Converting a bed to "mel's mix"

shpigford(7)November 29, 2013

I've got 7 raised beds (totaling ~900 sq/ft of surface area) that are largely just leaf compost. I've been working in some quality compost as I can and have worked in a little bit of peat moss and vermiculite, but nowhere near the ratio suggested in the Sq Foot Gardening book.

But now, all of my beds are pretty much filled to the top with soil (ie. not enough room to mix in a lot of peat moss + vermiculite).

So, should I take out a portion of the soil to make room for the peat moss + vermiculite (and just put that soil in my big compost pile to reuse down the road)?

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Shovel your soil out and then read the ingrediants of many of the potting soils sold in the big box stores such as Home Depot, Menard's or Lowes, you will see that most of them are a decently close approximation of "Mel's Mix", except for the compost. One thing that I believe Mel missed, is that it's good to have some of your own soil mixed in with the mix...approx 15% by volume. Plant roots don't like to grow into one type of soil (Mel's Mix) and then another completly different type (your soil). Check with your Extension Service to verify this. So, for the 33% compost, use 15% your soil and the rest different types of compost.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2013 at 10:10PM
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For 900 square feet (450 cu ft @ 6") you need a "lot" of Mels Mix. Forget it on that scale and find a truckload(s) of manure. Or use Mels Mix and pay about $3-4K.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 11:40PM
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My first raised beds were last year, so I'm no expert yet on square foot gardening. I followed the instructions for Mel's mix as closely as I could, and my plants grew just fine. Better than fine, actually. That being said, I believe that you can have growing success in a wide variety of growing mediums, as long as the nutrients are there, and the soil handles water properly. I have a suspicion that what you have so far would be fine for this year. I'd go ahead and plant, and as the plants are harvested at the end of the growing season, there will be room for more of the ingredients to make the soil more like Mel's mix. Just my opinion.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 7:11PM
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