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Alternate to Mels Mix

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Alternate to Mels Mix

Post  windrider1967 on 3/4/2011, 7:54 am

I love the idea of using the Mel's mix, but for the flat broke gardener, is it possible to eliminate this. My thought is double digging the existing soil and working in manure and frequent fertalization. I realize I may not get quite the yield that I would from the full mix and that it isn't quite in the spirit of the square foot garden, but is it possible?
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RE: Alternate to Mels Mix

Post  Goosegirl on 3/4/2011, 8:54 am

@windrider1967 wrote:I love the idea of using the Mel's mix, but for the flat broke gardener, is it possible to eliminate this. My thought is double digging the existing soil and working in manure and frequent fertalization. I realize I may not get quite the yield that I would from the full mix and that it isn't quite in the spirit of the square foot garden, but is it possible?

Windrider - don't worry about it! Do what you can with what you've got. Mel's original version of the book did not have MM, but taught soil amendment. You may have a few more weeds to pull than if you had MM only, but hey, we can only do what we can do.

Being another broke gardener, my boxes are only going to be out of 1x6 cedar and of odd measurements because my lumberyard has a special bin for leftover premium wood trimmings (18" to 47" length, from 1x4 to 2x12, all $1.29 each, mix & match, whatever is available in the bin {drat, only 3 2x8's Mad })
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Re: Alternate to Mels Mix

Post  FarmerValerie on 3/4/2011, 8:57 am

I used what I had last year, this year however, we are fortunate enough to bring dirt in, but again, it's just dirt, mostly mulch. Hopefully as I go I can add MM to my boxes. Do what you can, as you can.
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Re: Alternate to Mels Mix

Post  windrider1967 on 3/4/2011, 9:14 am

Thanks guys, I was gonna do with what I had anyways, but appreciate the validation.

The good thing as to cutting costs is that where my hubby used to work they used corrogated plastic panels for temporary barricades. They are 4'x10' with the corrogation running the long length. I am going to cut 6" strips and "peg" through the corrogation to hold them in place. Easy and best of all FREE except for something to use as pegs. Actually may have that covered now that I think about it. I picked up some cheap "bamboo" stakes from the dollar store that may work.

Can't argue with free
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Re: Alternate to Mels Mix

Post  Bec on 3/4/2011, 1:16 pm

If you can find a source for free aged manure that would be a great help, plus start composting. Mel mentions in his book about taking SFG to 3rd world countries and they aren't going to have the vermiculite or peat moss either. It's better to have them but if you can't, you can't. The more nutrition the better though. That's how you can plant so close together, because the soil is so rich from the blended compost (5 or more sources). Hope that helps.

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MM

Post  ander217 on 3/4/2011, 5:56 pm

In foreign countries where some of the components of Mel's Mix are not available, Mel sometimes says to use lots of compost mixed with the local soil. It doesn't have the soft, fluffy texture for planting, and weeds can be a problem, but IMO you do the best you can do with what you have. The main thing is to divide them into square-foot grids. That sets them apart from regular raised beds.

I'd say start your own compost pile as soon as possible - you need organic matter added to your beds as well as manure. Try to find free mulch materials which will help, too.

In my garden we have SFG boxes filled with MM, we have raised beds (mixed with compost and free-for-the-hauling rice hulls) which are divided into grids, we have perennial beds which are mulched and aren't divided into grids (for asparagus and Egyptian Walking onions), and we have a couple of boxes filled with MM which aren't divided into grids because the entire box is planted to the same crop and I saw no wisdom in dividing it into sections. (One 1' x 8' box is for peas and one 3' x 3' box is for dill.)

Of the three, I much prefer using the Mel's Mix in boxes because it is SO much easier to work with. There are no weeds, it holds water well, harvesting roots is easy - no digging, and it is workable even after a rain when everything else is still mud. But if you can't afford MM, go with what you have for now and maybe in the future you can assemble the components a little at a time.

Keep us posted on how things work out.
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Re: Alternate to Mels Mix

Post  laurieann on 3/23/2011, 12:29 am

I've had success with sheet composting, in which you actually plant right into your compost pile. You basically build your mix in layers on top of layers of newspaper, in your raised bed. I do agree about using aged manures to keep from burning your seedlings. Other than that, you can build your soil using mostly free or almost free materials.
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RE: Alternate to Mels Mix

Post  Goosegirl on 3/23/2011, 7:38 am

@laurieann wrote:I've had success with sheet composting, in which you actually plant right into your compost pile. You basically build your mix in layers on top of layers of newspaper, in your raised bed. I do agree about using aged manures to keep from burning your seedlings. Other than that, you can build your soil using mostly free or almost free materials.

This is what I have been doing for the last several years as well - got the idea from Lasagna Gardening book sent to me by my sister. I am going to use that soil that I have been amending for the last several years and add more of the mel's components into it to get enough to fill my boxes.
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Re: Alternate to Mels Mix

Post  laurieann on 3/23/2011, 10:03 am

"Lasagna Gardening" is where I first was introduced to the concept too. Smile
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