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Help with Mel's Mix

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Help with Mel's Mix

Post  Homekeeper on 4/23/2011, 2:19 am

I mixed up all the peat moss, vermiculite and varied composts and as we filled our 2 beds, we realized there was not enough mix to fill them. So we measured the boxes and they are actually 4.5 x 4.5. Now, the sqf garden kit said it was a 4x4 bed but obviously it was actually bigger.

What do we do now to fill the rest of the beds? Would I just go buy some more compost and put it in and mix it all up? I was thinking of buying 3-4 more bags of compost and mixing it in with a shovel or rake?

Also, the lath boards do not fit our boxes since they are not really 4x4 beds. Now I'm scrambling for a substitution, any suggestions?
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Re: Help with Mel's Mix

Post  shannon1 on 4/23/2011, 3:07 am

I would mix up more MM and use nylon cord for grid. If topping off with MM is not an option I have read other threads where people used compost mixed in to top off their boxes. I think I will be in the same boat and only had a little peat left so I went and got more vermiculite and compost so the remaining MM will not be a perfect 3 parts but it is a whole lot better than the soil around here. Cool
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Re: Help with Mel's Mix

Post  Homekeeper on 4/23/2011, 8:50 pm

Ok, so I must have been really tired last night because I measured my beds wrong. Today I measured them starting from the inside and they are 4x4. Razz

It still took 4 more bags of varied composts to fill it up to around the 6 inch deep mark and I actually found a new compost, so now we have our five in there! (steer manure, chicken manure, organic compost, mushroom compost and the new one - organic 5 blend compost) Laughing I accidentally ripped a hole in the weed cloth on the bottom when mixing in the compost today and hope all goes well with that - I folded that area over and put soil on it hoping it works ok.
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Re: Help with Mel's Mix

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 4/23/2011, 10:29 pm

Common issue. A lot of us, myself included, measured correctly but the box still didn't fill completely. The volume dry and wet apparently makes a difference.

Don't worry about it too much. If you want to do it completely by the book, mix more MM and fill it to the top. I assume filling with compost is going to work....it just throws your thirds off slightly.
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Re: Help with Mel's Mix

Post  Miss M on 4/24/2011, 12:38 am

In other parts of the world, Mel teaches people how to SFG in compost only, since they have no access to peat moss or vermiculite, but they can learn to make compost with what they have. It isn't as fluffy as the Mel's Mix, and probably doesn't retain water as well, but it's still SFG and it still works!

So yes, you can fill it the rest of the way with compost... just realize you might lose some water holding capability without mixing it with peat moss and vermiculite. Cool

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Re: Help with Mel's Mix

Post  Homekeeper on 4/24/2011, 12:44 am

Thanks for the replies, I just couldn't budget in another $35 for vermiculite and then the peat moss and compost too so I had to just go with the compost. I hope it works ok - seems like I mixed it really well because you can see the vermiculite all throughout. 2 of the composts had peat moss in them too, so maybe that will help out too.
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Re: Help with Mel's Mix

Post  shannon1 on 4/24/2011, 12:48 am

You can add the rest later as you go. Vermiculite realy helps the compost retain water.
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Re: Help with Mel's Mix

Post  Old Hippie on 4/24/2011, 9:42 am

When I was mixing my Mel's Mix the other day for my carrot box, I decided to try a little experiment. Some of you post about having difficulty with your mix and it seems in many cases that it might have something to do with the amount of peat. In the past whenever I used peat moss in my house plants, I always wet it before I mix it in with my potting soil. That is the way I learned to use it so that is what I have always done it when making my Mel's Mix.

So I measured five scoops of dry but fluffed peat moss in a large (Canadian) five gallon bucket. Then I added one gallon of water to it and let it sit for a couple of hours. When I mixed my composts and vermiculite I measured them out, five scoops of each. Interesting thing though, when I measured the peat moss now that it was nice and wet, I had over half a scoop left over.

All of this makes me wonder if some people are having difficulties with their mix because the amount of peat they have is too high. Now half a scoop may not sound like much, but that was only a very small batch that I did for my carrot boxes. In a larger quantity, that could make a significant difference. Add to that the fact that many of the composts have peat in them as well and a mix could very well be rather lean in terms of nutrients. No wonder Mel recommends five composts.

Gwynn
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Re: Help with Mel's Mix

Post  camprn on 4/24/2011, 11:19 am

Old Hippie wrote:When I was mixing my Mel's Mix the other day for my carrot box, I decided to try a little experiment. Some of you post about having difficulty with your mix and it seems in many cases that it might have something to do with the amount of peat. In the past whenever I used peat moss in my house plants, I always wet it before I mix it in with my potting soil. That is the way I learned to use it so that is what I have always done it when making my Mel's Mix.

So I measured five scoops of dry but fluffed peat moss in a large (Canadian) five gallon bucket. Then I added one gallon of water to it and let it sit for a couple of hours. When I mixed my composts and vermiculite I measured them out, five scoops of each. Interesting thing though, when I measured the peat moss now that it was nice and wet, I had over half a scoop left over.

All of this makes me wonder if some people are having difficulties with their mix because the amount of peat they have is too high. Now half a scoop may not sound like much, but that was only a very small batch that I did for my carrot boxes. In a larger quantity, that could make a significant difference. Add to that the fact that many of the composts have peat in them as well and a mix could very well be rather lean in terms of nutrients. No wonder Mel recommends five composts.

Gwynn
Gwynn I think you are brilliant! And perhaps have hit the nail on the head! Well Done!! cheers
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