Square Foot Gardening Forum
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Help with Mel's Mix

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Help with Mel's Mix

Post  thill on 7/31/2011, 7:29 pm

After my first attempt at gardening this spring and summer with raised beds (and little results), I have decided to go to SFG. I used the MM calculator and purchased the ingredients this weekend but do have a couple of questions.



I have a 4X4 bed, 10" deep. Now I know 6" of MM is all I need, should I fill the bottom 4" with sand or just put 6" of MM in or go ahead and fill it?



I purchased:

Mushroom Compost 40 lbs

Chicken Manure 1 cu ft

Humus & Manure 40 lbs

Worm Castings (expensive but I hear it's worth it) 5 gallons

Cotton Burr Compost 2 cu ft.



Vermiculite 4 cu ft and peat moss 3.9 cu ft compacted.



Do I need more of the compost to get my 1/3? If I decide to fill it, I need 4.45 according to the calculator. It's trying to convert the compost numbers to cubic feet that is making my brain hurt (well, that and the heat). Thanks in advance for any help!!

thill

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Re: Help with Mel's Mix

Post  HouseofWool on 7/31/2011, 8:29 pm

I am in a similar boat and am planning on excavating out the top 6" or so from the existing boxes and filling with MM.

When I mix it up, I do a scoop of each of the composts then 5 scoops each of vermiculite and fluffed up peat.

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Re: Help with Mel's Mix

Post  jersh on 8/1/2011, 9:48 am

I am by no means an expert, in fact I am a 100% SFG beginner as well... I just mixed up my first batch of MM a couple weekends ago. I can't answer any of your questions with any certainty but I can give you some feedback based on my experience...

First, that 3.9cf of compacted peat moss you have will fluff out and be about 8 cf... So you'll only have to use half of it... And to help with measuring out your compost, I used a 5 gallon bucket from HD, it has a volume of 2/3 CF, so you need to add six 5 gallon buckets of compost to get to 4 cf.

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Re: Help with Mel's Mix

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 8/1/2011, 1:37 pm

@thill wrote:I have a 4X4 bed, 10" deep. Now I know 6" of MM is all I need, should I fill the bottom 4" with sand or just put 6" of MM in or go ahead and fill it?



Kind of depends on your budget. MM will be your single largest expense when setting up your beds, provided you don't trim out your boxes with 24k gold. Wink What a lot of us have done is to use only 6" of MM, but have some deeper boxes within their SFGs for carrots and/or potatoes. Personally, I have 8" boxes filled to the top. 8" wood was cheaper than 6" wood at the time....go figure. Also note that your MM will settle a bit over the first few weeks/months you are planting and using it. I would add 10% more than you calculate to fill to the level you choose, and I would save that little extra to top up later.


@thill wrote:
Do I need more of the compost to get my 1/3? If I decide to fill it, I need 4.45 according to the calculator. It's trying to convert the compost numbers to cubic feet that is making my brain hurt (well, that and the heat). Thanks in advance for any help!!



The "Bucket Method" is a no-brainer for math challenged folks like me. Volume is volume is volume. Grab a 5 gal bucket, like mentioned, and scoop a few buckets of each component into your garden and mix. Go back and grab a few more buckets of each and mix again until full. If you have 5 types of compost, I would suggest mixing those separately on a tarp. You would have 3 separate piles. One of blended compost, one of peat moss (fluffed and misted) and one of vermiculite. That way you only need one bucket of each pile to get your third/third/third.
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