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Do I really need 1/3 vermiculite?

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Do I really need 1/3 vermiculite?

Post  kghouston05 on 3/9/2010, 10:51 pm

Even though I have plenty to make the ratio 1/3, I made it closer to 1/5 and it looks like plenty. Has anyone else played with the soil ratios? I had leaf compost, peat moss, a few handfuls of some Rich Earth, and mixed in some organic Miracle Grow soil that was basically compost and peat moss with "natural fertilizers." So it breaks down to a 2:2:1 ratio instead of 1:1:1. Thoughts?

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Re: Do I really need 1/3 vermiculite?

Post  mckr3441 on 3/9/2010, 11:18 pm

I had leaf compost, peat moss, a few handfuls of some Rich Earth, and mixed in some organic Miracle Grow soil that was basically compost and peat moss with "natural fertilizers."

Hi and Welcome to the board.

I always try to use the portions Mel recommends in his book. Although there are many countries where vermiculite and peat are not available and they seem to get along just fine with very good compost alone.

I mix my own blended compost using homemade compost, manure, mushroom, leaf mold plus whatever else I can come up with. I try to collect from five or more sources. Then I mix with peat and ver.

I haven't used any of the Rich Earth or Miracle Grow products. The vermiculite keeps the soil friable and, in addition, works with the peat to hold the water.

Let us know what you finally do and how that plays out.
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Re: Do I really need 1/3 vermiculite?

Post  boffer on 3/10/2010, 10:08 am

We have a rule in our kitchen. If we haven't tasted a new recipe that we're going to try for the first time, we have to make it like the cook who wrote the recipe intended. If we don't, we won't be able to appreciate the subtle and delicate interactions between seasonings and the food. As soon as we start adding and subtracting ingredients we think would be good, we're no longer trying out a new recipe-we're just making food taste the way we always do. After we've eaten the recipe-it's fair game to make changes.

If you're a first year SFG, try the recipe like it was written. That establishes a baseline for comparison for any changes you want to make in your next boxes.
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Re: Do I really need 1/3 vermiculite?

Post  martha on 3/10/2010, 1:40 pm

Boffer, thank you! That is exactly what I was thinking, but I had no idea how to say it.
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Different versions (esp would like carrot friendly)

Post  kghouston05 on 3/10/2010, 1:55 pm

But what I was wondering is if other people have used less before. I have seen a lot of SFGs in stores now as container gardening gets more popular. They don't cite Mel's book, but they're the same thing except with their own variations of Mel's mix. Has anyone made their own and been happy with the results?

P.S. I am especially interested to know of people who have grown carrots and other root veges successfully. I have two types of carrots, two types of onions, and shallots that I am anxious to grow, but I have heard from several people (in person an online) that root veges did not do well in their SFGs.

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make a carrot box

Post  SirTravers on 3/10/2010, 3:11 pm

I agree with the other folks. Keep the mix to the same ratios, but....and this is my only but.... Make the root crop veggie box a foot deep and add a few handfuls of sand in that box only. Here's why....

A Soil Trick: Carrots do best in sandy soil but few of us
have sandy soil. So even if your soil is healthy loam and contains lots
of organic matter, if you mix a few handfuls of builder’s sand in every
square foot of the soil where the carrots will be planted, you will
have fewer problems with misshapen roots.

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Re: Do I really need 1/3 vermiculite?

Post  jerzyjen on 3/10/2010, 3:42 pm

Hmmm I didn't know about the sand I did the exact opposite. Here is the last of my carrot harvest that i got out of the box yesterday.



I dug down 6" in the area for my root crops (mel says build up but i didnt like that look) and the bottom 6" is straight compost (i had extra). My carrots were very slow to grow but were pretty straight and hearty.

I personally wouldnt mess with the ratio unless there was a good reason - ie i only used 4 types of compost last year because I just couldnt find a different type in time to start the season. It worked out ok, but I still want to follow mels instructions for my new mix if i can.

I will say that as my carrots did pretty well, I had no luck with my onions. We had beautiful scallions from the tops all season but the bulbs didnt really form. I can't say what the problem was.
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Carrots

Post  kghouston05 on 3/10/2010, 3:46 pm

Your carrots look great. What kind are these?

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Re: Do I really need 1/3 vermiculite?

Post  jerzyjen on 3/10/2010, 3:53 pm

Burpee sweet salad hybrid

http://www.burpee.com/product/vegetables/carrots/carrot+sweet+salad+hybrid+%28imperator%29+-+%281+packet%29.do

I'm actually going to try a different variety this year just to see the difference. These carrots are beautiful and tasty but they did take WAY longer to get to a good size than the packet said. That could have been attributed to my skills (or lack there of) or my zone's weather from last year so don't let that discourage you. They got a nice size in the fall and then I left them in the ground over winter under a layer of hay. Even with record breaking snow falls they hung in there and were just as tasty last night as they were in October.
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Re: Do I really need 1/3 vermiculite?

Post  boffer on 3/10/2010, 4:00 pm

I have a 12 inch box dedicated to carrots and parsnips. Straight Mel's mix-straight 8-10 inch carrots every year. Imperators.
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what about medium instead of course?

Post  jinx on 3/10/2010, 4:23 pm

I haven't gotten any yet because all I'm finding so far is medium instead of course... does the grade matter to much?
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Coarse grade avoids packing

Post  SirTravers on 3/10/2010, 4:41 pm

The coarse grade helps avoid packing in the soil. Try asking around to see who Carries Sun Gro products. Sun Gro owns the Stronglite Brand horticultural Grade vermiculite which is a coarse grade and comes in the big 4 cu. Ft. bags. Even if they don't keep it in stock they should be able to order it in for you.

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Re: Do I really need 1/3 vermiculite?

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