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HELP My SFG isn't doing well

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Re: HELP My SFG isn't doing well

Post  ashort on 4/22/2011, 12:29 pm

@dizzygardener wrote:Camprn, you are right, but the key there is that you have to do something. You have to ADD to the mix, and much of what you are adding is to replace what the plants used up the year before.

I just want everyone to be clear that your first year mel's mix has all the nutrients you need so long as you used a blended compost put together according to Mel's instructions. You don't have to wait a year for the nutrients to come on line.

If folks have struggling SFGs there is a reason why, and that can be addressed immediately and easily.

I hope I'm being clear here. If I'm not please let me know.

I think the misunderstanding came from a discussion on commercial compost. My opinion of most commercial composts available at the big box stores has declined signficantly as I have gotten more educated about it. I thought compost is compost, right? Just get 5 different kinds and mix it together. I am now of the opinion that a lot of the things sold as compost at the HD and Lowes, etc are not properly composted and work against the ones that are. As I look at my MM, I see lots of twigs and bark that looks more like mulch than compost. My first 2x12 box is not exactly thriving. Well, let me say the transplants did (had potting soil for nutrients), but not he seeds I planted. 10 days after I started supplemental feeding (with Miracle Grow - I am not overy worried about the organic-ness right now), the entire box has taken off! As I pull my spring crops and plant summer this weekend, I will be amending the MM with some great compost I found (feels and smells great - much different than the HD ones) as well as some blood/bone meal in order to pump up the nutrients in the soil.

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Re: HELP My SFG isn't doing well

Post  boffer on 4/22/2011, 1:54 pm

@ashort wrote: My opinion of most commercial composts available at the big box stores has declined signficantly as I have gotten more educated about it. I thought compost is compost, right? Just get 5 different kinds and mix it together. I am now of the opinion that a lot of the things sold as compost at the HD and Lowes, etc are not properly composted and work against the ones that are.

I think you're right, and it's becoming a problem. Who would've thought that finding real cow poop could be so difficult?!

I would assume that there are no recognized standards when it comes to defining compost, or a limit to the percentage of fill materials used to lower the cost of 'compost'. Another problem with compost blends is that the cheapest component will make up the largest part of the mix. The 'good stuff' that we're looking for that is listed in the contents, may only be present in small quantities.

Obviously, making our own compost is the perfect long range solution, but that doesn't help people trying to get started.

I don't know the answer. Maybe it's time for a 'real compost' database?

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Re: HELP My SFG isn't doing well

Post  FarmerValerie on 4/22/2011, 1:58 pm

Good poo, bad poo, whoda thunk we would be debating this. Now we are going to have people lined up demanding an ingredient/method list on poo bags. You've got to be pretty stupid, or out to rip someone off, to sell bad poo, but then we have been fed bad poo for decades why should things change now. I am seriously considering swaping veggies for the poo in the field across the street, I have 2 kids at home, all we need are 6 5-gallon buckets and we are good to go, but then I now have to get a list of all hormones and antibiotics are in that poo. Makes ya want to move up nort with Old Hippie and let her teach you about the "Good Old Days"....

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Re: HELP My SFG isn't doing well

Post  boffer on 4/22/2011, 2:16 pm

@FarmerValerie wrote: Makes ya want to move up nort with Old Hippie and let her teach you about the "Good Old Days"....
I'm sure she has great stories to tell about trying to track down the elusive polar bear and caribou poo, armed only with a candle, a trowel, and a large Canadian sized 5 gallon bucket.

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Help My SFG isn't doing well

Post  sherryeo on 4/22/2011, 2:17 pm

Does anybody know if companies that put out the commercial composts have to do as food companies do and list ingredients in the order of largest volume of ingredient (first) to smallest volume of ingredient (last)? One would think so, but then you know what they say about assumptions!

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Re: HELP My SFG isn't doing well

Post  Barkie on 4/22/2011, 2:46 pm

@boffer wrote:
@AZDYJ2K wrote:I think it's important that 1st year folks make sure that they have good compost to start off with and that is one very important key in MM. Thanks.

Now that you're a believer, perhaps you can come up with some dialogue that those first year folks will listen to. Some of us talk till we're blue in the face, yet pretty boxes get most of the attention and money, and compost becomes secondary.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Suggestion - I have grown ornamentals and edibles using manure and composted kitchen garden waste since 1984 so I'm not biased when I say that properly made compost means to me thoroughly composted materials made in a way that retains as much of the nutrients as possible. The reason it is so absolutely crucial, whether you grow in soil/ dirt/ or MM, is that it makes the nutrients available to your plants as and when they need them. Plants are totally dependant on what's in the box.

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Re: HELP My SFG isn't doing well

Post  camprn on 4/22/2011, 2:50 pm

The Composter Connection Commercial Compost article has some good information. Please read the labels of anything you are buying. If it says 'organic' on the label you are good to go. If you can check out your area for dairies, horse stables, small farms. If you have a local Farmers Market, go chat up the growers and see if they can give you any leads. Go to your local nursery, ask the them where the compost comes from and any other informatin you want to know. If the sales clerk has no idea what you are talking about, ask the supervisor or store manager. There is compost everywhere, it just needs to be hunted up. oI cannot speak to the question of standards of labeling. Sorry.

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Re: HELP My SFG isn't doing well

Post  Wendy HS on 4/22/2011, 3:47 pm

Wow, thanks for all the responses. This is my first try at SFG, and so it has been a little discouraging, but I'm not giving up. I will admit that I did not have any of my own compost to start with. Trying to learn how to compost seems to be an art in itself and it just seems kind of overwhelming to me. I had no choice but to buy compost at Home Depot and Walmart and it was hard to find enough variety to get the 8 cubic feet. I did notice as I was mixing what I bought, that it had a lot of wood, cedar chips. It was confusing because I always considered compost to feel and look like black dirt, but alas I had already poured it all out and figured it would be okay. If you notice in my pictures you can see all the wood chips.
I did some research and found a site on you tube on how to make a compost tea. It seemed fairly easy and I remembered that we had an old burn pile on the back 40 that will pile up the horse poop, shavings, wood, leaves, boxes, feed sacks, grass clippings, ect... It is a really big pile and it's been there for years, so I got my husband to start up ole bessie our tractor and dig down with the front end loader to the bottom of the pile, got a few scoops of what I hope is compost. It is really soft, falls apart easily and is brown/black in color. It looks like dirt to me, so we will see.
I do have one question. How long do you let the tea sit before you water your garden with it?
Now my compost that I started when I planted the garden: I used a 55 gallon plastic barrel and drilled holes all in it and got a lid that can be locked on. I have added horse poop, old hay, leaves, grass clipping, a little bit of shavings, kitchen scraps, and now a bucket of the dirt I dug up out of the burn pile. I wet it and then roll the barrel around every week or so. I checked it today and everything is black, but not yet composted. How can I speed the process up? Do I have enough variety?
I guess I will know not to buy compost at Lowes and Walmart again. I am so new to this I didn't even know to check the ingredients list on the back, I just thought if it said COW POOP, it was cow poop!!!! I am now wondering if it is the wood chips that ended up in the mix, it seems like there is too much. Take a look at the pictures and tell me what you think????

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SFG not going well

Post  Wendy HS on 4/25/2011, 4:15 pm

I just wanted to update those who may be interested. After all the posts and comments I figured the most likely cause was a lack of nutrients because I bought bagged compost varieties from Lowes and Walmart, and it seemed to have a lot of wood chips in it, and I watched one of mel's videos and he actually said to watch out for that. I ended up getting some compost from another farm that was all ready to go with Chicken poop, cotton seed meal, wheat straw, lime and peat moss and I added it on top of my existing Mel's mix. It looks like really good stuff, a lot different from what I bought from the store. We've put it on our garden before when we were doing row gardening and so has our neighbor and our gardens always did really good. Plus I have plenty to make some compost tea also if needed. Now we will just wait and see what happens, hopefully it won't burn up my plants. Thanks for all the help and if my garden doesn't flop this year I will get some more pictures, especially if it really wakes it up and it starts growing.

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Re: HELP My SFG isn't doing well

Post  NHGardener on 4/25/2011, 4:50 pm

Uh oh. You guys are freaking me out.

All my compost is bagged. I haven't mixed everything together and put it into the boxes yet, but I've tried to get an assortment of compost ingredients. And now I'm thinking - it can't be just any compost, and maybe the ingredients I bought at Lowes are not going to be helpful? Another type of compost I got (like I said, I tried to get all kinds, whatever the farm store had, etc.) was a seaweed mulch. I had heard seaweed is a really good soil ingredient, but what is the difference between mulch and compost? Because maybe if it's a mulch, I shouldn't put it in the boxes.

I'm going to watch out for wood chips, etc. Is filtering out the chunky stuff enough to protect your MM, or should I not be using any bag that has noticeable amounts of chips in it?

If someone wants to start a potential blockbuster business, maybe it's creating and selling compost varieties.

IF bagging the compost itself doesn't kill the aerobic matter.

affraid affraid

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Re: HELP My SFG isn't doing well

Post  Wendy HS on 4/25/2011, 5:01 pm

I don't mean to freak anyone out!!! SORRY!!! I bought my compost from Lowes and Walmart and all I know is my garden isn't doing so well. I bought at least 8 different kinds like mel says to do, but noticed wood chips in some. I don't think I put too much peat moss unless there was a lot of peat moss in the other bags, and I have no way of knowing that. Since I've added true homemade compost from a local farm on top of the squares I've noticed a huge difference in the looks of it. It looks totally different so I don't think the bagged composts are created equal to the homemade compost. Now that I've bought a load of this other compost, I plan on using this stuff, and building some more boxes for maybe a fall garden. I hope that I haven't ruined the 3 boxes that are already filled, hopefully as I add the homemade compost then it will fix the problem and I will have a good garden. We shall see.....
I wonder how long it will take before I notice a pick me up in the plants? I just put the compost on today and watered it. It would be really cool if I go out tomarrow and see bigger plants. ha ha Wishful thinking. This is what I would do if I saw that

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Re: HELP My SFG isn't doing well

Post  NHGardener on 4/25/2011, 5:12 pm

Wendy, I'm glad you freaked me out, because I think I'm going to have the same situation as you: bought several of my bags at big box stores, and from tears in them I do believe they are chippy or not fully composted. Plus, I think I probably have a lot of blends, which probably contain peat.

I'm thinking of looking for straight manure to mix in. The local feed store guy said anyone can come to his farm and load up a trash can of aged chicken manure for $10 - he gave up his chickens but has piles of manure from last year and beyond that. My thought was - how in the world am I going to transport a can of chicken manure - yuck. But I may just break down. Plus, I may double my lobster compost bags or anything that isn't a blend.

As with everything else, nature knows best. I need a cow, rabbits, sheep -- I do have chickens but they're free rangers so they're manure is spread all over the place - ha. But there's probably nothing better than good ol' animal poop, aged...

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Re: HELP My SFG isn't doing well

Post  Wendy HS on 4/25/2011, 5:21 pm

NHGardener,
Yep I know what you mean about chicken poop, this stuff that we got today has a lot of that in it, gross!!!! I was told that chicken manure is really good though. One guy on you tube that seems pretty knowledgeable, uses his compost (chicken manure and wheat straw) and makes a compost tea and I've seen video footage of his garden, it looks amazing!!!!! Who would've thought there was so much good stuff in chicken poo!!!! Good luck with your garden.

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Re: HELP My SFG isn't doing well

Post  staf74 on 4/25/2011, 5:26 pm

Wendy,

Can you post a little more details pls on that guy in youtube? I'd like to see that vid too please !!!!!

Thnx

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Re: HELP My SFG isn't doing well

Post  Wendy HS on 4/25/2011, 6:00 pm

Yes go to you-tube and type in E-Z Compost tea, better yet, here is the link http://youtu.be/GCbeALuAYsg He tells you how to make it and you can also click on his link and it will take you to a site where he downloads other videos. He was very quick to reply to my questions and really seems to love what he does. I am pretty new to gardening so I'm sure it doesn't take much to impress me, but I really appreciate his quick response and kindness. The tea was so easy to make that I felt like I could tackle it. I have 3 young children and when I say I don't have much time, I really mean it!!!

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Re: HELP My SFG isn't doing well

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