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If you need to add more MM because of settling...

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If you need to add more MM because of settling...

Post  NHGardener on 5/31/2011, 8:48 pm

is it okay to just use compost? Because I don't feel like spending $27 for a whole new 4 c.f. bag of vermiculite and I don't really feel like adding any more peat to my beds either, I suspect bagged composts may sometimes have peat in them already and I don't want to get peat-heavy.

So can I top off my settled boxes with just plain bagged compost?
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Re: If you need to add more MM because of settling...

Post  ModernDayBetty on 5/31/2011, 8:58 pm

Handing down advice I was given. If you started with enough MM for 6 in you don't need to add more, you have enough. I was told I can just add more compost. :o)
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Re: If you need to add more MM because of settling...

Post  martha on 5/31/2011, 9:01 pm

How much did it settle? If you are talking about a little, then of course. But if it is a lot of settling, then you will be changing the drainage ability/friability. I wouldn't worry about the peat heavy. Check the ingredients on the bag. If any of the compost I have ever purchased had peat, it was in insignificant results. And if need be, you can buy smaller bags of vermiculite - not cost efficient for start-up, but might be just what you need now.

(I was composing while Krazi was posting!)
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Re: If you need to add more MM because of settling...

Post  camprn on 5/31/2011, 9:09 pm

@NHGardener wrote:is it okay to just use compost?
So can I top off my settled boxes with just plain bagged compost?
I do. As you know I really like the lobster blend and that would be my choice of bagged compost, if your home made stuff is not ready. Wink
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Re: If you need to add more MM because of settling...

Post  martha on 5/31/2011, 9:21 pm

And I am very happy to stand corrected. Krazi and Camprn have the far more convenient answer, so just don't even listen to me! Very Happy
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Re: If you need to add more MM because of settling...

Post  ModernDayBetty on 5/31/2011, 9:34 pm

@martha wrote:(I was composing while Krazi was posting!)

Lol, I hate when that happens to me!
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Re: If you need to add more MM because of settling...

Post  dizzygardener on 5/31/2011, 9:40 pm

@martha wrote:How much did it settle? If you are talking about a little, then of course. But if it is a lot of settling, then you will be changing the drainage ability/friability. I wouldn't worry about the peat heavy. Check the ingredients on the bag. If any of the compost I have ever purchased had peat, it was in insignificant results. And if need be, you can buy smaller bags of vermiculite - not cost efficient for start-up, but might be just what you need now.

(I was composing while Krazi was posting!)

Martha is right. If you have to add a lot of compost you'll through off your mix and lose some of the qualities that make Mel's mix so appealing. But, a trowel full or two per square foot shouldn't make much difference. If it's anymore than that then I'd say yes, you should add more MM if at all possible.
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Re: If you need to add more MM because of settling...

Post  NHGardener on 5/31/2011, 10:55 pm

Thank you for the replies!

It looks like my MM is low, but I also had to stake my boxes because the ground was so uneven, so it's hard to say where it's 6" and where it's not. I think tomorrow I'll just go poke a ruler all around and get a general idea of how short it is.

camprn, I remember your saying you like the lobster compost. I think I'll get a few bags of compost, and make sure one of them is the lobster. I used it in my MM too.

And it's also a good idea about the smaller bag of vermiculite.

But I really don't feel like buying a whole 3 c.f. of peat... Actually, I think they have compost bags at the farm store that are a peat compost mix, maybe that will do.

Thank you all as I think out loud. Smile
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Re: If you need to add more MM because of settling...

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 5/31/2011, 10:59 pm

I only add compost from here on out because I KNOW the peat moss and vermiculite are measured/bought correctly.
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Re: If you need to add more MM because of settling...

Post  herbarium on 6/1/2011, 10:04 am

I would just add more compost

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Re: If you need to add more MM because of settling...

Post  Lavender Debs on 6/1/2011, 10:28 am

This is the reason I keep compost bins going. MM settles, sometimes significantly.

My first box was FULL of light, fluffy MM in February 2010. By May of that year it looked like I had been very stingy with the mix. Everything in the box was lush and beautiful but seemed to be growing in only about 3 inches of mix. Every time I had an empty square I worked in a shovel full (or two) of fresh compost and brought it back up to level. This pattern has been repeated in my other 5 boxes but the difference is not as dramatic in the others because none of the other boxes are only 6 inches deep. None of them compact down to 3 inches of mix.

There are micro organisms and not so micro soil organisms (like worms) that live in healthy soil. They seem to digest the components of your compost making it available to the plants. It seems that the more actively they feed, the faster the level comes down. Healthy soil/mix SHOULD go through this cycle. Only dead mix needs things like Miracle Grow. (Whoops, now I need to carefully avoid that tangent).

Bagged compost is a good easy start but I encourage you to start your own compost bin to refresh your boxes. Sometimes you get some crazy "weeds" like potatoes where you know you did not plant any (feed the skins to the chickens or run the skins through the microwave for a minute before composting them), tomatoes of all kinds and vines like cucumbers and watermelon will come up in the boxes. I used to let them grow but now I pluck them up as soon as I see them.

Bottom line for me.....if the box was originally full, I no longer worry about settling, lush crops still grow. There will be plenty of time to address the settling issue when the season is through.
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Re: If you need to add more MM because of settling...

Post  NHGardener on 6/1/2011, 10:31 am

I started my compost pile about a month or so ago. Unfortunately I'm a lazy composter and never feel like turning that thing, plus I can't be bothered to cut up things like watermelon rinds, so it will probably be next decade before it completely composts - ha.

I'm not publicly admitting that tho.
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Re: If you need to add more MM because of settling...

Post  Old Hippie on 6/1/2011, 10:39 am

NH Gardener, you would be amazed at how fast that kitchen waste disappears. Besides making compost shakes with kitchen scraps for my garden, sometimes I just dig a hole in an empty spot and bury stuff. Banana peels next to my roses for one thing. Seriously, it only takes a few days and it is gone. The worms love it.

Gwynn
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Re: If you need to add more MM because of settling...

Post  NHGardener on 6/1/2011, 11:01 am

I've mentioned her before, but you know the famous gardener Ruth Stout used to just strew her compost materials right on top of her veggies, or something like that.

I like the burying idea but then I'll never get my composted soil back.
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Re: If you need to add more MM because of settling...

Post  Old Hippie on 6/1/2011, 11:08 am

@NHGardener wrote:

but then I'll never get my composted soil back.

Not sure what you mean by this. I bury mine so it does not attract flies.

Gwynn
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Re: If you need to add more MM because of settling...

Post  NHGardener on 6/1/2011, 12:24 pm

No, I just mean if I bury my composted materials, I'll have to dig my compost out of the ground.

It was kind of facetious.

I blame my poor sense of humor on the high humidity.
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Re: If you need to add more MM because of settling...

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 6/1/2011, 1:33 pm

Turning compost can be a pain. That's why we have kids, though. Farmers had kids to do things they needed help with. We are no different these days. But, I don't need help playing video games or watching tv on the couch. I need help in the garden!

If you start out right, kids get used to it.....and actually have fun. They see that working hard actually leads to something worthwhile. IMO, it's another opportunity for a life lesson that will go a long ways towards keeping them out of jail.....hopefully. Wink

On a more serious note, I bury my kitchen scraps, too. But, for me, it keeps the dog out of the compost pile. She goes in after everything. Plus, it gives me the chance to turn it while I'm out there. A few scoops with the pitchfork and I'm done turning.
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Re: If you need to add more MM because of settling...

Post  NHGardener on 6/1/2011, 2:17 pm

Kids? Work? I never heard of such a thing. And mine span the teenage years so I think if that were true I would've seen some sign of it...

So BBG, do you use your buried compost, or just bury it and there it stays?

Or do you mean you bury the kitchen scraps, but everything else goes in the heap.
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Re: If you need to add more MM because of settling...

Post  squaredeal on 6/1/2011, 8:22 pm

I added more Mel's mix today to my boxes because of settling. Since I'm in a community garden, I mix it at home then bring it over in car a bucket or two at a time. I was using strictly compost but I was concerned I might lose the soil looseness. Also, Mel's Mix is lighter in color, so I'm hoping it be cooler for the tomatoes. By the way, the rest of our community garden just got tilled two days ago.
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