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Mel's Mix Lab Analysis Results

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Re: Mel's Mix Lab Analysis Results

Post  camprn on 4/16/2012, 3:43 pm

I add a bit of bone meal to the tops of my beds by just sprinkling a light layer over the top and then just fork it in, easy with a little twist. Or you could use a little hand cultivator. You don't have to get all crazy with mixing it in. Bonemeal is supposed to promote root development.

If the mix is still really heavy and you have nothing in it, you could try adding a bit of peat or BM1and fork it in.
Now that being said, before you add anything, you could send off a sample to UMass for analysis and get a better idea of what's going on, that way you will know what you actually need to correct . From what Boffer said, the turn around time is not too long.

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Re: Mel's Mix Lab Analysis Results

Post  1airdoc on 4/16/2012, 3:50 pm

UMass is definitely the way to go for analysis. I sent my MM and some yard soil for analysis (see post on previous page), and the results gave very specific instructions for correcting any imbalances.
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Re: Mel's Mix Lab Analysis Results

Post  Unmutual on 4/16/2012, 3:53 pm

Lindacol wrote:SNIP!

Garlic in this bed looks stunted compared to my other bed with garlic. Carrots started and died. Broccoli did ok, as did some lettuce. Newly transplanted cucs died.

Cucumbers hate to be transplanted, it's one of those vegetables that you should try to start from seed if at all possible. As for the carrots, did the new stem get dark colored then fall over? If so, that might be because of the high level of compost in your beds(it's called damping off and it's a fungal issue for sprouting plants).

Garlic is high in phosphorous(when eaten), so the lack of it could very well be your issue.

Lindacol wrote:
I got one of the home soil tests from HD. The Ph test looked lime green, like the bacground color - I guess neutral to slightly acid. Nitrogen was darker than surplus (not a surprise), the Potash was suffucient to surplus but the Phosphorus was depleted (clear).

The package suggests adding bonemeal but I am confused on how much.

Suggestions?? I am ready to replant this bed and have seeds & seedlings waiting.

Home soil tests seem to be very dependent on following the directions(not a jab, I'm bad at it too). Like Camprn said, a soil test from the local extension office is much better and will tell you exactly what you need and in what amounts, for a very reasonable price.

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Re: Mel's Mix Lab Analysis Results

Post  Lindacol on 4/16/2012, 4:26 pm

Thanks for the replies. I will try adding bonemeal and see if it perks up the garlic which is mostly what's left in the bed now.

The cucs, especially one of them transplanted fine, stayed green for a week or so, even got a couple of new leaves then just died. I had grown them from seed and they had been uppotted and doing fine before. The carrots germinated & grew til the tops were maybe 3 inches, then yellowed & died. Did not look like damping off. The carrots were maybe an inch or so long and skinnier than a pencil. These were nantes types.

Linda
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Re: Mel's Mix Lab Analysis Results

Post  camprn on 4/16/2012, 4:34 pm

Lindacol wrote:The carrots germinated & grew til the tops were maybe 3 inches, then yellowed & died. Did not look like damping off. The carrots were maybe an inch or so long and skinnier than a pencil. These were nantes types.

Linda
Well, it's a good thing it's carrot week, time to plant more Wink

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Re: Mel's Mix Lab Analysis Results

Post  plantoid on 4/16/2012, 4:49 pm

Seeing as your carrots did not have forked roots or roots like a cows udder , I doubt that the mix was not fully composted or too weak.

The seeds seem to have satisfactorily germinated for the carrots to have reached that length

I feel that water might have been a problem , so might heat or the lack of it for the cuc's ( if you get such a beasties Wink )



When transplanting you can give the plants a fatal shock if you plant on cold days & they have not been hardened off , or you get a critical temp drop overnight .. it does not have to be to freezing point on cucs either ......just 12 hrs of below 50 oF or so for tender plants like cuc's

or

You don't water them in or you plant them out in mid day heat and don't water till late adfternoon then get a cold snap .

Sometimes when you handle plants , substances on your fingers does them in as well. So does decaying pesticides in the commercial composts .. a few months or so later it has usually decayed enough & been diluted by watering so as not to cause probs but untill that happens you don't really know whats killing things or stunting growth .

One substance come to mind ..it is a growth inhibitor and is sprayed on grasses and hedging ...this slows the growth tremendously it is used because you don't have to pay for 3/4 of the cutting you used to do so is a big money & labour saver . However any cuttings from the treated vegetation will still carry the inhibitor to a degree . If any of that has been used in the make up of the commercial compost your doomed for while .. places like golfcourses , race cources , public gardens & grassed sports grounds are good candidates for the inhibitors to have been used .

Have there been any improvements todate ?
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Re: Mel's Mix Lab Analysis Results

Post  AvaDGardner on 4/16/2012, 9:05 pm

Lindacol wrote:I just went back & found this info on soil testing because I have a problem in one of my beds. This bed (the 2nd built out of the 4 I have - the others are doing fine) was filled with a mix that was heavier on the compost portion as I was low on funds when I filled it. The compost is homemade, heavy on the goat manure & alfalfa but also contains horse & yak manure and household wastes and plant material. As I have replenished I have added in some vermiculite, peat and bagged worm castings. This bed was started about 6-7 mos ago. The same compost is used in all 4 beds.

Garlic in this bed looks stunted compared to my other bed with garlic. Carrots started and died. Broccoli did ok, as did some lettuce. Newly transplanted cucs died.

I got one of the home soil tests from HD. The Ph test looked lime green, like the bacground color - I guess neutral to slightly acid. Nitrogen was darker than surplus (not a surprise), the Potash was suffucient to surplus but the Phosphorus was depleted (clear).

The package suggests adding bonemeal but I am confused on how much.

Suggestions?? I am ready to replant this bed and have seeds & seedlings waiting.

Hi Linda. I have done a ton (okay nearly a dozen) soil tests in various places this year (since Feb 1). I have two different tests, and their results are close, but not identical.

Are you using Ferry Morris' kit with the tiny throw-away tubes? If so, I understand the 'lime green' comment, as that is at the top of their card. But what does "surplus' mean? Oh...like you medium to high results?

On FM...
pH = lime is 7.0pH = neutral (per their card)
N = darker than hot pink 'High' = not unusual if with compost
P = clear = below "Very Low"
K = senna to dark brown = Med-High

I really hoped for different results. That's the same as what I get in my dirt beds.

Phosphorus is a tough one for us in SoCal. I add bone meal and blood meal like crazy.

Keep in mind it takes months for a change to be registered. Start now, and you may be able to plant that one by June 1.

Between Feb & Apr I did reach neutral pH, but I am still low P (in all growing areas). And without adding compost, the amendments I did use (to change pH & increase P & lower K) increased N, and lower K. A partial victory! I'm looking for something liquid that might raise P while we are in growing season. So far, everything looks okay (there are pics in my sig link), but this is still spring.

The inside of the FM card indicates 32 for leafy veggies and 27 for root veggies. Which way do you want to plant this bed? Those numbers represent Ounces per 100 Sq Ft of Super Phosphate [17.5% P(2)O(5)]. Super Phosphate also contains N & K. Treble Phosphate is just phosphate.

Is this a 4x4?

32 oz per 100 SF = .32oz per 1SF or 5.12 oz per 16 SF for LEAFY veggies (5 oz & .75 tsp)

27 oz per 100 SF = .27oz per 1SF or 3.32 oz per 16 SF for ROOT veggies. (3 & 1/3 oz)

If you find small amounts of Treble Phosphate (all I can find is 50lb bags!) let me know. Once you know how much P(2)O(5) is in it, you can convert the calculations. If you find something liquid, more instant, fill me in!

Ava

PS: from the research I did before I started my garden...

INCREASE PHOSPHORUS:

Bone MealVigro(a product Ihad on hand)
Fish meal
wood ashalso high in calcium - will raise alkalinity
rock phosphate
guanowill add nitrogen?
Manurealso adds nitrogen
Fertilizers high in middle number:
dimmonium phosphate (18-46-0)
monoammonium phosphate (11-48-0)
treble super phosphate

Too Little: shallow roots, malformed or miscolored seeds, malnourished plants

Too Much: yellow leaves, damaged plants
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Re: Mel's Mix Lab Analysis Results

Post  walshevak on 4/16/2012, 11:07 pm

Saw a product at the nursery, ferti-lome. What caught my eye was the was the over 50 number for phosphate and the low nitrogen and K numbers. It is a powder that must be disolved in water to use. Does anybody know anything about his product? http://www.fertilome.com/product.aspx?pid=7eca7da6-3ec6-46e8-932b-0db4c57745e1

Kay


Last edited by walshevak on 4/16/2012, 11:18 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : to add link)

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Re: Mel's Mix Lab Analysis Results

Post  Cincinnati on 4/17/2012, 12:54 am

walshevak wrote:Saw a product at the nursery, ferti-lome. ...[/url]

Kay

Fertilome is a brand name of fertilizers and mineral additives for soils. This is a fertilizer high in phosphorus (actually phosphates).Be extremely careful adding any minerals or fertilizers to your soil or to your MM without first knowing if you need it. Imbalanced soils contribute to a plethora of issues including the cultivation of "bad bugs" in the soil. Imbalanced soils also make it difficult for plants to assimilate the nutrients in the soil. More often than not, The resulting product is vegetables and fruits that are low in nutritional value and lacking taste.

For more info on balancing your soil, check out this book: http://www.soilminerals.com/Ideal_Soil_Main_Page.htm

Disclaimer: I have no commercial interest in this book and no affiliation with the author or seller.

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Re: Mel's Mix Lab Analysis Results

Post  walshevak on 4/17/2012, 7:41 am

I don't play around with my MM because I don't know enough about it to mess with a good thing. So far the only plant I have not had bumper crops from has been brocolli, only small heads and massive amounts of leaves. But I know my mix must be high in N because of all the manures I use. However, this year I have planted beets and wondered if the root crops needed a boost of something else to not be all tops. Thought I might give them a dusting of bone meal.

This is my first year with peppers and tomatos. Had to give all mine away last year when I left the garden for 4 months. Any of my long term crops like tomatos, peppers, chard, kale and collards will get a mid season topdressing of my 5 blend and hopefully some worm castings. My worms are churning out castings.

Kay

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Re: Mel's Mix Lab Analysis Results

Post  Unmutual on 4/17/2012, 8:53 am

walshevak wrote:Saw a product at the nursery, ferti-lome. What caught my eye was the was the over 50 number for phosphate and the low nitrogen and K numbers. It is a powder that must be disolved in water to use. Does anybody know anything about his product? http://www.fertilome.com/product.aspx?pid=7eca7da6-3ec6-46e8-932b-0db4c57745e1

Kay

Generally speaking:

Nitrogen = stalk/leaf production
Phosphorous = flower/bloom production
Potassium = root production

It's a lot more involved than that, and as with anything in nature, there is a lot of overlap(all 3 help with photosynthesis for example). Following the link, it says for blooming and root production(which it does. and also general plant growth, that 8 for Nitrogen counts for something). I think generally speaking(again..it's a lot more involved), most food crops do better with a balanced fertilizer(8-8-8, 10-10-10, etc.). Luckily for us, if our compost blend and MM is right, we don't need any of that. For heavy feeders, such as corn, a side dressing of more blended compost should be sufficient if it is needed at all.

I'm not really a big fan of chemical fertilizers, or products that claim to be plant food...there is no such thing as plant food. Plants make their own food via photosynthesis. Fertilizer is more akin to a vitamin supplement than food. Chemical fertilizers and biocides(herbicide, fungicide, pesticide) use a horrendous amount of oil to make, and I think that oil supply is better put towards electricity and transportation. /soapbox

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Re: Mel's Mix Lab Analysis Results

Post  camprn on 4/17/2012, 9:03 am

Unmutual, you make a good point. It is all really about keeping the growing medium in a healthy state. Healthy soil begets healthy plants.

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Re: Mel's Mix Lab Analysis Results

Post  Cincinnati on 4/17/2012, 10:04 am

camprn wrote:... It is all really about keeping the growing medium in a healthy state. Healthy soil begets healthy plants.

I agree that this is the key. Healthy soil begets healthy plants which begets healthy bodies. Since I learned that balancing all the soil nutrients gives great tasting foods and provides our bodies with what we need, I have stopped putting any additive in my soil or in my MM that I am not certain is needed. At this point, it's simply crushed Ag limestone and a bit of bloodmeal because I have no manure in my compost. Plants have a harder time in unbalanced soils because nutrient uptake is effected by whatever else is competing for the available sites in the root system.

When the soil gets unbalanced, ie: unhealthy, the undesirable soil organisms thrive.

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Re: Mel's Mix Lab Analysis Results

Post  plantoid on 4/17/2012, 7:09 pm

Here is a snippet i found today , it might also apply to youn guys and gals over in the USA who have purchased bagged compost that has " garden " waste in it be it householders or a commerciall cut grass .

" Farming Today on the Beeb this morning may have the answer.

They interviewed a plant grower on Yorkshire who lost all his tomato plants last year and found that the culprit was the domestic green waste which is composted and added to peat free commercial composts.

This can contain tiny amounts of a common lawn weedkiller - one part per billion of weedkiller in the compost is enough to wipe out a tomato crop.


Clearly I was lucky as mine eventually grew through the problem and cropped ok, but very late.
This year I changed my brand but I'm just off to see if I can find out if they have used the same sourse of composted garen waste . "
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Re: Mel's Mix Lab Analysis Results

Post  has55 on 4/21/2015, 10:49 am

plantoid wrote:Here is a snippet i found today , it might also apply to youn guys and gals over in the USA who have purchased bagged compost that has " garden " waste in it be it householders or a commerciall cut grass .

"  Farming Today on the Beeb this morning may have the answer.  

They interviewed a plant grower on Yorkshire who lost all his tomato plants last year and found that the culprit was the domestic green waste which is composted and added to peat free commercial composts.  

This can contain tiny amounts of a common lawn weedkiller - one part per billion of weedkiller in the compost is enough to wipe out a tomato crop.


Clearly I was lucky as mine eventually grew through the problem and cropped ok, but very late.
This year I changed my brand but I'm just off to see if I can find out if they have used the same sourse of composted garen waste . "
Boffer, thank you for referring me to this great thread. I used to use outside sources of grass from the local neighborhoods for mulching my SFG bed plants against Texas heatwave . I found that it slowed my growth of the plants. very few, stay at the baby level, most made it to the final stage like Plantoid, but it would be in the heatwave. I suspected herbicides. I only use my grass now. But I quit using it since I switch to wood chips for mulching. I put coffee on the top of soil, covered with mulched and spindle coffee on the mulch during the season. This has work very well, better leaf color, stronger plants, faster growth, great changes in soil structured, fungi, friendly organism, increase earthworm growth and better adjustment to temperature changes. I going to increase the composting mixture like buffer did and post my results later. his results and other were very impressive.
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Re: Mel's Mix Lab Analysis Results

Post  Turan on 4/13/2017, 1:09 am

I did a soil test this spring and had them do the micro nutrients too.  I was wondering about Boron, which is often low in this area.  The results came back and were very to extremely high in everything,,, except sodium chloride was very low. 

The soil expert spent a long time with me.  I learned that in these inland areas it is not too uncommon for soils to be low in that particular salt (very high in calcium salts here, just look at my teakettle).  So the recommendation was 116g of table salt per 30sqf.  The pH was 7.5, not bad around here.  The high calcium is why the tomatoes liked epsom salts so much, the magnesium was there but bound to the calcium so unavailable.  He was impressed by the level of organic matter.

These are old SFG style beds with compost added every year.  I opened this thread and see that my levels are pretty similar to Boffer's testing of ANSFG beds.  Except the salt.

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Re: Mel's Mix Lab Analysis Results

Post  Banned Member on 4/13/2017, 12:09 pm

I just discovered that I have been doing something foolish, because I have not had an analysis done.

Because almost all of our trees are oak trees, and oak leaves have a very low pH in the 4.4 range, I made the mistake of believing that I needed to add lime or wood ashes to my compost to raise the pH up.

What I just discovered was that when oak leaves compost, they become neutral to slightly alkaline.  So, I have been raising the pH due to faulty beliefs.

I hope nobody else makes the same incorrect assumption.  Now, I am going to buy some dried blood to lower the pH of the compost.

It makes me feel like one of those doctors that prescribes meds for a patient only to see the patient suffer negative side effects, so he has to prescribe other meds to treat the side effects.

And, I have access to free assays.  Call me lazy, apathetic, and stupid.  With both new and old SFG squares, it should be a no brainer that at the least, we should test our soil pH in the old beds.

Mel's Mix can only be as good as the compost you use.  Using bad compost is a disservice to the paradigm.  I know I am to blame and not the mix if it doesn't perform like it should, because on paper, Mel's Mix is excellent.  

Think about the recipe--33% compost is much richer than any conventional garden.  Even the big organic CSA's growing in all compost cannot have perfect quality control in their soil.

33% vermiculite guarantees water retention and aeration.  I guess if you use perlite, it provides similar but slightly different results, but overall more similar than different.

33% peat moss or coconut coir keeps the mix light and fluffy (and beautiful).  It absorbs so well.

What is there not to like about Mel's Mix?  I am sure you can go overboard and add more to it, but you don't have to, and Mel's engineering expertise is so stereotypical simplifying.  

One of the reasons I loved Mel so much was his ability to simplify gardening so that people that might have been hesitant to try rightfully believed they could grow food.   Mel was to gardening what Bob Ross was to painting.  Before Bob Ross, I was too scared to paint the fence, but after watching his PBS show, which preceded SFG in our market, I knew I could paint a happy tree and a distinguished mountain overlooking a lake.  Watching Mel do his thing convinced me that I could eat food from my own property.  

Now, if I can just get off my tush and go outside on this blessed day of beauty before it pushes 90 degrees.  This forum is a bit addictive.

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Re: Mel's Mix Lab Analysis Results

Post  Turan on 4/13/2017, 1:56 pm

Something simple for checking pH Very Happy 

Red cabbage leaves juice.
nuetral (pH 7) is purple, normal color
acidic (less than 7 pH) it gets progressively redder
basic (greater then 7pH) it gets progressively blue/green/yellow

the color is from a pigment also found in blueberries. 
I like the idea of not buying something but just looking around and doing some kitchen chemistry.

https://www.thoughtco.com/making-red-cabbage-ph-indicator-603650

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Re: Mel's Mix Lab Analysis Results

Post  Cloudy on 5/11/2017, 1:02 pm

Hi everyone.....I found this thread today and its covering exactly what I'm losing sleep over. We converted over to raised beds this year which was a lot of work and some money. I decided to use what I read in Mels book. I sent my soil out to be tested and it came back with everything high and the pH at 6....and they said far to much organic material and that not much will grow in this mix. I followed the 1/3 formula.....and used organic composts. Now I'm worried I wasted a lot of money though I have yet to fill in the rest of the beds so I can adjust them.

I don't know of anyone who has grown veggies in Mels mix so saw this post. What has the results been for those with the same state lab test readings? (the home kits are very inaccurate)

Thanks!
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Re: Mel's Mix Lab Analysis Results

Post  trolleydriver on 5/11/2017, 1:18 pm

Cloudy wrote:Hi everyone.....I found this thread today and its covering exactly what I'm losing sleep over. We converted over to raised beds this year which was a lot of work and some money. I decided to use what I read in Mels book. I sent my soil out to be tested and it came back with everything high and the pH at 6....and they said far to much organic material and that not much will grow in this mix. I followed the 1/3 formula.....and used organic composts. Now I'm worried I wasted a lot of money though I have yet to fill in the rest of the beds so I can adjust them.

I don't know of anyone who has grown veggies in Mels mix so saw this post. What has the results been for those with the same state lab test readings? (the home kits are very inaccurate)

Thanks!
I've never had my Mel's Mix tested so can't help you with "same ... lab test readings". However, you stated that you used "organic compost". Can you tell us exactly what that was and how many different varieties you used? Often store bought compost (even when it is supposed to be organic) contains a lot of filler material (e.g., peat moss and the like).  One bag I had this year stated 25%. If all of the compost you use contains 25% filler (or more or less) then that ruins the 1/3 compost, 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 vermiculite ratio. You end up with too much material in the peat moss category. For that reason, when I mix up a batch of Mel's Mix in which I use store bought compost, I reduce the amount of peat moss and increase the amount of compost accordingly. I am on my third year of SFG. I've made up numerous batches of Mel's Mix and I have never had a problem growing veggies in the mix.

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Re: Mel's Mix Lab Analysis Results

Post  Cloudy on 5/11/2017, 2:40 pm

Hi....I did see that the three different composts had peat in them so I backed off the peat I added on its own. But that's a good point! Issue is....try to buy soil....most of them are peat/compost based or soil that I wouldn't use in my garden for stuff I'm going to eat. I was thinking of taking 1/4 of the mixture out of this one bed and mix it with regular soil....if I could find any safe stuff to use. I was asking about the numbers as I wanted to see what would happen to others growing with the same high numbers I had.

Thanks!
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Re: Mel's Mix Lab Analysis Results

Post  sanderson on 5/11/2017, 2:57 pm

Cloudy, Welcome to the Forum from California! glad you\'re here I wouldn't worry about the soil test at this point. Unless the lab is set up to test for "soilless" mix, the results won't be appropriate for Mel's Mix, which has no soil. Can you tell us what composts you have been using? That will help us help you. You have already discovered that three of them have peat moss and that you will adjust accordingly. Another problem with some bagged composts is that there is a lot of wood pieces. Wood ties up the nitrogen as it breaks down. You can screen out a lot of wood using 1/4" hardware cloth screen. Make sure that the 1/3 part of blended composts is made from compost and NOT soil amendment or top soil mix. Try Craig's List for aged manures or worm castings (vermi-compost). It least 1/5 of the composts should be from farm manures (chicken, cow, horse, rabbit, llama, etc.)

Here is a thread with photos of different bagged composts that some folks have used.
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t21089-recommended-store-bought-compost?highlight=compost

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Re: Mel's Mix Lab Analysis Results

Post  Turan on 5/11/2017, 7:16 pm

Hi Cloudy,
Did you read the whole thread and compare your test results with those Boffer had? Boffer grows huge amounts of vegetables in his Mel's mix.  My test results were very similar to his, and even though I was out of balance with low NaCl I had good harvests last year.  With things in more balance, and with organic matter and nutrient levels so high they make a soil specialists eyes widen, I expect good production this year as well (knock on wood.....). 

If you want you can post your numbers.  I can see how they compare with mine.  And Boffer posted his as well.

One last thought, have you ever noticed how squash and potatoes and tomatoes love to grow in active compost piles?  Ponder that and hopefully feel better.

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Re: Mel's Mix Lab Analysis Results

Post  Cloudy on 5/11/2017, 9:01 pm

Hi Sanderson/Turan

I think I screwed up....which boggles my mind as last year I searched out a lab to do a soiless mix test as that's what I've used for about 5 years now with pretty good success. This year I sent the sample into the lab that does testing for normal soil. I think the bags saying "soil" screwed me up. But looking at them all....its pretty much the same ingredients. Which means the normal soil test probably wont work right and maybe why my readings were HIGH on all tests like Boffers were. Well the salts being high would be tested right. The company that made the mushroom compost said it was high in sodium and I shouldn't use it for some veggies.

So I returned it and will replace it with something else. One of the compost is McEnroes from NY which looked real good and is made from horse/cow manure/plants and no fungicides or toxic additives. The other one was Miracles Grow Natures care raised bed soil which had peat moss....poultry litter and forest products. It too looked good. Need something else now to replace the mushroom compost....but I want something OMRI tested as my buddy last year used something that neither of us could raise anything in when we tested it out. He then talked to a lab that said from our description of how the plants grew in it the "soil" probably had something toxic it. They sent us a procedure on how to test for bad soils by raising plants inside and....the rest I forget now....LOL....old age is really doing me in.

Funny I tried to find "real" soil....there really is no such thing being sold around here...its all pretty much the same thing....peat moss...forest products...and differet additives. The stuff Lowes sells that is pure soil looks to be something you'd make concrete with, not put in a garden.

Thanks for the welcome and help!!
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Re: Mel's Mix Lab Analysis Results

Post  sanderson on 5/12/2017, 3:28 am

Cloudy, Did you get a chance to look Craig's List and and the link I posted for some ideas?

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