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Advice on mixing

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Advice on mixing

Post  arla on 9/10/2011, 11:45 pm

For someone who is new, how does one measure the ingredients out for making MM

Assuming you'r filling a certain size box, I'm presuming most people buy more than truely needed (i.e. you want to fill one 4x4, that's 8 Cu Ft of required ingredients, which needs 2.6666 (recurring) of each ingredient, well that's fine, except of course most things don't come in that type of quantity, even going up to 12 cu ft (that's just 4 cu ft of each thing) getting that size of peat moss and vermiculite isn't too much trouble (assuming you have sources of both nearby) but gettin 4 cu ft of at least 5 types of compost is, well, not easy.

How do you do it? I'm looking for ideas because ideally I want to fill at present just a 2x3 box (that's just 3cu ft of ingredients required) but mixing that much with 5 types of compost is going to be exceedingly hard.

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Re: Advice on mixing

Post  westie42 on 9/11/2011, 12:36 am

First having extra MM around is a very good thing if you can store it, I like to have about 50 gal left from a box filling project that is kept in a garbage toter. For measuring keep in mind that 3 true 5 gal buckets equals 2 cu ft by volume. Your 12 cft box would want 4 cft of each verm,moss and compost as you stated. That would be 6 five gal buckets each of verm,pm and compost blend. I thoroughly mix my 5 composts together as best as I can estimate in equal amounts then measure that mixture in buckets. Because most commercial compost is suspect at best for being good quality and free of substitute fillers like more peat moss I always go with some extra compost in my MM mix. Usually even that is still often a weak mixture. With that in mind I would use 7 buckets of the compost blend in my boxes to go with 6 buckets of the other ingredients. For the 3 cft box I would use 4.5 buckets of verm and peat moss and at least 5 of the compost blend. Compost is the thing that is consumed by the plants and needs to be replenished after each crop so how could it not be a good thing to start our a bit long on something that could well be weak to start with. I speak from practical experience and not from the book.


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Re: Advice on mixing

Post  boffer on 9/11/2011, 2:14 am

Well...see if the MM calculator helps answer some questions for you.
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/h22-mel-s-mix-calculator

A lot of us just use a five gallon bucket as a measuring cup. One bucket of verm, one bucket of peat, one bucket of five way compost.

You could mix your five way compost the same way. One bucket of each type of compost.

You'll have a little compost left over after you make your MM, but it won't go to waste. You'll need it for replenishing your squares when you replant.

Closies count in SFG. Precision not required.
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Re: Advice on mixing

Post  sfg4uKim on 9/11/2011, 9:16 am

LOL have y'all noticed that there are some of us who are more easy-going and some of us for whom precision is comforting? This reminds me SO much of cooking & baking.

My brother likes the cooking shows where the "chef" just throws "palmfuls" and "pinches" of ingredients into the bowl. He adds additional ingredients and "tweaks" the recipe. He finds joy in "freestyle" cooking.

On the other hand my friend drags out the measuring cups & spoons and precisely follows the recipe, leveling the ingredients carefully with a knife. If she doesn't have even one ingredient that is called for . . . she won't make it. She relishes the order & "exactness".

I love them both dearly, rejoice in their differences and enjoy the fruits of BOTH of their labor.

Admittedly I'm of the "freestyle" school of Mel's Mix, but understand and respect those who find comfort in strict adherence of the Mel's Mix calculator.

My thoughts/questions are these: Even if one has EXACTLY EQUAL portions of FIVE types of compost does that necessarily result in a superior compost if you're not also careful to analyze the nutrient value of each component?

From the article Manure Matters, "Dairy manure is preferable to steer manure, which has a higher salt and weed seed content. Though cow manure has low nutrient numbers, that's what makes ist safe to use in unlimited quantities." and "Horse manure is about half as rich as chicken manure, but richer in nitrogen than cow manure."

AND where do OTHER forms of compost fit into the mix? Wood pulp? Grass/leaves? Food scraps? AND where does consideration for individual crops fit in? Is the compost I make more favorable to tomatoes than to beets?

I could drive myself crazy trying to figure all of this out. SOOOOOO I will just do the best I can and know that I'm doing more than probably 95% of gardeners.

Blessings to all!

Kim





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Re: Advice on mixing

Post  AprilakaCCIL on 9/11/2011, 10:46 am

@boffer wrote:Well...see if the MM calculator helps answer some questions for you.
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/h22-mel-s-mix-calculator

A lot of us just use a five gallon bucket as a measuring cup. One bucket of verm, one bucket of peat, one bucket of five way compost.

You could mix your five way compost the same way. One bucket of each type of compost.

You'll have a little compost left over after you make your MM, but it won't go to waste. You'll need it for replenishing your squares when you replant.

Closies count in SFG. Precision not required.

^^^That's how I mixed mine and I really love my mix^^^
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Re: Advice on mixing

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 9/11/2011, 10:56 am

My thoughts/questions are these: Even if one has EXACTLY EQUAL portions of FIVE types of compost does that necessarily result in a superior compost if you're not also careful to analyze the nutrient value of each component?

No, it doesn't result in the "same" compost, but it DOES result in a superior compost when compared to just buying 18 bags of the same brand/type. Can you only imagine the variance if Mel only recommended one type? Five types dramatically lessens the chances of a big variance. And, 99.9% of the time supplies enough of the right nutrients that you don't have to worry about it from Sydney, Australia, to Caribou, Maine.

I know we have "anal" types of personalities here, and that's fine. Just realize that we no longer have to overthink things like this....Mel already did. Just follow along. Our need to overthink things can be better served elsewhere......like companion planting our pantry. (Should the salt go next to the pepper or the Fruit Loops?)

AND where do OTHER forms of compost fit into the mix? Wood pulp? Grass/leaves? Food scraps? AND where does consideration for individual crops fit in? Is the compost I make more favorable to tomatoes than to beets?

Again, we could go crazy overthinking this. And, we have forum members that do, I'm sure. However, Mel did it, too. And, he settled on blending 5 types together at a minimum. That takes the thinking out of the equation......FOR US!


I'm a "freestyler," too. But, I also have the type of brain that overanalyzes things. It's a weird dynamic that drives my wife batty. I tend to believe that overthinkers are very smart people by nature. I also think they can be so smart they are stupid. The trick is to use this God-given intelligence to realize when we should default to common sense and stop driving ourselves nutso. Mel did it. We don't need to. Spend our anal-retentive energies elsewhere.......like the pantry.

Oh, and your brother would LOVE Justin Wilson. I wish I could find the good clips of him "measuring" stuff and spilling the rest into the fixin's.

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Re: Advice on mixing

Post  arla on 9/11/2011, 11:29 am

@boffer wrote:Well...see if the MM calculator helps answer some questions for you.
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/h22-mel-s-mix-calculator

A lot of us just use a five gallon bucket as a measuring cup. One bucket of verm, one bucket of peat, one bucket of five way compost.

You could mix your five way compost the same way. One bucket of each type of compost.

You'll have a little compost left over after you make your MM, but it won't go to waste. You'll need it for replenishing your squares when you replant.

Closies count in SFG. Precision not required.

For some reason I just hadn't thought of using a bucket, I think I was getting more caught up on "how much is a cu ft", thanks for the information, that's of great help.

Oh, and yes, I overthink things, unfortunately as a business Analyst it's just part of my job to analyse everything and try to figure all possibilities, but I think this helps a ton, just having read some stuff about people having bad experiences with MM (even the pre-mixed stuff) I wan t do what I can to make it work.

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Re: Advice on mixing

Post  sfg4uKim on 9/11/2011, 12:23 pm

LOL and I was an intelligence analyst in the AF, so I REALLY know where you're coming from.
Very Happy

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Re: Advice on mixing

Post  sfg4uKim on 9/11/2011, 12:32 pm

LOL and I was an intelligence analyst in the AF, so I REALLY know where you're coming from.
Very Happy

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I have seen women looking at jewelry ads with a misty eye and one hand resting on the heart, and I only know what they're feeling because that's how I read the seed catalogs in January - Barbara Kingsolver - Animal, Vegetable, Miracle


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Re: Advice on mixing

Post  jersh on 9/12/2011, 9:55 pm

Definitely use a bucket to measure with....

I'm a complete newbie so take my suggestions here with a grain of salt. I just planted seeds in my first SFG on August 8th and I've already started harvesting cucumbers, so my method is certainly not a failure. I did add 5 different composts, but I most definitely do not add them in equal proportions... I mixed up 2 batches of MM. Each batch got one 50# bag of Black Kow composted cow manure, one 40# bag of Black Velvet mushroom compost, one 20# bag of Black Hen composted chicken manure, half of a ~20 pound bag of composted worm casings, and then about one and a half bags of 40# bags of a 50/50 composted cow manure/other composted ingredients mixture.... I managed to add 5 different 'types' of compost, but they were no where close to being added in the same proportion.

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Re: Advice on mixing

Post  arla on 9/13/2011, 1:04 am

Thanks, slowly working on gathering everything I need, decided what the hey I'm going to put down a 4ft x 4ft bed first, since it's less wood cutting (and my wood cutting skills are bad) so I'm going to end up needing 8cu ft, got 2cu ft of Vermiculite (at some vast expense from the local OSH) now I just need to gather the rest, make the bed, and get ready for my october planting, just round the corner so should be good.

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Re: Advice on mixing

Post  Chopper on 9/13/2011, 2:19 am

@arla wrote:, since it's less wood cutting (and my wood cutting skills are bad) ...

Thank you! Cutting wood and building seems like a simple thing but I am with you. I am absolutely wood challenged. More than once I walked away from building a box out of frustration. I have worked on cars with success but cutting and putting together wood makes my head spin. I am assuming it is a DNA thing. Very Happy

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