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Is It Heresy?

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Is It Heresy?

Post  Idsquare on 3/17/2010, 8:54 am

I don't want to be labeled a heretic before I even get started (please keep in mind I'm a newbie and will start assembling my box this weekend), but I was wondering if Miracle Grow would work as well as Mel's Mix? The only reason I ask is because my wife uses it for everything she has ever planted (trees, bushes, flowers, etc.) and we have lush, beautiful plants/trees. And, I was thinking, if the goal of SQF is "easy," it eliminates the process of mixing the ingredients in Mel's Mix. It's just a question (but I've got my prayer beads handy in case this qualifies for excommunication).

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Re: Is It Heresy?

Post  timwardell on 3/17/2010, 10:04 am

BLASPHEMER! SEIZE HIM! Twisted Evil
I'm kidding. I'm not a certified SFG teacher and don't work for the foundation so all I can offer is my humble opinion. Mel's Mix and Miracle Grow (or any other "potting mix" you might find) have several things in common.
1) most contain a mix of peat moss,
2) most contain compost or some form of fertilizer or plant food,
3) most contain a soil loosener like perlite (as opposed to vermiculite)
4) they are soil-less growing mediums - no dirt
In effect those other mixes are accomplishing many of the same things that Mel's Mix does. I believe that for most people making Mel's Mix might be cheaper. When I started my SFG I recall doing the math and it was less expensive to make my own than to buy the large quantity of Miracle Grow (or whatever brand) that I would need. Granted, for many finding coarse vermiculite is a BIG challenge and it did take me a while but i was lucky enough to find a supplier within 5 minutes of my house.

What say the rest of you?

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Re: Is It Heresy?

Post  boffer on 3/17/2010, 10:54 am

We have a rule in our kitchen. When we try a new recipe, that we haven't tasted before, we're not allowed to make any changes. If we do, then we won't be able to appreciate the subtle interactions of flavor and texture between the seasonings and foods that the original cook intended, and we end up making things taste and look like we always do. If we try the recipe a second time, anything goes.

Mel spent years developing this recipe. Try it one season as written, so that you have a baseline with which to compare any changes you make down the road.

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Re: Is It Heresy?

Post  Lavender Debs on 3/17/2010, 10:55 am

Do you know what the "miracle" in miracle mix is?

1. I know that people do, but I would not eat food I knew was grown in that medium. I have used it for Flowers because of the chemical fertilizer that makes miraculous growth. But I cannot use the same medium twice. It is dead after one year. You can add liquid miracle grow but again, I wouldn't want to knowingly eat anything grown from it.

2. The "soil" is a root anchor. The little green miracle beads hold the magic. Once they wear out, break down, there is nothing left to feed the plants. Just chemical residue.

3. Where I live it is expensive. Gathering and mixing all the ingredients for Mel's mix is not cheap until the cost per square foot is measured against the cost per square foot of just about anything else.

The down side of Mel's mix would be the non renewable resources, the peat and vermiculite. The use of peat is illegal in Brittan (last time I checked) because the peat bogs have been decimated. We are not there yet in the states but we need to treat our ingredients with respect and get as much out of them as possible. By composting and renewing the garden with compost instead of adding more of whatever medium we were using (like miracle mix) we are showing respect to the earth that has been given to our care. I suspect that years of use can come from the peat in Mel's mix instead of a single season.

In the end everyone does what is right in their own eyes. In my heart I just do not want chemicals on or in my food. I know a man from Spain. He married an American girl he met while in college in America. He tells me that before coming to America his family and friends were afraid for him. They thought that cancer and heart disease must be airborne disease because it is prevalent here. He tells me that once he got here he realized that it is the food we eat not the air we breathe. Agro business does whatever they can to earn more money. They are killing the water supply in some areas of the United States. Once fertile soil will hardly grow pig weed because of the chemicals that have been dumped into it for the short term gain that has resulted in salty chemical residual filling our fields.

You have a little four foot by four foot patch of garden and can grow food in it that is clean because sixteen square feet of loam is alive. If you choose to take a little time to mix the ingredients there will be years of reward. If you use Miracle Grow you will have a stunning little box the first year. After that you will need to replace the medium to get anything from it. At least that is how it works in my flower pots.

Deborah .....thanks for this chance to rant.

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Re: Is It Heresy?

Post  martha on 3/17/2010, 11:12 am

Amen, sister!

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Re: Is It Heresy?

Post  boffer on 3/17/2010, 11:20 am

@Lavender Debs wrote:Gathering and mixing all the ingredients for Mel's mix is not cheap until the cost per square foot is measured against the cost per square foot of just about anything else.

Do it right the first time and only cry once...

It may seem like a big upfront expense, but it's a lifetime investment. The cost per year over a lifetime becomes insignifigant.

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Re: Heresy

Post  Idsquare on 3/17/2010, 4:02 pm

Thanks so much for the feedback/advice, guys. Boffer, I like your "kitchen rule." Collectively you've convinced me to stick with the orthodox/catholic/inspired method (Mel's Mix). I'll keep you posted on my progress as I slowly move along this process of developing my own SFG, but my excitement for trying it continues to be high.

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Re: Is It Heresy?

Post  happyfrog on 3/17/2010, 5:05 pm

i must admit i agree with the others who wholeheartedly encourage you to use the vermiculite/peatmoss/compost and not something else.

i have a couple of friends near me who saw me setting up my beds last year (first year for me sfg) and i did exactly what the book said.

they did not. they used 'garden mix' for one friend, and a blend of potting soil and original soil for the other friend. both said that their versions are cheaper in cost than mine was. (may be true, I don't know - but i DO KNOW they're redoing their beds this year. .. )

both had to deal with dry, hard soil and things not producing well - and tons of weeds.

me, i had a dream year as a first time gardener. and i have three young kids. the only thing we did 'bad' was we didn't water our tomatoes enough and the leaves were a bit yellow. but you know what, we still had WAY TOO MANY tomatoes for our family! and we only had FIVE tomato plants! (we're a family of 5)

my kids and i fought over the weeds - there weren't many at all!

it's worth it to do it right. the pay off long term is gonna be worth it.

i was able to start my spring garden 2 weeks ago (zone 5) because i had followed the instructions in the book. took me literally minutes to prep the soil for planting.

and my soil has been soft and friable, whereas my other friends - their ground is still all hard and solid . .and their snow melted before mine did - i had to shovel snow off my garden boxes, lol in order to get to my boxes. . .

anyways, hope this long winded response is encouraging to you to just go ahead and do the mel's mix. ..

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Re: Is It Heresy?

Post  WardinWake on 3/17/2010, 5:57 pm

Howdy:

I skimped on the mix in one bed last year and i am having to redo that bed this year. The beds that I followed the recipe to the letter are fine indeed.

God Bless, Ward.

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Re: Is It Heresy?

Post  LupinFarm on 3/17/2010, 9:00 pm

lol I'm sure I didn't follow the recipe to the rule and measurement. I can't find anything in the "right sized" bags so its hard to do so. What I did do was roughly try to match the measurements, and if it looked too peaty I added more compost, and thus more vermiculite.

Just today I added 2 - 15kg (33lb) bags of horse manure that has been sitting in the horse field in one corner for about 4-6 months that has been getting turned over by my big mare stomping and kicking it up. It's not totally composted, but it doesn't smell like poo so its composted at least halfway.

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Re: Is It Heresy?

Post  boffer on 3/17/2010, 9:16 pm

@LupinFarm wrote:lol I'm sure I didn't follow the recipe to the rule and measurement.


Mel says that 'closies' count in SFG!

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Re: Is It Heresy?

Post  LupinFarm on 3/17/2010, 9:26 pm

@boffer wrote:
@LupinFarm wrote:lol I'm sure I didn't follow the recipe to the rule and measurement.


Mel says that 'closies' count in SFG!

Hehe, whatever looks "right" to me is how I fly. If it feels too dusty or dry, I add more compost. I figure I'll get it eventually lol.

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Mel's Mix

Post  bjwinterton on 3/17/2010, 9:37 pm

I made up some of Mel's mix yesterday, it is sure fine and light. Seems like there isn't much too it. Is that what you all have experienced as well? Is it so fine because I am not adding enough variety of manure? I picked some up in my hand and it feels like it will just blow away. It's too expensive to not be getting it right. Any thoughts?

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Re: Is It Heresy?

Post  LupinFarm on 3/17/2010, 9:40 pm

Did you water it throughout the process? I watered it a little during and well *after* putting it in my beds. I then waited a day or two and stuck my hand down under the top layer of soil, its nice and moist without being super wet. This is what I wanted, the top is relatively dry but under the surface of the soil is nice, warm, and moist.

I figure, when in doubt, add a bit more compost and vermiculite (or perlite). I don't at all have 5 types of compost, are you kidding? I could only find three, if you count the "all-purpose" as really a 3-way as they say it is + I picked up some half composted horse manure from one of my horses fields (it's been baking for about 4-6 months in the field, with the horse turning it up) and added that to my carrot bed + more vermiculite.

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Re: Is It Heresy?

Post  choksaw on 3/18/2010, 12:03 am

Id have to agree with lavander debs i try to stay as organic as i possably can if i have to use fertilizer its always organic if i have to use pesticides i always use organic to me it makes the plants healthier the food taste better in it just gives me a better piece of mind knowing im doing my part in reducing my carbon footprint as much as i can.

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Mel's mix air

Post  bjwinterton on 3/18/2010, 10:38 am

I hadn't watered it during the process and it rained the next day and I've not been out to check it. I'll do that today. I used goat, chicken, horse, mushroom, and cow compost. Okay, maybe I went a bit overboard with the variety. I am hopeful to go more organic, but we have just moved here and haven't started our compost pile yet. Thanks for your input.

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Re: Is It Heresy?

Post  martha on 3/19/2010, 9:14 pm

By the way, it seems we have saved you from your heretical ways! but I believe the main reason to not use miracle grow is that with the fertilizer there from the beginning, the roots don't have the need to develop as much. If any more experienced gardeners want to tell me I'm full of compost, I'll accept it! (Especially if it's delivered.....)

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Re: Is It Heresy?

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