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Mel's Mix concern

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Mel's Mix concern

Post  Chopper on 12/30/2011, 7:13 pm

This season I only have one 4X4 plot to work. I am renting a room from a woman and she has a built in raised bed and wanted a veg garden so I offered. If I do it, it will be SFG. She is very skeptical. So I said I need to dig out the first 6 inches of soil and add Mel's Mix. Well, her soil was excellent, did I have to? Yes, I did. (It was more polite than this)

So, due to space constraints, I bought MM at Lowes. I was quite disappointed to see that unless it is in powder form, there is no way that there is 1/3 vermiculite in the blend. I doubt there is 1/8 vermiculite. I have made MM myself and I know what 1/3 vermiculite looks like. There were a few here and there - like someone threw in a handful at the end.

I know this is farmed out, but after negotiations and approval by Mel and the SFG people. Now I am a little insecure about the rest of the mix. Can I trust it? Has the company stopped doing as agreed and started cutting corners without informing SFG? I do not want a so-so harvest and have this very sweet lady shake her head and tell me we should have used her excellent soil. I am tempted to go got some amendments to be sure I have everything I need.

Anyone know anything that would ease my worries? Anyone else notice the same? I LOVE the convenience of a premixed MM, but not if the product is inferior.

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Re: Mel's Mix concern

Post  littlejo on 12/30/2011, 7:44 pm

It is of concern in the good ole USA. You can only trust if 'anything' is done correctly if you do it yourself. Jo

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Re: Mel's Mix concern

Post  camprn on 12/30/2011, 8:16 pm

Hey Chopper, WOW you finally moved! I hope it all went well.
If I were the one to find the sub-standard premixed Mel's Mix, I would contact the SFG Foundation directly with the concern. They may not be aware of of the issue...

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There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

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Re: Mel's Mix concern

Post  southern gardener on 12/30/2011, 8:19 pm

we too have issues with the pre bagged Mel's Mix it seems. Exactly who would we contact? Not getting much help from "Garden Time", the manufacturer.

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Re: Mel's Mix concern

Post  camprn on 12/30/2011, 8:25 pm

I am not sure who exactly would be the right person, but Alan is the business manager. Drop him a line and he should be able to direct you. Good luck !

____________________________

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http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t3574-the-end-of-july-7-weeks-until-frost

There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t1306-other-gardening-books

Outlander is outstanding!


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Re: Mel's Mix concern

Post  Chopper on 12/30/2011, 9:12 pm

@camprn wrote:Hey Chopper, WOW you finally moved! I hope it all went well.
If I were the one to find the sub-standard premixed Mel's Mix, I would contact the SFG Foundation directly with the concern. They may not be aware of of the issue...

I spent most of December selling, giving away, recycling or throwing out all the accumulation of two families in a 3000+ sf house so I could move to a 12 X 10 foot room. LOL. Less stuff. Kept my seeds.

I really did not think I was going to be able to garden so have the 4X4 is a treat. I was taking pictures of it as I went and my landlady said "Why are you doing that?" and I just thought - it is my SFG - why WOULDN'T I do that? LOL.

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Re: Mel's Mix concern

Post  boffer on 12/30/2011, 9:16 pm

I've been called an obnoxious advocate of 'SFG by the book' (and worse), and I'm OK with that because I know it works, by the book. My message to any beginner is 'do it by the book'.




This is my opinion, and only my opinion.

In 2010, the first pre-mix hit the shelves in test markets. It was less than successful, because the supplier took short cuts. Pre-mix hit the shelves again in 2011 in several other markets, packaged by different suppliers. I don't know how well it has done.

Don't get me wrong; I think the concept of pre-mix is a wonderful idea for those who can afford it. However, the reality of the retail market concerns me.

1. There is a joke that arises on the forum on a regular basis: When is compost ready to be sold? When there is a buyer for it, whether it's ready or not.

2. We have seen on the forum that suppliers will take shortcuts by adding less expensive fillers into composts to lower costs.

3. Mel's Mix has been tested for two decades, blah, blah, blah...read the book.
However, pre-mix has no history. It has no advocate other than those who hope to financially profit from it. I suggest that the real pre-mix only exists on paper in the form of a contract. The buyer and supplier came to an agreement, on paper. Who is ensuring that that agreement is met? Are there QC reports on a regular basis, to avoid the poor quality issues of 2010, that ensure that pre-mix is the same stuff that MM is?

4. I suggest that the suppliers will find shortcuts to take just as soon as possible. I don't intend to be rude; I consider it a fact of life that corporations will do whatever they need to do to make more money; customers be damned. We have seen on the forum that quality 5 blend compost is critical to our successes. I'm suggesting that there is good reason for the manufacturer to take short cuts regarding compost content.

5. Not happy with the performance of your pre-mix? With multiple business concerns involved, just try tracking down someone who will assume responsibility for the quality of the product. They are counting on 'safety in numbers' to deflect quality issues.

6. The first time I heard of pre-mix, my first thought was: 'what are those people going to do when it's time to add 5 blend compost?'

7. Pre-mix is a way to make a fast buck. In no way does it support the values upon which the SFG method is promoted.

I'm with you, 1/3 vermiculite of any grade is very obvious in the mix. Let's just say the supplier substituted perlite for vermiculite to save costs. I would think that amount of perlite would be obviously generous in the mix.

The only way to know for sure if your pre-mix has the nutrients to ensure a successful harvest is to have it analyzed.

Again, just my personal opinions.


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Re: Mel's Mix concern

Post  genes on 12/30/2011, 11:50 pm

alright then, anyone with a firm opinion? Smile

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Re: Mel's Mix concern

Post  dsfin on 12/31/2011, 12:22 am

Very good points and thought provoking questions too, boffer!!!

You'd think the SFG Foundation would be verifying the quality of the product. To allow the selling of an unauthentic mix (having poor performance) can only invoke the idea the SFG method is inferior too. Could make for a real blackeye on the brand. ---Dave

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Re: Mel's Mix concern

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 12/31/2011, 1:14 am

I trust we all know what the correct MM looks like, provided we got anywhere near the book's recipe. It's obvious by feel and eye.

I would definitely contact the foundation. At the very least, to let them know.

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Re: Mel's Mix concern

Post  genes on 12/31/2011, 1:31 am

save time,skip a step, post directly to facebook.

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Re: Mel's Mix concern

Post  sfg4uKim on 12/31/2011, 7:37 am

I know the Foundation was VERY firm with us that we call the version that we sell "A Certified Square Foot Gardening Teacher blend", but we cannot mention Mel's Mix.

Gro-Well says "Mel's Mix" and even (obviously) has permission to use Mel's photo and the SFGF logo.

I would DEFINITELY let the Foundation know (again) ASAP. Mention that it hurts Mel's reputation. LOL I have to agree, if you post on their Facebook wall they will scramble to do something about it quickly, but I would try the Foundation one more time (or contact Alan here on the Forum). They don't keep a full staff during the winter and I imagine they are preparing for Mel's talk in San Diego on Jan. 11 and also for the symposium in FL in early Feb.

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Re: Mel's Mix concern

Post  llama momma on 12/31/2011, 8:21 am

Even if the bagged Mel's Mix was perfect in every bag it still doesn't take care of your garden Post Harvest. That's of course when we add a straight trowel of 5 way compost to each square and nothing else. If I was guiding new gardeners to the square foot method, I'd really harp on getting their own compost going pronto. After the initial Mel's mix is in the box, the continuous compost production is the only thing that keeps feeding the entire garden process through every season, every year. I am not yet convinced this aspect is expressed strongly enough. Well, I guess now it has! Keep producing enough compost to keep all the garden boxes alive and productive.

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Re: Mel's Mix concern

Post  sfg4uKim on 12/31/2011, 10:13 am

Excellent point, Llama. That's why we also sell blended compost separately. Very Happy

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Re: Mel's Mix concern

Post  plantoid on 12/31/2011, 4:18 pm

I'd go with your observations as well Llama Momma,

The secret lies in the soil .......here after know as Mel's Mix .

It took me a while to find out such info from ANSFG related readings and these forums to uncover what it was all about and how it related to what I've learnt over the years about things that plants need for sound growth etc.

Without the balanced compost correct & using it everytime you take something out the bed or spring planting innocculation of a whole bed with it that has been cleared for winter you're on a hiding to nothing.

Chopper ,
Making the best of a bad job and for the first year ... would it help if you just considered the purchased mix as the basic peat fibre part of the formula and then add your own vermiculite and several types of purchased rotted manures and supposedly balance composts ?

Once you get past the first year you should have some of your own blended composts ready , to start using and taking over from the original fill as it starts to decay away.
For it's in my minds eye that eventually you will end up with only having your own home made composted manures and vegetation , working worm tubes and some extra vermiculite in the beds .

I'm happy for anyone to corrrect me if I'm wrong , because I'd like to see it all laid out in a few simple statements as to what is what for simple people like me .

I once read something that Napoleon Boneparte was supposed to have said ..
" Tell your orders to the thickest soldier , if he can repeat them back an hour later and you understand them , then give that command out right away " .

I feel that's what I'm seeking.

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Re: Mel's Mix concern

Post  Chopper on 12/31/2011, 5:48 pm

@llama momma wrote:Even if the bagged Mel's Mix was perfect in every bag it still doesn't take care of your garden Post Harvest. That's of course when we add a straight trowel of 5 way compost to each square and nothing else. If I was guiding new gardeners to the square foot method, I'd really harp on getting their own compost going pronto. After the initial Mel's mix is in the box, the continuous compost production is the only thing that keeps feeding the entire garden process through every season, every year. I am not yet convinced this aspect is expressed strongly enough. Well, I guess now it has! Keep producing enough compost to keep all the garden boxes alive and productive.

True, but many people are unable to make their own compost. And although I could do it in this size property, I am not the owner. Dang it all. LOL. So I was thinking of trying to buy 5 small bags and keeping them in a small trash can and simply not announcing it.

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Re: Mel's Mix concern

Post  Chopper on 12/31/2011, 5:50 pm

@BackyardBirdGardner wrote:I trust we all know what the correct MM looks like, provided we got anywhere near the book's recipe. It's obvious by feel and eye.

I would definitely contact the foundation. At the very least, to let them know.

I have to admit is was light and fluffy so we shall see. Just no obvious vermiculite (ok - a few) and I know that is the most expensive ingredient.

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Re: Mel's Mix concern

Post  boffer on 12/31/2011, 5:56 pm

I don't know if this is practical, but you can have as much of my 5 way mix as you want (guaranteed to have weed seeds!) Pay for shipping.

If it fits, it ships?

Anybody planning a road trip from western WA to southern CA in the next few months?

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Re: Mel's Mix concern

Post  Chopper on 12/31/2011, 5:57 pm

@plantoid wrote:
Chopper ,
Making the best of a bad job and for the first year ... would it help if you just considered the purchased mix as the basic peat fibre part of the formula and then add your own vermiculite and several types of purchased rotted manures and supposedly balance composts ?

Will do. In an overabundance of caution I went out and bought an organic amendment which includes blood meal, bone meal and kelp meal. I figured it would fill in any gaps in the compost - assuming there are any. This ain't my first time around the block so I am sure I can make this work. But for limited space, I love the pre mixed bags. And maybe my concern is unfounded.

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Re: Mel's Mix concern

Post  Chopper on 1/19/2012, 5:05 pm

Out of an abundance of caution and curiosity, I sent boffer a baggie of my store bought MM and he had it analyzed. Bottom line was, whether they skimp on the vermiculite or not, the numbers compared favorably with the numbers he got from his homemade MM. Everything that is important to plants was on the very high side so amendments not needed.

Good to know.

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Re: Mel's Mix concern

Post  Chopper on 1/19/2012, 8:46 pm

@Chopper wrote:Out of an abundance of caution and curiosity, I sent boffer a baggie of my store bought MM and he had it analyzed. Bottom line was, whether they skimp on the vermiculite or not, the numbers compared favorably with the numbers he got from his homemade MM. Everything that is important to plants was on the very high side so amendments not needed.

Good to know.
Actually, boffer offered and I took him up on it...

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