Alternative to "Mel's Mix" - Mothering Forums

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Old 04-03-2010, 09:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am looking for an alternative to "Mel's mix" which uses compost but also peat moss and vermiculite .

Any ideas?

Also, does anyone do compost, coco coir and perilite? If so, can you tell me more about this and the ratio in which they are used?

Thank you!
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Old 04-04-2010, 12:13 AM
 
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What are your objections to peat moss and vermiculite? I know there's the issues about land destruction with peat moss or something like that -- we're in Canada so we get Canadian peat moss, from my understanding there's not the same kind of problem with that. It's a standard growing medium, anyway. And nothing wrong with vermiculite... if you're thinking of the asbestos issue, that was very isolated, in a single mine, and quite a long time ago.

Have you tried the SFG forums? There are often discussions on vermiculite vs. perlite, etc. I haven't tried coir... my only experience with it so far has been with pots. Coir pots vs peat pots. My experience so far is that my seedlings did NOT grow through the coir pots after transplanting, I had to dig them up, dig them out of the pots, and replant again, because they wouldn't grow any more after filling up the coir pots.

So my perception so far is that coir is great in principle, but is rather too tough as a growing medium. I could be wrong in that... just my own anecdotal experience so far. And that's only as pots, not as a growth medium within the soil itself (haven't even heard of that).

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Old 04-04-2010, 12:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for the reply!

I don't want to use vermiculite because of all the controversy. I'd rather be safe than sorry esp. if there are other options.
I will check out those message boards.
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Old 04-04-2010, 01:32 AM
 
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Yes, you can use coir in place of peat. If you have access to expanded shale, it works really well and can open up your soil like vermiculite. Perlite doesn't work because it floats. It doesn't stay mxed well in raised beds.

Rachel. Devoted wife and joyful mama to Beatrice June(2/25/08) and Leona Agnes (8/10/10).
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Old 04-04-2010, 08:13 AM
 
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You could use perlite instead of vermiculite. I don't plan on continuing to buy vermiculite...it's insanely dusty when I make my own mix. I'm not a huge peat fan either lately.

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Old 04-06-2010, 12:26 PM
 
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I was just reading the other day (sorry, I so don't have a link handy) that in place of vermiculite one can use good topsoil. that's what I'm doing. I'm putting in my first sfg at this house, and I'm using topsoil (well sifted and all grass raked out), plus lots of rabbit and goat poo, which are both cold manures. We have lots of pine shavings mixed in w/our poo, too, and that seems to make the soil nice and loose.

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Old 04-07-2010, 05:33 PM
 
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Honestly, I had totally crappy results with Mel's Mix. And I made it to the letter, used high quality mixed composts... it was really disappointing. I will never use it again unless I am living in an area where the soil is absolutely terrible (like the middle of a sandy desert, or an area with more rock than dirt).

I use topsoil (I buy if by the cubic yard and have it delivered) and amend it heavily with compost.

I found Mel's Mix to have incredibly low fertility, my plants never thrived, and I have to use organic fertilizers and tons more compost to get it good enough to support my plants. My topsoil with compost, on the other hand, grew amazing vegetables.
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Old 04-08-2010, 05:30 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tinuviel_k View Post
Honestly, I had totally crappy results with Mel's Mix. And I made it to the letter, used high quality mixed composts... it was really disappointing. I will never use it again unless I am living in an area where the soil is absolutely terrible (like the middle of a sandy desert, or an area with more rock than dirt).

I use topsoil (I buy if by the cubic yard and have it delivered) and amend it heavily with compost.

I found Mel's Mix to have incredibly low fertility, my plants never thrived, and I have to use organic fertilizers and tons more compost to get it good enough to support my plants. My topsoil with compost, on the other hand, grew amazing vegetables.
I have to agree about Mel's Mix. I don't know if my climate factors in or what, but the beds that do the best for me have been heavily amended with compost. I even bought his brand name pre-mixed, hoping maybe I just wasn't finding good enough compost...but I'm underwhelmed.

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Old 04-08-2010, 12:51 PM
 
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I really just dislike the whole idea of Mel's mix. (Sorry if this sounds like a snotty answer - I really don't mean it to be.) For me, part of my goal as a gardener is to leave my little plot of land a bit better than I found it, and not at the expense of someone else's plot of land. Obviously, most of us need to import some fertility, because the plot of land we've got is starting out so degraded, but Mel's mix doesn't even attempt to figure out what needs to be imported and what doesn't - he just has you import it all.

That said, for my first sfg bed, I used Mel's mix. For the 3 I've put in since then, I've double dug (or single dug - I get lazy ) and added tons of compost. My compost and native soil beds do much better.
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Old 04-08-2010, 01:38 PM
 
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We have a sandy topsoil. We added peat moss to loosen it (was a bit clayish) and it did well. This year we have added some vermiculite, but not as much as listed in Mel's mix. We will add some more compost, but it already has some of that naturally from the debris and the broken down leaves.
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