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help - forgot to lightly moisten vermiculite/peat moss

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help - forgot to lightly moisten vermiculite/peat moss

Post  gailgardens on 5/25/2010, 8:40 am

I'm a first-time gardener. I filled a 4x4 bed last night and forgot to moisten the "non-soil" part of mix. Read in Mel's book that this was important in terms of the vermiculite being able to hold moisture for the life of the garden (not just bc it's dry and dusty to work with).

Consult - should I lightly moisten it now? by spraying and turning it over many times (have spray mist nozzle on hose or a spray bottle). Haven't planted anything yet, but need to plant soon. Thanks, Gail

P.s. It might rain later today.


Last edited by gailgardens on 5/25/2010, 8:48 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: help - forgot to lightly moisten vermiculite/peat moss

Post  Garden_State on 5/25/2010, 8:45 am

Hi - I did not moisten the mix prior to loading into the beds. Did not want it to be so heavy while lugging across the yard in buckets. Once I filled the bed it watered lberally until water was coming out of the bottom of the bed. This packed down the mix some and I added some more mix to fill out the bed. Have not had any issues with long term moisture holding power.
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Re: help - forgot to lightly moisten vermiculite/peat moss

Post  SirTravers on 5/25/2010, 9:02 am

I have to agree with Garden_State. I live out here in NM where the wind can be rough. I had to work fast to mix up everything so it didn't all blow away so I waited until I filled the bed and then watered the mix and stirred it around after I had it loaded into the garden box. To me it just made more sense to pour in the dry mix than try to shovel it in which would have taken much longer.
Your waterhose and an adjustable spray nozzle sprinkler handle are your best friends in this case. Just set the spray to a medium wide fan and just walk back and forth while soaking your mix. You'll be suprised how much soaks in before you see any water run out the bottom of the box.

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Re: help - forgot to lightly moisten vermiculite/peat moss

Post  johnfromfl on 5/25/2010, 9:10 am

I didn't get the mix too wet either before I put it into the frame. (water weighs about 8 pounds per gallon) It needed a lot of water to look moist. I filled the frame with partially wet mix then water a few days before seeding. I then check the moisture by digging into the mix. When it looked moist enough, I seeded my frames.

Because of the high evaporation rate and the heat of my area here in Florida, I water my garden twice a day. Mel is right about the water saving that the SFG does. I use to water a regular garden for 45 minutes. It now takes me at the most 5 minutes to make sure the plants don't wilt. I have 4 frames and soon to have more.
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Re: help - forgot to lightly moisten vermiculite/peat moss

Post  Retired Member 1 on 5/25/2010, 9:20 am

Ditto what everyone else had said. I'll just add that peat moss is difficult to rehydrate, so spray light to medium. Stir and repeat. You'll be surprised at how much water it will take. And then, I've learned not to let the squares dry out. Mel states to just water the plants, but I found out if the empty squares dry out they are difficult to rehydrate.

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Re: help - forgot to lightly moisten vermiculite/peat moss

Post  SirTravers on 5/25/2010, 9:54 am

belfrybat wrote:I found out if the empty squares dry out they are difficult to rehydrate.
Agreed! I water my boxes 3 times a day just to keep things moist and spongy because this desert air dehydrates everything.

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Re: help - forgot to lightly moisten vermiculite/peat moss

Post  boffer on 5/25/2010, 10:15 am

glad you\'re here to the forum.

Water heavily; go have a cup of coffee. Stir the mix top to bottom; water heavily; go have a cup of coffee. Repeat. You might as well get used to not working hard in your sfg! happy dance

When the mix is dry, you can start watering the top and in 10 seconds see water running out the bottom. It takes a lot of water and time to get everything saturated. Be sure to scoop to the bottom to make sure that it is all saturated.
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Re: help - forgot to lightly moisten vermiculite/peat moss

Post  Chopper on 5/26/2010, 2:35 am

You were supposed to wet it first? Haha!

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Re: help - forgot to lightly moisten vermiculite/peat moss

Post  LaFee on 5/26/2010, 3:23 am

Mother Nature helped me out...my son and I mixed everything dry (way easier when it doesn't weigh much!)...and that night began a soaking rain that hung around for three days.

No water bills, no hose...and it was all good and moist at the end of the three days.

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re: moistening non-soil mix

Post  gailgardens on 5/27/2010, 9:36 pm

Thanks for all who coached/commented on moistening my mix after I got it in the beds. It's helpful to know I need to water more than Mel's advice implies. It gets very hot - although usually very humid - here outside Washington, DC in the summers. Plus this first bed of mine is not a "pure" Mel's mix - has some garden soil bc I had already started it before I read his book (for that reason also, it will probably need more
water).

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Re: help - forgot to lightly moisten vermiculite/peat moss

Post  johnfromfl on 5/27/2010, 9:51 pm

Gail.....just remember to keep the garden mix moist. Not too wet that you drown your plants or too dry that they die. Mel's book is for Mel's area. Like what you read in our posts, we are all different climates and you should adjust for your area as to watering etc.

Good luck with your gardening. It's well worth the minimal work and the wait for an abundant harvest.
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