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New square foot gardening mix?

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New square foot gardening mix?

Post  Catalina on 3/14/2017, 1:13 pm

Hello. I just found this forum and read that Mel's old method of soil mix is no longer used, that there is a new book. My book is the original, and I live in Mexico where the new book is not available. Is there a link or attachment someone can direct me to where I can see the new mix? Thank you, fellow square gardeners. Smile
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Re: New square foot gardening mix?

Post  sanderson on 3/14/2017, 2:47 pm

Hi Catalina,  Welcome to the Forum from California!  glad you\'re here  Using the Search Box, I found 81 threads on Mel's Mix that you can browse.  Basically, Mel omitted the 6" of dirt from his New SFG, leaving just 6" of Mel's Mix.  Mel's Mix is composed of 3 equal parts, one part of vermiculite, one part of fluffed peat moss and one part of quality compost.  The quality compost should be a blend of 5 types of compost.  What types of compost can you find in your area?  Aged horse manure is one example.  Llama or rabbit pooh pellets another.  Veggie compost.  Aged, broken down moldy leaves.

In your area, if you can't get vermiculite, perlite could be used.  No peat moss?  Washed coconut coir can be used.

Let us know what you are able to find, and keep us update! Very Happy

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Re: New square foot gardening mix?

Post  Catalina on 3/14/2017, 3:34 pm

Thanks for the reply, Sanderson. I'll check out the Search Box. Neither vermiculite nor peat moss is available here. I'm using small pumice that is screened, in lieu of vermiculite, for making Mel's original mix. I guess you know about the controversy surrounding the use of peat moss.(I tried posting a link to this issue, but was informed new members can't post external links for seven days.) I'll look for coir. I'm making my own compost, using horse, cattle manure and kitchen scraps.
Do you know why Mel dropped ash and lime? I thought they both enhanced a soil mix.
Thank you for your informative response. ~ Catalina
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Re: New square foot gardening mix?

Post  sanderson on 3/14/2017, 5:12 pm

@Catalina wrote:Thanks for the reply, Sanderson. I'll check out the Search Box. Neither vermiculite nor peat moss is available here. I'm using small pumice that is screened, in lieu of vermiculite, for making Mel's original mix. I guess you know about the controversy surrounding the use of peat moss.(I tried posting a link to this issue, but was informed new members can't post external links for seven  days.) I'll look for coir. I'm making  my own compost, using horse, cattle manure and kitchen scraps.
Do you know why Mel dropped ash and lime? I thought they both enhanced a soil mix.
Thank you for your informative response. ~ Catalina
This is just my guess, but lime and ash may have help balance the pH when Mel's Mix was blended with 6" of dirt.  As we don't use any dirt in All New SFG, they aren't needed.  Mel's Mix automatically adjusts close to neutral pH, plus or minus.

No need to post a link regarding any controversy with peat moss.  It's been already been discussed and re-discussed on the Forum.  For ANSFG, peat moss is only used once, and that is when the beds are first filled with new Mel's Mix.  Never heard of using pumice in place of vermiculite.  I'll have to research that, now.   Very Happy  Is perlite available there?

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Re: New square foot gardening mix?

Post  Catalina on 3/14/2017, 5:29 pm

No perlite here either, but lots of pumice because we are in a volcanic region. Pumice was the closest I could come up with for a substitute. We did an experiment and soaked pumice pieces in water. After an hour or so, they had increased in weight by 1/3rd. 
BTW, when I  posted for the first time this morning, I couldn't find a search bar. After your reply, I looked again and saw the button for "classic version". When I switched to that, there was the search bar, as well as a whole lot of other goodies. I guess my tablet automatically opened to a trimmed down version.
Thanks for your reply. thanks
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Re: New square foot gardening mix?

Post  RoOsTeR on 3/14/2017, 9:11 pm

@Catalina wrote:No perlite here either, but lots of pumice because we are in a volcanic region. Pumice was the closest I could come up with for a substitute. We did an experiment and soaked pumice pieces in water. After an hour or so, they had increased in weight by 1/3rd. 
BTW, when I  posted for the first time this morning, I couldn't find a search bar. After your reply, I looked again and saw the button for "classic version". When I switched to that, there was the search bar, as well as a whole lot of other goodies. I guess my tablet automatically opened to a trimmed down version.
Thanks for your reply. thanks

Yes, the standard version on a hand held device is less than desirable. Make sure and choose classic.

There has been discussion on the forum before about the use of pumice. I have no real knowledge of using it or not, so I can't say either way. What I can say, is that in other countries and areas where some ingredients might be hard to find, like vermiculite and peat, Mel (and the foundation) always suggested just using compost.

If you've already added the pumice, I would recommend adding in plenty of good, quality compost. A mix of different types is best if possible!

edit* Reading back, I see you mentioned making your own compost. Excellent! You're on the right track.

Welcome to the forum Like a Star @ heaven

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Re: New square foot gardening mix?

Post  CitizenKate on 3/14/2017, 10:22 pm

@sanderson wrote:
This is just my guess, but lime and ash may have help balance the pH when Mel's Mix was blended with 6" of dirt.  As we don't use any dirt in All New SFG, they aren't needed.  Mel's Mix automatically adjusts close to neutral pH, plus or minus.
This may be a bit tangent to the central topic, but I've been wondering, is there a technical definition of the composition of "dirt", versus "soil", versus "compost"?
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Re: New square foot gardening mix?

Post  AtlantaMarie on 3/15/2017, 8:31 am

Hi Catalina. Welcome from Atlanta, GA. Glad you've found us!
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Re: New square foot gardening mix?

Post  donnainzone5 on 3/15/2017, 12:00 pm

I have a friend I converted to SFG a year or two ago.  For financial reasons, he and his wife chose to use pumice.

They now think that it would have been better to go with vermiculite. 

If that's not available, then I vote for additional compost!
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Re: New square foot gardening mix?

Post  sanderson on 3/15/2017, 12:07 pm

@CitizenKate wrote:This may be a bit tangent to the central topic, but I've been wondering, is there a technical definition of the composition of "dirt", versus "soil", versus "compost"?
I answered in Senseless Banter.

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Re: New square foot gardening mix?

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 3/15/2017, 4:34 pm

Welcome Catalina!

Pumice isn't as good as vermiculite because some of the bubbles in it don't have openings (pumice floats because of the trapped air bubbles that water can't get into) and some of the holes that are open to the outside aren't the right size to freely/easily let water in and out of. Vermiculite apparently has a waterholding capacity of 220-325% by weight! (Reference: http://www.schundler.com/techverm.htm )  The pumice won't hurt your bed, but I think for your next bed just use more compost instead of pumice.

I look forward to reading more as your garden grows!
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Re: New square foot gardening mix?

Post  Catalina on 3/15/2017, 8:55 pm

Gracias! I'll get to work building up the compost pile.  Wink
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Re: New square foot gardening mix?

Post  Scorpio Rising on 3/15/2017, 9:30 pm

Hola!  Bien venido, Catalina!  

Do the best you can.  I agree, what you cannot find, replace with compost.  It will come together.  I think theoretically, the volcanic space holder would accomplish what vermiculite does...add air space.  Try it.  Got nothing to lose.  Keep detailed notes, dates, etc....you will refer to them lots.

glad you\'re here   Tell us about your plans!
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Re: New square foot gardening mix?

Post  PVPind on 3/16/2017, 8:58 am

Good morning. Below is a link to a company in Mexico that manufacturers perlite and vermiculite. Maybe you can call them and see if they have a local source for vermiculite. Happy gardening!


Termolita

Callejón del Marmol, 201
Zona Industrial
Santa Catarina, Nuevo León
66364
México

81 8151 0480
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Re: New square foot gardening mix?

Post  sanderson on 3/17/2017, 3:20 am

I forwarded this information to Wardnwake for updating the international vermiculite data base.

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Mel's Mix without peat moss or vermiculite

Post  Docwas on 8/25/2017, 11:50 am

Remember that in the Square Foot Meter gardens in poorer countries, Mel said that pure blended compost could be used if peat moss and/or vermiculite weren't available. It won't have the same water retention or drainage properties, but it would still probably be better than native soil.
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