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Top of Mel's Mix is hard & plants don't seem to be growing?

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Top of Mel's Mix is hard & plants don't seem to be growing?

Post  Gritch on 6/2/2011, 10:36 pm

Just wondering if it is normal for the top of Mel's Mix to become hard? We have been having an abnormal amount of rain so far, so I am wondering if maybe it is because it is too wet? If I scrape the top off the mix, the underneath looks good and moist. I am also wondering if that is the reason that my plants don't seem to be growing at all? I mean they look healthy they just haven't grown. The plants in the other parts of the garden are doing good, just not in the squares. I am not sure if this is normal or not? Thanks in advance.


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Re: Top of Mel's Mix is hard & plants don't seem to be growing?

Post  Kelejan on 6/2/2011, 10:43 pm

gritch. Just caught your post but I will leave the advice to others more experienced than I.

Someone will be here before your know it.

Kelejan, another newish newbie.

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Re: Top of Mel's Mix is hard & plants don't seem to be growing?

Post  Old Hippie on 6/2/2011, 11:37 pm

So glad you found us. We are happy to have you here.

Hmmmm......other things in other parts of the garden are doing well just not in your SFG. Is that correct? With the crust forming on top and the plants not growing it could be your Mel's mix ratios are a bit off. The problem can be that there is too much peat in the mix and not enough compost. Compost is what provides the food for your plants. The peat and vermiculite have no nutritional value but help with moisture absorption and drainage. Peat often comes compressed and needs to be fluffed before you measure it or you end up with too much of it in the mix.

A little test that I did for the first time ever was to fluff the peat and then measure out five scoops into a bucket. Then I moistened it with warm water and let it sit. When I measured it after letting it absorb the water, I found I had over 1/2 a scoop more than when I measured it dry.

Did you use at least five types of compost? Example: horse, chicken, sheep, leaf and shrimp or lobster. Many of us have had difficulty finding five different types of compost which means that our plants are often lacking in some nutrients. Also, many composts have peat in them so even if you do your measurements correctly, you can still end up with too much peat. Again, this makes for less nutrients and can cause the crust forming on top. The bags of compost that I found did not have an ingredients list so I don't know if they had peat in them or not but some of them looked like they did.

I would try watering with a bit of compost tea or adding some worm castings to the squares and see if that helps any. Sometimes it takes a bit of tweaking to get the mix right......especially when there doesn't seem to be any real standards for the compost.

Best of luck. Keep posting and let us know how things go for you. we are here to help.

Old Hippie
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Re: Top of Mel's Mix is hard & plants don't seem to be growing?

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 6/2/2011, 11:37 pm

Welcome aboard. I can't say for why the MM is hard. Is it truly a third/third/third mix? Did you cut any corners for budgetary reasons?

Lots of times too much peat moss will get crusty on top. Maybe you had a compressed bale and didn't know that a compressed bale accounts for double the peat moss once it fluffs out?

Either way, a picture may help us help you. We will try our best. Hope to see more of you around here.

Oh, have you checked deep beneath the crust? Was it dry? That would suggest water isn't getting down there. I know you said you scraped it away, but did you check down 3 or 4 inches?

Oh, and how deep is your mix? Just curious.

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Re: Top of Mel's Mix is hard & plants don't seem to be growing?

Post  jymarino on 6/2/2011, 11:37 pm


My mix gets a crust on top when it is dry so I think that may be normal. You are still fairly chilly in IN so your crops may just need to get warmed up before they take off. Are the slow growing plants your winter or spring/summer crops? If they are the summer ones then they definitely are waiting for some warmer weather. Keep them well watered and if you are really concerned add a little compost tea to each square. They should be up and running very soon.

Of course I am also a brand newbie this year to SFG but this is my third year gardening.

God bless



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Re: Top of Mel's Mix is hard & plants don't seem to be growing?

Post  altagarden on 6/2/2011, 11:55 pm

Whoops, never mind. Reread your question and I don't have any helpful advice.

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Re: Top of Mel's Mix is hard & plants don't seem to be growing?

Post  Furbalsmom on 6/3/2011, 4:25 am


sorry your squares are not doing so well yet, but you have received some good advice here. Check your ratios, make sure everything was blended well so there are no clumps of peat moss, and think about whether your weather is causing a delay in your crops.

Please keep us updated on yuor progress and let us know if you figure out what was needed.

Again, Welcome!

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Re: Top of Mel's Mix is hard & plants don't seem to be growing?

Post  Barkie on 6/3/2011, 6:10 am

Are you supposed to wet the fluffed up peat then measure it out by the bucket load before adding to the vermiculite and composts or is it supposed to be measured "dry"? ie is it wet peat to be measured by volume or peat just fluffed?

To the OP
Firstly welcome to the forum.

Is it dry and hard or damp and crusty?


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Re: Top of Mel's Mix is hard & plants don't seem to be growing?

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