?

Post  Retired Member 1 on Thu 13 May 2010 - 19:57

Sounds perfect, except I'm afraid straw won't fly in my front yard. *puts on compost-hunting hat*

Why won't straw work for you? It will be inside the box -- who's to know? Or use shredded leaves if you can find some. Anything to cover the growing vines. It doesn't have to be rich since the roots are in rich soil -- the tubers just need something friable to grow in.

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Re: Help... best way to make a small amount of Mix?

Post  Megan on Thu 13 May 2010 - 20:00

Hmm that's a thought... I was worried about exposed straw out of HOA fear, but I could lay down straw and then top it with more of my mix at the same time, so no one would be the wiser.

GREAT IDEA!!!! thanks
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Re: Help... best way to make a small amount of Mix?

Post  chocolatepop on Thu 13 May 2010 - 20:03

I use straw and you can't tell there is straw in there unless you are hovering over top of it.
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Re: Help... best way to make a small amount of Mix?

Post  boffer on Thu 13 May 2010 - 20:06

If you used straw, you could also cover it with shade cloth, or even weed cloth if appearance is important.

A heaping 5 gallon bucket is nearly a cubic foot. I'll guess that your riser box is 1x4 feet x 6 inches which is 2 cubic feet. Which is 2 full 5 gallon buckets. You'll be pretty close to the top!
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Re: Help... best way to make a small amount of Mix?

Post  Megan on Thu 13 May 2010 - 20:09

Thanks boffer. I'll let you all know how it works out, and thanks very much for the friendly wisdom! Very Happy
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Re: Help... best way to make a small amount of Mix?

Post  Judge Kemp on Thu 13 May 2010 - 21:58

Boffer,

I think one five gallon bucket is just 2/3 of a cubic foot. Two buckets full to the brim will give her just 1 1/3 cubic feet. To get a full cubic foot, you need 1 and 1/2 five gallon buckets full.

-Judge

Perhaps the original poster could use dried grass clippings. Readily available and from what I've heard it works quite well. Should compost itself well too, if it is just to be mixed in with the Mel's Mix in the boxes at the end of the growing season.

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Potatoes???

Post  GloriaG on Thu 13 May 2010 - 22:30

I'm sorry I know this sounds rather uneducated - but why do the potatoes need to be covered? I've never grown them, but as a child I remember by grandfather having them in his row garden. I don't remember him "hilling them" in as he did with a few other crops. Don't the tubers simply grow down from the root structure?

Thanks
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Re: Help... best way to make a small amount of Mix?

Post  Chopper on Fri 14 May 2010 - 0:36

Gloria:

That is true of sweet potatoes but potatoes actually grow along the stem, not the root. So for the maximum amount of potatoes, you need to keep the stems in dirt, or covered so they can grow. If you do not mound them you still get some, but not nearly the crop you get by mounding.

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Potatoes???

Post  GloriaG on Fri 14 May 2010 - 8:33

AhHaa!

I never researched them before, but it sounds like something I should look into it for next year.
I'll be adding another box then and will have some room to experiment. Right now I'm "full"

Thank you so much Chopper - I really appreciate your info.
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Peat moss

Post  jkdistad on Fri 14 May 2010 - 9:43

Did I just have an epiphany? Will using straight peat moss around the tops of the potatoes work? I'm going to have 6 square feet of taters, and that does seem like quite a lot of (wasted) MM if the taters don't actually need it as a nutrition source. Or would the peat moss fly away in the slightest breeze if it's at all dry? Maybe I should cover it with landscape cloth (with holes cut for the tater plants)?
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Re: Help... best way to make a small amount of Mix?

Post  Chopper on Fri 14 May 2010 - 12:32

Found this link. He uses newspaper strips and junk mail as the plants grow. So I guess after the initial plant, what you cover the stems with is optional. Hmmmmm. I have heard that too much compost can hurt potatoes.

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/732129/how_to_grow_potatoes_in_a_container.html

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