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Question about Mels mix

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Question about Mels mix

Post  GWN on 1/16/2012, 9:43 pm

In looking to start making mels mix for my raised beds, I am a bit concerned about the peat moss. Recently I have been using the coconut based stuff coco-coir, in place of peat moss because I had read that peat moss was a non renewable resource.
Sounds like it is controversial, but I am wondering what the consensus is here about that. I found the coco-coir a bit harder to work with initially but once mixed it seemed to do the same thing. Is this what others have found,.... or not?
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Re: Question about Mels mix

Post  Chopper on 1/16/2012, 10:18 pm

From: http://www.peatmoss.com/concern.php

Just part of it:
"Harvest Issues

There are more than 270,000,000 acres, 25% of the world's supply, of
which our industry harvests on less than 40,000 acres, or one acre in
6,000.

Peat is renewable and in terms of its accumulation, peat in
Canada is growing more than 70 times as fast as it is being harvested.
[According to an issue paper entitled "Canadian Peat Harvesting and the
Environment," published by the North American Wetlands Conservation
Council (Canada)]

As well, we know that under the right circumstances, sphagnum
moss will re-establish itself on a harvested bog. Soon thereafter, from
this collection of mosses, peat will accumulate, re-establishing a layer
of peat that will continue to grow...."

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Re: Question about Mels mix

Post  Furbalsmom on 1/17/2012, 12:10 am

Thanks Chopper. I enjoyed the article and thought it was very informative.

It also reassures me of what I had read before, that the Canadian peat is not endangered.

GNW, personally, I don't enjoy working with the coco-coir. I did not like the stiffness.
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Re: Question about Mels mix

Post  GWN on 1/17/2012, 9:23 pm



Always one to check several sources for the information, I always turn to mother earth news. I read them cover to cover every month.
Here are some additional concerns (at least to the environment) about the use of peat moss. Barbara Pleasant suggests using in moderation.

I recently read a book called "collapse " about the various cultures who have existed before us and perished from overusing a resource.
Perhaps there is enough for our gardens, but the real question, is there enough for our children's children's children?

I have tried to post a link here, but was unable since I have only been a member for a few days.



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Re: Question about Mels mix

Post  sfg4uKim on 1/17/2012, 11:00 pm

Remember, peat moss is a one-time ingredient, and since SFG uses only 20% of the space of a traditional garden, you're really using a relatively small amount. Mel acknowledges the debate and encourages using it responsibly and thoughtfully.

I've not heard resounding praise for coco coir, but if you have success with it, I hope you will let everyone know.

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Re: Question about Mels mix

Post  GWN on 1/18/2012, 1:02 am

Pleasants suggestion was more compost and less peat moss, I will post it when I can.

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Re: Question about Mels mix

Post  tomperrin on 1/18/2012, 11:22 am

[quote="GWN"] I had read that peat moss was a non renewable resource.
quote]

The supply issue this year is that last year was much too wet in the Canadian NorthEast to harvest the normal supply of peat moss. Peat moss requires dry weather so that it can be vacuumed up. Supply is down 70-80% and stores may be rationed. My most recent purchase had a high moisture content and froze like a rock. I suspect that the size of bales available will be reduced and that prices will go higher.
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Re: Question about Mels mix

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 1/18/2012, 11:26 am

GWN wrote:Pleasants suggestion was more compost and less peat moss, I will post it when I can.

We get into this debate about this time every year. This forum is not going to peacefully discuss changing the 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 ratio, typically. Peat moss for coir is one thing. Pearlite for vermiculite is one thing. Changing the 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 fundamental is a totally different argument.

Fair warning.
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Re: Question about Mels mix

Post  GWN on 1/18/2012, 12:53 pm

This is what the article said

""Recently I started a square-foot type garden, and many of the books I’ve read recommend using peat moss to improve the soil. I’ve heard that there are issues regarding peat moss being a nonrenewable resource, plus it’s expensive. The less I spend, the more I save by growing my own vegetables. What do you recommend?

Over 10 million cubic yards of peat moss are harvested each year from bogs in Canada, plus another million or so from bogs in the northern United States. Those are big numbers, but because less than 1 percent of North American peat lands are currently being harvested, peat bogs remain more plentiful here than in the British Isles, where harvesting has reduced peat acreage by nearly 80 percent. However, peat comes from such very slow-growing, slow rotting plants that it typically takes 1,000 years for a bog to add 1 yard to its depth. Once harvested, peat bogs are changed forever.

Of equal concern are the environmental costs of the fuels required to dig drainage ditches, harrow and dry the peat, vacuum it up and bale it, and then ship it long distances, which in your case is about 1,500 miles. That’s a lot of greenhouse gas emissions produced to provide organic matter for outdoor beds. Compost would be less expensive and do as well, or you can use shredded leaves or grass clippings for your beds.

Peat moss does have special characteristics that make it a better choice when used in small amounts as part of seed starting mixtures. It absorbs and holds 10 to 20 times its dry weight in water, and it is a very poor medium for various soil-borne fungi, including those that cause seedling damping off. Beneficial bacteria can live in peat moss, so using small amounts of peat moss to start seeds indoors is a sound decision. A half-and-half mixture of peat moss and sand or perlite works well, or you can go with a three-way mixture of peat moss, sand and heat-pasteurized soil. Once seedlings grow big enough to transplant outdoors, compost makes a better soil amendment than peat because it contains a wealth of biological life forms and a huge range of major and minor plant nutrients.

— Barbara Pleasant, contributing editor""



I guess one of the main reasons I do all of this is to decrease the impact I have on the earth, by growing my own vegetables, decreasing the carbon footprint I leave. :canada:

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Re: Question about Mels mix

Post  martha on 1/18/2012, 1:43 pm

The key point point in the article is in the first line - "I recently started a square foot type garden."

Do you wish to have a square foot garden, or a 2nd or 3rd cousin?

Backyard Bird Gardener's statement - "fair warning" - is because, as he said, it gets discussed here over and over and the bottom line is this -

this forum is dedicated to Square Foot Gardening. The earth cannot live by SFG alone (although, IMO, it would certainly be a big help to the earth if the percentage of gardening done by Mel's method increased!)

But as Spring draws nearer, these conversations will become more frequent. In my opinion, there are two choices:

1. Make Mel's Mix according to Mel's recipe.
2. Bring up this question/discussion in the "Non- SFGardening" forum.

It's difficult, because we can come across like we are humorless, blind followers of SFG, with sticks up our collective arses. Or we can come across as unfriendly and unwelcoming.

But the starting point has to be - Mel's Mix as described by Mel for two reasons -

1. We know it works!
2. It's his forum!!!!

Once that starting point has been firmly established, understood, agreed upon, then and only then do we (the collective we) become willing to discuss changes to MM based on economics, sustainability, etc. etc. etc.

For many of us, our opinions will remain unchanged, that MM as described in the All New Square Foot Gardening is the way to go, but IF the above conditions are met, it will be a conversation, rather than what might feel like a door slammed in someone's face.
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Re: Question about Mels mix

Post  GWN on 1/18/2012, 1:45 pm

it was a quote from the magazine.
It was not what I said
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Re: Question about Mels mix

Post  GWN on 1/18/2012, 1:53 pm

OK I will go away.
I was drawn to this forum because the square foot gardening is what I have been doing for quite awhile.
The technique was explained in another book and it has worked well for me, so I guess I thought that that is what this was all about.

I plant everything in certain predetermined distances from each other, rather than in rows. to optimize space.
I have been to Mels site and from what he says there I felt I agreed with the principals, especially his comments on Haiti.

I just yearn to have someone to discuss gardening with and share ideas with.

Sorry to have created a stir, I will not say anything more

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peat moss as a renewable resourse

Post  james lujack on 1/18/2012, 2:22 pm

I cannot state that I am a source of "true knowledge" here but let us take a look at the total picture. Where does peat moss come from? From what I gather,(correct me if I am wrong!) peat moss comes from rotting vegetation from eons ago.Now as gardeners are concerned,trees get in our way from the sun shining on our gardens,so we cut them down. The tree in our yard 'makes messy berries'so we cut them down.The birds land in the tree which hangs over our driveway and the birds make messes all over our newly washed and waxed car........so we cut them down.We definatly set a pattern here!The neighborhood in which I grew up in had many weeping willow trees growing about the area.Now there is not one standing!The picture looks grim. Deforestation is another problem.Most forests today are owned by corporations whose sole intent is "harvesting " these trees for sale as lumber. They replant with ......add infintum I think we should cut one tree down for every two of the same species we planted . It would be fair too say some trees we cut are in the way of wires or the plumbing. Then, in so doing,we need to plant two trees of the same species out of the way. This action would assure high fertility in the soil because the trees would drop their needles or leaves and improving if people would stop burning them and all would be fine. Peat moss for future generations !!!!!!!!!!! 🐱 🐱 🐱 🐱 🐱 🐱 🐱 🐱 🐱

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Re: Question about Mels mix

Post  camprn on 1/18/2012, 7:24 pm

While both Sphagnum Peat Moss and Coconut Coir are very valuable for their horticultural purposes and both are considered renewable, they each have environmental impact during their harvesting, production and distribution.

Coconut coir production is not without it's environmental impact.
Starting on page 6 this paper talks about coir. <~~~Click
Aside from that, there is the matter of environmental impact of transporting it half way 'round the world to those of us living in North America.

Canada is the Primary Sphagnum peat producer in North America. <~~~click
This is another very interesting read about What is peat moss? Where does it com from? How did it get here? What is it good for?

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Re: Question about Mels mix

Post  martha on 1/20/2012, 3:21 pm

I don't have time to go into a lot of detail, but apparently I wrote very poorly in my earlier post, since more than one person found it offensive. It's almost funny - except that I don't find humor in offending people - because my intent was the exact opposite of how it was perceived.

Ah, the joys of written language with no vocal inflections or facial expressions to help deliver one's actual message.
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Re: Question about Mels mix

Post  camprn on 1/20/2012, 5:04 pm

martha wrote:I don't have time to go into a lot of detail, but apparently I wrote very poorly in my earlier post, since more than one person found it offensive. It's almost funny - except that I don't find humor in offending people - because my intent was the exact opposite of how it was perceived.

Ah, the joys of written language with no vocal inflections or facial expressions to help deliver one's actual message.
Very Happy It's ok Martha, we love you still! Wink I love you

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Re: Question about Mels mix

Post  genes on 1/20/2012, 6:23 pm

martha wrote:I don't have time to go into a lot of detail, but apparently I wrote very poorly in my earlier post, since more than one person found it offensive....

Hopefully they suggested the magic words that you might use that they don't find offensive.
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Re: Question about Mels mix

Post  RoOsTeR on 1/20/2012, 6:47 pm

I for one think it's unfortunate that you were made to feel that way Martha, for sticking up for our values that are clearly expressed on the homepage, in our Mission Statement.
While I clearly understand that different points of view keep things alive and interesting, there is no reason you should be chastised or made to feel guilty for supporting our Square Foot Gardening Forums values.
If our values and mission aren't upheld, they will eventually become vague and lost and we will become just another gardening website.

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Re: Question about Mels mix

Post  plantoid on 1/20/2012, 7:21 pm

good post
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Re: Question about Mels mix

Post  Chopper on 1/20/2012, 7:54 pm

I agree with the previous two posts. Martha was right to be clear. No one wants to be the SFG police, but this is not a raised bed forum or an SFGish forum.

That said, the peat moss/other substitute is an issue that one day may change. At this moment I am all about peat moss and if it becomes no longer available, then we shall see, but until that time as far as my own research has shown, it is not a threat to the good health of the earth to use peat moss in our SFGs, so that is what I will do because I know it works and works well.

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Re: Question about Mels mix

Post  walshevak on 1/20/2012, 11:34 pm

Actually, compared to other posters on this issue, Martha was very polite and left the issue open in a specific area of the forum. In the past, I have seen posts from forum moderators concerning the make up of Mels Mix that were extremely rude and left no room for intelligent discussion.

So Martha, thank you for reminding us in a way that respects opinions about the rules of this forum.

Kay

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No offense here

Post  Melanie on 2/2/2013, 2:59 pm

Glad to have happened on this series of posts as I was wondering if coco-coir could be used instead of peat moss. I live in zone 8(a) - I think that's right.. Very Happy and I will be using peat moss after reading these comments. Thanks for the info.
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Re: Question about Mels mix

Post  Pepper on 2/2/2013, 8:18 pm

Melanie glad you\'re here to the forum. Mels Mix (MM) is somewhat expensive to make but well worth it in the long run. Besides it is a one time purchase.

I am a perfect example of what not to do. I went the cheap way and my garden has suffered with small vegies.
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