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I used too much peat moss

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I used too much peat moss

Post  cherylo on 6/8/2011, 9:20 am

After mixing and filling my 3- 4x4 boxes I realized that I had use almost doubled the amount of peat for my mix. what should I do to fix my problem. I already planted my tomatoes in the boxes./ I used 10 c. ft compost , 8 c, ft vemeculitte, and about 8 c.ft (compressed ) peat. (did not allow for expansion of peat.) can I just add more compost or just leave it alone? what will happen with too much peat?

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Re: I used too much peat moss

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 6/8/2011, 9:28 am

The excess peat will take up space from the compost/nutrients. Adding compost without removing the peat will spill over the boxes before it gets to the correct amount. I would watch for nutrient deficiencies over the season. And, I would add straight compost as the MM settles in the boxes. With all that peat in there, they should settle quite a bit.

Next season, I would take half the MM from my incorrectly measured box and put it in a new box, should you build one. I would then mix a new batch on a tarp and add half of it to the old box and half of it to the new box. That alone should get you really close to the right blend.

Happy Gardening!

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Re: I used too much peat moss

Post  walshevak on 6/8/2011, 10:31 am

I would also add to watch for crusting on the top of the soil and make sure water gets all the way to the root area. AND be on the lookout for nutrient problems. Be prepared to top dress (worm casting would be good - it's powerful) and compost/manure tea. Next year your mix will not need as much attention. Except we SFGs tend to spend a lot of time watching everything in our gardens grow because we don't have to break our backs weeding. Very Happy Good luck!

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Re: I used too much peat moss

Post  MikeP on 6/8/2011, 1:28 pm

I'm not 100% sure, but doesn't peat make the soil more acidic?
Shouldn't he maybe test the acidity of the mix and perhaps amend with a little garden lime if it's too acidic?

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Re: I used too much peat moss

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 6/8/2011, 1:31 pm

^^ Absolutely, if it becomes a problem. I have had heavy peat SFGs in the past for the same reasons as OP, but I never had an acidity problem. So, I can't speak for OP's future...yet. But, it's definitely something to watch.

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what do I do?

Post  cherylo on 6/8/2011, 2:49 pm

so am I ok to leave my garden alone and just watch it? or do you think I should put some compost on the top . am fairly new to gardening . do you think my vegetables will grow ok in the beds the way they are? or do I try to remedy to save my garden ? I think I can add compost and hand mix a bag or two into the soil now if you think I should . thank you for your help

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Re: I used too much peat moss

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 6/8/2011, 2:55 pm

The choice is yours. If you elect to watch things, that's fine. You will notice some yellowing in the leaves if they start to struggle. If you elect to add compost, fearing not being able to later or losing your garden, that's fine, too. Just be careful about messing with the roots too much if you don't have to.

Either way you choose, you won't likely lose your garden. You haven't messed up so badly that you are going to kill things. You will see the signs of struggle and still have plenty of time, imo, to get in there and remedy the situation....should it arise.

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amending soil

Post  cherylo on 6/8/2011, 3:08 pm

I just planted last night. can I tkes the tomatoes back up and put more compost in and then replant. I am so wooried about losing my garden after spending so mush money and time putting together . will plants be ok to move if I mix in compost tonight? am thinking about 1 - 40lb bag per 4x4 square , does that sound good enough?

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Re: I used too much peat moss

Post  Kelejan on 6/8/2011, 3:24 pm

In the opinion of this newbie, I would think as you have only just planted, it would be a good idea to take up your plants, remedy the peat problem and then replant as the roots will not have had time to grow so would not be disturbed too much. But I think you would need to get on to it right away.

Best of luck.

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Re: I used too much peat moss

Post  CindiLou on 6/8/2011, 3:29 pm

Since you just planted last night I really think you can just take the plants back up (keep some dirt around the roots) and mix in more compost and vermiculite to adjust.

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Re: I used too much peat moss

Post  Denese on 6/8/2011, 3:33 pm

Cherylo,

If you just planted them last night, you should be able to remove them carefully and add the compost. In the past, I've actually moved mine after 2 or 3 days when I realized they weren't getting enough sun. The more compost you can add, the better. Smile If you can get the 40 lb. bag into the boxes without running over, then go for it. You can never add too much compost, IHO.

Happy Gardening!
Denese flower

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Re: I used too much peat moss

Post  Tbites on 6/8/2011, 3:35 pm

I'm just as new at this but have a similar situation of too much peat so I can't offer advice but I can relay today's experience.

I felt I HAD to amend the bed because drainage was inadequate. Two of the transplants were from last weekend but the other toms and peppers were from 2 weeks ago. Well, they grew.

Perhaps your hands are A LOT more delicate than mine, but as I dug around the plants today, I didn't have all that much room to manoeuver... some roots had spread quite a bit and I know I broke quite a few roots just trying to dig in.

I've been told (and want to believe) plants can be quite resilient but I wish I had caught on to my mistake earlier rather than later.

Cheers


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Re: I used too much peat moss

Post  AZDYJ2K on 6/8/2011, 4:19 pm

Here's a thread from a similar issue that was posted just a few days ago. http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t7784-can-you-correct-mm-while-plants-are-in-it

As other posters have said, I would also take out the plants and fix the problem with the ratios. In addition to the compost make sure to add more vermiculite to get the correct ratios of 1/3 each. If you don't have another SFG to put the excess in then I would just keep one half to the side and save it until you start another sfg or sell/give it away to someone who can make use of it.

Good luck!

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Re: I used too much peat moss

Post  walshevak on 6/8/2011, 4:28 pm

If it will make any of you feel better, I planted my tomatos and peppers and found out 4 days later that I would be leaving the country for 3 months. This was on a Monday. On Thur. 5/6, I dug up all my peppers and tomatos (using both hands so I could get as much of the MM as possible), put them into a rubbermaid bin, wet them down and transported them in the cab (not the rear) of my truck to my son's house 250 miles away. It took us 2 days to get a bed put together and mix up the MM and replanted on 5/9.

5/10 the day after transplant 10 tomatos, 4 peppers and 2 eggplants(these traveled in their starter pots).



5/16 a week later



My son says every one survived and is growing well. They all have blooms. He was supposed to send me pictures last night for tomato tues. but he forgot. The extras had to be put into pots and they are also alive.



Kay


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Re: I used too much peat moss

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 6/8/2011, 4:41 pm

I know we are all trying to help. And, we have all given great advice. But, remember, this is an SFG forum that follows the letter of Mel's book. Use caution when talking about correcting these Mel's Mix problems.

For every person bold enough to post, and thank you all for being those types, we have possibly dozens of lurkers reading and implementing what we say in THEIR gardens. These people are also talking the concept of SFG around THEIR neighborhoods. It's important, for THEM, that we stick to the fundamentals of 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 blended compost, 1/3 vermiculite.

When someone's mixture is off, we are trying to get back to the correct ratios. Suggesting to add compost is a slippery slope. We don't want to say to add so much that we throw the ratios off in the opposite direction. Same applies for adding vermiculite. If the correct amount of vermiculite was bought, and all was used, there is no need to add more. Same with compost. But, by knowing OP missed on the peat moss, we know something is missing. We just need to remain vigilant, for all, in the questions we ask and the advice we give.....remembering others are taking what we say for gospel.

We aren't doing Mel any favors if we unintentionally mess up others' mixes with our advice. I'm saying this as much to remind myself as I am to anyone else.....and no one in particular. Carry on.

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Re: I used too much peat moss

Post  Vader on 6/8/2011, 4:43 pm

My you're wordy. But, a much needed explanation. You just saved me some work.

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Re: I used too much peat moss

Post  fiddleman on 6/8/2011, 7:33 pm

The way I see it - fix it once. Then no more worries. (how did you get that kind of volume in your squares? - mine would have been shaped like a hill with that much mix in it)

What you have:
16 cubic feet of Peat Moss - enough for 6 boxes [2x what you need]
10 cubic feet of Compost - enough for 3 1/2 boxes [roughly 1.25x what you need]
8 cubic feet of Vermiculite - enough for 3 boxes [exact amount needed]
--------------------------
34 cubic feet of mix - each square has 10.13 cubic feet

All this in beds designed to hold 24 cubic feet of mix, so you have 10 cubic feet too much, or nearly half again as much as should be there. If each square has 10.13 cubic feet of mix and should have 8 cubic feet of mix, you have about 2 cubic feet of surplus mix in the beds. This 16 cubic feet of peat moss causes big problems with the ratio's...

The problem is you have twice as much Peat Moss as Vermiculite and that will cause problems with keeping the mix as friable as it should be. So your mix is roughly 2/3's peat moss and 1/6 Compost and 1/6 Vermiculite (rounding the numbers quite a bit, but it's somewhat easier to understand how far out of whack your mix really is)

In addition there's not enough compost to keep the ratio 1/3 - 1/3 - 1/3, you only have 5/8's the necessary compost - well below what is needed for a healthy garden (I have to think of it as just over half of what is needed).

And you only have 1/2 the needed vermiculite in your squares currently.

So let's fix it.

If it was me, I would un-plant the plants you put in, shovel out (and save) one half of the "out of whack" Mel's Mix from each square and amend each square thusly:

add 1 cu ft of Compost
add 1.3 cu ft of Vermiculite

Each square will then be in the necessary proportions to have a successful garden. You can then replant your garden knowing you have given your plants the best chance to thrive and for the garden to be a success.

To fix the 3 - 4X4 boxes of Mel's mix, you would need 3 cubic feet of compost from multiple sources (or home made stuff) and 4 cubic feet of Vermiculite.

Save the other stuff, perhaps in a clean garbage can, and should you wish to increase the gardens capacity or top off your current boxes, you just need to add 3 cubic feet of compost and 4 cubic feet of Vermiculite.

I wouldn't bother myself with all the worm casting, tea making, fertilizing when it is still early enough to fix the error. Don't wait too long to fix it since the lack of nutrition will stunt the plants soon.

Good luck!

Mark

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Re: I used too much peat moss

Post  shannon1 on 6/9/2011, 1:43 am

IMO nothing can beat Mel's Mix . I have faith in Fiddleman's math, nice he worked it out for you.

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Re: I used too much peat moss

Post  kiwirose on 6/9/2011, 5:03 am

@cherylo wrote:so am I ok to leave my garden alone and just watch it? or do you think I should put some compost on the top . am fairly new to gardening . do you think my vegetables will grow ok in the beds the way they are? or do I try to remedy to save my garden ? I think I can add compost and hand mix a bag or two into the soil now if you think I should . thank you for your help

I made this mistake when I first started and didn't realize for quite a while. I needed to suppliment my nutrients (I used garden tone or tomato tone) - one I started feeding everything took off and was happy as a clam. I had big crusting issues and everything compacted down, but I just waited till the end of the season and estimated what I needed to add to fix it and we are away laughing.

good luck

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Re: I used too much peat moss

Post  elliephant on 6/9/2011, 8:49 am

@fiddleman wrote:The way I see it - fix it once. Then no more worries. (how did you get that kind of volume in your squares? - mine would have been shaped like a hill with that much mix in it)

What you have:
16 cubic feet of Peat Moss - enough for 6 boxes [2x what you need]
10 cubic feet of Compost - enough for 3 1/2 boxes [roughly 1.25x what you need]
8 cubic feet of Vermiculite - enough for 3 boxes [exact amount needed]
--------------------------
34 cubic feet of mix - each square has 10.13 cubic feet

All this in beds designed to hold 24 cubic feet of mix, so you have 10 cubic feet too much, or nearly half again as much as should be there. If each square has 10.13 cubic feet of mix and should have 8 cubic feet of mix, you have about 2 cubic feet of surplus mix in the beds. This 16 cubic feet of peat moss causes big problems with the ratio's...

The problem is you have twice as much Peat Moss as Vermiculite and that will cause problems with keeping the mix as friable as it should be. So your mix is roughly 2/3's peat moss and 1/6 Compost and 1/6 Vermiculite (rounding the numbers quite a bit, but it's somewhat easier to understand how far out of whack your mix really is)

In addition there's not enough compost to keep the ratio 1/3 - 1/3 - 1/3, you only have 5/8's the necessary compost - well below what is needed for a healthy garden (I have to think of it as just over half of what is needed).

And you only have 1/2 the needed vermiculite in your squares currently.

So let's fix it.

If it was me, I would un-plant the plants you put in, shovel out (and save) one half of the "out of whack" Mel's Mix from each square and amend each square thusly:

add 1 cu ft of Compost
add 1.3 cu ft of Vermiculite

Each square will then be in the necessary proportions to have a successful garden. You can then replant your garden knowing you have given your plants the best chance to thrive and for the garden to be a success.

To fix the 3 - 4X4 boxes of Mel's mix, you would need 3 cubic feet of compost from multiple sources (or home made stuff) and 4 cubic feet of Vermiculite.

Save the other stuff, perhaps in a clean garbage can, and should you wish to increase the gardens capacity or top off your current boxes, you just need to add 3 cubic feet of compost and 4 cubic feet of Vermiculite.

I wouldn't bother myself with all the worm casting, tea making, fertilizing when it is still early enough to fix the error. Don't wait too long to fix it since the lack of nutrition will stunt the plants soon.

Good luck!

Mark

The part of this that I would argue with is that it does NOT take 8 cu ft to fill a box. Ask Boffer. It should, when you do the math, but in the real world, with settling and such, it really takes 10 cu ft to fill. I think a lot of us can attest to that.

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Re: I used too much peat moss

Post  walshevak on 6/9/2011, 9:47 am

According to my calculations, what she really needs is another 2 boxes. Laughing



Then an additional 6 cu ft of compost and 8 cu ft of vermiculite. Total will then be 48 cu ft - enough to fill 5 boxes with almost 10 cu ft. And a lot more plants. rock on

Kay

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Re: I used too much peat moss

Post  fiddleman on 6/9/2011, 7:50 pm

@elliephant wrote:

The part of this that I would argue with is that it does NOT take 8 cu ft to fill a box. Ask Boffer. It should, when you do the math, but in the real world, with settling and such, it really takes 10 cu ft to fill. I think a lot of us can attest to that.

While I agree to a point (there is some settling of contents) as the cereal boxes say "some settling of contents may occur due to shipping and handling, package was filled as full as practical at time of packaging". Having gardened in one form or another most of my adult life, I can say without question if plants are given the proper climate, nutrition, water, and appropriate amount of sun, they will do well in 3 inches of soil. There isn't any need for the roots to go deep if they are given what they need at the surface. Mel's mix will settle a bit, but not so much as to give plants problems. Boffer has gardened for several years at least with this system and is making adjustments and experimented based on his local conditions and experience.


The problem the Original Poster queried was whether to fix/what to fix with. I submit my response based on Mel's book, mostly to give proper proportions to them. I find even with the mix settling, when fluffed it does indeed return to the full six inch depth... so no problems for most plants. Kept a few years, the added shovelful of compost to renew each square at harvest should even things out anyway. On page 105 of the All New Square Foot Gardening he says: "Once the box is full and the top leveled off, don't pack it down. It will settle just right by itself" He does go on to say if you have extra, you can use if for transplants, and topping off the boxes once the soil level settles. He doesn't say it is necessary or required for plants to thrive. So to keep costs down for the first season, I put forth the recommended amount as suggested by Mel.

I submit people should do it Mel's way for at least one full season, then with that basis of knowledge of their local conditions,vegetable preferences, and preferred varieties, only then mess with the system. Otherwise how will you have any baseline with which to judge your success? Perhaps if one had followed Mel's system, you might have had an even more successful garden than some supposed "improved" version. If deemed necessary, one could always add more Mel's Mix at the end of the first season when all compaction of the mix has taken place.

Mark

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Re: I used too much peat moss

Post  shannon1 on 6/10/2011, 12:58 am


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Re: I used too much peat moss

Post  middlemamma on 6/10/2011, 1:17 am

@fiddleman wrote:I submit people should do it Mel's way for at least one full season, then with that basis of knowledge of their local conditions,vegetable preferences, and preferred varieties, only then mess with the system. Otherwise how will you have any baseline with which to judge your success? Perhaps if one had followed Mel's system, you might have had an even more successful garden than some supposed "improved" version. If deemed necessary, one could always add more Mel's Mix at the end of the first season when all compaction of the mix has taken place.
Absolutely!

@Vader wrote:My you're wordy. But, a much needed explanation. You just saved me some work.

Vader, you have to excuse BBG, he is our in house Mel's Mix defender, you will never beat him to it. He is second only to boffer. If boffer doesn't get to it first it's cause he didn't wanna. Smile

Great job helping the OP everyone.

Thank you for all the math Fiddleman!

So OP? Whatcha gonna do? Do we see 2 more boxes in your near future? Very Happy

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Re: I used too much peat moss

Post  boffer on 6/10/2011, 1:36 am

@fiddleman wrote: I submit people should do it Mel's way for at least one full season, then with that basis of knowledge of their local conditions,vegetable preferences, and preferred varieties, only then mess with the system. Otherwise how will you have any baseline with which to judge your success? Mark


Thank you, Mark. That is all the folks at the Foundation ask for. Start with one box, by the book, and compare it side by side with your favorite gardening methods. Then, we can talk about the results and make adjustments.

Old Hippie said it best, and I wish I could find her original words: "Isn't it ironic that humans first failed to follow directions, in a garden." I think of her words often as I read how folks on the forum try to justify doing things their own way.

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