Mel's mix Soil from And Walmart????

supper_slashJuly 4, 2008

Hello to all SF Gardeners I am new to SF Gardening, and so here is my question:

Mel's Mix:

In my area there is not much of a choice of suppliers here. We have Lowe's, and Wall mart, We do have nursery's but most all of them get there supply's from "Lowe's & Wallmart" so as for getting Mel's mix I need to figure out how much of what i need and all of it is best if i can work out of These two Stores. I know it is a challenge, but this is going to be the best i can do for around here. I will be needing to mix my own compost out of what i can get at the two stores, and substitute what ever is left with what They Supply.

I cant seeme to find any "vermiculite" at either store. Any subs?

I am including my Zip code to help with finding supply's.

My bed is Two 2'X8'X6" Beds that will be running north and south along side of my house with the house wall backing the east side of the bed.

My zip code is: 72450

Any help or advise would be appreacited.

I think that my Cubic feet is :16 is this right? And if so then what would it be in yards?

So it would be 5.1 feet of compost, peet, And vermiculite????

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imresident7(5 WI)

this is my first yr of sfg
i found vermiculite at menards [like home depot, lowes etc]
look in the building insulation deaptmart i used vermiculite from sungro $9.95 a bag 4cuft
also i believe your total cuft for your bed is 8cuft
again this is my first year so take with a very big grain of salt ;)

    Bookmark   July 4, 2008 at 3:36PM
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fishymamas(z9, So. CA)

1. There's a vermiculite sold in the insulation dept, same stuff, different bag, different price, you can look there.

2. Many of us grow in straight AGED compost anyway (peat and vermiculite break down in a few years), find a local rabbit breeder/keeper and offer to haul away poo (some will let you suppily a 5 gal bucket, they'll fill it, and phone you at the end of the week when it's full). Bunny poo is a no-burn poo, so you can use it straight. Ask on freecycle or craigslist under free.

3. used potting soil will contain some, so instead of dumping it when you repot mix that into your beds as well (but of course you were going to do this anyways).

    Bookmark   July 4, 2008 at 3:48PM
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Melissa Houser


My apologies up front for the length of this post.

I bought most of my supplies from Lowe's and wally world as well. At WW, I bought my peat moss and the organic Black Kow Kompost. At Lowe's, I purchased mushroom compost and some garden soil that touted itself as "all organic, mixed with a variety of compost materials". I don't remember the brand on that, but it was a yellow bag. I also had some homemade compost, mostly from yard clippings and kitchen scraps with lots of paper composted into it.

I called local nurseries and feed stores until I found one that could get vermiculite for me. For each of my three boxes, I mixed up 1-4 cu ft bag of vermiculite, 2-1.5 cu. ft bags of peat moss, 3 Kow, 1 mushroom and enough soil/homemade compost, to make the final third of my mix. With this combo, my boxes were almost full at the start, probably within half an inch of the top. Math is NOT my strongest suit, but I believe I achieved the correct mix, although I didn't manage to find 5 compost sources as Mel instructs.

I mixed right in my boxes because I have raised beds, but didn't have any tarps to mix things. The tarps would have been easier. Mixing in the bed is a lonnnnnnnggggg, tedious process. Every time I thought I was finished, I'd find another "pocket" where things weren't incorporated well.

As I have gone along this summer, I've realized that there are good and bad things about how I did it. I should have added more compost to my mix, in my opinion. As I pull things, I'm adding more homemade compost. I've also collected some variety poo from various sources this summer, so next year's compost will have chicken, horse and goat incorporated in it. I am also going to purchase some kangaroo poo-based compost next week, just for the variety.

I spent weeks at the stage you're at now, worrying because I couldn't find other sources of compost. Then I read a comment on here from someone who mentioned that Mel teaches those in third world countries to do SFG using only compost because vermiculite and peat moss are impossible to find over there. That was my light bulb moment! I figured that I should at least get started and, if I'd really messed things up, I could at least add a variety of compost as I went along.

So far, I think it's going pretty well. I've harvested a ton of radishes; we're having green beans and salad for dinner, both of which came from my garden, and my plants appear to be thriving, barring the squash plant that the squash bugs ate. So, even if you mess up a little, the result is still food that's edible for your table..and that's why most of us are gardening to begin with, right? :)

    Bookmark   July 4, 2008 at 6:00PM
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sinfonian(U8b A2 S5 SeaWA)

Odd, Mel is pretty clear that vermiculite and peat moss doesn't break down over time and all you need to do is add a bit of compost each time you replant. Now preilite, that breaks down over time.

As for finding a source for vemiculite, my solution was to call nurseries and if they didn't have it I asked for their supplier. Hehe if their supplier is Wally World or Lowes, that may be a problem. Still, if you talk to the reisent "expert" at your nursery, they may be willing to go out of their way to track it down. I also like the insulation isle idea. I understand rock is rock so it works fine.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 5, 2008 at 2:19AM
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imresident7(5 WI)

i emailed sun gro horticulture and they said there vermiculite used in insulation was the exact same thing they sell in bags marked for garden use.
and thanks for the rabbit poo info
there is a place down the road from me that makes wool from rabbits and sheep/ i,m gonna call and see about leaving a couple of buckets. woo hoo free poo ???!!!!
say on the subject of poo would sheep poo be good also??
thanks you guys are awsome

    Bookmark   July 5, 2008 at 11:03AM
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Melissa Houser

resident, Poo is a subject I thought I'd left when my kids were potty-trained. However, the compost boards here have tons of discussions about that very matter (poo, that is, black gold). ;)

    Bookmark   July 5, 2008 at 11:24AM
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Thank you, imresident7, for posting the information about finding the vermiculite at Menards. I was there earlier today and they had only little bags of perlite in their garden dept. I just called the building department and, sure enough, they have it in 3 cu ft bags for 10 bucks! I was about to give up after calling and driving around all day.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 7:40PM
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snibb(Salt Lake City)

You need a total of 8 cubic feet for growing at a depth of 6" with those dimensions. So, I would just round it out to 3 cubic feet each of peat moss, compost, and vermiculite. Or, you can now order "Mels mix" right from the foundation-you will need 8 bags for a total of $80....

    Bookmark   April 1, 2009 at 12:13AM
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Call a local farm supply store, that's where I found vermiculite in 4 cubic foot bags. They had to order it for me.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2009 at 1:50PM
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The OP has 2 beds with dimensions of 2'X8'X6". Each bed requires 8 cubic feet for a total of 16 cubic feet.

I read this thread b/c I'm also looking for vermiculite. I'm off to the building supplies area! I have my fingers crossed!


    Bookmark   April 1, 2009 at 2:23PM
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snibb(Salt Lake City)

your right...

    Bookmark   April 1, 2009 at 7:27PM
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I had great luck finding vermiculite at a hydroponics store. If your local nursery doesn't carry it, you might try asking if they can order it for you (my brand is called "therm o rock"). I don't know how close you are to San Antonia, but they have a supplier called Fertile Garden Supply. Also, we have a number of great gardeners who do very well in compost only. I am a big fan of Walmart's mushroom compost. Just my 2 cents.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2009 at 12:11AM
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