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Is it okay to combine garden soil with Mel's Mix Compost?

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Re: Is it okay to combine garden soil with Mel's Mix Compost?

Post  LaFee on 9/29/2010, 1:54 pm

Ah, but with apples you could as a group make applesauce or apple butter to put away for the winter! We can help you with the recipes if you need them.

Don't forget to ask around, too -- the greengrocer might be happy to let you have all the bits he otherwise chucks in the bin...the fishmonger might give you his scraps, too...and the local coffeehouse might be glad to have you collect their used coffee grounds (which make a grand addition to compost or just sprinkled directly on the soil!) similarly, a riding club or dairy might be glad to share some composted manure (or old straw).

If they say no, you've lost nothing...if they say yes, you've gained a great source of material for your compost!

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Re: Is it okay to combine garden soil with Mel's Mix Compost?

Post  kevinh on 9/29/2010, 2:44 pm

That is true, but philanthropy does not do well where I live.

I have given up asking for the simple reason that every business
(without exception) has said "if you ask for it, it has value, and is
income for the business" or they have said some rubbish along the
lines of "health and safety" - even when it clearly does not apply.

What we have here is an apathy, borne out of a society that is
frightened to do good for fear of being prosecuted for something
or other. It is far safer to do nothing, and if something is done, then
payment is sought. For example, the local supermarket wanted £2
for scraps from waste-bin of the fish counter, while the fish market
was marginally cheaper. The coffee-shop (actually Starbucks) said
"well, we don't know what you will really use them (coffee grounds) for,
as we won't see it". So you get the idea(!).

I stopped asking when it became clear it was costing me far more
in petrol and time. While I appreciate efficiencies in others, I value my
own time and efforts, too! However, if I am out and about then, yes,
I'll take my chances!

Thanks for the tip on boosting my "goods-in" though - you have set my
mind to thinking of how many wormeries I can comfortably manage.
I've a feeling the green waste from my sfg efforts my be verging on the
too-generous side!


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Re: Is it okay to combine garden soil with Mel's Mix Compost?

Post  Garden Angel on 9/29/2010, 6:31 pm

I'm surprised the Starbucks is not doing the "grounds for gardeners". Every one I know of here has a basket or box set up somewhere in the store with bags of free used coffee grounds labled "free grounds for gardeners" and they encourage people to take it , I've even asked before when it was empty and they bagged some for me right there on the spot !

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Re: Is it okay to combine garden soil with Mel's Mix Compost?

Post  Megan on 9/29/2010, 6:47 pm

I too have gotten grounds from Starbucks several times and there was no hesitation. They were happy that someone was taking advantage of their program. I got a few questions but they were friendly ones, along the lines of "what are you growing?" I did try to time my visits so it wasn't during a busy hour, but I'm sure even if I hadn't, they would have done the same thing.

I believe Grounds for Gardeners is a corporation-wide mandate, so you might want to e-mail Starbucks directly and ask what's up with the franchise which refused you. The program is listed towards the bottom of the page in the following link:

http://www.starbucks.com/responsibility/environment/recycling

The bags of grounds have some filters in them (and even a few used-up plastic gift cards sometimes) but I usually come away with as much as I can carry.

Really sorry to hear that there is such fear in your area. I honestly haven't tried to hit up my local supermarkets for "sad" produce, but I'm willing to bet they would cooperate. (I don't quite dare go for the fish waste... I'm in enough trouble with the HOA as it is!) When I lived in California, I would go to the supermarkets after Halloween and buy up pumpkins for processing and freezing. I usually got them for free, especially if I waited into the first week of November.

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Re: Is it okay to combine garden soil with Mel's Mix Compost?

Post  camprn on 9/29/2010, 7:45 pm

@kevinh wrote:Also what is the growth/yield difference between 100% Mel's Mix against garden soil and a mix of Soil and Mel's Mix? I am in the North of England (pretty cold except for two weeks a year). Thanks.
I pulled the sod out of the area where I was planning to put the boxes and simply placed the box and mixed all the MM ingredients right in the box, including the soil. I also added some other soil conditioners in small amount when I made the mix: wood ash, dried blood, bone meal, coffee grounds.
I cannot speak to the yield differences, as i did not stick to strict MM. My yields this year, for the most part, have been beyond expectation.

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Re: Is it okay to combine garden soil with Mel's Mix Compost?

Post  kevinh on 9/30/2010, 12:43 am

I can't wait to get started!

It's raining again right now....but the minute it stops...lol!

Thank you enormously for all your help, guys.
You can be sure I will be returning the favour.

Kind regards
Kevin

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Re: Is it okay to combine garden soil with Mel's Mix Compost?

Post  LaFee on 9/30/2010, 2:13 am

Morning, Kevin -- you're up early, too! We're so glad to help...don't forget to tell the other families to make sure to keep *their* kitchen waste, too! (and give them a short primer....no animal fat or bones, although eggshells are welcome, etc., etc.) Collecting the fallen leaves so you have plenty of browns, etc., etc., etc.

As much as I'm not a big supporter of it...maybe a trip round the back of the greengrocers' or fishmongers' after hours might result in some good stuff, if they won't help out from up front?

Perhaps you could also get your local town council involved....play it so that it's a wonderful thing...here's this group of families, working together for their common good, and wouldn't it be nice if we had a programme by which we could collect the scraps that would be otherwise headed for the landfill, etc., etc., -- I know British politics just well enough to know that there is a councilperson there somewhere who would just be fanning over you to make themselves look wonderful. (Yes, I realise this could backfire and end up with more media attention than you want....but since I don't know YOUR council members, thought it at least worth a suggestion)

Best of luck to you....

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Re: Is it okay to combine garden soil with Mel's Mix Compost?

Post  Megan on 9/30/2010, 6:44 pm

If they are going to be so chintzy, find someone with a truck who can help you and charge the fish guys to haul their wastes away... (at a cheaper price than their current waste removal company, of course....) Very Happy

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Re: Is it okay to combine garden soil with Mel's Mix Compost?

Post  Old Hippie on 10/2/2010, 10:36 am

@kevinh wrote:


If my circumstances allow, I shall use the front garden for "pretty" flowers.
I was amazed to see how much my wife liked to have flowers around,
so I need/want to have something for her so that she "buys" into sfg as well.


Kevin, you are a VERY wise man to plant some flowers for your wife. As we all know, if Momma ain't happy, ain't NOBODY happy!! LOL! Even if all you can do at the moment is plant a square or two in among your veggies for her, it is a good thing. Flowers look so pretty in between the veggies and marigolds are supposed to be good for repelling nasties that would ruin your crops. She will come round much quicker once she sees the benefits. Even when you get to planting the front yard in flowers there are lots of smaller veggies and herbs that can be tucked in among them for added interest and good use of space.

I am really sorry to hear that you face such negative attitudes from businesses in your area. Shame on them. Honestly, I believe negativity and apathy are far bigger obstacles than any disability or financial hardship you may face. But don't let it get you down. Where there is a will there is a way and sooner or later if you keep checking with various smaller places, someone will say yes. Don't go out of your way but anytime you happen to be in an area and see something you could use, don't forget to ask. The worst they can do is say 'no' but sometimes they may just say, 'help yourself.' In the meantime, encourage everyone you know to save you their kitchen waste, leaves, etc. and check out the very long thread by PNG Grandma to see what she and her husband and a few friends have done in her area.

Facing financial hardship has been a way of life for my ancestors. They have taught me well how to make do with very little. I am so proud of that heritage. We have learned so many skills that carry us through when the low times hit. Actually, they don't seem to stop for some reason. LOL!

The investment in a packet of flower seeds and a few inches of garden space will pay dividends you will never find on Wall Street or buying a lottery ticket.

Cheers!

GK

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Re: Is it okay to combine garden soil with Mel's Mix Compost?

Post  Megan on 10/2/2010, 10:41 am

I just have to hoot and holler in approval at everything our wise friend GK just said.

Another good thing about flowers (and herbs!) is that they can draw in the bees that your veggies will need. My bee balm finally matured to flower this year, and that plus a few other plants meant I saw more bees and butterflies than I've seen in years! That is a good thing. Smile

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Yield Comparison

Post  rodneyh on 11/10/2010, 9:05 pm

I've had a SFG for 5 years. This year I doubled its size, and did everything by the book. 2x6 beds, good MM, everything. My old beds are 15" tall with a local supplyer 4 part soil mix. Each year I add about 2" of composted steer manure and did pretty well. At least I thought so until I compare to my new beds. I measured the quantity and weight of every tomato picked (the engineer in me). Side by side, my Roma tomato plant in the new bed yielded a 25lbs, while that in the old bed produced only 5.8lbs. I also grew a Better Boy and an Early Girl in the new beds. They produced a whopping 35lbs and 46 lbs respectively. All of those numbers are each from a single plant. I've grown all of these varieties several times in the old beds and never had anything close. I also compared side by side plantings of carrots and onions with the MM producing equally terrific results. I am absolutely completely sold. My old beds will be converted over in the spring.

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Re: Is it okay to combine garden soil with Mel's Mix Compost?

Post  Furbalsmom on 11/10/2010, 10:52 pm

RodneyH,
Thanks for chiming in. We have had multiple forum members ask for actual comparisons of using amended garden soil and Mel's Mix. They will all be grateful for your information.

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Kevin, How Is It Going?

Post  bettyd_z7_va on 11/11/2010, 8:46 am

I am so curious to know of your progress.

I have to share my experience with amending with fish products.

My son-in-law fishes A LOT, so I asked that he save me whatever he didn't want of the fish parts. When he brought them, I promptly dug a trench and buried them in my garden. Something dug them up during the night and ate them! I blamed the neighborhood dogs at the time.

2 falls ago when DGson and I were planting tulip bulbs, we added fish emulsion to the planting holes. The next day we found the bulbs dug out and thrown around the planting hole. BUT, this time he left paw prints and DH agreed with us that we have a BIG, HUNGRY bear who loves fish and can smell it really well, even when it is buried or just emulsion poured in the planting hole. I'm so sad about that.

I don't use fish anymore.

On another note:
We only started with 2 - 4x4 beds made with pure MM this fall because of money restraints. I wanted many more greens than I could grow in those boxes, so DH tilled up some garden ground and I used the leftover MM to spread over the garden beds and broadcast my greens seed and raked it all in.

My, how the weed seeds loved that richer garden spot! The greens are doing great, also. So, I will deal with the weeds this winter, but DH is making more boxes with every scrap of gathered materials he can find for free and we will be scraping together every spare penny we can find for MM. I'm also using everything I can find to make more compost.

We are working with what we have and can get. That is what Mel encourages everyone to do.

Many garden Blessings to you. Please stop in and let us know how you are doing.

Betty

P.S. - Thanks so much, Rodney, for sharing your experiment. DH and I were discussing the pros and cons of trying the SFG beds for tomatoes vs a traditional row garden bed. Thanks to you sharing - MM in SFG beds it is! I LOVED your results. We use A LOT of tomatoes and I look forward to many cans of homemade tomato products. Yippee!!!!

I'm so excited, I can hardly wait for DH to get home to share this with him!!

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Re: Is it okay to combine garden soil with Mel's Mix Compost?

Post  davidclubb on 11/15/2010, 12:12 pm

The key to MM is the compost. Here's a link to an excellent e-tutorial on composting. It's written in simple terms, and quite thorough. Making compost is more affordable than you can imagine. You can use many different sources of carbon and nitrogen to get the results you want. http://compostinfo.com/main/intro.htm

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Re: Is it okay to combine garden soil with Mel's Mix Compost?

Post  kevinh on 11/18/2010, 7:00 am

Hey everybody,

Just a quick apology for my absence: both my wife and I have been in and out of hospital - nothing serious but certainly debilitating. I'm hoping to be back up and running in the next week or so. I'm going to trawl through this forum again to catch up so I'd like to thank everybody who has replied and contributed. Apologies again. Kev

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Amended soil?

Post  ander217 on 11/18/2010, 8:52 am

Kevin, sorry to hear that you and your wife were in the hospital. Good wishes to you both for a speedy recovery.

When you ask about using amended soil, the first thing I think is, "what kind of soil?" As someone else posted, there are many different types of native soils. We live in an area of clay loam which can get rather thin, especially on hillsides, but we used to farm in another county on Mississippi River bottomland black gumbo soil which grew giant ragweeds so tall that we joked, wondering when the power company was going to ask to buy our weeds for utility poles. The former needs much soil amending to grow good crops while the latter is full of organic matter and nutrients as is and never requires fertilizer but it requires lots of hoeing or herbicide to control the weeds. The river floods each spring, leaving another layer of nutrients (and weed seeds) behind. So, gardeners starting in each of those areas with raised beds would face very different challenges. Using the new SFG method would cover the problems of both.

We have several raised beds planted in square-foot grids which are growing fantastic crops and all my husband did was mix some cow manure with free-for-the-hauling rice hulls and add to the top of the existing soil. The rice hulls hold water very well and act as a mulch against weeds. Any that do sprout are easily pulled up. We also have several SFG boxes filled with MM. They are sitting in an area of our garden that would never grow crops before because of an old road bed and a bad bermuda grass infestation. SFG is the only method we've found that allows us to grow anything in that area.

After our first year of SFG I'm sold on it. As Chopper said, MM has a lovely, fluffy feel, and is so easy to plant in. I didn't have a good start in my boxes because the compost we used was not rich, and I think we also got too much peat moss in our mix. (I thought we were supposed to just open up the whole 4 cu. ft. bale and mix it in. I didn't realize one is supposed to fluff it up first before measuring.) After I dosed the plants with a quick fix of fish emulsion then added some blood meal, bone meal, and epsom salts to my MM to compensate for the poor compost, they did extremely well but this would not be a good year for me to make comparisons between our boxes and beds because our boxes got a late start.

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Re: Is it okay to combine garden soil with Mel's Mix Compost?

Post  kevinh on 11/18/2010, 9:01 am

Thanks for writing, Ander217, and thanks also for your kindness.

Well, (I don't know where to start!) I'm at the planning stage right now and I intend to have a number of sfg beds in which will be different kinds of soil/compost mixes. I'm guessing with my limited cashflow that I'll just make the best of what I have and do my diary here.

I have started a wormery, actually, and I popped a few, old seeds in there that I didn't expect to flourish and I have to say - hand-on-heart - they turned out to be some of the strongest seeds I have ever seen in my life. Because of the poor light levels the seeds stagnated shortly after but that's okay as I was only testing the vermicompost potency.

So, I'm already planning on having four wormeries to give me enough vermicompost to amend my soil with. All this for the price of a few buckets and some worms - the worm-food comes from the veg from my home and also shredded newspapers. I shall be documenting this very closely for here. If I get a chance I shall make up a single beds' worth of MM as a comparison. The other beds I'm planning on are regular soil, amended regular soil, MM and amended MM. Other soils bases may come into my mind after more reading (all I can do in this wet weather just now!). However, I shall be documenting it all here. It should be fun - I hope!

Many thanks again and I hope for sunnier gardening weather for all of us!

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