Do You Guys Amend Mel's Mix With Fertilizers?

gayriogrowerApril 16, 2010

Knowing that Mel's mix calls for 1:1:1 of compost, vermiculite, peat, do you amend it with any blood/bone meals, dolomite lime, different grain meals, kelp meals, anything? Is the compost enough to get the plants through? I want to make sure my plants have everything they need from the get-go. I am a 100% organic gardener by the way.

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Melissa Houser

If you use 5 types of compost like Mel recommends, you should have covered most of the needs of your veggies. A good household compost bin would probably cover it as well. However, when I started my first SFG, I didn't have 5 types of compost, so I did amend my soil. I'm not sure I needed to do that.

This year, after moving and starting over, I couldn't afford the peat moss and vermiculite, so I only put bagged compost from the big box store in the boxes. They seem to be growing just as well...and I know my boxes are growing much better than the things I have planted in the "landscape beds" around my new yard.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 9:25PM
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That's the thing, I am in the process of purchasing a compost tumbler, but at the time have no available compost. I live in a big city, so I'm sure I could purchase some, but I don't believe that would be enough to supply the nutes my plants need.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2010 at 12:19AM
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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

The plants tell you if they need fertilizer. If they are starting to show signs that they are lacking in nutrients, then fertilize. The fertilizer we use is called Yum-Yum mix by Soil Mender. It is not cheap, but it is organic and contains no animal products for those who are concerned about bone meal. Eventually, I hope to work on my own formulation similar to it but until I have the time, Yum-Yum it is.

I have also purchased powdered Maxi-Crop seaweed powder from Seeds Trust. One packet is around $6 and will make 14 gallons of foliar spray. I am fond of it when needed.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2010 at 12:57AM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

Come high summer, you will see numerous questions here about why plants aren't doing well in first-timer's Melmix. Several of us here will answer then that we have concluded Melmix needs supplemental fertilizer. Not sure you want to page back to summer-late summer of last year, but the threads are there, certainly.


    Bookmark   April 17, 2010 at 12:54PM
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I didn't make enough compost to cover both my beds, so I used some bagged compost and some composted horse manure from a nearby farm. I also amended with Plant Tone by Espoma b/c it was on sale at the local garden center. Generally, it's too expensive.

I'm now using fish emulsion to occasionally fertilize and everything seems to be fine.

Unless you have very very rich compost and enough of it, you're going to have to give the plants a little something else.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 17, 2010 at 1:38PM
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Thanks for the comments everyone. I guess I'll have to play it by ear, but it seems in my situation I'm going to need to fertilize. I am familiar with Maxicrop kelp (1-0-4), I have some Neptunes Fish, as well as some various guanos, Mexican, Jamaican, and Peruvian, so I should have everything covered when they start showing me signs. I am also very keen on giving EWC tea, and AACt's on a regular basis.
But if anyone has any suggestions about what to mix in the soil, like any recipe they have used when using bagged compost, before I plant, that would be helpful. Or should I just wait for a defeciency, and side dress when it occurs, thanks.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2010 at 3:25PM
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I've been growing tomatoes since 1970... All my tomatoes are as green as they can be, super healthy and growing very well.

The very best organic fertilizer that I've used with Mel's Mix is "GSC Organic Tomato Fertilizer" from Gardener's Supply:,07-200RS,default,cp.html

Their website's over 230 positive feedbacks speaks well for it also.

Best wishes...

    Bookmark   April 17, 2010 at 6:05PM
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I was one of the many first timers that Dan mentioned who learned the hard way that my mix was lacking. I've also been trying to grow organic, and I suggest you don't wait until you have a problem. You need to keep in mind that most organic fertilizers break down more slowly so it's really hard to get a "quick fix" from them the way you can from non-organic. (Something I also found out the hard way but with help from the GW organic gardening forum...)

This year, I started making my mix 3-4 weeks before I planned to start planting and added EB Stone Tomato & Veg Food then so it would start to break down and be absorbed. Wish me luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: EB Stone

    Bookmark   April 18, 2010 at 12:03AM
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What about watering with Miracle Grow? I just finished mixing all my spag. moss, mush. compost, cow manure, garden soil and vermiculite together in my 4x4x6 (3 of them plus 1 1x1x6) for planting on Wednesday eve. I have a bag of garden soil left and will use that to replace as I recycle plants out. I hope that's gonna do me. Any advice is well received! my first year in boxes. last year I grew on my deck in containers.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2010 at 2:26PM
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