Square Foot Gardening Forum
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New SFG seeking Compost advice

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New SFG seeking Compost advice

Post  pinkyroses on 4/5/2011, 6:38 pm

Hi, I'm a new SFG in the far western suburbs of Chicago. This is also my first time ever posting to any sort of forum so bear with me. I have looked for Compost at a couple of places and so far I have found these three things at Lowe's 1) Blended Mushroom Compost, 2) Organic Compost-Cow Manure, and 3)Organic Humus. Are these three acceptable?

Also, is stuff from Miracle Gro ok? I am trying to go as organic as possible but I live in a townhome and other people care for the small amount of grounds(lawn) and who knows what they put on that. Hopefully they will keep their paws off my boxes. At Lowe's I also found Miracle Gro Orangic Choice Garden Soil and Miracle Grow Organic Sta Green Planting Mix that someone mentions in another post. Can either of these be counted as one of the 5 composts?

What else should I be looking/asking for when I call around - specific names - ? I can get my hands on coffee grounds. What about some other stuff I've seen listed like earthworm castings, seaweed extract, fish emulsion, etc. Are these fertilizers or compost? What's the difference? Can you tell this newbie needs a lot of help. Embarassed I have read a lot of the forum posts which have been very informative and overwhelming at the same time. Your help is greatly appreciated.

On a good note I bought and set up my boxes last fall and found course vermiculite and peat moss. A friend gave me this awesome grow light fixture and I've already started some seed indoors. Just a few missing pieces and I'll be ready to roll.


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Re: New SFG seeking Compost advice

Post  FarmerValerie on 4/5/2011, 6:50 pm

to the fourm & SFG.

Worm castings is a type of compost, it is included in the picture in Mel's book ALL NEW SQUARE FOOT GARDENING. Fish emulsion is a fertilizer.

I personally stopped using anything Miracle Grow a few years back for reasons I won't get into here, but if anyone wants to know you can PM me.

Others will pipe in in a bit, meaning those who know more than I do, and be much mor helpful, but I did want to welcome you!!!

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Re: New SFG seeking Compost advice

Post  Healing Garden on 4/5/2011, 7:37 pm

Being from Boston we had lobster compost as well.

I started last summer and for my 5 composts I used...
steer manure
mushroom compost
lobster compost
invervale compost

I did use a bag of organic potting mix (as one of the composts) in my first box since I originally could only find 4 different types of compost since it seemed to have mostly compost in it. That first box also I think had too much peat in it because I made a mistake on the calculation for the compressed bale. So not sure what made the difference but that box didn't do as well as the others. This year I am amending it with more compost to make up for the peat miscalculation last year.
Healing Garden

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Re: New SFG seeking Compost advice

Post  camprn on 4/5/2011, 8:12 pm

I found a few other sources in your area that you may find compost Click this link

Forum Moderator Certified SFG Teacher

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Re: New SFG seeking Compost advice

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 4/5/2011, 8:28 pm

Welcome aboard, pinkyroses! Great to have you here. No question should go unasked. People here are super friendly and love to help. Pictures are worth more than 1000 words, too! I hope you stay active here, you are one of a few I've found from the Windy City (even though, FarmerValerie claims the Northsiders as her baseball team). I would love to learn more about your area, as I know the temperatures and winds make a huge difference depending on proximity to the Lake.

Poke around a little, as you have, and you will find lots of things to read, learn, and contribute to. We also have regional forums. The Midwest forum will have some local info, hopefully, pertaining to SFG that you can't find anywhere else. Pop in and say "hi." (If you are at all a baseball fan, I need help with those Reds fans anyway.)

If you already have peat moss and vermiculite in your SFG, don't add humus. Here's the difference between compost and humus....Humus is the stable, long lasting remnant of decaying organic material. It improves soil structure and increases water retention. It's nutritive qualities include trace elements and several important organic acids but do not include nitrogen or phosphorus. You can see that you already have soil structure and water retention. Adding humus will only take up space from the 1/3 compost you are supposed to add. Humus won't go anywhere, either. It isn't organic and doesn't decompose. It's essentially the same component as your peat moss.

You have two types of compost at the moment. That's good. All of us here have trouble finding numbers 4 and 5. It's like a wild goose chase sometimes. But, it's important to blend the composts and gather all the trace elements you can and avoid putting all your eggs in one basket.

I, personally, wouldn't use MiracleGrow products in my SFG. They, too, have a lot of peat moss in them. They also have Pearlite-like white things in them that act a lot like vermiculite. Again, you would be accidentally diluting the space you have for your compost and nutrients.

When calling, you should be specifically asking for composts. For example, "What type of composts do you carry?" When you hear one mentioned, ask if it's "fully composted." You may just throw them for a serious loop. If you find someone that knows the difference, get their name and have them SHOW you when you get there. Lowe's and Home Depots are like needles and haystacks with these people....sometimes you get a good one. Nurseries and garden centers usually do better. Even landscaping businesses that sell mulches and soil can be a great find because of their knowledge. It will take some searching, but you will get 5 types, eventually. It's worth the hunt!

I know exactly how you feel. You're excited. You want to learn as much as you can as fast as you can. You will. Just stick with us, keep an open mind, and contribute to things you've learned about. We all love to help others save time. That's why we're here.

Again, welcome aboard.

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Re: New SFG seeking Compost advice

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