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Prepping the bed?

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Prepping the bed?

Post  jemma on 4/10/2011, 5:38 pm

Hi Everyone- got interested in the Square Foot Gardening last Spring. I set up the bed using Mel's mix. after summer and my garden yielded what it was going to I pulled out the old vegetation and left the soil in over the winter uncovered. I am getting ready to start up again. last year was my first foray into gardening so i know very little. My garden didn't yield to much but enough that i'd like to give it another go. Is there anything I need to do to prep the bed before i start. all the old mel's mix is still intact. I've cleaned up some weeds etc. do i need to replace the soil every year? any other advice would be good.


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Re: Prepping the bed?

Post  camprn on 4/10/2011, 5:41 pm

You do not need to replace the Mel's Mix. Is your grid still one the box? Very Happy
In my case, I use cotton string for the grid, so it is gone this spring and I have an open box. Just dump a bag of compost over the top of the soil, spread it around evenly and then with a fork and then mix it around. Dig the fork in and lift straight up, the compost will mix in with last years Mel's Mix, even it out, the grid goes back on and you can plant. Well, that is what I did, except I did it in the autumn.

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Re: Prepping the bed?

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 4/10/2011, 6:13 pm

Hey, and Welcome Aboard!! Glad to see you posting on the forum after your rookie season. Don't worry about asking questions or not having a lot of experience. Any question is welcome here! And, a lot of times pictures are worth more than 1000 words. They help clarify questions AND brag about what you've accomplished.

Keep your Mel's Mix in tact just like Camprn said. If you built it by the book, the peat moss and vermiculite (two thirds of the mix) won't ever need to be replaced. Just add a little compost to the mix, as no doubt last season's growth absorbed some valuable nutrients. Once you've gotten the funky weeds and old growth out, top the garden off with some good compost and mix it all in with a rake....or square by square with your hands. That mix should still be nice and fluffy and easy to work with. Pop in your seeds, if you still have your grid, and bingo....you're off and running again.

Hopefully, you come here with any questions you have. The book is a great resource, and so are the people here. They are so willing to help. Poke around the forum and find the specialized areas like Compost and your Regional forum. Then, sit back, relax, and get active here. You'll find it a great community!

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Re: Prepping the bed?

Post  jemma on 4/11/2011, 9:11 am

Great! Like I said i know very little about gardening. All my info comes from the book and I think its a great resource and easy to understand. Any recs for a good compost? Last year i planted some mesclun lettuce and it came out tasting horrible. Any suggestions for a decent lettuce to grow in the No Va area. We usually like "Spring Mix" packages when we buy from store but I'm wondering if their flavors are much diluted considering they've been sitting in the grocery store.


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Prepping bed

Post  Nonna.PapaVino on 4/11/2011, 9:43 am

Doubt your soil had anything to do with the "horrible" mesclun salad blend. Rather, some seed sellers mix a high percentage of non-lettuce seeds into the mix, things like, and I quote from a Burpee’s mesclun: Arugula, Chervil, Endive, Mache, 4 lettuces, Radiccio and Upland Cress; another contains mustard greens, an acquired taste. If you have kids, they are more likely to react unfavorably to the more assertive flavors. Suggestion: either select a couple of lettuce seed packs and mix your own "Jemma's Salad Blend": butterhead, deer tongue, romaine--whatever you like best, or order a lettuce blend like that I bought more for the name than anything else:

"Nichols Lettuce Alone" jocolor containing just sweet lettuce varieties: Black Seeded Simpson, Oakleaf, Deer Tongue, Tango, Red Sails, Red Oakleaf--variations in color mostly, no brassica seeds.


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Re: Prepping the bed?

Post  Furbalsmom on 4/11/2011, 3:16 pm


Great to see another member in the Northern VA area. I was born in DC and lived in Falls Church and Sterling for more years than I care to disclose. Moved to NE then OR and retired here. I will be visiting Reston in July, when my middle son gets married. That is a great area and we miss our family, but not the heat and humidity.

Someimes you can find a MILD mesclun mix. I don't care for the sharper, more bitter greens like arugula or mustard in my salads. Also, try one of the loose leaf blends of lettuce, they usually contain red and green leaf lettuces which are very mild. Of course once you determine which types of lettuce you like the most, create your own blend.

Enjoy the continuing adventure in your garden.

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